The next morning, Symphony watched Michael as he slept. As she surveyed his sleeping face, she smiled. He was, indeed, a beautiful man. From his chiseled jaw, down to his slim but well-defined legs, he was a vision to behold.
As she rested her head upon his chest, she trailed her fingers lightly over a blotched portion of his skin. She could never fathom why people oppressed him for something he had no control over. He had a skin disease called 'Vitiligo,' which produced light splotches and discolorations over his entire body, caused by the loss of pigment in the skin.
Throughout 14 years, Michael tried explaining his skin condition to both the media and public alike, but not all believed him. As if his having Vitiligo wasn't difficult enough already, he also had to deal with the utter bullshit people made up about his appearance. When he first contracted the disease, it took a toll on his self-confidence. Hearing the constant rumors of him wanting to become white had been mentally exhausting, and it hurt him deeply. He was a proud black man that loved his race.
Having Vitiligo had not only affected his public persona but his personal life as well. He sometimes found it difficult to reveal his true-self when being intimate with a woman, and would often stay in full-bodied make-up, or have sex with the lights out. But as he got older, he learned to accept his condition. If a woman had a problem with it, then she wasn't the one for him. He didn't want to be with someone who couldn't accept him for him.
As his eyes fluttered open, Symphony placed a tender kiss on his lips. "Did you sleep well?" she cooed.
Michael yawned and smiled lazily. "I did. It was some of the best sleep I've had in a while. You wore me out."
Symphony giggled. "That was my goal."
Michael chuckled in return. "Mission accomplished... Exceeded even. This is the first time I've been sore after--" he trailed off, licking his lips.
"First time since what?"
"First time since making love," he spoke gingerly.
Looking into his eyes, she traced his lips with her fingers. "It's a first for me in general."
"What? Being sore?" he teased.
"No... Making love."
Placing a gentle kiss on her freckled cheek, he smiled and said, "last night was beautiful, Beautiful."
Symphony loved it when he called her beautiful. It was the sweetest nickname any man had ever given her.
As she slowly stroked his already throbbing member, she spoke softly with desire filling her loins. "Yes, very beautiful, indeed... I can't wait to make love to you again."
"Mmm," he groaned low and deep. "You're like the Energizer Bunny. I hope I can keep up."
Symphony purred while kissing his neck. "Am I too much for you to handle, Dr. Black?" she teased.
"Maybe," he laughed. "You are twenty years younger than me."
"Is my age a problem for you?"
"No. Is mine for you?"
"No... Or well. It was something I thought about. But at the time, I was trying to find a reason as to why I shouldn't be attracted to you— along with you being my professor and all."
"Well, I'm glad you changed your mind. The only things that matter to me are being mature, grown, and intelligent. For twenty-nine years old, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. You seem to know what you want out of life."
Capturing his lips in a fiery kiss, Symphony straddled him and said, "I do... And right now, I want you."
"Hello darling, how are you?" Elizabeth greeted Michael expressively, "I was wondering when you were going to call me."
Michael sighed. "Please forgive me, Elizabeth, but you know how busy I am at the start of the semester."
"I know, dear. That's why I didn't bother you too much."
Taking a seat in his home library, he swiveled around in his chair and said, "You're never a bother to me. I miss you."
"I miss you too, Michael. Hopefully, I'll get to see you in New York for Thanksgiving?"
"I'm planning on it. While I'm up there, I have a meeting to attend at Sony."
Elizabeth grimaced. "Oh God! Do you still have to attend those meetings?"
"Unfortunately. Being is that I own half of their catalog. They make it a point to torture me by requiring my presence at their annual meeting."
"But look on the bright side... It's just one meeting, and you don't have to see them for another year," Elizabeth chimed," and we'll get to see each other for a bit."
As an image of Symphony popped into his mind, Michael smiled softly and said, "am I allowed to bring a guest?"
"Yes! Of course, you can. Is it anyone I know?"
Michael laughed nervously. "No-no. You don't know her."
"Hmm... Now you've got me curious. What's her name?"
"Symphony," he spoke quietly.
"Beautiful name. You must really like her a lot if you're bringing her over for dinner... Thanksgiving dinner at that."
Elizabeth was correct in her thinking. Out of all the years they had been friends, Michael never introduced her to any woman he was dating unless he was serious about the relationship— especially not random hookups. Elizabeth Taylor was not only his best friend but a second mother to him as well.
Speaking in a gentle tone, his voice began to shake. "Not only do I like her, but I'm falling in love with her. She's the most incredible woman I've met in a long time."
Elizabeth squealed. "I'm so happy for you! Hopefully, I'll finally get some Godbabies to spoil."
"Slow down," Michael chuckled. "We still have a long way to go before that happens. And besides, I don't even know if she wants children. And to be honest, I've given up on it. Every woman that I've been with has lied to me when it came to having children."
"Oh, but you shouldn't just give up. Maybe God is waiting for the right woman to come along?"
Michael sniffed, trying to hold back his tears. "I know, but I can't relive the type of pain that both my ex-wife and ex-fiance put me through."
"I understand, dear. I know you're scared of being hurt again, but sometimes you have to take a chance, and it seems like you are. I can't wait to meet her."
"I can't wait for you to meet her, either! You're going to love her; she's very sweet. I hope she agrees to visit Newyork with me. It's not every day that one introduces their girlfriend to thee, Elizabeth Taylor.
"Oh, come on, Michael! I'm just a regular lady. But I do have to get going now. I'm meeting Liza for lunch. You need to call her. She misses you, as well."
"Yes-yes, I will. She's gonna go in on me. I haven't spoken to her in a while. Please send her my love."
"I will, Michael. You take care and keep me updated about your visit to NewYork."
"Yes, I will. You take care, as well. Talk to you soon."
"Thank you, Ms. Wilson, for all you and your band have done for the past couple of years. The kids love it when bands and singers perform for them."
Symphony smiled while shifting her keyboard to her other arm. "No problem. Anything for the children. As a child, I, too, was once a patient here. You all are providing a great service. I believe music has the power to heal. I wish more hospitals had Music-Therapy as apart of their treatment."
For the past couple of years, Symphony and her band had been volunteering at 'John Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine.' The center had an excellent program that specialized in healing through music, and would usually only invite artists from the 'Peabody' Institute to partake in their program, but would sometimes invite local artists to participate as well.
As Dr. Jefferson led Symphony and her band to the room they would be performing in, she smiled and said, "thanks again for everything, but just a head's up. They'll be a professor from Peabody visiting during your session. His volunteer visits with us are mostly private, but our new program manager got the schedules confused. I hope you don't mind. He usually speaks with the kids and brings them toys."
In the back of her mind, Symphony knew the private volunteer had to be Michael. The doctor's description of him was spot on and reminded her of how he would visit hospitals when he was known as 'Michael Jackson.' It was nice to learn he hadn't given up his charity efforts after becoming Dr. Black.
Shaking her head sideways, a look of concern washed over her face."No-no, I don't mind at all. But is he ok with it? I don't want to infringe on his time. We can always come back next weekend."
As Dr. Jefferson jotted something down in her notepad, she looked back to Symphony and said, "No worries, Ms. Wilson. I explained the schedule mix up with him this morning, and he's completely fine with it."
When Michael arrived at the hospital later that afternoon, his ears perked up when he heard Symphony singing and laughing. He knew he was crazy about her, but now he was hearing things as well. "Michael, get it together. You've only made love to the woman twice, and you're already losing your mind," he thought silently to himself.
As he entered the room he was volunteering in, he soon discovered he wasn't going crazy at all. There stood Symphony amongst her bandmates performing to a small group of toddlers.
Leaning up against the door, a wide grin appeared on his face as he watched her belt out a fantastic rendition of the alphabet song. As he watched her interaction with the kids, his heart began to melt. It was one of the sincerest things he'd ever seen. When Symphony passed an extra microphone to a cherub-face toddler for a duet, he couldn't help but wonder if she someday wanted kids of her own.
After Symphony's duet with the toddler was over, she encouraged the other kids to sing along with her. "Now I know my ABC's; next time won't you sing with me!"
As Michael walked casually into the room, he began to sing along with Symphony and the kids. The look on her face was priceless. Though she knew he was the private volunteer, she didn't expect him to appear suddenly singing the alphabet song.
When the song was over, Michael walked up close to her and said, "What a nice surprise. Didn't expect to see you here, Ms. Wilson."
Symphony laughed, "I guessed you would be here."
Staring at her in confusion, he wrapped his arms around her waist and said, "how so?"
Symphony gulped. Even though the children had gone to the other side of the room with one of the doctors, Michael's closeness still had her on edge.
"Michael, what are you doing?" she whispered.
"Everything I should be," he smirked.
"Are you aware of how close we're standing? We're in a room full of people."
As he placed a tender kiss on her cheek, he spoke softly. "Technically, this isn't university. Please Relax... I'm happy to see you, Beautiful."
Symphony giggled. "I'm happy to see you as well, sweetheart. But you just saw me this morning.
"What can I say? I'm insatiable," he chuckled.
Taking Symphony by the hand, Michael smiled and said, "would you mind ending your session a bit early? But keep your keyboard, please. I want to do something special for the kids after I pass out toys to them."
"No, I don't mind. I'm sure they don't mind either. A few of my band members were out partying last night, and I practically had to drag them in to perform today," Symphony sighed.
She loved her band, but sometimes they gave her grief. If it wasn't Dylan saying something rude, Nicolae getting too touchy-feely with her, or April ditching gigs. They'd sometimes argue over the free shows Symphony signed them up for. One of them being the hospital performances for the kids.
Since they were almost always asked to perform on late Sunday mornings, it often meant that her band members would have to end their Saturday night club-hopping early. Her band members never understood why she liked performing for free.
She understood them wanting to perform for paying gigs only, but she also felt it was important to give back to her community. Seeing the kid's faces light up when they saw her band perform made her heart soar. They were the most fantastic audience she could ever perform for.
After Symphony's band members had left the center, she watched Michael as he gave each child a toy. It was the sweetest thing she'd seen. The kids loved him. He took turns, giving his undivided attention to each. It was the happiest she'd ever seen him.
When Michael caught her staring at him, he waved her over and said, "Symphony, your singing partner wants to give you something."
As Symphony took a seat beside Michael, the cute toddler gave her a card with a heart drawn on it. "Here, I made this for you. I made one for Mr. Michael too. I hope you like it."
Symphony gushed. "Oh my gosh! I love it! It's the nicest card I've ever received. Thank-you. And by the way, you're a great singer. Thank you for singing with me today."
"You're welcome, Ms. Symphony! I like singing with you," the little girl spoke happily, "is Mr. Michael, your boyfriend?"
Symphony giggled while looking back at Michael. "Yes. Mr. Michael is my boyfriend."
The little girl yelped excitedly, "Mr. Michael is my friend. And now you're my friend too!"
When the little girl went to play with her friends, Michael turned to Symphony and said, "Akeelah is a regular here. She has a rare heart disease called 'Pantalogy.' Her heart sits on the outside of her chest."
Symphony frowned as she watched the little girl play with her friends. "Oh, no! Is there anything the doctors can do for her?"
"No, not right now," he sighed, "the doctors are trying to figure out a way to perform surgery on her, but right now it's too risky— she has high blood pressure. Until that goes down, there's not much they can do."
"Poor baby," Symphony sighed, "I hope her blood pressure gets better soon."
Feeling his heart constrict, Michael blinked his eyes rapidly, trying to hold back his tears. "It's been getting better. Since attending the center, her blood pressure has decreased but not enough for the surgery. I donate money to the center monthly, but I give something extra just for the research of her disease. She's such a sweetheart."
When Symphony noticed a tear falling from Michael's eye, she brushed it away with her finger and said, "please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I know it might not sound like a lot, but we have to pray for her. Keep the faith, you know?"
As Michael felt himself on the verge of tears, he quickly changed the topic. He didn't want to break down crying in front of Symphony or the children. The purpose of his visit was to make everyone happy— not sad.
As he reflected on what Symphony said moments earlier, her words 'keep the faith,' echoed loudly in his head. The reason he'd ask her to let her band go early is that he wanted to sing a duet with her. He hadn't sung for the kids before, and after seeing how much they loved Symphony, he wanted to do something special for them.
Leaning closer to her, he smiled meekly and said, "Yes... I know. But um, by the way. If I sang something to you, would you be able to play it on your piano?"
Symphony replied confidently. "I'm pretty sure that I can."
As Michael sang the songs melody, harmony, and chords quietly in her ear, she was utterly impressed. She knew he was terrific, but to witness it on such a personal level was nothing like she had ever experienced before, musically speaking. It was a brief peek into his creative process.
After he had finished singing the song to her, she chuckled and said, "got it!"
"Great! Think you can sing it with me?" he smiled, "it'll be our first duet outside of the bedroom."
"Dr. Black, you are terrible."
"I know. So can you?" he laughed boisterously.
"Yes, Michael, I can."
As Symphony and Michael sang one of his songs titled 'Keep the faith,' he became overcome with emotion. It had been a long time since he sang the song, and he thought Symphony's voice harmonized with his perfectly. And although the song's message was for the children, it applied to himself as well.