To Protect and Serve – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 — The Start of the Concert

Aug 4, 1995 – Dallas, TX – Benjamin Station Concert Arena

“Hey you, what are you doing over there?”  Barbra Parks, a security officer asked, walking over to a young man that was attempting to climb over the fence that surrounded the arena.

“Nothing lady, I wasn’t doing nothing!”  The young man snapped, glaring at the woman as she approached the area where he was.  “I don’t want any trouble lady, just leave me alone!”

“This is a restricted area kid.  I’m going to have to take you into custody,” Barbara stated as the young man shook his head.

“What!  Like hell you will!  Now you see me, now you don’t!”  The young man snapped as there was a flash of light and then he was gone.

‘What the hell!  Where did he go?  Damn it, we have another problem to deal with.  The boss man isn’t going to be happy about this if he finds out that some other super powered beings have invaded the concert site.  We don’t need a repeat of the last time,’ Barbara thought to herself as she shook her head and then took off running towards the main building of the arena.

The Backstage Area

“So, when is tonight’s act arriving JT?  Shouldn’t they be here already?”  Hank Hart, another security officer asked, looking through some papers on a clipboard.

“They should have been here already.  They were scheduled to arrive around two.  The concert is to start tonight at seven.  So far, everything is set up for them, they just need to arrive,” JT Poole, the head of security services spoke as he looked over a clipboard and then turned around.

“Them being here isn’t a reality right now,” Hank stated as JT raised an eye at him.  “Sorry.”

“Is everyone in place Hank?  I’ve placed two extra guards backstage and made the necessary arrangements for other places.  I was told that this act needs double security.  I’ve made sure nothing security related goes lacking for these guys,” JT stated as he walked over to where Hank stood.

“Who are these guys JT?  Why are they so important to warrant all of this security?  How famous are they?”  Hank asked as he and JT walked out of the backstage area.

“They’re called ‘All Star’ and from what I was told, three of the singers have been getting harassing phone calls and death threats.  One of them even got a box filled with snakes.  That’s the reason for all the security,” JT stated with a small smile as he and Hank continued walking down the corridor.  “Let’s go ahead and do the walk through again and be ready for the act to get here.”

“Yes sir, you’re the boss,” Hank replied with a salute as he walked down another corridor as JT went down another.

Two Hours Later – The Dressing Area

“Who’s this guy?”  Joshua Chandler, one of the singers of the band ‘All Star’ asked as JT walked into the room with them.

“Good evening gentlemen, my name is JT and I’m going to be your new security manager,” JT announced as a few of the guys in the room shook their heads and rolled their eyes.

“What happened to Steve and his crew?”  Justin Lake, another singer from the band asked.

“I don’t know what happened to your other security,” JT replied with a frown as he looked over at Justin Lake.  “As I was saying, there are currently twelve members of the security team and I will be the connection between you and them.  So, if any of you need anything, let me know and we’ll see about it.  Are there any questions?”

“Ah hi, my name is Lance, Lance Baker,” Lance Baker spoke as he waved his hand and then got up from where he sat as he moved over to one of the other guys.  “This is Joey Fallon… That guy over there is Chris Knoxx, the guy over by the mirror is Justin Lake and the guy over there, being solitary is Joshua Chandler.  We’re the guys of ‘All Star’.”

“It’s nice to meet all of you,” JT replied with a small smile as he turned to exit the room, but was stopped by Justin running over to him.

“Are you and the security guys replacing the current staff or is this just for tonight?”  Justin asked.

“Myself, Barbara Parks, Hank Hart, Tyler Sheridan and Wanda Langley will be joining you guys permanently for the remainder of your tour.  As for the other security staff here tonight, they will not remain with you,” JT stated as Justin frowned.  “We will hire extra security staff at each destination as we see fit to, if needed.”

“So, will you guys be our personal bodyguards or something?”  Joey Fallon asked, trying to avert his eyes.

“Yes we’ll be your personal bodyguards.  Upon the request of your management, we were asked to fill out some personality evaluations so that you guys could read them and then choose which one of us you wanted to be stuck with twenty-four-seven.  Once you make your choice, you’re stuck with that person, unless there’s a problem,” JT stated as the guys shrugged their shoulders and then nodded in agreement.

“Five minutes to show time guys, are you ready?”  Jon Worth, the guy’s manager asked as he walked into the room.

“Oh great, just what we wanted,” Joey sarcastically spoke as he shook his head.

“Okay guys, you have fun out there.  If I’m needed, I’ll be in the first row.  If something happens, I can get up to the stage and assist you,” JT stated as he waved and then walked out of the room.

“Okay guys, you’re going to do some numbers from the first album and then lead into some of the new stuff you’ve been working on.  Once those are out of the way, you guys can do the solo ballads you worked on yesterday,” Jon stated as the guys headed out of the room, heading for the stage area.

At the Arena Entrance Gate

“Man, I paid my damn money just like everyone else here.  You’re not going to keep me from going in there to enjoy the damn show!”  A young man stated as he pointed his finger in the security guard’s face.

“Sorry, but I can’t let you in, not until you’ve been inspected completely.  I have to look in your backpack, arena policy.  Either I check the backpack or you don’t get in to see the show,” the security guard stated as Barbara Parks walked over to the station.

“Is there a problem here Ted?”  Barbara asked, looking at the guard and then looking at the young man, as if she had seen him somewhere before.

“What’s with all of this shit, you people act like I’m a fucking criminal or something!  Get your damn hands off of me and let go of my bag!”  The young man screamed.

“We’re going to need security at the entrance gate.  We have a problem!”  The security guard spoke into his headset walkie-talkie.

“I’ve had enough of this, I’m outie!”  The young man screamed as he disappeared in a flash of light as the security guard and Barbara looked at each other.

“What the hell!”  The security guard exclaimed as Barbara shook her head.

‘JT, we have a special problem on our hands.  We have a disappearing super being, one that seems to get in and out of places unnoticed,’ Barbara spoke in her mind, hoping that JT mentally heard her.

The First Row of the Audience

‘What do you mean we have a problem Barbara?  Do you recognize who the person is?  What were they wearing?  Any recognizable patterns?’  JT mentally spoke to Barbara.

‘Well if you stopped singing and focused your mind back here where I am, maybe you could do a psychic scan of the area and find something that doesn’t belong here,’ Barbara mentally stated as she walked around the entrance area, looking for signs of the disappearing young man.

“This is JT, security is needed at the entrance gate,” JT spoke into his headset walkie-talkie as he moved through the crowd, headed towards the room entrance.  “I repeat, security is needed at the entrance gate!”

“What’s going on?”  Hank asked, walking over to where JT stood.

“Barbara informed me that we have a super being that can disappear and he’s trying his best to get into this concert.  So far, I can’t find him telepathically, mainly because he keeps disappearing,” JT stated as he looked over at Hank.  “How am I going to explain this one to the guys?”

“I don’t know buddy, but I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Hank stated as he shook his head.

“This is going to be harder than I thought,” JT stated as he shook his head and then moved through the crowd.

“Regardless of what’s going on, we may have to tell the guys who and what we are and what we can do, just to make sure they don’t freak out if they happen to see something strange,” Hank stated as he turned his attention to the stage, staring at Lance Baker.

“What are they supposedly going to see that’s strange Hank?”  JT sarcastically asked as Hank raised an eye at him.  “Are you referring to your strange ability to shape-shift, making you look and sound like someone else or are you referring to the stranger thing of Barbara freezing a soda can with her hand?”

“Oh ha ha friend,” Hank stated.  “I was referring to you doing the same things I and everyone else around here can do.  You’re the great big bio-morph around here.  You have the power to copy all our powers and read our minds.  So don’t go around thinking that you don’t do strange things, because you do, ‘Mister I Can Do Anything On This Plane Of Existence’ man.”

“Yeah, real funny Hank,” JT stated as he glared at Hank as they both rushed to the backstage area.  “The guys are on their last set.  Let’s do another walk through and have someone check the dressing area to make sure things are okay in there.”

“On it boss,” Hank stated as he walked down the corridor, speaking on his headset walkie-talkie, giving orders to others.

A Few Minutes Later – The Dressing Area

‘I think I need to shift into another form, just in case.  I want to be able to catch this person, whoever he is, if they’re back here.  Maybe I should look like Justin, since he’s the one getting the most phone calls and secret admirer mail,’ Hank thought, using his powers to alter his image as he walked into one of the rooms.

“Wow, oh wow, it’s you, it’s really you!”  A young man exclaimed, jumping from the closet in the room to stand in front of Hank in his Justin Lake morphed visage.

“Who in the hell are you?  How did you get back here?”  Hank asked as his body began to shift back into his true form as the young man tried to grab for his private area and he stepped back quickly.

“What the hell!  You’re not Justin!  You—you must be a special person, a special person like me!”  The young man screamed.

“Security!  Security!”  Hank yelled, hoping one of the security teams down the corridor would hear him.

“Is there something wrong Mr. Hart?  What’s the problem?”  A security guard asked, rushing into the area just as the young man disappeared.

“Damn it, he disappeared again,” Hank stated as he shook his head and then walked out of the room.  “JT isn’t going to like this one bit.”

‘Hank, is there something wrong?’  JT telepathically asked, rushing down the corridor, trying to get into the dressing area before the guys of ‘All Star’ could reach the room.

“You’re not going to like it,” Hank stated as JT looked at him strangely.

“What’s going on?  I heard you scream and I felt it too,” JT stated, pulling Hank to a corner of the room.

“The guy was in here and well—well he thought I was Justin and he tried to grab me,” Hank stated as he looked own.  “That’s all there was too it.”

“He thought you were Justin?  Did you, you know?”  JT asked as he turned to see the guys walk into the room.

“Yeah I did and when he noticed that I wasn’t Justin, he vanished again,” Hank stated just as Wanda Langley and Tyler Sheridan entered the room.

“Here comes trouble,” Hank said as Jon walked over to the two of them as JT’s eyes sparkled as Hank’s eyes widened.  “JT?”

“What happened here?”  Jon asked, looking around the room.  “Is there something going on?”

“Nothing we couldn’t handle,” JT replied as he put his arm around Jon’s back and led him in the opposite direction.

“If that’s the case, then what’s going on here?”  Jon asked, pointing at the extra security guys standing around.

“I’m just making sure that your guys are safe and sound, the reason you are paying us to be here,” JT stated as he looked around again.  “We thought that there was someone here in the dressing room area waiting, but we did a complete search and didn’t find anything.  Everything’s cool around here it seems.”

“Are you sure about that?  I heard that someone had snuck in and was waiting in the dressing room for Justin,” Jon stated as JT sighed.

“No one was waiting for Justin,” JT stated with a frown.  “We’ve completed back-to-back searches around here and we’ve come up empty.  There’s nothing to worry about here.”

“You make sure that remains to be the case.  I want these guys protected at all costs!”  Jon snapped, looking around the room.  “You make sure that you beef up security for these guys and make sure that you have the needed people around to keep them safe.  I don’t even want them left alone at all.  Wherever they go, you people go.  I don’t care even if it’s to the bathroom.  Your people need to stuck to them like they were damn glue!  You feel me?”

“Ah Jon, we can’t…” JT started as Jon interrupted him.

“As I said, you and your guys will stick to them like glue, regardless of how they feel about it.  Right now, their safety is more of a concern than their damn privacy and space,” Jon stated as he covered his eyes. “Do you still have those evaluations?”

“Yes,” JT replied as he walked over to where he had left his briefcase earlier and took out the folders that had the personality evaluations that he and his colleagues had completed earlier.

“Good,” Jon stated as he patted JT on the back.  “Have those guys go over those and then tell them to pick one of you to be with them twenty-four-seven.”

“I told them the routine earlier before the show,” JT stated as Jon glared at him and then turned and walked to a corner of the room.  “Okay guys, these are the evaluations that we filled out earlier.  Just go over these and you can pick which one of us that you want as your bodyguard.  If you don’t want to pick, I can choose for you.”

“Do we have to do this now?”  Joey asked as he looked up at JT.

“On second thought, JT why don’t you pick the bodyguards, since you’re the manager and all,” Jon stated as he moved to stand behind Joey.

“I would prefer the guys to choose the person they’re going to be around with on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t want the guys stuck with one of us and there be a personality issue or something,” JT stated.

A couple of minutes passed as the guys of All Star sat around the table, passing evaluations back-and-forth amongst themselves, trying to figure out who would be the person that would be protecting them, stuck to them like glue, for the remainder of the tour.  The routine of passing pages around went on for almost an hour and then the guys all stood up and then walked over to one of the security guards.

“Hi, you’re Wanda, right?  I want you to be my bodyguard.  I’m Chris Knoxx and I hope we can be good friends as well,” Chris Knoxx stated as he extended his hand to Wanda to shake.

“Hi, I’m Wanda Langley, I guess you’re going to be stuck with me and I hope we do become good friends,” Wanda stated as she shook Chris’ hand and then gave him a hug as JT looked at her strangely.

“Hi, are you Hank?”  Lance asked, moving over to Hank.

“Ah yeah, that’s me.  Are—are we teaming up to hang out?”  Hank asked, looking at Lance strangely.

“I guess so.  I would like you to be my new bodyguard, if that’s alright with you…” Lance spoke, his voice a bit shaky as he looked down.

“That’s cool with me,” Hank replied, thinking to himself that all of his dreams were coming true as JT shook his head.

‘Alright Hank, stop that before you end up doing something out of the ordinary, like jumping on him and screwing his brains out in front of everybody,’ JT telepathically spoke to Hank.

“Hi there… ah JT, you’re with me.  I hope you have a good sense of humor, because I am a prankster, but I also have a serious side and I hope we can be tight and right,” Joey said as he grabbed JT’s hand and then shook it.

“You just don’t know how good of a sense of humor I have.  You’ll just have to test it out to see,” JT stated as he turned to see Tyler and Hank winking their eyes at him.

“Hi there, can I call you Barb, if that’s okay with you?”  Justin asked, looking at Barbara closely.

“Sure, as long as I get to call you Justy.  It seems everyone else around here does and I think it suits you just fine,” Barbara stated as she smiled at Justin.

“I think we’re the only ones left,” Joshua spoke as he stood in front of Tyler.  “I guess you and me get to hang out together.  I’m Joshua Chandler, but you may call me Joshua or Josh, whichever you prefer.”

“Alright, Josh it is and it’s nice to meet you,” Tyler stated as he and Joshua shook hands.

The guys all mingled around, introducing themselves around to each other and talking to get to know one another.  This scene lasted for about an hour and then Jon returned to the room and announced that it was time for them to leave, that the limos were outside, waiting to take everyone to the hotel.

After the close encounter at the concert arena JT and his security team got everyone outside to the waiting limos safely without anyone else being the wiser.  While on the way to the hotel, Joshua and Justin did their best to convince Barbara and Tyler to allow them to go out to a club, while Joey and JT sat discussing some of the places they were going to visit on tour, while Lance and Chris sat snoozing.  After a couple of minutes of whining, Barbara and Tyler gave in and decided that Justin and Joshua could go out, only if they kept close enough to them and didn’t draw any unnecessary attention to themselves.

A Few Minutes Later – A Secret Hotel

“So JT, what arrangements did you make in regards to sleeping and such?”  Barbara asked as she looked at JT while holding her phone to her ear.

“We sleep in the room with our designated charges.  We have been booked into rooms with double beds.  That’s how it’s going to be for the remainder of the tour.  When we get off tour, that’s a different story altogether,” JT stated as Wanda looked at him strangely as they walked into the hotel.

“Hey Barb, don’t forget the club in twenty minutes and wear something hot,” Justin said as he pulled Joshua through the hotel doors.

‘Excuse me, what’s this about the club in twenty minutes Barb?  What’s Justin talking about?’  JT telepathically asked Barbara as she held her head and then looked in his direction.

“He and Joshua want to go out to a club.  To stop them from whining, Tyler and I agreed that they could go, as long as they stayed close to us and didn’t draw any unnecessary attention to themselves,” Barbara spoke as JT raised an eye at her.  “Come on JT, we’ll make sure they’re okay, so don’t freak out or anything.  We can protect them and ourselves or have you forgotten what we all can do.”

“Okay fine, as long as you report any odd things to me immediately and be sure to call or mindcall me if needed.  I don’t want that kid that can vanish or whatever he does, showing up and grabbing or getting to these guys.  Also, make sure that you and Tyler get them back here safely in one piece or Jon will have my neck and yours,” JT stated as he and Barbara walked down the corridor, making notes of safety precautions as they stepped into the elevator.

“Alright, what are the plans for Joey and Lance?”  Barbara asked.

“Now that Lance is awake again, he and Hank are going to hang out in the arcade, in hopes of getting to know one another better and Joey and I are just going to chill and talk in front of the TV.  He said he wanted to stay in tonight.  I’m going to have to keep a psychic eye on Hank and make sure that he doesn’t get too excited with Lance.  You know he has that big crush on him.  I’m afraid he may accidentally shape-shift in front of Lance and give everything away,” JT stated as he and Barbara laughed.

“You do that, but now its back to work,” Barbara stated as she pressed the button to open the elevator doors and then stepped out.  “Have fun boss man, don’t be so uptight all the time.”

“Yeah right,” JT said as he pressed the button to close the doors as he disappeared in a flash of light.

Later – Club Dallas

“I’m so glad that you and Wanda came along with us.  Now it’ll be more fun.  Wanda, you look cool in that, so do you Barb,” Justin spoke with his arm draped over Chris’ shoulder as they waited outside to get into the club.

“Thanks Justy, nice pants.  I don’t think I have the courage to wear tight fitting pants like that.  I try to give everyone the same view,” Barbara stated as everyone laughed at Justin’s blushing about her comment about his clothing.

“Take it easy Justin, your face might explode if you turn any more shades of red,” Chris joked as the bouncer ushered them into the club.

“Alright guys, make sure you stay close enough that we can smell your cologne.  If we feel that you’re too far away or there is any danger, we’re getting you out of here.  Got it,” Wanda said as Chris, Justin and Joshua nodded their heads as she, Barbara and Tyler walked over to a table to watch.

“Don’t you think you were a bit harsh on them Cat?”  Tyler asked as he looked over at Wanda.

“No and the name’s Wanda,” Wanda stated as Justin walked over to the table.

“What are you guys doing?  We came here to dance and have fun tonight.  Come on, you guys can’t just stand over here, watching us, you have to get your groove on too,” Justin said as Wanda and Barbara gave him a strange look.

“You go dance, we’ll be over here,” Barbara said with a small smile at Justin.  “You go have fun, but don’t stray too far or Jon will have our heads on a platter if something happens to you guys.”

(<RINGGGGGG>)

“Hi, this is Tyler, may I help you?”  Tyler spoke into his cell phone as he pressed the speaker button.

“Tyler, get the guys back here to the hotel now!  Don’t stop for anything, just get the guys back here and make sure you don’t do anything to upset them!”  JT’s voice boomed through the speaker of the phone.

“What’s going on boss man?  Why are you yelling?”  Barbara asked.

“We just received a package here at the hotel and Joey opened it.  The package contained a letter and pictures of you guys standing outside of a club.  The letter said that the hottest member of ‘All Star’ would be kissed and we would be short two singers and two bodyguards.  The letter also stated that the oldest member of ‘All Star’ would be next, whatever that means.  Just get everyone back here now and don’t waste any time doing it.  Just don’t tell the guys yet,” JT’s voice explained as they stood around the table listening.

“Okay buddy, we’re on our way.  Keep a psychic eye on us to make sure nothing happens on our way back,” Tyler stated as he turned off the phone.

With a look of seriousness on his face, Tyler moved through the crowd of dancing people as he got to Justin, Joshua and Chris.  Getting some resistance from Justin and Joshua, Tyler finally got the three men over to the table.

“We need to leave here,” Barbara stated as Justin looked at her with a mean look on his face.

“What!  We just got here!”  Justin snapped.

“Yeah, we haven’t been here long enough to have fun yet,” Chris whined as Wanda looked at him.

“You can have fun back at the hotel, now we’re leaving,” Barbara stated as Justin shook his head.

“I’m not leaving yet, I’m going back out there to dance,” Justin said as he turned around as Barbara grabbed his arm, stopping him.

“No, we have to leave now,” Barbara stated, not backing down from the mean look on Justin’s face.

“I said I wasn’t leaving, I’m going back out to dance,” Justin stated as Wanda shook her head.

“No, we’re leaving here, now!”  Wanda exclaimed as Justin, Joshua and Chris’ eyes widened as they stopped moving.  “Let’s get out of here and get back to the hotel.”

“Okay, you don’t have to shout,” Chris said as he turned and walked towards the exit.

To Be Continued…

The Past Comes Knocking – Chapter 14

Chapter 14 — The Heart That Preys, Part 2

May 27, 2004 – Philadelphia, PA – Penn Medicine (Hospital)

“So, how long does it take to get these results back?”  JT asked, looking at the woman that had swabbed his mouth with a cotton swab, placed said swab in an evidence-like plastic bag and then sealed the bag up.

“It generally takes about three to ten working days for the results to get back, but it could be sooner, depending on the caseload of the lab used,” the woman replied, writing some information on the bag.

“So, is there a way for me to get the results back quicker than that?”  JT asked, looking at the woman closely.  “I really need these results so I can resolve a very pressing matter.”

“I’m sorry sir, but you have to wait, just like everyone else does,” the woman stated as she handed JT a piece of paper.  “Once the results are back, we’ll give you and Ms. Stewart a call.”

“Gee thanks,” JT sarcastically said, getting up from the chair.  “I guess I have nothing better to do than wait around here.”

“You don’t have to wait here sir,” the woman stated.

“I think I’ll wait,” JT said with a frown as the woman placed the bag in a box and then escorted him out of the room.

A Few Minutes Previously – The Waiting Room

Vanessa’s POV

Why in the hell are we here, getting a damn paternity test done?  Did I miss something here?  What in the hell is going on?  From what I was able to gather from Nikki and Mo’ette, that damn fool Heather is back again and she’s trying to cause dome damn trouble.

What kind of trouble is that heffa trying to cause this time?  The last time the heffa was around them, a lot of people lost their jobs and almost lost their lives.  With all the mess going on around here, we don’t need that kind of drama happening.  There’s already too much shit going on in the media and we don’t need her adding more to it.  I’ve pulled as many strings as I can to try and clear up this mess in the media and I don’t need that bitch, coming around here, undoing what I’ve put into motion already.

I really don’t know what’s going on here, but something’s not right.  That little boy with Heather, he looks like JT used to look, when he was around that age.  Is that little boy JT’s son?  If so, how in the world is that possible?  Is that why Heather is here?  Is that the trouble the girls were talking about?  How in the hell is that possible?  Is JT hiding something from me, from all of us?  How can he be the father of that little boy?

“All these years,” I said aloud as Nikki looked over at me with a confused look on her face.

“You say something Vanessa?”  Nikki asked.

“No,” I replied, getting up from the chair as I walked over to the windows in the room.

“Vanessa, are you okay?”  Nikki asked, getting up too and walking over to where I was.

“No, I’m not okay,” I replied with a sigh.  “What’s really going on here Nikki?  Why in the hell are we here?”

“We’re here for JT’s peace of mind,” Nikki replied, looking down.

“We’re here for his peace of mind for what?  He’s gay,” I said, shaking my head as she looked down.

“He said they never slept together, but in this case, how did that little boy get here?”  Nikki asked with a frown on her face.  “I must admit it, that little boy looks a lot like JT.  I don’t know what’s going on, but Heather has the answers to this drama, that’s steadily growing.”

“He’s gay,” I said again as she shook her head and then shrugged her shoulders.

“That’s what he says, but if that’s the case, someone’s lying or there’s a factor here, that we’re not seeing,” Nikki stated as she looked out the window, sighing.  “Maybe we’re missing something here.”

“Is he hiding something from me, from all of us?”  I asked.

“I—I don’t know Vanessa.  I don’t have any answers for you here,” Nikki said as the door across the room opened as JT walked into the room.

“Well,” I said as he looked at me and then sighed.

“We have to wait about three to ten days before we know something,” JT stated, walking towards the main door.

“What?  We can’t stay here that long.  Jarrod expects us to be back in Jacksonville by next week,” Nikki said, walking towards the door also.

“I know that, but I want to get to the bottom of this first,” JT said with a frown on his face.  “I can’t have this looming over me, over all of us.”

“Yeah, it’s looming over all of us,” Nikki said, looking him in the face.  “What’s really happening here JT?  You need to get real with us here.”

“Excuse me?  I need to get real?  I’ve been real with all of you,” JT said, looking at Nikki like she was crazy.

“You’ve been real with us, really?  Then why is there a little boy in the world, that looks just like you?”  Nikki asked, looking at him.  “You told me the other day that you’re gay and that you’ve always been that way.  If that’s the case, what in the hell is going on between you and Heather?  She’s not a damn man.”

“I don’t know what’s going on with Heather,” JT replied, looking down.  “I just feel a bad vice here and I don’t know why.”

“You feel a bad vibe?  Boy, what’s going on here?  Why are you even here, getting a damn paternity test done?”  I asked, looking him in the face.  “As long as you’ve been on this Earth, I’ve never heard about you lying with a woman.  So, how in the hell did this happen?”

“I don’t know how this happened, if it did happen,” JT replied with a frown on his face.  “I’ve never slept with her and I feel she’s trying to run a scam here.”

“Well this one is a…” Nikki trailed off as the door opened again as Heather and the little boy walked into the room with us.

“Good morning everyone,” Heather stated, smiling as she and the little boy walked over to where we were.  “It seems like it’s going to be a very beautiful day, don’t you think?”

“Whatever,” JT said, turning and walking on through the door, leaving us standing there with Heather and the little boy.

“What game are you trying to pull here Heather?”  I asked as the little boy looked up at me.  “Why are you here woman?”

“To get what’s due me,” Heather replied as I shook my head.  She really needs her ass beat, but I dare not do it in front of that child.  Some things a child should not see.

“Again, what is it that you’re due Heather?”  Nikki asked, looking at her.

“We’re not going down that road again, Nikki is it,” Heather said as she shook her head.  “In a few days, the truth will be revealed.”

“What truth is that Heather?”  Nikki asked, crossing her arms across her chest.

“You know what truth,” Heather said with a smile.  “Then the real fun begins.”

“I guess we’ll see,” Nikki said, opening the door as she walked out of the room next.

Around Noon – The Radisson Plaza Hotel – The Hotel Restaurant

“Oh God, I’m so glad you guys are back,” Mo’ette said, walking over to JT, Justin, Nikki and Vanessa.  “We have another problem guys.”

“We have another problem, such as what?”  JT asked, sighing as he looked down and then shook his head.

“Right now, the media is the problem.  It seems someone is at it again,” Mo’ette said, pointing to the television.  “Apparently, someone has leaked some information to the media about you and Justin.  Now you two have been outed.”

“What kind of information was leaked?”  JT asked, looking at Justin and then back at Mo’ette.

“It seems the news stations have been running a story about you and Justin most of the day,” Mo’ette said with a frown.  “It started with just Justin singing at the concert with you and now they have pictures of you two kissing and hugging.”

“What,” JT said, sighing again as he scratched at his head.

“And to add more fuel to the fire, they’re running a story about Nikki here, saying that she’s currently pregnant and Josh is the baby’s father,” Mo’ette said as Nikki’s eyes widened.

“What!”  Nikki snapped, looking like she was ready to hit something.

“Oh my,” JT said, looking at Nikki.  “When did that happen?”

“Around ten or so this morning, but I’m sure it probably aired before then,” Mo’ette replied, pointing across the room at a television screen.  “The story said that Nikki and Josh were back together officially and that she was pregnant and expecting their first baby.  I didn’t know you two dated.”

“Yeah, it was a thing of the distant past,” Nikki sarcastically said, shaking her head as Mo’ette looked at her strangely.  “What else can possibly happen?”

“Who knows,” Mo’ette said as Nikki sighed and then walked away from the table.

Justin’s POV

This just isn’t going to get any better, is it?  When is the media going to leave them alone?  First the crap with him, then the shit with Glitter and now they’re messing with Nikki.  What’s going to happen next?

“Justin Tanner!”  I heard behind me as I put the menu down, turned around and then saw Momma standing at the guest check-in with Dad.  Oh shit, is this really happening right now?  “Justin Tanner, I know you hear me talking to you!”

“What in gay hell,” JT said as he turned around to see Momma and Dad too.  “The shit is about to hit the fan, everyone needs to duck.”

“Here we go,” Vanessa said, looking at me as Mo’ette frowned and then sighed as she shook her head.

“We don’t need this right now,” Mo’ette said as Momma rushed over to the table as Dad shook his head and then covered his eyes.

“Justin Tanner, what in the hell is going on?”  Momma asked, looking at me like I was crazy.  “Do you know what’s going on?”

“No Momma, what’s going on?”  I asked, looking at her like she was crazy as did other people around us.

“You’re on the damn news!”  She snapped, pointing her finger at me.  “Most of the news channels are saying you’re gay and you’re with that guy… What’s his name, the guy that was on the show with you guys!”

“JT,” I said, shaking my head as she stopped and then looked at me funny.

“Yeah, him,” she said, crossing her arms across her chest.  “Why in the world are you with him right now?”

“Because I’m supposed to be with him,” I replied as she stopped again and then dropped her arms.

“What do you mean by that?”  She asked, looking at me closely.  “Why are you supposed to be with him?”

“Because he’s my boyfriend Momma,” I replied as she hauled off, smacking me across the face as Dad moved quickly, grabbing her before she could do more.

“How dare you sit there and nonchalantly tell me that!  How dare you!”  Momma screamed as Dad did his best to hold her back.  “Let me go Paul, let me go damn it!”

“Lynda honey, you need to calm down,” Dad spoke, trying to stop her as she struggled to get away from him.

“Alright, we don’t need this drama here.  Just calm down,” Vanessa said as she stood up from the table and then moved over to where Momma stood. “There’s already too much going on.  We don’t need more added to that.”

“Who are you?”  Momma asked, looking at Vanessa strangely.

“I’m Vanessa Jameson,” Vanessa replied, looking at Momma closely.  “I’m JT’s mother.”

“Do I look like I care that you’re his mother?”  Momma asked as she pulled away from Dad and got closer to Vanessa. “Because of your son, my son’s career is going down the damn drain as we speak!  How could you, a mother, let something like this happen?  Don’t you care about your son or his career?”

“Excuse me?  What do you mean by that?”  Vanessa asked, getting closer to Momma, getting up in her face.

“Ladies,” Dad said as Momma looked at him and he stepped back.

“Just what it sounded like I meant!  Don’t you care about your son or his career?”  Momma asked.  “If you cared, how could you let this happen?  How could you let them be together, opening to cause all this mess?”

“The only one causing mess right now is you,” Vanessa said as she pointed her finger in Momma’s face.  “I don’t know what your problem is, but I’m not going to stand here and allow you…”

“Stop!”  JT snapped, getting up from the table.  “Is this really the time or place for this?”

“Is there any other?”  Momma asked, looking over at him.  “What did you do to him?  What did you do to my Justin, to get him to do this?”

“Excuse me?  I did nothing to Justin to get him to do anything,” JT stated as he looked down and then shook his head.

“Nobody did anything to me Momma,” I replied as she shook her head.

“You lie, that man corrupted you and made you turn your back on all that you know and choose a life of sin,” she said, getting in my face.  “How could you turn your back on the right way and go against God?  I didn’t raise you to be this way!  I didn’t raise you to be with a man!”

“Stop it Momma,” I said as she smacked me in the face again.

“You stop it!  You stop whatever the hell this is and come home with me!”  Momma screamed as I shook my head.

“What is going home with you going to do?”  I asked as she shook her head.  “I’m not going to leave the man I love.”

“You’re not going to leave the man you love?  What?  I—I don’t believe what I’m hearing,” Momma said as she turned away from me and then looked down.

“Lynda, we need to go,” Dad suggested, looking over at me.  “Justin is a grown man.  He’s made his decision and you need to abide by it.”

“No Paul!  I’m not going to let my baby ruin his life like this,” Momma said, sniffling as she shook her head.  “I can’t allow him to live this kind of life.  He—he can’t go to hell!”

“I’m not going to hell Momma,” I said a she turned and then looked at me like I was crazy.  “Momma…”

“Why are you like this?  Was it something I did?  Did one of those gay boys in the band do something to make you this way?”  Momma asked as I shook my head.

“No Momma, you didn’t do anything and neither did any of the guys,” I replied, sighing as she shook her head again and then wiped at her eyes.  “I’m just me.  I love him and I want to be with him.  There’s nothing more than that to say.”

“Yes there is,” she replied, moving back over to where I was.  “Please Justin, please don’t choose this kind of life.  You can’t live like this.  You can’t flourish as a real man.”

“Yes I can Momma,” I replied as she shook her head and then moved away from me as Dad smiled weakly.  “It’s only love Momma.  There’s nothing wrong with love.”

“There’s something wrong with love when it goes against God,” she said, sniffling again.  “I love you Justin, but I’m not going to condone the way you’re living right now.”

“I love you also Momma, but I’m not going to change, just to make you happy,” I replied as she looked at me and then walked towards the door.

“As long as you’re gay Justin, I have no son,” she said as I’m sure my eyes widened as it felt like my heart had been pulled out of my chest.

“Momma,” I said as Dad raised his hand, stopping me as he walked over to where I was.

“Son, don’t worry about this.  I’ll talk to her.  You stay here with the man that’s captured your heart.  Be strong Justin and don’t let anything break your spirit.  I’ll call you later on tonight.  I love you son,” he said, hugging me as he rubbed my back.

“I—I love you too Dad,” I said, sniffling as it felt like my whole world was crashing around me.

“Go to him son, go to him and show him that you’re not going to let this ruin what you two have.  Show him that this isn’t an obstacle for you two,” he said, patting me on the back as he walked away, catching up to Momma as he hugged her as the two of them walked out of the room together.

An Hour Later

Nikki’s POV

“I said no comment!”  I snapped, hitting the off button so hard, I nearly broke a nail.  Ever since that story about my nonexistent pregnancy broke, my cell has been ringing non-stop.  When I find out who leaked that shit, heads are going to roll!

Sighing, my phone rang again.  My emotions getting the better of me, I start to toss the thing across the room, but I remember I need it.  I don’t even look at the caller ID before I hit the answer key.

“Whoever the hell this is, I don’t have any comment!”  I snapped.

“Nicole Shanté Knotts, I know I taught you how to answer a phone better than that!”  I heard a voice I dreaded hearing.

Oh shit, this is the last thing I need right now.  I might as well fall on my sword now, versus letting my mother stew for days.  I already know what this is about, so I just have to suck it up and go with the damn flow.

“I’m sorry momma, it’s just these stupid reporters won’t leave me alone.  I take it you heard,” I said.

“Yes, I did.  I’m calling to ask what in the hell you think you’re doing, getting back with Joshua after the way his people treated you!”  She snapped as I held the phone away from my ear a bit.

I sighed deeply.  I knew she’d be pissed when she found out.  Nothing to do now but jump in and try to smooth the waters.  No matter what I say, she’s still going to be pissed, whether he claims to be a changed man or not.

“It isn’t like that momma.  I had no idea he was coming here, but I’m glad he did.  I—I’ve missed him.  And I still love him so much.  Please don’t be angry,” I said, trying to imagine the look on her face.

“It’s too late for that little girl,” she said as I shook my head.  I’m back to be called ‘little girl’.  She’s beyond pissed with me right now.  “Nicole, you just got over him.  Why would you do this to yourself again?  You know his family hates you.  You deserve so much better than that baby.  You deserve someone better than him!”

Damn, nobody knows how to make me cry, faster than Momma of course.  Dashing away the tears, I try to sound like I know what I’m doing, but I don’t think Momma would actually care.  It’s her way or the highway at times.

“It’s not like that anymore Momma.  He told me he doesn’t care how his family.  He told me he doesn’t care how his family feels.  He misses me and he wants me too.  Joshua does love me.  He’s always loved me.  Can you please try to accept that we’re back together?”  I asked.

Momma’s voice was neutral when she spoke again, but I know her.  She’s so mad, steam is probably shooting out of her ears, like you would see in the Saturday morning cartoons.

“Where are ya’ll right now?”  She asked.

“We’re still in Philly, but we’re headed back to Jacksonville tomorrow morning.  Why Momma?”  I asked, wondering what was going through her mind.

“You stay your brown ass there until I get there.  It’s time for you and me to have a little sit down.  I’ll call you back when I have my flight information,” she said as I shook my head again.

Lord, the click in my ear let me know I’ve been dismissed.  I don’t need this right now!  But Gladys Knotts has spoken.  I’d be a damned fool to try to ignore her decree that I remain here until she decides to show up.  Shaking my head, I stopped in my tracks and walked over to the bar and ordered myself a Cola and asked for a mini bottle of rum to go along with it.

“Well shit, I think I’m going to need me a cool drink,” I said as the bartender looked at me strangely as I sighed.

Mutual Attraction’s Hotel Suite

“JT, I’m so glad to see you.  Would you like to tell me what’s going on around here?”  Jarrod asked, walking over to where JT stood as Starletta followed behind him.  “Since I’ve been up, there have been reporters and paparazzi, trying to get in here to see you guys.  So, tell me JT, what’s going on around here?”

“What’re you asking me for?”  JT asked, walking passed Jarrod.  “I’m in no mood to deal with you right now, so leave me the hell alone.”

“I’m not about to leave you alone and you better get into the mood to deal with me.  I want to know what’s going on around here,” Jarrod stated as he followed behind JT, getting up in his face.

“Man, don’t make me hit you,” JT said, glaring at Jarrod.

“Go ahead and do that and you’ll be in jail before sun down,” Jarrod stated as JT cracked a smile and then shook his head.

“Come on, you act like I would actually care about something like that,” JT stated as he moved passed Jarrod, heading towards his room.  “If you’re going to make a threat to me, at least make it one that’s fucking believable.”

“I’m so tired of this damn attitude from you JT.  I’m your fucking boss…” Jarrod said as JT laughed and then shook his head again.

“Yeah, you’re my fucking boss alright that keeps sticking it to her,” JT said as he pointed at Starletta.  “Let me know when you’re done diddling her; then we can talk about what’s going on.  Until then, stop acting like a damn whinny ass bitch!”

“Why, I…” Jarrod said as JT shook his head, walked into the room and then slammed the room door in his face.

“Damn, you’re going to just let him talk to you like that,” Starletta said as she looked at Jarrod strangely.

“Shut the hell up,” Jarrod said as he turned around quickly and then stomped back into the room, slamming the door behind him, leaving Starletta standing there watching like a fool.

“Well excuse the hell out of me,” Starletta said, waving her hand dismissively as she turned around and walked towards the main room door as it opened quickly as Justin, Mo’ette and Vanessa rushed into the room.  “Damn, where’s the fire?”

“JT!”  Justin called out, almost knocking Starletta down.  “I’m sorry, I’m looking for JT.”

“Damn, you’re excused,” Starletta replied, turning around to look at Justin as Mo’ette glared at her.

“Look here ho, we don’t have time for the shit you’re about ready to spew.  Keep that shit to yourself, under lock and key, in your throat,” Mo’ette said as she turned around and then walked over to JT’s room door, joining Justin as she banged on the door.

“I’m not in the damn mood!  Get away from that damn door!”  JT screamed as Justin stopped knocking and then looked down as he shook his head.

“Fine, I’ll just leave here,” Justin said with a sigh.

“No baby, you stand your ground here,” Mo’ette said as she looked at Justin closely.  “This is just a small bump in the road baby.  Don’t let what happened earlier, bring you down.”

“It’s way too late for that,” Justin said as he shook his head again.  “He’s in there and I’m out here.  That’s not right.  We should be together, not apart like this.”

“For now, that’s how it’s going to be!  I’m done!”  JT snapped.

“JT baby, stop all of this madness and get your ass out here,” Vanessa said as she stood next to Justin and Mo’ette, tapping on the door.  “This isn’t funny boy!”

“JT, listen to us, get out here and talk to your man or let him in there with you,” Mo’ette said as she tapped on the door next.

“I said get away from that damn door!”  JT screamed.

“No and that’s final JT,” Mo’ette replied as she banged on the door again. “Get your narra ass out here!  Don’t make me kick this muthafuckah down!”

“That’s okay Mo, just let it go,” Justin said as he sighed and then wiped at his eyes.

“No Justin, I’m not going to let this go,” Mo’ette said as she pulled Justin into a hug.  “This is just a small bump in the road.  I’m sure you two are going to get through this.”

“I don’t think we will Mo,” Justin said as he sniffled and then wiped at his eyes.  “He’s trying to play the good guy here, when he doesn’t need to.  I don’t’ care about what Momma thinks right now, I care about him.  He doesn’t need to do what he’s doing for my sake.  We’re supposed to be together.  Why can’t he see that?”

“Because—because maybe we don’t need to be together.  I told you there would be issues that you couldn’t surpass,” JT’s voice was heard through the door.

“Issues I couldn’t surpass?  I’m here; you’re the one in there, hiding!  I’m not letting my mother hold us back, you are!  I’m here, trying to be with you.  You’re the one that’s in there, trying to hide from me!  You’re the one that’s scared here, not me!”  Justin snapped as he kicked the door, turned around and then walked off.

“Justin!”  Mo’ette called after Justin, rushing behind him as Vanessa shook her head and then kicked the door too as it opened.  Sighing, she walked into the room to see JT sitting on the bed, crying.

“Boy, what are you doing in here?”  Vanessa asked, walking over to JT and then sitting down next to him.  “Justin is out there, hurting and you’re in here… You’re in here, crying like a damn fool.”

“Thanks a lot mother,” JT said as he sniffled and then wiped at his eyes.  “The vote of confidence I needed.”

“You’re welcomed son,” Vanessa sarcastically said as she smacked JT upside the head.  “What in the hell is wrong with you?  Why are you in here, when that young man is out there, probably ready to walk away from your ass and you’ll…”

“Yeah, like all the others,” JT said as he sniffled and then looked down.  “I knew it was only a matter of time before…”

“You knew it was a matter of time before what?”  Vanessa asked, looking at JT like he was crazy.  “This had nothing to do with me or Marc, this time it was all you.”

“What!”  JT snapped, looking up at Vanessa.

“Who are you going to blame for this one not working out JT?”  Vanessa asked.  “Marc isn’t here and I had nothing to do with this baby, so you only have yourself to blame for Justin leaving the…”

“What!”  JT snapped again as he got up from the bed quickly.

“That’s what I said boy,” Vanessa said as she shook her head and then stood up. “That crazy ass white boy likes you.  Hell, he might even love you on some level.”

“How do you know that?”  JT asked, looking at Vanessa closely as he wiped at his eyes.

“That white boy stood up to his parents and chose you.  From what I know about Lynda Hamilton, she’s cut throat when it comes to her son and this business.  That woman will do any and everything for him.  They’ve always been there for each other, but I’m sure you already know that,” Vanessa stated as she shook her head.

“Yeah, I know that.  Justin isn’t going to be with me long, he’ll figure out that he’s tired of not having his mother talk to him, blame me for his mother not talking to him and then he’ll leave me,” JT stated as Vanessa shook her head again.

“You aren’t getting it,” Vanessa said as she sighed.  “Justin chose you and not her baby.  That’s saying a whole lot.”

“No it’s not mother,” JT said as Vanessa hit him upside the head again.  “Owww Momma!”

“Boy, I’m getting really pissed off with you here,” Vanessa spoke as she shook her head and then raised her hand as JT slunk back against the wall.  “You’ll never know how it feels for a parent to have their child choose someone else over them.  When Justin told her that he loved you and that he wasn’t going to change for anything… You know, that should’ve been enough for you.  Stop acting like a damn fool boy.  Justin is trying here, but are you?”

“I…” JT started as Vanessa interrupted him.

“Are you trying John?”  Vanessa asked, looking at JT strangely.  “All these years, all the complaining about not having what you wanted.  Well you got it and now you’re trying to turn it away.”

“I’m not trying to turn it away,” JT replied as he looked down.

“What?  If you’re not trying to turn it away, then what in the hell are you doing John Timothy Poole?”  Vanessa asked, sighing as she shook her head again.  “Sometimes you remind me of your daddy, way too much.”

“Don’t bring him into this,” JT said as he sighed.

“Why not bring him into this?  You don’t want me reminding you of how much you two are alike,” Vanessa said, pointing her finger at JT.  “You’re both stubborn, you both drink, you both…”

“Momma!”  JT snapped as Vanessa raised an eye at him.

“Boy, don’t raise your voice to me like that again,” Vanessa chastised JT.  “You might be a grown man, but I’ll knock the hell out of you.  I’m not Mo’ette, Glitter or Nikki.”

“I know you’re not,” JT replied as he sighed again.

“Do you even like the boy or not?”  Vanessa asked, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Yes, I like him, but…” JT replied as Vanessa interrupted him.

“No buts about it boy,” Vanessa said as she looked at JT closely. “Do you want to be with him?  Do you want him being the one?”

“I don’t know if he’s the one or not,” JT replied as he looked down.  “I’m tired of getting hurt.  I put my…”

“No baby, you’re the one hurting you right now and no one else.  As I said before, Marc isn’t here and I had nothing to do with this,” Vanessa stated as she turned JT’s face to look at her.  “If you want to be with that crazy ass white boy, be with him.  Damn JT, be a damn man, man up and stop being negative all the damn time.  I’m tired of this.  I could be somewhere else, living my life, but no, I’m here, trying to help you fix yours.  Be you baby.  That’s all you have to do in life.”

“Momma,” JT said as he sniffled and then wiped at his eyes.

“No boy, be you and stop snotting up the place, you a grown ass man,” Vanessa said as she shook her head and made a strange facial expression as JT wiped at his eyes again.  “Go in there and clean up your face and then go find your man.”

“But what if…” JT said as Vanessa shook her head again.

“Go in there and clean up your face and go find your man.  Once you two are okay, come find me.  I think we need to have a talk about the Heather matter,” Vanessa said as she pushed JT towards the bathroom.

“Okay, thanks Momma,” JT said as Vanessa hugged him and then kissed him on his forehead.

“Welcome boy, now get in there and clean your face.  You are getting snot everywhere,” Vanessa said, laughing as JT stuck out his tongue as she raised an eye at him.  “Get in there.”

“Yes ma’am,” JT replied as he walked into the bathroom.

To Be Continued in Book 2 – After the Glitter Fades