Chapter 1 — Everything’s Golden, Part 1
Aug 23, 2004 – Los Angeles, CA (North Beverly Park Suburb) – The Home of JT and Justin Poole-Tanner – The Kitchen
Lawd, it’s way too damn early in the morning for me to be up like this. If it wasn’t for it being Caleb’s first day of school, I don’t think I would be up this early. It’s not even light out and I’m up, in the kitchen, making breakfast for all of us. I guess that’s just my nerves that has me up so early like this.
“I must be a nervous daddy or something,” I said aloud, giggling as I moved around in the kitchen.
I must be a nervous daddy. It’s Caleb’s first day of school and I feel like it’s my first day of school. I guess I’m up so early so that I can make sure he gets off to a good start. That means my boy gets a good meal, so he’ll have all the energy he needs to get through the day, especially at a new school.
“Bro, is there something wrong?” I heard behind me as I turned around to see Josh as he stood in the doorway with a tired look on his face. “What’re you doing up so early?”
“Nothing’s wrong Josh, I’m just up, getting breakfast ready,” I answered as he yawned and then stretched his arms over his head. “You want to help?”
“I guess I could,” he replied, walking further into the kitchen as he moved over to the sink and then washed his hands. “What do you want me to do Bro?”
“The grits and bacon are already started, you can get started on the eggs and toast,” I replied as he walked over to the refrigerator and then grabbed the eggs as he opened the carton, checked the eggs and then walked over to the pantry, going inside to get the bread as he walked over to the stove, placing the items on the counter. “You want a cup of coffee?”
“Naw, I’ll pass on that for right now,” he replied as I heard someone clear their throat behind me as I turned around to see Justin standing there with his arms folded across his chest. “Good morning Justin.”
“Good morning Josh,” Justin replied as he walked over to where I stood and then kissed my mouth. “Good morning husband of mine. Why are you up so early?”
“Just making sure I get the little one off to school the proper way,” I replied as he raised an eye at me and then looked over at Josh as he shrugged his shoulders. “I want to make sure he’s fed and has enough energy to make it through the day without a problem.”
“Baby, Caleb’s going to be alright,” Justin said as he wrapped his arms around my waist. “Don’t you worry about him. I’m sure he’s going to be just fine.”
“How can you be so sure Justin?” I asked, knowing he hadn’t developed psychic powers overnight, so how would he know how things were going to go with Caleb, being at a new school and have to adapt to new people. “I don’t want the other kids to…”
“What’s going on you two?” Josh asked as he watched the two of us.
“Nothing’s going on,” I replied as he looked at me strangely and then frowned. “I—I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Josh said as he turned his attention back to the eggs.
“No, it’s not okay,” I said, moving away from Justin. “Josh, my—my son has a—a… He has some mental health issues associated with abuse, neglect and abandonment.”
“Why does he have those issues bro? Did you abuse him? Did you abandon him somewhere?” Josh asked as I sighed, frowned and then shook my head as I noticed the strange look on his face.
“No Josh, I—I didn’t do those things to him, his mother did that,” I replied, not knowing what to really say or how to explain the look that Josh just gave me.
“Why?” He asked as I looked at Justin and then back at him.
“I don’t know why Heather did the things she did to him,” I replied, not clearly sure about all the stuff that Heather had done because Caleb had yet to open up about those things to me. I guess when he feels more comfortable with me—us, he’ll talk about his life with Heather. “Regardless of the things Heather did, I have to do what I can to make sure he knows and understands that I love him and I’ll always be here for him.”
“You mean we love him and we’ll always be here for him,” Justin said as he wrapped his arms around my waist, kissing my lips as Josh looked away quickly.
“Josh, are you okay?” I asked, moving away from Justin quickly as I walked over to where he stood. “Josh?”
“I—I’m okay bro, just a headache is all,” he replied as I looked at him closely as he looked at me with a neutral expression on his face. Why do I get the feeling that my brother is lying to me?
“We can handle this Josh. Why don’t you go take something for that,” I said as he shook his head and then looked down.
“I can handle it bro, nothing major,” he replied as he placed some bread in the toaster and then turned slightly to look at me.
“Okay then,” I said, turning around, wondering if I should push the issue or let it drop.
“What time are you going to get Caleb up?” Justin asked, looking over at me.
“I’ll let him sleep until around seven. He doesn’t have to be there until eight-fifteen,” I replied as Justin looked at me and then looked at the clock on the wall. “I know I’m up early, but I just couldn’t sleep.”
“I’m sure,” Justin said as he shook his head. “This day is going to be a good one.”
“You say that, but I have a feeling that drama is going to rear its ugly head at some point today,” I said as he shook his head.
“Think positive baby,” he said with a smile as he walked over and then kissed my lips quickly. “Caleb’s going to school and he’s going to have a great day. He’s going to have fun and he’s going to make some new friends while he’s there.”
“I hope that’s how things turn out,” I said, wondering if I’m going to feel like this every day. Hell, this is the first day of school for my son and I feel like I’m throwing him away to the wolves. “I just feel like…”
“Baby, if you say something negative, I’m going to spank you,” Justin said as Josh shook his head.
“Shoot, now you trying to get kinky with me,” I said as Justin laughed and then shook his head. “Save that stuff for the bedroom handsome, I’m worried about my son’s first day of school right now.”
“He’s going to be fine baby, don’t worry about him,” Justin said as I shook my head. “Caleb’s going to enjoy his first day of fourth grade and everything is going to be okay.”
“I so hope you’re right about that,” I said, walking over to the stove to finish up the bacon.
A Super8 Motel – Laci Greylek’s Motel Room
Damn it! I’ve been here for almost a whole week and still, I haven’t found out where Justin Tanner is! Where in the hell could he be hiding in this damn town? I know the town is big, but it’s not that big to hide a celebrity such as him. I know he’s around here somewhere.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve spent my time, watching the music and news channels, trying to get some information about where he and that man he married are hiding. He’s somewhere in this town, I just don’t know where. He and that black man are the current topic on the news and the paparazzi aren’t allowing them to have any kind of peace. So, why is it so hard for me to find out where Justin’s hiding in this town?
“Thank God for the paparazzi,” I said aloud as I looked over at PJ as he slept. “Had it not been for those vultures, I wouldn’t have found out some needed information.”
I’m running out of time here. I have to find Justin soon or I’m screwed. If I don’t find him in the next few days, I’ve made this trip here, all for nothing. I need to get to him quickly before he leaves here. From what I was able to find out, I have less than a week to get to him before he heads out on a tour. All the music news shows have been talking about his upcoming tour. He’s supposed to be heading off to New York for a show and then he’ll be leaving the country.
“I have to get to him before he leaves this state,” I said, getting up as I walked over to the windows in the room. “We have to get to him before he gets away. The money I took won’t hold out for much longer.”
We have to get to him soon. If we don’t, I don’t know when we’ll ever get the chance. Hell, if he leaves this state to go on tour, things for us will be totally over. I have no choice but to find him in the next few days, if not it’ll be too late. God knows if he starts that tour, things for us will be ruined.
“Damn it, I’m running out of time,” I said aloud as I sighed. “I have to think of something, but what? I have to find Justin in the next few days or the life I envision for the two of us will never happen.”
Jacksonville, FL – The Home of Howard Marshall – Howard’s Home Office
I can’t believe I’m stuck here, working on a case, when I could be out in Los Angeles, hanging out with my man. I so wish he could be here with me, but he has work to do. If I didn’t have this case, I would be out there, enjoying my life with the man I’ve fallen head over heels in love with, instead of working on this crap, wondering what he’s doing.
Damn it, I can’t just call him, I just spoke with him an hour ago. I don’t want to seem like a stalker or something, but I’ve grown to like hearing his voice. I don’t think he’ll think of me as a stalker or something, but I don’t want to be a bother to him either.
“Damn, this job is fucking up my life,” I said aloud, sighing as I flipped the page in the folder I was working on.
Why didn’t I just take a leave of absence and go with him, when he and JT left to head out to LA? Yeah, just thinking about putting work on hold like that, I must really be in love with this guy. If I didn’t have this case, I would be out in LA with him, enjoying my time, with the guy I’ve fallen so deeply in love with. I should be there with him, not being here, wondering what he’s doing.
“Damn, I can’t call him,” I said aloud as I sighed. “I just spoke with him an hour ago.”
Oh yeah, I’m in love with this guy big time. I keep having the same thoughts of us being together and me not working here anymore. That alone is enough for me to just let all of this go and focus on him. Hell, I’ve worked so hard on my career, I shouldn’t be thinking about giving it up. Then again, I think he’s worth it.
“I do love him,” I said aloud as I put the folder down and then looked over at the picture of the two of us that sat on the corner of my desk. “He asked me to marry him and I said yes.”
He asked me to marry him, I said yes, but yet I feel like things aren’t right in my life yet. What’s causing this feeling in me? I first thought it was because I was lonely and wanted a man of my own in my life, but now that I have a man of my own, the feeling is still there. I first thought the feeling was associated with Justin and JT, but I was feeling that way, way before they got married. So, what isn’t quite right in my life just yet? What’s causing this feeling in me?
“Since before JT and Justin got married, I had that feeling. What’s causing that feeling in me? What’s the real problem here? Is it me or is it something else?” I asked as the phone rang, pulling me from my thoughts. “Hello.”
“Hey baby,” I heard Chad’s voice on the line as the feeling I felt earlier disappeared and I felt—felt whole again. “I just had to talk to you. Did I stop you from working?”
“It’s okay baby, I’m glad to hear your voice,” I replied, leaning back in the chair, getting comfortable. “What are you doing?”
“We’re taking a break right now,” he replied, just the sound of his voice bringing a smile to my face. “I wish you were here with me right now.”
“I wish I was there too,” I replied as he started humming a tune… It’s a familiar tune as tears came to my eyes. “No wind, no rain or winter storm can stop me babe, if you are my goal.”
“Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me from you,” I sang the best I could through my tears.
“I feel the same way babe,” he replied as it sounded like he was crying also.
“Don’t cry baby,” I said, sniffling as I wiped at my eyes.
“I can’t help it,” he replied as I laughed a bit.
“I can’t either,” I said, sitting up in the chair. “Why are we balling like this?”
“Because we don’t want to be apart, like we are right now,” he said as he sniffled again. “Baby, I can’t stand us being apart like this.”
“Me neither,” I said, sniffling. “I’ve been thinking about you all day and my mind just isn’t working right.”
“Same here,” he said, sniffling. “I’m jumping on the next plane and I’m coming back to you.”
“No baby, you can’t do that babe. You have to finish working,” I said, really wanting to see him, wanting him to be here with me so badly, but I didn’t want him jeopardizing his career for my wants.
“Screw my career,” he said as I looked at the phone strangely. “My heart and soul is more important than my career. I can do something else.”
“I—I feel the same way,” I said, wiping at my eyes again.
“Then that only means one thing babe,” he said as I looked at the phone again, wondering what he was getting at.
“What’s that baby?” I asked, waiting for him to continue.
“I think it’s time that we made things a bit more official and permanent,” he answered.
“Chad, what are you saying?” I asked.
“I’m saying that I think we should fly up to Canada and get married like JT and Justin did,” he suggested.
“Chad, do you really want to do that?” I asked, mentally kicking myself when the words came out of my mouth.
“Yeah—yeah babe, don’t you want to do it?” He asked.
“Yes, oh yes I want to do it, but I don’t want you thinking that things are moving too fast for us,” I replied.
“I’m the one that suggested it babe,” he said, laughing a bit and then stopping. “But it is clear, that I’m ready to do what I need to, to marry you right now.”
“I think I better call JT,” I said.
“Wait, we need to go see him,” he suggested. “You know how he gets, we’ll just go out to his place, tell him and go from there.”
“You have a point,” I said, thinking about how dramatic JT could be at times.
“I’m going to finish things up here, the best I can and then I’ll be on the next plane to you baby,” here said as I smiled.
“I’ll be here, waiting for you baby,” I said with a smile. “I love you Chad.”
“I love you Howard,” he said as the phone disconnected.
Mid-Day – Cudahy, CA – Park Avenue Elementary School – The Cafeteria
“Hi,” a little boy spoke, walking over to a table where Caleb sat.
“Hi,” Caleb spoke, waving at the other boy as he took a bite from the sandwich on his napkin.
“I’m Max Cahill and you are?” The boy asked, holding out his hand for Caleb to shake.
“I’m Caleb… I’m Caleb Poole,” Caleb replied as he shook the boy’s hand as the other boy smiled at him and then sat his tray down on the table.
“Is it okay for me to sit here? It’s my first day here,” the boy said as Caleb shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s my first day here too,” Caleb replied as he took another bite of his sandwich and then took a sip of his milk.
“Are you Puerto Rican?” Max asked as he looked at Caleb closely.
“No, I’m mixed,” Caleb replied as he looked at the boy strangely and then popped a potato chip into his mouth.
“Cool, I’m Hispanic,” Max stated as he opened his eating utensils and then started eating his entrée. “Who’s your teacher?”
“I have Ms. Chueng,” Caleb replied as he popped another chip into his mouth.
“I have Ms. Davies,” Max replied as he took a bite of his meal. “Are you going to do an activity after school?”
“I don’t think so,” Caleb replied as he looked down. “I—I would have to talk to Daddy or Justin about it.”
“I’m going to try to get into the computer club or possibly do something with music,” Max stated with a smile.
“My daddy is in music, he’s a big-time singer,” Caleb sated as Max put his fork down and then looked at him.
“Who’s your daddy?” Max asked.
“My daddy is JT Poole,” Caleb replied as Max’s eyes widened.
“Your dad is the guy that’s married to Justin Tanner,” Max said as Caleb nodded his head. “You have two dads?”
“Yeah,” Caleb answered as he looked around, noticing that other students were listening to their conversation.
“I have two dads too,” Max stated as Caleb looked at him strangely. “My biological father is Matthew Cahill, an investment banker and my other dad is David Brandon-Cahill, a civil activist attorney.”
“Both of my dads are singers,” Caleb stated as he took a sip of his milk as another student sat down at the table.
“Hi,” the little boy said as he waved at Caleb and then at Max. “I’m Zachary, but you guys can call me Zach.”
“Hi,” Caleb replied as he waved at the other boy.
“Hi man,” Max replied as he shook hands with the boy.
“Is this your first day here?” Zach asked as he looked over at Caleb.
“Yes,” Caleb replied, using a napkin to wipe his mouth and hands. “My first day here, I moved here from Florida.”
“How are you liking the west coast so far?” Max asked.
“It’s okay I guess, as long as I’m with Daddy, it doesn’t really matter,” Caleb stated as he looked down.
“Lunch is almost over, but I wanted to stop over and welcome you here,” Zach stated as he shook hands with Caleb and then got up. “Welcome and don’t be a stranger.”
“Okay,” Caleb said as a tone sounded, indicating that lunch was over. “Oh well, back to class I go.”
To Be Continued…