Chapter 11

     "So, is there something you would like to tell me?" Chris asked curiously, trying to pry Michael for information.

      "No. Just focus on the road and get me home safely," Michael replied dryly.

      As Chris kept his focus ahead, he patted Michael on the shoulder and said, "awww, you like her, don't you?"

      Choosing to ignore the question, Michael closed his eyes as he leaned back in his seat. He didn't feel like discussing his love life and was feeling completely exhausted.

       When Michael became extremely quiet, Chris smirked and said, "Well... Since you're not answering, is it ok if I ask her out?"

       Immediately sitting up straight, Michael growled, "hell no!"

      "So, not only do you like her. But you like her, 'LIKE HER'!" Chris laughed boisterously as he emphasized his words.

      "You're not gonna shut up until I give you an answer, are you?" Michael spoke gruffly as he rubbed his lightly stubbled face.

      "Of course not. Who is she? Unlike the other hoes--"

      "Chris!" Michael exclaimed, cutting him off abruptly, "don't refer to them as that."

      "Sorry, Mike! What I meant to say is that out of all the other delightful women you have chosen to entertain, you look at her differently."

       Tilting the back of his head against the car's headrest, Michael smiled and said, "that's because she is different. But for now,⁠ we're just friends."

       When they finally pulled up to Michael's home, Michael bid Chris goodnight and thanked him for visiting. Out of the few friends that he had made throughout the years, Chris was one of his closest after Elizabeth Taylor, of whom he made sure to visit often but just not in California.     

       Whenever the two would catch up with one another, it was usually in Europe or Newyork during extended holidays.

       As Michael walked towards his front door, Chris yelled out and teased, "I hope she gives you some bomb booty! Keep me posted."

       Shaking his head sideways as he entered his home, Michael retorted, "Goodnight, Christmas!"

       "I'mma get his ass back for that," Chris grumbled, as he drove away. When the two first met, Michael would often tease Chris by calling him Christmas. There was really no rhyme or reason as to why he did it. It was just apart of their friendly banter while joking around with one another.

       After locking his front door, Michael shot Symphony a text. He wanted to make sure that she got home safely since both of their friends, aka 'designated drivers,' had gotten a little tipsy as well. Michael was very well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but oddly enough, Roxanne and Chris seemed to be the less drunk out of the four of them.

       As Michael plopped down on the beautifully plush, five thousand dollar sofa that he had recently purchased from a local antique shop, he shot her a quick text.

       "Hey beautiful, are you home yet?"

       "Yes. Just got in! And you?" Symphony messaged back instantly.

       "Just got in as well. I'm going to feed Shadow and turn in soon. As for tomorrow, I'll pick you up at 8 pm. Please wear something comfortable and have dinner beforehand, Ok?"


      "Ok, Michael. Will do. Have a goodnight, sweetheart. See you tomorrow."


      "Thanks, and you do the same, beautiful... See you soon. I wish you goodnight and pleasant dreams."

       Later that night, Symphony awoke in desperate need of a drink of water. Her head was now throbbing due to the few extra drinks she and Michael downed at the club earlier that evening. She wasn't a heavy drinker at all, and usually, one or two drinks were enough for her.

       After slowly making her way towards the kitchen, she stood at the sink, deciding if she wanted a glass of filtered tap or a bottle of spring water. "Girl, come on and make a decision; water is water," she muttered sleepily to herself."

      As she turned on the faucet, she felt a warm body snuggle up against her from behind.

       Soon after, a pair of arms enveloped her in a warm embrace. "Please-- don't scream," a familiar voice whispered silkily against her ear, "I've been craving you... I need you."

       Symphony swallowed hard when his large hands began to roam her entire body. His touch was firm but yet soft, setting every part of her body ablaze. As his hands traveled down to her aching womanhood, her body shivered with anticipation.

        "Tell me what you like, sweetheart... Tell me what you desire," he spoke with ragged breath as he kissed her shoulder lightly.

       Pulling her thong into her box, he gently slid the silky material back and forths over her swollen clit.

        As her entire body quivered from his erotic play, she held onto the kitchen counter to steady herself. "Mmm, fuck!" she hissed softly.

       "If you like that, I can do something even better," he chuckled deep, placing a gentle kiss on the back of her neck.

       Pulling her thong aside, he stroked her clit ever so slowly while cupping and caressing her breast delicately.

       When Michael slipped two fingers inside of her, she cried out his name, awakening suddenly-- her body drenched in sweat.

       Kicking the covers off of herself in an angry fit, she stared blankly at the ceiling and groaned, "ugh! Calm down your hormones, please!"


***

"I'm in love with a beautiful girl

I'm in love with a beautiful girl

It's almost like dancing and romancing

In her arms

It's just a part of it

Can't you see that I'm in love

(love)

I'm in love

(love)

I'm in love

(love)

Da de de da de da da dum," he sang behind closed eyelids, as he tickled the keys of his classic Steinway baby grand piano.

      "Hmph! Slow down, sir. You don't love her... But you do 'Like, LIKE HER' a lot," he chuckled, as Chris's word's replayed in his head from last night.

       As he continued to play, the melody shifted into a new song altogether. The feeling of it was soft and mysterious but also free and happy, like Symphony. This was her song.

       After running to get his tape recorder, he began to hum additional harmonies while tapping out the main tunes melody. It had been a long time since he had composed a song for a woman, and it was most certainly the first classical one.

       Before earning his Ph.D. in music, Michael didn't read or write much sheet music and wasn't adept at playing any instruments. It was something that his detractors would often bring up as a means to discredit him as a musician. But despite what they said, he was every bit the musician and a highly skilled one at that.   

        His voice was an instrument all on its own. When composing a song, he would build the entire arrangement onto a mini-cassette recorder, using his voice only. And most times, if not all, Michael would often hear the entire composition in his mind before laying it down on wax.

         Just as Michael was about to record, his phone rang.

       "Hello, Dr. Black speaking, how may I help you?" He answered briskly.

       "Hello Mr. Jack-- sorry, Dr. Black, this is Sony Representative David Gould speaking. I'm calling to let you know that our annual board meeting is coming up in a few months, and your presence is needed for some decisions we need to make in regards to the ATV catalog."

         Before speaking, Michael removed the phone from his ear, needing a split second to calm himself down. He knew very damn well that David heard him announce himself as Dr. Black but still dared to try and refer to him as Mr. Jackson. Michael understood that some would have trouble adapting to his new name, and would still refer to him as Mr. Jackson from time to time-but Sony stayed doing it on the regular. It was a blatant form of disrespect to him, but thank God. He only had to be around them in person once per year for the annual meeting. Everything else relating to the catalog could usually be taken care of with a simple phone call.

        Placing the phone back to his ear, he spoke as calmly as he could. "Hello, Mr. Gould, I'm aware of the meeting. Have a nice day, sir. *Click*

        At first, Michael felt bad over his cold response and hanging up so abruptly, but at the same time, he could care less. Sony treated him like shit back in 2001 with the lack of promotion for his 'Invincible' album and at other various times during his career. At this point and time in his life, he could care-less what they thought of him. But hey, at least he was cordial before slamming the phone down, he laughed in hindsight.


***

        "Hi, is everything alright?" Nicolae asked concernedly when he saw Symphony clutching her head.

        "Yeah-yeah... I'm alright. I'm just a little tired with a headache."

        Nicolae looked at her tenderly and said. "Well, we can always call it quits for today. We can finish recording the new track the next time we're in the studio."

       Symphony yawned. "No, umm... Let's keep going, please. I want to get this recorded this afternoon. After today, the studio is booked for a month. I love this studio because of the acoustics."

        For the past several months, Symphony and her band had been working on songs for their second album. Even though they weren't very well known, they did have a small following that had discovered them through various music platforms. Long gone were the days where an artist only had to submit their demo-tape to a record company or sell them out the trunk of their car. One had to be damn near famous before they actually were famous, she often thought.

        Soon after recording their final song of the evening, Michael rang her cell phone. It was nearing 7:00 pm, and he wanted to make sure that she was ready before heading over to her place to pick her up.

       "Hey, beautiful. I'll be headed your way soon. Are you all ready to go?"

       Symphony hissed. "Shit! I'm sorry, Michael! I'm in the studio. Do you mind picking me up from here?"

        "No, I don't mind. What's the address?"

       "425 Fawcett St," she rambled quickly, trying to keep her voice low.

       "Oh, I know where that is. 'Wright-way studio's,' correct?"

       "Yes-- correct. Please call me when you get here, and I'll meet you in the parking lot."

        Michael chuckled. "Why the parking lot?"

       "Oh, I just thought that maybe you wanted to keep us on the low?"


       "Symphony, if that's what you want —

fine. But no. I'm only concerned about our interactions at the university. What we do in our personal free time is our business."


       "No, that's not what I want. But umm... Can we discuss this later? I need to help the band with loading our instruments into the truck. See you in a few."


       "So, with that being said, where should I meet you--" *Click.*

       Without giving Michael a chance to answer, Symphony quickly hung up the phone. April had been shouting for her to hurry up, and Dylan was being an ass per usual. She didn't mean to rush off the phone, but her head was still throbbing, and her screaming bandmates weren't doing her any favors.

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