Chapter 1— The Knotts Conspiracy
May 27, 2004 – Philadelphia, PA – The Radisson Plaza Hotel – Gladys Knotts’s Hotel Room
Damn it, I’m on pins and needles, waiting for Momma to get here. I don’t know what’s taking her so long. It’s not like she’s flying around the damn world, she’s just coming up from Atlanta. I just hope she brings her electric skillets. I already know she’s pissed off about me seeing Josh again. I’m really not looking forward to hearing her mouth about that, but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Regardless of what I do, she’s going to have her say, no matter what. Nevertheless, I could use a home cooked meal right about now and nobody cooks smothered chicken better than Gladys Knotts, honey.
“Lord knows, this hotel food isn’t what’s hot!” I exclaimed, turning around quickly as the knocking on the room door brought me out of my reverie. “Hold your horses!”
Opening the door, I stopped in my tracks as Momma stood there with a stern look on her face. If she was a person with super powers, that look tells me she could zap me with energy and knock me the hell out. I can tell that she’s pissed beyond belief.”
“Momma, you’re here,” I said as I stepped aside, allowing her to come into the room.
“Mommy!” I heard a familiar voice as I looked up at her.
Surprised, a little body practically bowled me over in enthusiasm. My panic must be showing because my mother quickly ushered us inside without a word. I’m stunned that she took this kind of a gamble, bringing Summer here. She has to know that Josh is still somewhere, lurking in the hotel. The last thing I need is for him to see my daughter and put two and two together.
“Hey my baby, how are you?” I asked, hugging and kissing my little girl.
She looked so much like her daddy, that it brought tears to my eyes. Sure, she has my nose and dimples, but everything else on her from her soft, curly light brown hair to her haunting gray-green eyes screams ‘Joshua Charles’. I’ve spent the past two years, hiding that fact from everyone. There’s no way in hell I’m stopping now. There’s too much at stake.
“Miss you, mommy,” Summer spoke, cuddling into me, her bottom lip trembling. “You no home!”
“I know baby, and I miss you so much. But mommy has to work now,” I told her as she shook her head.
“No! You home!” My little girl snapped with all the conviction in her two-year old body. “You home now!”
“Summer, Nana explained why mommy isn’t home baby,” Momma stated with a loving smile. Her granddaughter can do no wrong as far as Momma’s concerned. “You don’t like living with me?”
“Love you Nana. Want Mommy,” Summer whispered as she cuddled more into me.
Hearing the sadness in her voice broke my heart. Being away from home for months at a time sucks for me too. I’ve always hated touring. It’s a million times worse now, that I’m a mother. But I understand why we have to do it. If we don’t hit the road, we make no money. I squeezed my baby tighter, trying to show my love for her as she sniffled.
Sniffling also, I allowed her nearness to soothe my spirit. She’s always had this calming effect on me. Ever since the day she was born, all she’s had to do is look at me and my soul is quieted. No matter how much chaos is swirling around me, Summer has always been my calm in the middle of the storm.
Speaking of chaos…
“Summer, Nana and mommy need to talk. Will you go in the room and watch TV?” I asked. “I promise, we can have cookies and ice cream for dessert.”
“Okay!” Summer squealed, grabbing her travel bag from my mother as she too off into the other room. I waited until the door closed before I turned back to face my mother.
“Momma, what in the heck were you thinking, bringing her here? What if Joshua had seen you? Seen her?” I asked.
“That’s exactly why I brought her,” Momma replied coolly. “I think you need a reminder of just how much you stand to lose, should he find out you faked having that miscarriage.”
“Momma, you know why I did that,” I said, shaking my head. “Josh’s family never would’ve accepted her. You saw the way they treated me. There’s no way I was going to chance them finding out about her.”
“That’s all the more reason for you to break things off now,” Momma stated firmly. “How in the hell do you think they’ll react to your lies? Better yet, how will he?”
Sighing, I wanted to come back at her, but what’s the use? Over the three years Josh and I dated, his family made my life a living hell. His brother and sister were the worst. They scrutinized my every move. Nothing I did was ever good enough and then there were the fights. They would call me all kinds of horrible names and swear up and down that I was cheating on Josh with any man I even looked at.
Hell, Josh’s sister’s favorite activity was calling me a nigger bitch whenever she saw me. I could even stand that, but what eventually broke my heart was that Josh never once stood up for me. His friends Joey, Lance and even Justin stood up to the Charles’ more than my own fiancé ever did, but it was our announcement of my pregnancy that broke his family’s back.
His parents told me point blank that no little half-black monkey would ever be welcomed in their family. All of them insisted that Josh get a paternity test, since I was supposedly a cheating whore. Hell, his brother even hinted that the baby might be Joey’s since he was always so hot to defend me, and just like always, Josh didn’t say a word to defend me against the hurtful things they said or did.
When we got back to our hotel that night, he actually asked me to take the test. He said it was to reassure his family, that the baby was hit, but I knew better. He believed them, but was took chicken to tell me. The so-called loving actions of my fiancé
From that point, I was so upset, I stormed out. That was the last time I saw him. The stress from that meeting was too much and I woke up bleeding early the next morning. By the time Joshua came to the hospital, I was gone. I left a letter with the nurse that told him I’d lost the baby and as much as I loved him, I just couldn’t be with someone who refused to stand up to his family. That lie has haunted me every time I look into our little girl’s eyes. I know in my heart that Josh loved me. He still does. I just couldn’t risk him eventually coming to hate me. Even more, I couldn’t let him resent the wedge that our baby would have driven between him and his family.
Later that Night – Mutual Attraction’s Tour Bus
“Well there you are,” Mo’ette said, walking onto the tour bus to see JT sitting in one of the seats. “What’re you doing out here?”
“How in the hell did you find me out here?” JT asked, looking up at Mo’ette.
“Harry, one of the security guards said that he saw you come out this way,” Mo’ette answered with a frown on her face. “So, what are you doing out here? Why aren’t you inside, with Justin?”
“I—I don’t want to talk to anyone right now,” JT replied as he looked down.
“Including me?’ Mo’ette said as she looked at him closely.
“Mo,” JT said with a sigh. “Why are you here, trying to talk to me? I’m trying to clear my mind and I’m guessing, you’re here to add more to it.”
“No baby, I’m not trying to add more to what’s on your mind. I’m here, trying to help you muddle through it,” Mo’ette stated, sitting next to JT. “I’m here to help baby, you know that.”
“I don’t feel like anyone or anything is going to help me right now,” JT said, sighing. “Why is life so hard? If—If I wasn’t in the spotlight, as a celebrity no less, like I am, do you think all of this crap would be happening to me?”
“I don’t have the answer to that one at all baby,” Mo’ette replied with a frown. “All I can say right now is that your celebrity status is what’s keeping all of this crap going. Hell, if you were a normal person, somewhere in America, I don’t think anyone would care about you having a drinking problem or who you slept with.”
“That’s how life should be Mo,” JT stated, sighing as he rubbed at his head. “There’s no reason for anyone caring that I take a damn drink every now and again.”
“You’re a celebrity baby. The world is always going to be in your business,” Mo’ette stated, placing a hand on JT’s leg. “Now that you’ve brought me back into the spotlight, the world is going to be in my business too.”
“Ah, I’m sorry Mo, I didn’t think…” JT said as Mo’ette looked at him, shaking her head as he stopped talking as he sighed. “I—I thought that’s what you…”
“Wanted or needed,” Mo’ette said as she sighed this time.
“A little of both,” JT stated as he got up from his seat. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know baby,” Mo’ette replied with a frown as she looked up at him.
“I thought that if you were back, singing with us, your life would get back on…” JT said as he turned to face Mo’ette.
“You thought my life would get back on track,” Mo’ette said as she looked at JT closely. “Baby, my life was fine the way it was. I got—got a man that loves me, I have…”
“Where is David anyway? I haven’t seen him since the other night,” JT stated as he looked at Mo’ette strangely.
“He needed to go to Los Angeles to get some work done,” Mo’ette stated with a smile. “I’m sure you’ll see him again, now that I’m part of the group with you.”
“Good to know,” JT replied, sighing as he turned away from her. “Why me Mo? Why me?”
“Why you what baby?” Mo’ette asked.
“Why is all of this crap happening to me?” JT asked, kicking the wall of the bus. “No one would care about me if I was a damn nobody.”
“Yeah right, who would care about John Poole, a guy living someplace in Florida, being an alcoholic and possibly using drugs,” Mo’ette stated as JT’s eyes widened.
“I’m not using drugs!” JT snapped, watching Mo’ette like a hawk. “I may be a damn drunk, but I’m no crackhead!”
“I know that baby, but does the rest of the world know? I’m just going by the shit out there in the media,” Mo’ette stated with a frown. “Those fools have been saying a whole lot about you and it’s going way out of…”
“Yeah, it’s getting way out there,” JT said, looking down. “Now there’s more shit to add to the damn mix.”
“No there isn’t baby,” Mo’ette said as JT shook his head.
“Ah yeah there is,” JT said, looking at Mo’ette. “This shit with Heather is mounting. I just know there’s something wrong here. She’s…”
“Why do you feel that way?” Mo’ette asked.
“That little boy looks just like I did when I was a kid his age,” JT stated as he shook his head and then sighed. “Just being around him, I get the feeling that he’s mine, that he’s a part of me somehow.”
“But you and Heather never slept together, so he’s not your child JT,” Mo’ette stated with a frown. “This is all some big scam to get you to do what she wants, we just don’t know what that is yet.”
“If it is a scam, what is it that she wants me to do Mo?” JT asked, shaking his head again. “I’m starting to have a very bad feeling about all of this. Things aren’t adding up Mo.”
“Hmph, you telling me,” Mo’ette said as she shook her head.
“Something’s not right here Mo. That little boy looks just like me. He looks just like I did when I was a little kid. His features match mine. Hell, the lady that did the test even noticed it. If a complete stranger notices something like that, I’m sure everyone else in the world would too,” JT stated as he looked down. “I’m just shocked that this is happening to me. Why did she choose now, to come up with this mess? Why now and not a long time ago?”
“I don’t know baby,” Mo’ette replied as she sighed. “Maybe—maybe with all the other drama going on in the media, she thought it was her chance to add to it, to get herself some fame.”
“Why?” JT asked, sighing as he rubbed at his head.
“Probably to get her name back out there in the world, but I don’t really know,” Mo’ette stated as the door to the bus opened again as someone else stepped onto the bus.
“Look what we have here,” Marc said with a smile on his face as Mo’ette stepped in front of JT.
“What in the hell are you doing here Marc?” JT asked, moving around Mo’ette. “You’re supposed to be in jail.”
“Well it seems your new boyfriend didn’t tell you I was out,” Marc stated with a smile as he moved closer to JT. “I see he’s keeping secrets from you already. Isn’t that a no-no in your book?”
“What in the hell do you want Marc?” Mo’ette asked, looking Marc up and down.
“On the contrary, I came here to help you guys out,” Marc replied with a sly smile on his face. “It seems I know a bit about what’s going on around here, a bit more than you guys do.”
“What in the hell could you possibly know Marc?” JT asked, looking at Marc strangely.
“I know how your son was conceived,” Marc replied as JT’s eyes widened.
“What! How could you know a thing like that, when I don’t even know that?” JT asked, moving past Mo’ette again, getting closer to Marc.
“I just know,” Marc replied, his smile growing as JT shook his head.
“You’re no better than Heather. You’re just trying to run a damn scam too,” JT stated as he pointed his finger in Marc’s face. “What is it that you fucking want?”
“Fine, if you don’t want to listen to what I can possibly tell you, just wait until the paternity test results come back and when you are proven to be that little boy’s father, then you come running back to me, that’s if I’m available for you,” Marc stated as he smiled and then turned his back to JT and Mo’ette.
May 28, 2004 – The Radisson Plaza Hotel – Gladys Knotts’ Hotel Room
I loved Josh, but it was just too heavy a burden for me to bear. So, rather than watching our relationship die slowly, I chose to walk away from the only man I’ve ever loved. But was it the right choice to make?
“Nicole baby, what are you thinking?” Momma asked as I looked up at her.
“Momma, did I do the right thing?” I asked, looking down at the floor. “She’s his daughter. He deserves to know that.”
My mother sighed deeply. She gave me a look that goes to the bottom of my soul.
“Nikki, you made the best decision you could, to protect your child from harm. That’s what mothers do baby,” Momma said.
“I know Momma, but what about Summer? Doesn’t she deserve to know her daddy?” I asked, the tears slowly falling from my eyes. “I know I’ve messed up my life, but how can I keep her from him?”
“You do it because it’s what’s best for her,” Momma firmly stated. “You know his racist ass family will never accept her! How can you even think about putting her in that kind of mess?”
“Momma, calm down,” I said as she shook her head. Once Gladys gets started, there’s no stopping her.
“Calm down my ass!” She snapped. “I watched those racist fools make your life a living hell for two years, and for what? Falling in love with their son… You were better to him, than he even deserved. You stood by him when he needed you, even when his family wouldn’t. What did that get you? Spit on and called horrible names. Then you ended up having to raise my grandbaby alone, while he went on with his life!”
Hearing her anger and hurt, reliving all those horrible moments I endured is too much for me. My heart broke all over again at the way Josh allowed his family to treat me. I made the right choice in hiding my pregnancy, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Momma finally noticed that I was crying helplessly. Thankfully that took the steam out of her sails. She sat beside me on the couch, gathering me in her arms, rocking me, an action that always calmed me when I was younger.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you baby,” she said, smoothing my hair. “I just don’t want you to fall for his bull again. Summer needs her Momma to be strong. I know you still love him, but you have to love your little girl more.”
“Momma sad?” A soft voice asked.
Oh no! I hurry to wipe away any trace of my tears. I don’t need my baby seeing me like this. Momma’s right. She’s the only thing that matters now. I have to protect her, even if it means sacrificing any chance I might have at being happy with the man I love. As much, living without Joshua hurts, subjecting my baby to the kind of treatment I got from his family is unacceptable. She deserves nothing but love, not that kind of hatred that his family is known to inflict. Smiling big, I open my arms as Summer’s return smile is automatic. She runs over and kisses my face. I giggle then tickle her until she’s in tears.
“What do you think about going to get the biggest, bestest ice cream sundae ever?” I asked.
“Yay!” She squealed, bouncing up and running to get her jacket. I watch her go with an indulgent smile. Man, I wish I had her energy. Momma shot me a worried look.
“Are you sure you want to give her ice cream?” She asked, her lip twitching.
“Are you crazy?” I whisper so the kid can’t hear. “I found a frozen yogurt place down the block. She’ll never know the difference. And it’s next door to a playground. We got this!”
Momma looked at me strangely and then bursts out laughing just as my daughter came back. She took my hand with a big, dimpled smile plastered to her face. I still can’t believe I’ve been blessed with such a happy, beautiful little girl. My bad mood is officially forgotten.
Jacksonville, FL – The Home of Glitter Mo’net
“Come on now Glitter, did you really think they would be nice to you, after all the shit you did and said to them? Come on, you gave an interview to one of the tabloids, against my advice of course. You confirmed a few of the damn rumors currently going on with all of you. Hell, if you would’ve kept your mouth shut, that shit would’ve died down by now,” Marc said as I was ready to hang up the phone on his ass. Why in the hell did I call him in the first place?
“Mutual Attraction is a hot story right now and it’s going to be hot for a while,” I said.
“Yeah it is, but you won’t have any of that publicity at all,” he said as I shook my head. “So, why are you whining and complaining about your career now? How I see things, you brought all of this on yourself girl.”
“No, I didn’t do anything wrong,” I replied, sighing because in a way, he was telling the truth. “Those two fuckers, Nikki and JT, brought it on themselves, not me. They shouldn’t have been doing what they’re doing.”
“Glitter, are you kidding me? They’re both grown, just like you are,” he said as I frowned. “You made your decision and they made theirs.”
“JT helped make my decision for me,” I said, thinking about all the times we butted heads. “It was like he never wanted me as part of the group.”
“You did what you did and now you’re not a part of the group,” he said as I shook my head. “This is your chance to do what you want. You always said you wanted to go solo, and not be a back-up singer. So, here’s your chance to do just that. You get to prove what you’ve been saying.”
“We’ll see,” I said, sighing, ready to hang up the phone.
“I guess we will, when you get on your game, showing the whole world, just what you are capable of,” he said as I sighed and then looked around the room, wondering where I should start.
To Be Continued…