***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 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®

Last Time:

   Joey, JC, Lance and Justin sat in their New York hotel room and stared at each other.  Lance had borrowed a copy of the tape of Come Back To Me, the duet that they'd been informed that Skyler Thomas would be singing with Madonna.  They were speechless by the time the music stopped.

    "I can't believe it," gasped Justin, finally breaking the silence in the room.  "That was incredible."

    "For someone who wasn't sure he wanted to be a singer, he sure sounds like someone who is one," said Joey, shaking his head.


    "The latest word on *Nsync's new album, Skyler Thomas and Madonna's duet, Protestors gather in times square . . ."

Yasmine Kirren,  MTV News

    "Skyler Thomas is a name that's taking the music world by storm.  Today, his duet with Madonna debuts on MTV, and tomorrow, his first album, Dizzy, hits the stores."

Karl Brennan, Rolling Stone Magazine

    Madonna and Skyler Thomas Have Steamy Affair

The Enquirer



Copyright ©2003-04 Eric Draven®.

All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 6

    "You are all over the news," said Mark on the telephone.

    "So I saw," chuckled Skyler.  He was so happy to be talking to Mark again.

    "What was it like to work with Madonna?" asked Mark.

    "Well, I didn't actually meet her until we shot the video," replied Skyler.  "She's great."

    "I would have just stood there and gawked at her," laughed Mark,

    "The video will be on MTV tonight," he replied.

    "And you didn't want to be a star!" laughed Mark.  "Now you're singing with Madonna."

    "Strange world, huh?" said Skyler.

    "Very," agreed Mark.

* * *

    Skyler was sitting in The Tonight Show green room watching as Jay interviewed Britney Spears.  They'd met before the show started, and Skyler liked her immediately.  She laughed at all of his jokes, complimented him on his three singles, and even told him how jealous she was about his working with Madonna.

    He couldn't believe that he was this successful already.  Milton Drake had said that he was going to be the next big thing in show business, but he never believed it would get this far.  Scripts were coming in now for movies, and several singers wanted to work with him, and Richard was already talking about the follow up album.

    Laura kept suggesting a tour, and several bands were calling her to ask if he'd tour with them.  He was giving it all a great deal of thought.  The studio had given him an option to come back to Secrets Of The Morning in the fall, and he really wanted to take it.  They'd said that he wouldn't be on contract, because of his recent success.  They'd upped his salary, and he would be billed as a special guest on the show.  He could leave whenever he needed to.  They'd even offered to write it into the show that Logan had become successful, but Kristy said that sounded silly, and Skyler agreed.

    He didn't know exactly what was next for himself, but he was definitely enjoying the ride.

* * *

    "I think he's one of the sexiest guys in music, Jay," Britney said when Jay Leno asked her what she thought of Skyler.

    "Does Justin have something to worry about?" kidded Jay.

    "Jay, Justin and I are just friends," she said.  "We're not dating."

    Justin, Lance and Joey were watching the show from Orlando.  They couldn't believe how fast Skyler Thomas was gaining popularity.  Chris and JC were taking bets on how long his career would last.  Lance thought they were both being a bit too over confident, because on The Tonight Show, Skyler said that he was looking over a few movie scripts, thinking about a tour for the album and talking with his producer about a follow up album.

    Skyler Thomas was probably going to be big competition, fast.  Lance could handle that, though.  For one thing, Skyler was a new face, and although he was rapidly becoming well known, *Nsync had its own fan base already.  They were getting ready to start working on their second album, and the sales from their first were still climbing.

    "What're you thinking about Scoop?" asked Justin, catching him spacing.

    "The new album," he replied.  "I hope that Skyler doesn't put his out when we put ours out."

    "You think it would be a problem?" asked Joey.

    "Have you paid any attention to the charts lately?" asked Lance.  "Dizzy is at number two!"

* * *


    "They're considering the offer," said Kevin, sitting down beside his cousin.

    "They're considering the offer?" asked AJ.  "He's got to tour with someone, and it may as well be us."

    "He hasn't even agreed to tour at all yet, Alex," said Howie.  "If he does, he might not want to be an opening act."

    "According to this, he isn't going to be," said Nick, walking into the room with a Rolling Stone Magazine.  "It says here that he will be touring with a group called Utopia opening for him."

* * *

    "Skyler Thomas?" asked a voice from behind Skyler.  He was sitting at a table at Orlando's Hard Rock Cafe with Madonna.  He turned around to confront Justin Timberlake smiling back at him.

    "Justin Timberlake," he replied, smiling back.  "Nice to meet you."

    "No offence, but what are you doing here?" asked Justin.

    "Well, we just finished shooting the video for a song on the album, and Madonna invited me to dinner," he said, looking at his dinner date.

    "Nice to see you, Justin," said Madonna.  "Where's the rest of the boys?"

    "Everyone is off doing their own thing," he replied.  "I'm meeting Britney here for dinner."

    "Tell her we said hello," said Skyler.

    "Will do," said Justin.  "Why don't you give me a call while you're in town? We'll hang out or something."

    "I think he likes you," laughed Madonna when Justin walked away.

    "You think?" asked Skyler, turning to watch Justin go back to his table.

    He'd told Madonna everything about himself.  The two had become fast friends during the filming of their video, and the talked or got together every chance they got.  She told him about the men and women in her life, and he told her about loneliness and hiding.

    "Did you see the way he looked at you?" she asked.  "Call him, Sky. Make his day."

    "He is cute," he agreed.

    "Let's talk about your tour," she said, changing the subject.

    "Ok," he replied.  "It isn't going to be a big one. We're only doing twelve cities. I don't even know the full list right now."

    "Well, I know when you'll be in LA, and I'll come to the show," she said.  "I'll be there about the same time with Rosie and Sandra."

    "That'd be cool," he said.  "When am I doing Rosie's show?"

    "I asked her that same question this morning," she replied, sipping her tea.  "She said that she'll have you on when your show reaches New York again."

* * *

    "You know," said Justin while they were sitting by the pool at JC's house the next afternoon.  "I'm really glad you called."

    "So am I," replied Skyler.

    They were sitting by the pool, dipping their legs in the water.  JC was out doing errands, and Justin hoped he wouldn't come back for a while.  The guys in the group were kind of worried over Skyler for some reason.  Justin just liked to be close to him.  He wished that Skyler was gay.

    "You know, I checked your tour schedule, you will be in LA the week before us," said Justin.  "We'll keep tailing you almost everywhere."

    "Yeah, I saw that," he replied.  "I was kind of hoping that there would at least be a little overlap. I've never even met the guys from Utopia yet."

    "We've never heard of them," replied Justin.

    "I've listened to their album, and I've seen all the videos," said Skyler.  "They're good, but you guys are better."

    "Thanks," said Justin, smiling.  "That's good to hear."

    "When do you guys leave?" he asked, hoping that he and Justin could spend a little more time together before he had to leave himself.  He liked Justin.  He didn't want a sexual relationship with him, but he liked him.  Justin was kind of hyper and acted more like a kid than the 18 year old that he was, and Skyler found that kind of nice.

    "The firs week of July," said Justin.  "I don't even know where we'll be yet."

    "Tell me," said Skyler.  "Does touring really suck as much as so many people tell me it does?"

    "What?" Justin giggled.  "It doesn't suck. Well, not all the time. It's just hectic, lots to do, little time to get everything done in, bad food, too many fans sometimes, and all of that. But once you get on that stage, Sky, you'll fall in love with your tour."

    "If you say so," replied Skyler, looking back at the water.  "I never wanted to be a singer, Justin."

    The two of them were spotted several times together in Orlando.  The press chalked it up as Skyler making friends, and Madonna called him just about every day to tease him about it.  She thought they were a cute couple, but Sky assured her that Justin really wasn't his type.

    Sky missed Kristy really bad.  The two of them hadn't seen each other since he'd come to Orlando.  He was supposed to fly back to New York days ago, but he'd met Justin, and he really liked hanging out with him.  Other than Lance, Skyler hadn't met any of the other members.  He'd seen JC several times since he'd been in Orlando, but the two had never talked or been introduced to each other.

    "So what do you want to do tonight?" asked Justin as the two of them came out of the fiftieth clothing store they'd been to that day.  Skyler now knew just how much Justin loved clothes.

    "I don't know," he replied.  "I'm leaving for New York in the morning, so I shouldn't be out too late."

    "Well, JC is having a small party tonight, nothing fancy," said Justin.  "Why don't you come and hang out?"

    Skyler thought about that for a minute.  He had seen JC several times, and he really wanted to meet him.  He'd met Lance, but other than the three, he'd yet to meet the rest of the boys.  He thought it might be fun, but at the same time, he thought he might be a bit overwhelmed.  Being Skyler Thomas was still new to him.  He really wanted to just be Sky from LA again for a while.

    "No industry," said Justin, sensing his problem.  "Britney will be there. Christina Aguilera might be there, but I'm not sure. They're both in Orlando right now. But other than that, it'll just be the boys. We don't really hang out with too many industry people at our houses."

    So now, here he stood, in the living room of JC's house, talking to Lance again.  He liked Lance.  Between him and Justin, Lance was far more serious, and he could see by the way that they all asked Lance about up coming schedules and things like that, Lance was the one who had more of the business head in the group.

    "So you're finally going to tour," said Lance.  "I was wondering when you'd get over whatever it was about music that bothered you."

    "Well, Madonna kind of told me that if I didn't go out on tour, she'd drag me on hers and make me sing," he laughed.

    "You are friends with Madonna?" gasped Chris as he walked over to where they were talking.

    "Well, I have her number on speed dial in my cell phone, and she calls me just about every other day to check on how I'm doing," he laughed.  "So I guess it's more like a little brother kind of thing, Chris."

    "She's going on tour?" asked Lance.  "When?"

    "Well, she's toying with the idea right now," he replied.  "Did you guys know that Madonna hates to tour?"

    "We'd heard that," said Justin.  "But Ray Of Light is an awesome album."

    "I agree," said Lance.  "She's always so out of the spotlight all the time these days. It would be good for her to tour again."

    "Well, I think her career is pretty solid, but I'd like for her to tour," he said.

    "OH MY GOD!" cried a feminine voice, scaring Skyler and making Lance jump.  "Skyler Thomas!"

    Skyler whirled around to face Christina Aguilera.  She was smiling from ear to ear, and she was looking him up and down.  He was speechless for a few minutes.  He'd never been greeted quite like that by another celebrity.  He didn't know what to think about it.

    "Easy, Chrissie," said JC, coming to his rescue.  "Let him breathe. We're all excited that he's here, but calm down."

    "You didn't tell me that you knew him, Josh," she said, turning to face JC.

    "Well, I didn't actually meet him until tonight," replied JC.  "Justin and Lance are the two that have met him. He's been hanging out with Curly for a while now."

    "Figures, Justin would hog him," she said.  "I love your music, Skyler."

    "Thank you," he replied, blushing.  "Yours is pretty great, too."

    "Dance with me sexy man," she said, grabbing his hand and pulling him into the center of the room.

    He'd been working with a choreographer for the tour off and on, and he thought he'd try some of the moves that he'd been taught with her.  The two got into a rhythm after JC changed the music and put on one of Skyler's songs.  That helped him clear his mind and just get into the music.

    Before too long, Christina and Skyler were really bumping and grinding, and JC was watching with a great deal of interest.  Justin noticed JC's expression, and he knew it well.  All hope he had of getting to know Skyler even better was now out the window.

    "Well, movie boy," said Christina as they danced.  "You can move."

    "You're easy to dance with," he smiled.

    "I think I like that compliment," she replied, grabbing him again.

    "Alright, enough of this!" cried Britney Spears from the other side of the room.  Skyler hadn't even noticed that she'd arrived.

    "Brit!" cried Justin, smiling.

    "Let go of him, Chrissie," cried Britney.  "We all want to hang out with Skyler."

    Everyone laughed as the two dancers hugged each other and went to sit in different corners of the room.  Britney walked right over to Skyler and sat down beside him.  She smiled from ear to ear at him, and he was starting to get nervous.  He returned the smile, but he was sure that there was a little of his nerves in it, too.

    "Hey Brit," he said.

    "Hey sexy," she replied.  "What's this I hear about you and Madonna having an affair?"

    "WHAT?" he gasped.  "What are you talking about?"

    "You don't know?" said Justin.  "You and Madonna are all over the tabloids. The Enquirer ran pictures last week of you and Madonna in like every restaurant in town, and Star has you coming out of her apartment in New York, and she's been photographed at two of your video shoots. They're having a field day!"

    "Everyone is talking about it, Skyler," said Britney.  "Madonna issued a statement yesterday, telling everyone to mind their own business."

    "She's probably going to have fun with this," said JC, coming up to stand in front of Skyler.

    "So is there any truth in what they're saying?" asked Justin.

    "Well, no!" he said, laughing.  "I'd better call her."

    "You have her number?" gasped Britney.

    "Well, yeah," he said.  "We are friends."

    "So, who are you dating, Skyler?" asked Christina, making him squirm a bit.

    "I'm not dating anyone," he said.  "I don't have time to date anyone. I haven't met, and actually got to know, anyone well enough to date them, yet."

    "But you have your eye on someone, right?" asked Justin, smiling at him.

    Skyler didn't like being put on the spot like this.  He liked these guys a lot, but this intrusive questioning was really starting to irritate him.  Why was it so important to them who he was interested in? The tabloids, he could figure out, but these were other celebrities that had to put up with speculation like this all the time.

    "Leave him alone, Curly," said Lance, smacking Justin in the back of his head.

    "I was just curious," said Justin, pouting.

    That got them all to laugh a little.  Skyler was beginning to really like Lance's attitude about things.  He thought that he might just be a good friend to have.  Justin seemed like he was waiting for something, and Skyler thought he had a pretty good idea of what it was.  He just couldn't give it to him.  The girls made him nervous for other reasons entirely, but he really liked Britney.

    "Knowing Madonna," said Britney, squeezing Skyler's knee affectionately.  "She'll play with this one for a while and make the press go nuts."

    "Wouldn't that be fun," laughed Christina.

    "Maybe," said Skyler, smiling at her.  "I have to admit, there are worse people to be linked to in the press."

    "He's catching on quick," said Britney, patting his knee again.  "You're going to be just fine in show business, Skyler."

    "Well, I promised myself that I wouldn't change the person that I am to suit stardom," he said.  "Brian Krause and I sort of had an argument about that in LA before I even got to New York. I hadn't even seen the studio yet."

    "What business is it of his what you do?" asked Justin quickly.

    "None," replied Skyler.  "That was the point I made with him."

    "Way to go, Skyler," said JC.  "Don't let anyone control you. Believe me, we know all about control."

    "I thought the law suit was going in your favor," said Christina.

    "It is," replied Lance.  "But things are just getting tighter with us. No one wants any of us to screw up while the switch is being made."

    "Well, personally, I think you guys made the right decision," said Britney.  "Skyler, be careful who you sign with. Don't let them take over your life."

    "Well, I'm not really supposed to talk about this, because we don't want it in the press," he said nervously.  "But I have to tell somebody."

    "What's up?" asked JC, smiling at him.

    "Well, Laura told me that with all of the success I'm gaining, she isn't really prepared to handle my career," he said.  "She's more into the television aspect of show business."

    "So you're looking for new management?" asked Lance, getting excited.

    "Well, kind of," replied Skyler, noticing the light in Lance's eyes.  "But I think I have that covered already."

    "You do?" asked Justin.  "You haven't said anything about that."

    "Well, like I said," he replied.  "Its supposed to be a secret until everything is worked out."

    "Well, come on," said Chris.  "Tell us already!"

    "Easy, Chris," laughed JC.  "Give the boy some room."

    "Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to tell you guys," he replied.  "I've been doing some writing lately, thinking of the new album. I actually decided to do the album, and that's when Laura and I had our discussion. Jack offered me an open contract for the show, and it means that I can work on the show whenever I'm not busy. They're going to do some fancy writing to let my character disappear for a while."

    "So you are returning next season," said Lance.  "That's good to hear. We watch the show religiously."

    "Well, I would be billed as a special guest star for next season," he replied.  "I've already filmed several episodes for next season, and my tour will be over at the end of August. I chose not to do a world tour, because of the show. Now I'm going to be working on my next album, and the studio I'm going to be working in is not close to NBC."

    "So who are you going to sign with?" asked Lance.  Skyler could see the all business Lance Bass again.

    "Madonna," he said simply.

    "What?" asked Christina.

    "Yeah," he said.  "The new album will be on the Maverick label, and Madonna will be my manager."

    "WOW!" cried JC.  "You really do know how to work the business. Nobody knows how to get a person through closed doors in show business like Madonna!"

    "Well, she isn't sure about managing my acting career, though," he said.  "So I guess I have to find another agent for that."

    "When exactly do you go on tour?" asked Britney.

    "Well, I have to be in New York tomorrow," he said.  "I'm meeting with Utopia to talk about the tour. We don't actually head out until a week after these guys."

    "Yeah," said Lance.  "I've seen a copy of his tour schedule. At first, he'll follow us, but LA changes that. After LA, we'll be tailing him all over the country."

    "So, after LA, he'll be more in line with Backstreet?" asked Christina.

    "Kind of," said Lance.  "But even they won't be in the same city as his tour at any time."

    "How many cities on the tour, Skyler?" asked JC.

    "Twelve the last time I knew anything," he replied.  "I'm not good with checking my schedule. I have a personal assistant that drives me crazy, but he's good at reminding me of what's coming the following day. Luckily, though, he won't be touring with me."

    They all laughed at that.  Skyler was really getting comfortable with these guys.  He thought he might have made some good friends.  Only time would tell, but unfortunately, time was something they didn't have.  He wanted to spend more time with Justin, and he wanted to get to know the other guys, too.

    "Curly and I will be in New York for four days," said JC.  "We have two photo shoots, and a personal appearance."

    "Well, Justin has my address," said Skyler.  "Call me or come over whenever you want.  Brent will let you in, I'm sure."

    "Brent?" asked Britney, creasing her brow at him.

    "My bodyguard," he laughed.  "You know, the personal shadow kind of guy."

    "Right," she laughed.

* * *

    "So, anything to report to me?" asked Madonna, sitting across from Skyler in his kitchen.

    "Nothing new, Momma," he laughed.  "They'll be in town tomorrow."

    "You like him," she said.  "Just a little bit."

    "Justin is a great guy," he agreed.  "I love hanging out with him, but he's too hyper for anything else. I wouldn't get any sleep, I'm sure."

    "You animal," she laughed and gave him a dirt look.

    "Not that!" he laughed.  "He just always wants to be doing something, and most of the time it involves clothes or food."

    "My my," she said.

    "JC is the one I'd really like to get to know," he said, smiling at her through his blush.

    "He is a cutie," she agreed.  "He'll be here tomorrow?"

    "Both of them will," he said.  "Justin called this morning. They want to hang out while they're in town."

    "What hotel will they be staying in?" she asked.

    "Well," he said, looking down at the table and blushing.  "I sort of told them they could stay here."

    "And their people went for it?" she asked.

    "Well, with their body guards and Brent, we'll be very protected," he laughed.  "Their official people will stay at the hotel."

    "Ah," she said, smiling at him.  "Better to get to know JC."

    "Kind of," he replied.

    "Just make sure that the other cutie doesn't get too jealous over the amount of getting to know you time you spend with JC," she warned.  "From what you've told me, Justin is a sweetheart, and I'd hate to see you crush him."

    "I know," he said.

    "Let's talk about the album," she said.

    "I haven't even toured for the first one yet!" he laughed.

    "I meant the announcement about your management switch," she said, laughing at him and shaking her head.

    "Oh," he said.  "When do you think we should announce it?"

    "Well, I assume you've already told Justin, and probably the rest of *Nsync," she said, smiling at him.  "But officially, I think we should announce it the day before you your first show. When is Utopia supposed to arrive?"

    "They'll be here on the 30th," he replied.  "The first show is the 2nd of July."

    "Well, why don't we hold a press conference on the first," she said.  "That way, the media will already be buzzing about the tour, and we can shake them up a little bit. I'll call Laura and make all the arrangements."

    "Sounds good," he replied as the doorbell sounded.

    Madonna sat in the kitchen while Skyler went to the door, but she had no trouble figuring out who had come to the door.  Justin's excited voice was her first clue, the second was all of the bags that were carried in by a very beefed up bodyguard.  She smiled at him when he stopped in the kitchen to drop off soda.

    "Hello," she said.

    "Ma'am," he replied.

    "Oh, you can do better than that," she laughed.  "Madonna."

    "Lonnie," he replied, shaking her hand.

    "HOLY SHIT!" cried Justin when he made it to the kitchen.  His eyes were as big as saucers as he stared at Madonna.

    "Curly!" cried JC, coming to find out what he was so excited about.  When he saw Madonna, he stopped dead in his tracks.

    "Hello, boys," she said, smiling.  She loved their reactions.

    "Guys, Madonna," said Skyler, coming back into the room.

    "Hello," said JC, recovering nicely and extending his hand to her.

    "Hello, yourself," she said.  "You are adorable."

    "Thank you," he said, blushing.

    "Catatonic over there will get over his shock soon, I hope," she said, pointing to Justin.

    "Sorry," he said, blinking.

    "I thought you guys weren't supposed to be here until tomorrow," said Skyler, looking from Justin to JC.

    "Well, Curly wouldn't stop whining until everyone agreed to let us come up a day early," explained JC.  "So, here we are. I hope it isn't an inconvenience."

    "Not at all," he replied.  "A pleasant surprise is all."

    "Well, I have some calls to make, Sugar," said Madonna, standing and kissing Skyler's cheek.  "Call me later, and I'll let you know what everyone has to say about our plan."

    "Sure thing," he said.  "Dinner tomorrow?"

    "I'm meeting Rosie tomorrow to discuss your appearance," she said.  "Why don't you and the guys join us for lunch?"

    "We have a photo shoot tomorrow," said JC, disappointed.

    "Well, we'll get together some time wile you're here," she said, smiling at him.  "Gentlemen."

    "I can't believe you just hang out with her," said Justin after Madonna had left and Skyler had helped them both put their things in the rooms they'd be using.  He was giving them a tour of the apartment.

    "She's really great," he replied.  "I still miss Kristy, though. She'll be over pretty soon."

    "This apartment is very cool," said JC.  "I had no idea it was so big."

    "The studio was very nice to me," he replied.  "But I fear I may be moving after a bit."

    "Why?" asked Justin.

    "Well, Madonna is trying to talk me into buying my own apartment," he said.  "We looked at some places today."

    "Makes sense," said JC.  "You are home based here."

    "Where do you come from?" asked Justin as they all settled into the living room.

    "Michigan," he replied.  "About thirty miles from Detroit."

    "Madonna Town," laughed JC.

    "Yeah," he said, smiling.  "We both had a good laugh over that."

    After they all talked about Madonna for a while, they decided what they wanted to do for the evening.  All three of them had to get up early the next day, so going out wasn't an option.  Justin wanted to rent movies and just hang out at the apartment, and Skyler was all for that.

    Kristy showed up a little later, and she and Skyler talked privately for a while.  She hugged him and congratulated him on his signing with Madonna, and he assured her that he would be returning to the show from time to time.  After that, the four of them had lunch in a restaurant down the street.

    They'd said goodbye to Kristy and were now doing Justin's favorite pass time.  They were standing in one of the many stores that had caught his eye, waiting while he tried on just about every outfit in the store.  JC laughed and apologized to Skyler for having to wait.

    "You know he's crazy about you, right?" said JC when Justin was in the dressing room.

    "He's a great guy," said Skyler, hoping that JC wasn't talking about what he thought he was.

    "The entire gang likes you, Skyler," continued JC.  "You're just so normal."

    "What do you mean?" he asked, turning from the rack of clothes he was pretending to browse through to look at him.

    "Well, most people get all excited over their fame when it first happens to them," he explained.  "You just don't seem to let it phase you in the least."

    "Well, I'm still the same guy I was when I was in college in LA," he replied.  "Sure, now I know several famous people, and I can't walk down the street without causing a commotion, but I'm still just plain old Sky."

    "I like that about you," admitted JC.  "You, my friend, are cool."

    "Thanks," said Skyler, smiling.  "I think you're pretty cool, too."

    The two stood looking at each other for a moment.  A definite something was happening, but Skyler wasn't sure exactly what it was.  JC was looking at him with a slight smile on his face, and he had to admit that this look really made him kind of nervous.  Could JC Chasez be gay? He was sure he wasn't.  He'd never done anything to even make him speculate until now.

    "What are you dorks smiling about?" asked Justin as he came out of the dressing room to model what he'd chosen.

    "Nothing," said JC, turning to face Justin.  "I like that outfit."

    "It is great," said Justin, turning around to give them a full view.  "I think I'll buy this one."

    "You like him, don't you," said Justin to JC while Skyler was signing autographs outside the store.  The two of them were hiding out watching.  They didn't want to get mobbed, but Skyler seemed to be soaking up the attention.

    "Yeah, I do," said JC, watching Skyler smile and be charming for his fans.  "I know you do, though."

    "He doesn't seem to be interested in me, Josh," said Justin with just a hint of disappointment in his voice.

    "He thinks you're a great guy, Justin," replied JC.  "But he may not even be gay."

    "He does seem to be really close with Kristy," said Justin.  "Did you see they way they hugged each other?"

    "Yeah, I noticed that," he said.  "I also noticed how his eyes lit up while he talked to her."

    "Doesn't look like either of us have a shot with him," said Justin quietly.

    "Well, even if we do, I wouldn't do anything that would make you feel bad, Just," said JC.  "I know you like him."

    "Maybe he likes us both," said Justin, smiling at JC.

    "You're sick, Justin," laughed JC.

    "But seriously," said Justin.  "If he likes you, go for it. I'll be ok. I like being his friend."

    Later that night, the three of them were sitting around Skyler's television, watching a movie and eating pizza.  Skyler noticed that both of them looked at him from time to time, and he tried to look oblivious.  A few times, he locked eyes with JC, and both of them would smile and look away.

    He wondered just what was going on.  He didn't have much experience with this sort of thing.  The only guy he'd ever had sex with was Mark, and that ended badly.  Sure, they were back to being friends, and they talked on the phone almost every day or two, but he'd wanted more from it, and it had hurt him when Mark rejected him.

    He didn't want to be rejected again, but after spending the day with Justin and JC, he was really starting to like JC a little more than he should have.  For one thing, he was sure that JC was straight.  He'd made only one statement that day that could be questionable, and that was about Justin.  Skyler didn't know what to think.

    The next day, when JC returned to the apartment after his photo shoot, he found Skyler sitting at the kitchen table in tears.  He immediately went to him and wrapped his arms around him.  He didn't know what was wrong with him, but it made him feel awful to see him cry.

    "What's wrong, Skyler?" he asked, releasing him and sitting down beside him at the table.

    "That," he said, pointing to a copy of The Enquirer sitting on the table.

    JC looked at the cover and was shocked into silence for a minute.  On the cover, there was a picture of Skyler, and the caption wasn't flattering at all.  It read:  Teen Idol Victim Of Sexual Abuse.  JC, out of morbid curiosity, opened the rag and read the story.  When he was done, he was almost in tears.

    "Skyler, I'm so sorry," he said.  "But this is just a tabloid. It doesn't mean anything."

    "Why did they have to find this story?" he asked, looking at JC with fresh tears streaking down his face.

    "Sweetheart," said Madonna, surprising both of them as she stormed into the room and gathered Skyler in her arms.  "I just heard. Are you ok?"

    "Not really," he said, hugging her tightly.

    "How on Earth did they find out about this?" she asked.

    "I don't know," he said.  "The only people that I've even talked to about it are you and Kristy. I know that neither of you would call them with the information."

    "Oh, Honey, no," she said, hugging him again.  "I'd never do something so terrible to you."

    The three of them were in tears by the time Justin came in.  He stopped and looked at them for a moment and then gave JC a questioning gaze.  Before JC even knew what he was doing, he looked at the tabloid on the table.  Justin took one look at the cover and started to cry.

    "What do I do now?" asked Skyler, crying again.  "How can I hid from this now?"

    "Oh, Baby," said Madonna, hugging him again.

    She held him and let him cry.  She was so angry over this.  How could someone call the tabloids with a story like this? She vowed to find out, and when she did find out who it was, they were going to pay! She'd see to it.  She cared for Skyler, and this was hurting him more than anything could have.  She hated to see him this way.

    "What do we do for him?" asked JC when Madonna had finally gotten Skyler to go to sleep.  She'd taken the phone off the hook in the kitchen just after it started to wring like crazy.

    "Just watch out for him," she said.  "I know the two of you are busy for the next few days, but I'm canceling his appearances. I guess the world will soon find out that I'm his agent, and this isn't the way that we wanted them to find out. But I don't want him leaving this apartment for the next few days."

    "He's going to have to respond to this," said JC miserably.

    "You care for him don't you?" she said, making JC's head snap up and a terror filled look cross his face.

    "Don't worry," she said, patting his shoulder.  "I'm not Barbara Walters, and I'd never say anything to anyone. But I'm not blind."

    "I know," he said, putting his head down again.  "Is it that obvious?"

    "Well, it wasn't until you hovered over him when I put him to bed," she said.

    "Does he know?" he asked, looking at her with new concern.

    "No, he doesn't," she said.  "He's been worried about the same thing."

    "What?" he asked, shocked.

    "JC, I probably shouldn't be telling you about this," she said, glancing at Justin.  "And you both have to swear not to tell him, but I think he needs both of you right now, and I have to be honest with you."

    "We won't tell," said Justin.  A very serious look crossed his face.

    "He likes you," she said, turning back to JC.  "A lot. He hasn't said anything for a number of reasons. One, I'm sure you already can figure out."

    "Yeah," he said, looking down again.

    "Another reason is Justin," she said, looking over at him.

    "Me?" he asked, confused.

    "You, my friend," she said.  "Are obvious."

    "What?" he asked, scared.

    "You constantly find ways to touch him, and you always want to spend time with him," she said, smiling.  "Little things that you say and do tell him exactly how you feel. Don't worry, your secret is safe. He'd never out you."

    "I know that, I think," he said.  "But if I'm that obvious."

    "He says that you're completely professional in public, so don't worry about that," she said.  "But he doesn't want to hurt your feelings, either. He likes you, Justin. Just not like that."

    JC sat in a chair in Skyler's bedroom, watching him sleep.  He didn't know what to do about what Madonna had told him.  Skyler was in no shape for that kind of discussion right now.  He hated that the tabloid had chosen that particular story, and he wished he knew how they'd found it.

    Justin was depressed, and JC knew it was more than just what was happening to Skyler.  He liked him, and now he knew that Skyler wasn't interested in him that way.  It couldn't help that it was JC himself that Skyler was interested in, either.  He didn't know what to do now, but he had to tell Skyler the truth.

* * *

    "So what are you going to do?" asked Kristy the next day.  She and Skyler were sitting at his kitchen table, talking about the article.  Justin and JC were both busy, and she didn't want him to be alone.

    "We're going to hold a press conference," he said finally.  "We were going to announce the change in management the day before the show, but now . . ."

    "With Madonna barking orders at everyone, that cat is out of the bag," she said, smiling at him.

    "Yeah," he said.  "So we're going to hold a press conference tomorrow and clear all of that up. I guess I'll have to answer questions about the article, too."

    He looked miserable, and Kristy couldn't stand it.  She wished that there was some way that she could make him feel better, but this was his first time being slammed by tabloids, and she knew that with this particular story, there was no other reaction she could expect.

    "You have to eat something," said Justin, startling both of them as he came into the kitchen with two bags of Deli food.  He sat them down on the table and handed Kristy a cup of coffee.

    "Thank you," she said, smiling at him.  "What's all this?"

    "Well, he said in Orlando that he liked turkey club sandwiches, and there's a deli around the corner that happens to have really good ones," he said, looking at Skyler.

    "Thank you, Justin," he said, eyeing the bag.  "I am kind of hungry."

    "Well I'm glad to hear that," said JC, walking in with two more bags from the same deli.

    They all laughed about that, and JC was so happy to see Skyler laugh and smile.  He hated the worn and depressed look in his eyes, but at least the smile had been genuine.  He was going to make him feel better.  That was something that he wasn't going to fail on before he left New York.  He'd cancel the next photo sessions if he had to.  Everyone would just have to understand.

    Kristy left about an hour later.  Madonna called Skyler's cell phone with the details of the press conference.  JC was happy to know that he didn't have anything scheduled at the same time as the press conference.  He wanted to be there for Skyler.  Justin was upset that he had to do a radio interview at the same time.

    Brian Krause showed up a little while after Kristy left, and Skyler couldn't help noticing the jealous look on JC's face when Brian hugged him.  He suppressed a smile, and told Brian that he was doing as well as could be expected.  Thankfully, Justin was out doing a photo shoot.

    "So, any word on how they got this?" asked Brian, sitting down at the table across from JC who was glaring at him.

    "Not yet," replied Skyler.  "Madonna's checking into it."

    "Vicious," said Brian, shaking his head.  "When she finds the person responsible, there'll be Hell to pay."

    "If I don't find them first," said JC, shocking both Brian and Skyler.

    "Brian Krause, JC Chasez," said Skyler, smiling and trying to hide it.  JC noticed and blushed.

    "Well its nice to see that the president of the Skyler Thomas fan club is on board," laughed Brian.  He winced when Skyler kicked him under the table.

    "I just wish it would go away," said Skyler, glaring at Brian.

    The three of them were silent for a while, and Skyler and Brian shot looks back and forth, confusing JC and making him worry.  Had he just let Brian know how he felt about Skyler? That could be a problem.  He decided that there was nothing he could do about it, so he just let it go.

    "Well, I can't stay," said Brian, standing.  "I have to be at the studio in a few minutes. I just wanted to come and tell you that we're all behind you, Sky."

    "Thanks, Brian," replied Skyler as Brian hugged him again.

    Both guys were quiet as Brian left the apartment.  When he was gone, they sat there and stared at each other for a few minutes.  Skyler knew that JC had something he wanted to say, or at least needed to say, but he also knew that it wasn't going to be easy for him to say.

    "Brian is just a good friend," he said, breaking the silence.  "He's straight."

    "Oh," said JC, looking down at the table.  "So you know."

    "Yeah," replied Skyler.  "But that doesn't mean I'm going to go running to anyone and blab."

    "I think I know that already, Sky," he said.

to be continued

My other stories on Nifty:

Detahz can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Nicholas And Mark can be found in the Incest section.
Boys Of Summer can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Midnight Encounter can be found in the Adult/Youth section.
Christopher's Story can be found in the Incest section.

I have other stories on my site, and you can check out my eGroup to see who the characters are inspired by as well as send emails to other fans of my work.