***Please Note:  This story contains scenes depicting sexual acts between members of the same sex.   If you are under the age of 18, or if it is illegal for you to read such material in your state, please do not read further.  If you are offended by this type of material, again, please do not read further.

This story is completely a work of fiction.  The characters and situations in the story exist solely in the author's imagination.   Any reference to the sexual identity of real people is completely fiction.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding this story, please email me.   Flames ignored.

For a list of my other stories, and info about me, go to my Website.

Many celebrities are mentioned in this story, and some of them are even characters in the story.  I am in no way trying to say that I know anything about their personal sexualities by putting them in this story.  Although this story is mainly about a fictional celebrity, I wanted to say that I do not know any of the actual celebrities mentioned in this story.  I am simply borrowing their persona.

"Secrets Of The Morning" is a novel by V.C. Andrews®.  It is not a television show.  The show is only part of this story.  Several liberties will be taken with this story, and although I'll try to stick to the true timeline of events in the careers of *Nsync and Backstreet Boys as well as various other stars, I don't see how I can keep up with that kind of research and continue to work at my day job.  The personalities of the celebrities in this story may be quite different than what you're used to.  I'm not concerned with their professional images.

I hope that everyone enjoys the story and realizes that this is only a story.  I don't know any of the stars mentioned in this story personally, and their sexuality, although sometimes under scrutiny, is never anyone's business than their own.  If, on an odd chance, this story reflects actual events at all, that is completely coincidental.  I'm not a spy, and I would never stalk a star. :)

Eric Draven®

all lyrics in the story are also under copyright...please remember that

any lyrics borrowed from other artists will be credited at the bottom of the chapter

Last Time:

    "We have a problem," said Niki, coming into the room, and placing a magazine on the table in front of Madonna.

    The cover featured a picture of JC and Skyler hugging, and the caption read:  Pop Stars A Little Too Friendly? She felt her blood run cold as she picked up the magazine and thumbed to the article.

Pop star, Skyler Thomas seems to be more that friendly with *Nsync singer, JC Chasez. Our sources tell us that the two have been seen together countless times. Although neither star was available for comment, several close friends were available to tell us what was going on.

"They're really close," said one source. "When they're together, its like no one else matters."

We can only wonder why Chasez was not present at the funeral for Skyler's mother and step-father. As our pictures show, the two are usually always together when they can get away from their hectic schedules. We tracked down a very close friend of Skyler Thomas who had this to say:

"Skyler is a great guy. He's lucky to have found JC. The two are perfect for each other, and they're very loving."

Though few would comment on this information, none would deny it. So that leads many to speculate over the type of relationship the two stars have. Some are even speculating that they are both homosexual and in love.

    "Oh, my God," she sighed as the magazine fell from her fingers.


"Tabloids speculate the sexuality of Skyler Thomas and JC Chasez. One in particular states that the two are romantically paired. Tabloid stories are usually ignored, but when they are accompanied by the photos that this one is, one is left to wonder. No comments have been made by either star at this time."

Randy Reagan:  The Rag

"Rumors and speculations aren't hurting Skyler Thomas's concert sales. Tickets for his Los Angeles shows have sold out, and scalpers are charging desperate fans cut throat prices.  The finale show of his mini tour is expected to be an incredible show."

Sway:  MTV News

"Spokesman for *Nsync say there is no truth to the stories run in four different tabloids. JC Chasez insists that the pictures of himself and Skyler Thomas are completely innocent. He was comforting a friend who was distraught over a personal tragedy.  Thomas canceled a Las Vegas show to fly to Detroit, Michigan for the funerals of his mother and step-father in August.  Yet, tabloids still speculate. No comment was available from Skyler Thomas by the publication of this issue."

Ron Hively:  Rolling Stone Magazine



Copyright ©2003-04 Eric Draven®.

All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 10

    "Where did this come from?" demanded Skyler when they got back to the hotel, and he could scream.  He'd tried to call JC only to be told that he was not available, four times.

    "We're checking on it, Sky," said Madonna.  "I don't know where it came from yet."

    "I want that magazine sued," he croaked.  "How could they print that?"

    "Skyler, I've told you that things like this will happen," she replied, trying to keep him calm.  "Surely JC knows this, too."

    "He won't even talk to me," he sighed, sitting down and putting his head in his hands.

* * *

    "Call him, Josh," said Justin, sitting down with JC.

    "How could he do this?" asked JC.  His eyes were red from crying, and he hadn't slept since he'd read the article.  "This could ruin me. Ruin *Nsync."

    "At least give him the chance to defend himself," said Lance, sitting down on the other side of his sobbing friend.  "He wouldn't do this."

    "Who else could it have been?" demanded JC angrily.  "It said friends of the stars, Lance. My friends didn't say anything to that stupid tabloid. And where did they get those pictures? The one of me hugging him was taken after our show."

    "I'm telling you," insisted Lance.  "Sky wouldn't do this."

* * *

    "He won't talk to you right now, Sky," said Justin when Skyler tried, again, to call JC.  "He's very upset."

    "Justin, I didn't do this," cried Skyler.  "I don't know who did it, but it wasn't me."

    "We all know that, Sky," said Justin.  "Josh will come to his senses. Don't worry."

    The tour was over.  The last show had been exactly what everyone had expected.  Skyler had pored his anger, heartbreak, confusion and misery into that show.  He'd sang louder and better than he'd ever sang before.  Los Angeles was still buzzing over the show.  Skyler just wished that they would only talk about that.

    He couldn't believe that someone had told the tabloids about him and JC.  He couldn't even figure out who it would have been.  He hated to think that someone in his circle of friends would rat on him like this.  Who could he trust now? Who could he believe in? He hated this.

    He was sitting in his kitchen, waiting for Ron Hively to arrive at his apartment.  Everyone had been calling, wanting an interview since he'd returned to New York.  He hadn't wanted to give an interview, but Madonna assured him that Ron was the one to say yes to.  She promised that he would be objective, and he would let him tell his story.

* * *

    JC sat in his living room, reading the Rolling Stone Magazine with the exclusive Skyler Thomas interview.  He sat shaking and crying as he read the article about Skyler's life before the interview.  He'd had no idea that Skyler had lived this way, and so many things now made sense to JC.  He got to the interview and read it through his tears.


    In this interview, Ron Hively will be shortened to RH and Skyler Thomas will be shortened to ST.

RH: Any truth to this particular tabloid tale?

ST: None. A picture is worth a thousand words, Ron. You can take any of those thousand words that you want to form a story. That story is just ridiculous.

RH: This couldn't come at a worse time for you. Your career is at an unprecedented high, you've just lost your parents, and your younger brother and sister are now living with you, correct?

ST: The deaths of my mother and step-father, although it shocked me, wasn't the tragedy that everyone makes it out to be. I was stunned, and I was sad, but not for the reasons that everyone would think.

RH: That statement could be taken wrong. Care to elaborate?

ST: Well, again, this goes back to another tabloid report. I sued that tabloid and won the suit. They claimed that I was the victim of sexual abuse. The problem with their article is that they didn't check their facts before they released the article. For instance, I was five years old when the abuse started. The article said that I was a teen-ager, who knew better.

RH: Was the abuser one of your parents?

ST (Sighs and looks at his clasped hands): Yes. My step-father began abusing me when I was five years old. It didn't stop until I was twelve and my mother caught him.

RH: I know this is hard for you to talk about, but did your mother press charges?

ST: No, she didn't. My mother refused to leave him. She told me it was my fault, that I had done something to make that happen to me.

RH: Is that the only form of abuse that you endured at the hands of your step-father?

ST: No. I suffered physical abuse at his hands until I left home at seventeen.

    "Oh, Sky," moaned JC before he continued reading the interview.

* * *

    Madonna and Niki Harris sat in the recording booth that the studio, listening as Skyler recorded one of the songs that he'd written for his follow up album.  The words were biting, and Madonna could see the anger and pain in Skyler's eyes as he sang it.  He hadn't gotten over JC.  It had been months since the two of them had talked.

    Skyler had returned to the set of Secrets Of The Morning, and had filmed almost an entire season of episodes.  He was making money from album sales as well as working on the show.  His popularity was continuing to climb.  The tabloid stories only boosted his fan support.  He should have been on top of the world.

    She knew that it had hurt him deeply to give that interview to Ron Hively.  When she'd read the interview, she'd nearly cried herself to sleep.  Now, watching him in this pain, she wanted to make things right for him.  She just didn't know how to do it.  She'd tried to talk to JC, but he wasn't even returning her calls now.  She had to figure out something.  Skyler was sinking further and further into depression, and she had to stop it.

* * *

This rag, that rag all of them have something to say
Just rumor, just a lie a different tail about me every day
Some even say that I am just crazy in my head
They won't stop talking about me 'till way after I'm dead

Its not your business
Who I choose to love
Its not your business
Where I choose to go
Its not your business
What I eat at every meal
Its not your business
Oh its just unreal
Its not your business

Yesterday I heard that I was gay
Different story, different lover ever day
Image is only part of me
Guess your too blind to see
I'm me and no one else

Its not your business
Who I choose to love
Its not your business
Where I choose to go
Its not your business
What I eat at every meal
Its not your business
Oh its just unreal
Its not your business

I shouldn't care what two bit writers have to say
But everywhere I go its seems their always in my way
Can't have a friend around, because they all will speculate
I wish that all you liars would just go the Hell away
I'm just doing my thing and this is what I get in return
Lies and rumors everywhere making my anger burn

Its not your business
Who I choose to love
Its not your business
Where I choose to go
Its not your business
Which bed my shoes are under
Its not your business
So just go find another
Its not your business
You hear what I'm saying
Its not your business

    Lance and Justin sat listening to Skyler's new song.  Madonna had allowed Lance to borrow a copy of Its Not Your Business, and, thought the beat and the song itself were very good, Lance didn't like the sound of it.  It sounded bitter and hateful.  This wasn't the Skyler Thomas that he knew.

    "I have the song list," said Lance after the song was over.  "I know which ones made his album."

    "Well, tell me," replied Justin.  "I haven't talked to him in a while."

    "Well, of course, Its Not Your Business, which we just heard," sighed Lance.  "He's doing the Police cover, and he covering Barry Manilow's The One That Got Away, and Mr. Mister's Something Real."

    "What about the song that he wrote with Jordan Knight?" asked Justin.  "Which one of them is using it?"

    "Skyler," replied Lance.  "It's called Mission Impossible."

    "Is JC ever going to call him?" asked Justin.

    "I wish he would."

    "They're both miserable," said Justin.  "Niki said that Sky just mopes around all the time. He's only in a good mood when he's working on the show."

    "Yeah, I talked to Kristy," said Lance.  "We have to do something about this, Curly."

* * *

    "I'm not doing TRL," said Skyler.  "I'm not."

    "Sky, its time to start promoting the album," said Madonna on the phone.  "We're about to release Its Not Your Business."

    "I know that," he snapped.  "I just won't do TRL."

    "What about Rosie?" she asked.  "She'd like for you to do her Christmas Show."

    "I'll think about that," replied Skyler.  "I'm supposed to take Cassie and Chad to Magic Mountain around that time, though."

    "Skyler, you have got to snap out of this," she said.  "I know you're hurting, but you're making everyone around you suffer through this, too. Those two kids need you, and you're not being a very positive influence right now."

    "I go to work every day, Madonna," he said.  "I sing my heart out in the studio, and I shoot every scene that NBC wants me to shoot. How can that be not a good influence?"

    "You've got to cheer up, Sky," she said.  "If he won't come to his senses and call you, that's his loss. You are a great guy, and no one believes that you had anything to do with that article. It's been four months, Sky."

    "Don't you thin I know that?" he replied.  "This isn't easy, you know. It hurts."

    "I know it does," she said.  "But do you have to be so depressed in front of Cassie and Chad all the time? They talk to me, Sky. They're both worried about you."

    That night, he sat in his living room with his brother and sister.  It was one of those rare nights that they were alone.  There was no school for the twins in the morning, and he had nothing to do, so they were watching a movie marathon on television.  He watched them, watching the television.  Things had been very quiet between them lately, and it killed him.

    He wanted to reach out to them and show them that he was still Sky, but he just couldn't do it.  Every time he thought about JC, he wanted to cry.  He couldn't believe that it had come to this.  JC still wouldn't talk to him, and he couldn't make him understand that he wasn't responsible for the damned tabloid article.

    Of course, it probably didn't help that he was now having a war with the tabloids.  Every time he was seen out with any male friend, the tabloids would try to say they were lovers.  He had several reporters wanting to get a quote about his sexuality, and he constantly evaded their questions, never really answering them.  He knew that this was only adding fuel to the fire, but he couldn't make himself care about that.

    When he wasn't depressed over JC, he was angry with him.  He couldn't believe that he would just stop talking to him like that.  He didn't even ask him about the article.  He just assumed that he was responsible for trying to wreck both of their careers.  It was stupid, and JC was acting like an idiot.

    Justin and Lance called him almost every day, but he'd told them to stop giving him JC updates.  If JC wanted to continue to act this way, he wasn't going to keep pining for him.  He just wished he could make himself get over it.  Lance was very worried about him once he'd heard Its Not Your Business.  He'd said it was an angry song.  Skyler had to agree with him there.  The song was just a culmination of his war with the tabloids.

    The rest of the songs on the album that he had written himself were all either like that one or sappy love songs.  Niki and Jordan had both lent their voices to the album, and everyone thought it was great.  Madonna couldn't be more thrilled with the finished album, and he supposed he was happy with it, too.  He just wished that there weren't so many songs on it about JC.

* * *

    "So, are you excited about the Grammys?" asked Rosie.

    "I heard that I'm nominated," laughed Skyler, winking at the audience.

    "You sure have been!" she said.  "For Album Of The Year, Best Male Vocalist, and a bunch of stuff."

    "Wow," he laughed.  "I guess I should be excited then."

    "You know, I heard the first single from Mission Impossible," she said.  "That's the name of his new CD."  The crowd cheered, and Skyler smiled at them again.

    "Did you like it?" he asked when the crowd grew silent.

    "I did," she said.  "But, Skyler, why so angry?"

    "Well," he laughed.  "Its a song about tabloids."  The audience laughed.

    "And you are having such a time with those people," she laughed.

    "Yeah," he said.  "Such a time."

    "So, the song," she hinted.

    "Well, its sort of my vocal response to all the stuff they've been saying about me," he said.

    "Do you think the song will make them stop talking about you?" she asked.

    "No," he laughed.  "I think they'll talk about me more."

    "So, let's talk about the movie," she said.

    "Yeah," he replied.  "Its directed by Sonny Melford."

    "What's it called?" she asked.

    "Anger," he said.  "Its a really great story."

    "When do you begin filming?" she asked.

    "Right after Christmas," he replied.  "Its going to be ok, though. We're shooting most of it right here in New York."

    "Will you be at the Grammys?" she asked.

    "I'm going to try to be," he said, smiling.  "I mean, what if I win and I'm not there?"

* * *

    "Do you think he'll be there?" asked Lance as he and Justin were getting ready for the show.

    "I hope so," he replied.  "I haven't seen him in so long."

    "I know," said Lance.  "It would be interesting to see how they react to seeing each other again."

    "Well, JC says he isn't going," replied Justin.

    "We'll just see about that."

* * *

    "He's here," breathed Skyler as he took his seat next to Kristy at the Grammys.

    JC and the rest of *Nsync were sitting three rows ahead of them.  Skyler was a nervous wreck.  Kristy and Madonna had tried to calm him down, but knowing that JC was going to be there, their attempts were useless.  Nothing was going to calm him down.  He was supposed to perform, but Kristy hoped that he actually do it.

    "Be calm, Skyler," said Madonna, sitting on the other side of him.

    He looked over at Cassie and Chad, who were both just so excited to be there, and he smiled.  He was glad that they were happy.  He'd been trying to cheer up around them lately, and until tonight, it had been working.  But one look at JC and his depression threatened to crush him.  He suddenly wished he wasn't singing the song he'd chosen for the show.

    "It's time," said Madonna, and they made their way from their seats in the audience to the dressing rooms backstage.

    Skyler didn't know why they had to go to the dressing rooms.  He wasn't changing out of his tux for the song.  He put up with make up and being fussed over, but the dressing rooms were just a waste of his time.  He wanted to get out there, sing the song, and get back to his seat.  He wished he could just leave all together.

    "Here he is," said Gloria Estefan, introducing him.  "Skyler Thomas."

    He listened to the applause, trying to clear his head of all the thoughts of JC, but when he got out there, he and JC were staring at each other.  He took a deep breath as the music started, and then he began to sing.

"Emptiness is all I feel these days
And my love for you is still ablaze
Every day I go through the motions
Trying hard to just hide my emotions
If I could just go back in time
I'd find my way back to you

"On every stranger I see your face
And each time my heart picks up the pace
If I could just remember all the reasons why
Or figure out the day we ceased to try
Maybe then I'd know what to do
To find my way back to you."

    He never took his eyes off JC, and he was trying to fight tears as he continued to sing.

"Every day is longer than the last
And all I can do is live in the past
Wishing you were here with me
In a time when we were both happy
Its killing me and I don't know what to do
To find my way back to you

"I'd give everything I own to take it back
If it meant that you would just come back
I wish that I could just close the door
And convince my self to love you no more
But I keep searching for the right thing to do
To find my way back to you

"Last year when we were happy
And you still told me that you loved me
I should have held on tight, never let you go
Life got in the way and that was a year ago
Every day I find another way to miss you
Its in every single thing I ever do
I'm hoping that on some lucky turn of chance
That I can change the scene and circumstance
Wishing you would tell me what to do
To find my way back to you

"It can't be this way for the rest of my life
Without you here there is no light
Come and take away this broken heart
Before not loving you tears me apart
If I could just make you see
Then I know that you would love me
And you would show me the way and what to do
To find the way back to you."

    He bowed, just like he was supposed to, and he even prided himself on not crying.  His eyes never left JC, though.  He stared at him until he walked off the stage to go back to his seat.  Once backstage, he had to fight the urge to just collapse again.  He couldn't let himself show how he was really feeling.

    "Skyler Thomas?" asked a voice from behind him while he was trying to collect himself.  He turned to face Gloria.

    "Hello," he said, smiling his best smile at her.  "Thank you for introducing me."

    "Oh, it was my pleasure," she said, returning his smile.  "I'm supposed to tell you to stay here. You're presenting next."

    "Thank you," he replied.

    They showed him where to stand and went over his cue. He would be presenting with Jordan Knight, and at first, he thought that this was their way of slapping him in the face over the latest tabloid article.  He shook his head and tried to collect himself.  He was being stupid.

    "Hey, you," said Jordan, coming to stand beside him.  "That was a great song."

    "Thanks," he replied.  "I thought you'd heard it already."

    "Oh I have," said Jordan, smiling at him.  "It was just better live."

    "Thank you," he replied.

    They were announced, and they walked out to the podium together.  Jordan named and described the category, and Skyler read the list of nominees.  He knew that *Nsync was among them, but he faltered when he said their name, anyway, making Jordan glance at him.

    "And the winner is," said Jordan opening the envelope and handing it to Skyler.

    "*Nsync," he said, sitting the envelope down to applaud for them while inside he was screaming.

    JC, Justin, Lance, Joey and Chris all walked up to the stage, and JC took the Grammy from Skyler.  For a second, their eyes met, but then JC turned away.  Skyler followed Jordan off the stage, and he never wanted to leave more than he did at that moment.

    "You alright?" asked Jordan as they walked back to the ushers that would take them both back to their seats.

    "Fine," he replied.  "You know I had nothing to do with the article about us."

    "Don't worry about it," laughed Jordan.  "I can think of worse people to be linked to in a tabloid."

    "Right," he laughed as he was lead away to his seat.

* * *

    "Are you alright?" asked Kristy, when he got back to his seat.

    "Fine," he lied.  "I'm happy for them."

    They were quiet for a while.  They watched as *Nsync performed Bye Bye Bye, and then there were other awards.  He was forced to stare at JC again when he and Aaliyah were announced as the next presenters, and walked to the podium together.  He held his breath as JC's eyes scanned the audience and found him.

    "This year's nominees for Best Male Vocalist are full of great singers," said Aaliyah.  "Two of them, you've seen perform here tonight."

    "But all of them are great entertainers," said JC, smiling.  "This year's nominees are . . ."

    Skyler didn't listen to the list of nominees as Aaliyah read them off.  He kept his eyes glued on JC.  When JC announced him as the winner, he thought he'd wet his pants.  On shaky legs, he stood, hugged Madonna, Kristy and his siblings, and walked through the isle and up to the stage.

    "Congratulations," said JC as he handed Skyler his Grammy.  He pulled him into a hug, and Skyler almost lost the battle with his tears.

* * *

    "That was intense," said Kristy in the limo on their way back to the apartment.

    "Four Grammys," said Skyler, smiling.  "I did good tonight."

    "That wasn't what I was talking about, Sky," she said.

    "These are going to look great with my Moon Men," he laughed to Cassie, ignoring Kristy.

    "Are you two going to just continue to ignore each other?" asked Chad, making Skyler choke.

    "What are you talking about?" he asked.  "Kristy and I aren't ignoring each other."

    "That's not what I meant," said Chad.  "You and JC are acting stupid."

    "What makes you say that?" he asked even more uncomfortable.

    "Sky, if you think we're blind, you're silly," said Cassie.  "We know about you and JC. We also know about the article, and that's why you guys are acting like you don't know each other."

    "You stared at him the whole time you were singing," said Chad.  "Why didn't you talk to him while we were there?"

    "He didn't exactly try to talk to me, either," said Skyler.

    "That doesn't mean that you can't talk to him, Sky," said Cassie.

    "Enough, guys," he said, turning his head to look out the window.

    This was getting serious.  If Cassie and Chad had noticed, then he'd been a real ass.  He had to get his self together and get on with his life.  If JC wanted to act the way he was acting, then he wasn't good enough.  That's what he had to keep telling himself.  Everything would be just fine, if he could just keep his mind off JC.

* * *

    Skyler came home from the studio to a card in a pain whit envelope taped to his apartment door.  He smiled when he saw it, and he tired to push the hope that it was from JC out of his mind.  He knew better than to get his hopes up.  He took the card and let himself into the apartment, shivering.  New York in March was still cold.

    There were various other cards on the mahogany table just inside the door.  He was going to put this latest one with the others, but he decided to at least read it.  He knew it was a birthday card.  They'd been coming since February, when Rosie told her audience that his birthday was in March.

    The card had a picture of a sad cartoon puppy sitting by a birthday cake on the front.  Inside, it said, "I hope this dries your eyes. Your friend, Howie Dorough."  Skyler smiled.  He'd met Howie just after the Rosie appearance.  He'd seen him at the American Music Awards last month as well as the Golden Globes.  The Backstreet Boys performed at the People's Choice Awards, but Skyler had been in Chicago that night, so he'd missed their performance.

    Howie had found little ways to let Skyler know that he was still around every chance he got.  Cards, random phone calls, and showing up at the odd special appearance were his thing.  Howie Dorough was persistent.  Skyler had heard through Britney that Brian and Howie were no longer together, and it seemed that Howie had set his sights on Skyler.

    Smiling to himself, he hit the button on his answering machine, and the day's messages sounded off one by one.  There was a message from Madonna, reminding him that he was supposed to be at a photo shoot the next morning, Kristy wanted to know if they were still meeting for lunch after the shoot, Britney just called to say hello, Lance called to congratulate him.  Its Not Your Business was at number one.  Niki called to check on the twins, and Carlos called to say hello.  Then there was Howie, wishing him an early happy birthday.  He smiled at that one.

    "Hey," said JC's sobbing voice, making the smile melt from Skyler's face.  "I guess you're not home. Bye."

    He didn't know what to think after listening to that message.  Seven months had gone by, and JC called.  He hadn't heard a word out of him, other than his congratulations at the Grammys in January, in seven months.  He debated on if he should call him or not.  He decided that if JC called once, he would call again.

    On the coffee table, the usual array of tabloids could be found.  He was surprised to see that his face was not on the cover of any of them this week.  He hoped that they had finally tired of him.  If they hadn't, then tomorrow's photo shoot for The Advocate would give them plenty of fuel.  He was going to be the first person to appear on their cover nude.  Well, nearly nude.  He'd have a ball cap over his genitals.  He laughed every time he thought about it.

    His life had settled into a comfortable rhythm.  He went to work almost every morning, unless they didn't need him for a scene.  He came home, checked his messages, cooked dinner for the twins, listened to them regale him tales of high school, and occasionally talked to Lance or Justin on the telephone.

    Howie's appearance in his life was not completely unwelcome.  He was lonely, and even though Justin, Lance, Carlos and occasionally Joey called him frequently, he had no guy friends to hang out with.  He'd long since lost all tolerance of Brian Krause, so that left Chad.

    Chad was a great kid, and he was fun to hang out with.  Skyler just got tired of video games and computer software after a while.  He knew that Howie was in New York, and he even had the number to his cell phone.  He debated on calling him and inviting him to dinner or something.  With a sigh, he shook his head and picked up the telephone.

* * *

    "I'm really glad you called," said Howie, sitting across the table from Skyler at the new hot spot.

    "So am I," admitted Skyler.  "Its nice to hang out with a guy who isn't fifteen."

    "How are Cassie and Chad?" asked Howie.  "I haven't seen them since the Grammys."

    "They're both fine," he replied.  "Bored now and waiting for my tour."

    "So you are going to tour this summer," said Howie.

    "Oh yes," he replied.  "I'll be doing a full tour this time. Not sure about Europe or anything, but I'll be doing the states, Canada and Mexico."

    "When will filming be over?" he asked.

    "Well, if everything goes well," said Skyler.  "We'll be done at the end of March."

    "That's cool," said Howie.  "Then you'll have a break before you tour in what, July?"

    "I'm heading to Canada in May," said Skyler.  "We'll make it back down here in July."

    "So, two months in Canada, three months in America, how long in Mexico?" he asked.

    "Two shows in Mexico," said Skyler.  "You wanna write this down?"

    "No," laughed Howie.  "I think I can remember."

    "You'll be on your tour about the same time, yes?" said Skyler, sipping his soda.

    "Yes," replied Howie.  "If I can stand it that long."

    "Trouble in Backstreet?"

    "Well, I'm sure you know about me and Brian," he sighed, making Skyler nod.  "AJ is being unbearable again, too. Nick is complaining about just about everything, and Kevin . . ."

    "Drill sergeant?" laughed Skyler.

    "Daddy is more like it," he replied.

    "He's just looking out for you guys," said Skyler.  "Just be glad you don't have Madonna flying into whatever city you happen to be in and screaming at you, because you're not getting enough rest."

    Skyler got quiet after that.  Talking about the last tour reminded him of JC, and he hated himself for not being over him yet.  Although he didn't want to, he let the conversation lull there.  He was sure that Howie noticed, and he silently thanked him for not mentioning it.

    "You still miss him, don't you?" he asked, proving Skyler wrong.

    "I do," he admitted.  "I know its stupid."

    "No its not," argued Howie.  "I see Brian every day, and I still miss him."

    "How do you do it," he asked.

    "Very carefully," laughed Howie.  "I stalk Skyler Thomas."

    "Cute," laughed Skyler.

* * *

    When Skyler got home, he was dog tired.  Cassie and Chad were already in bed, and he was glad.  He hated that he'd been out late and missed dinner with them, but after the night he'd had with Howie, he really didn't feel like talking anymore.  The two of them had taken an awful trip down memory lane, and Skyler was slightly depressed, because of it.

    He made himself a cup of hot tea and went to the living room to sit in front of the fireplace.  He was sifting though mail, and wishing he had a cat, when the phone began to wring.  He debated letting the machine pick it up, but then he thought that it might just be Howie, thanking him again for dinner.

    "Hello?" he said, picking up the phone.

    "You're home," said JC, and Skyler sighed.

    "Yeah," he replied.

    "I like your number one hit," said JC, but there was no humor in his voice.

    "Thank you," replied Skyler slowly.

    "The entire album is good," said JC.

    "I like yours, too."

    "Look, I know we need to talk, Sky," sighed JC.

    "Well, it's only been seven months," replied Skyler angry suddenly.

    "I know that," snapped JC.  "This hasn't been easy for me."

    "Well, it hasn't exactly been a picnic for me, either, Josh," Skyler replied a bit coldly.

    "I can see that this was a bad idea," said JC, and then he hung up.

* * *

    "JC called last night," Skyler told Kristy at lunch the next day.  He'd just come from his photo shoot, and he'd even given them an interview.  It had actually been quite fun.

    "Oh?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.

    "It wasn't good," he replied.

    "Well, then let's talk about The Advocate," she replied, changing the subject.

    "Ok," he replied.

    He related all of the funny poses they had put him in and laughed over what they'd all thought would be the final decision.  He was standing, nude, in front of a black background with a Yankees ball cap held up to his genitals, smirking at the camera.  They laughed over that together for a few minutes.

    Then he started relating the interview with her.  They'd asked him all about *Nsync, and once again, he denied the homosexual connection.  They asked about the extent of his relationship with JC, and he told them that he'd thought they were really close friends, but that the friendship had ended abruptly out of fear over the tabloid article.  Then they asked how he could be afraid of the tabloids when it appeared that he was taunting them so much now.  Then they asked him if he was gay, and he returned the question with one of his own.

    "Who did you sleep with last night?" he'd asked, only to be told that was none of his business.  To that, he said, "Exactly."

to be continued

My other stories on Nifty:

Christopher's Story
Nicholas And Mark

Adult Youth:
Boys Of Summer
Midnight Encounter

For a complete list of all of my stories, go to my website.

Stories That I Really Like On Nifty:

High School:
Matthew Figures It Out
Carrots And Celery

Family Album
My Step-Brother, Jacob

Working It Out

Prolific Nifty Authors That I REALLY Recommend:

Greg Bowden
Eric Case
Justin Case (In Loving Memory)