Chapter 18

"My God! You look so beautiful, Sparkle! You're absolutely perfect!"
   Twirling around and then performing a little shimmy in her dress, Sparkle blushed. 
   "You really think so, Michael?"
   "I do-- And your hair looks exquisite! How did you get it so full and curly?" He asked in amazement as he played with a curl that had fallen across her eye.
   "This is my hair's natural texture. You've only seen it after being straightened." She explained.
   "I adore it! You should wear it this way more often." He replied while running his fingers through her gorgeous crown of tendrils.
   "Stop it, Michael! You're gonna ruin my hairstyle." She screamed.
   "Alright, alright! I know how you women are about your hair! But hmm, When we get home later... all bets are off." He groaned, imagining how sexy her hair would look tossed about, as they made love.
    When Michael and Sparkle walked into the 'Christmas Ball,' they were a stunning vision to behold.
   Michael wore a black military jacket with gold trimming, adorned by a red armband and black slacks.
   Since Sparkle wanted their outfits to match, she wore a strapless red and gold 'heart-shaped' neckline dress.
   As they walked around the ballroom hand in hand, there were many whispers from fellow partygoers, wondering who she was.
   After posing for several pictures with Sparkle by his side, he quietly said to her.  
   "We're gonna be all over the news tomorrow. Can you handle that? Good thing we're going back to Neverland after this. I don't need the press following you around." He spoke quietly as a sad expression fell upon his face.
   "Don't worry! I can handle it, sweetie. I know it comes along with the territory of being in a relationship with you." She sympathized.
   Throughout the evening, Michael was greeted by many celebrities as they enjoyed the party together.
    He was particularly impressed with how well Sparkle handled herself when confronted with a myriad of questions.
   Most of his dates usually froze in their tracks when asked semi-personal questions, but Sparkle handled it like a pro.
   "Hey, Michael! How are you?" Quincy Jones, his former record producer, asked cheerfully.
   "I'm fine, and you? How are the new albums coming along?" Michael asked while shaking his hand.
   "I'm doing good! And they're coming along great man! By the way, I've heard your new album, and it's a solid piece of work. You and Teddy created a masterpiece!"
   "Thanks, Quincy, that means a lot to me coming from you. We worked hard on it." Michael replied graciously.
    Turning towards Sparkle, Quincy looked her up and down in admiration. "Forgive me, Michael, but who is this beautiful young woman here with you tonight?"
   "This is my date, Ms. sparkle Washington." He announced proudly.
    "Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Jones."
   "Nice to meet you too, Sparkle. Well uh... I won't keep you two from the party! Enjoy the rest of your evening." Quincy replied hastily as he trotted off to catch up with a new artist he had been working with.
   When the opening chords to Whitney Houston's 'All the man I need' started to play, Sparkle pulled Michael into her arms.
   "I love this song! Please dance with me." She spoke excitedly as she began to lip-sync the lyrics to Michael: "I used to cry myself to sleep at night, But that was all before he came.
I thought love had to hurt to turn out right But now he's here
It's not the same, it's not the same.
He fills me up, He gives me love,
More love than I've ever seen.
He's all I've got, He's all I've got in this world But he's all the man that I need."
   When the song was over, they continued to sway together until Sparkle was accidentally bumped by someone passing by.
   "Please excuse me, Ms." A man apologized swiftly.
   When Sparkle turned around to respond, she was shocked to see Byron standing there.
   "Byron?" She blurted in surprise.
   "Sparkle? What are you doing here?
The moment Michael saw Byron, he started to seethe internally with anger.
   "I'm here with my date--."
   Cutting her off mid-sentence, Michael stood behind Sparkle with his arms wrapped protectively around her.
   "She's here with her Fiance if you must know." Michael scowled.
   Shocking Byron to his core, he began to stutter as Danielle shot him a questionable look.
   "Uhh uhh... This is my uh date, Danielle!" He introduced her to them, as he continued to look at Michael and Sparkle in confusion.
   "Hi Michael, you didn't tell me that you were engaged?" Danielle yelped, feeling just as confused as Byron.
   "How do you know Michael?" Byron asked Danielle, feeling infuriated.
   "Oh, Byron-- working in this industry, there are not too many people that I don't know." She chuckled sarcastically.
   Recognizing the expensive engagement ring on Sparkle's finger, Danielle instantly became more jealous than she already was.
    "Hi Danielle, I'm Sparkle. I hope you and Byron are having a great time tonight. Sorry to cut this short, but we were just on our way to catch up with some friends. Enjoy your night!" She lied while trying to maintain her composure.
   Ushering Michael off to a private place to talk, Sparkle asked him calmly. "Baby, who is Danielle? And by the way, I'm not mad... I know that you had a life before me. I just want to know how you two met. I don't have a good feeling about her."
   "She's no one to me, Sparkle. I met her at an industry party last month before we met. I took her number down but never called her. When I was in Europe a few weeks ago, she somehow found out the number to my hotel room and called me... but I hung up on her." He answered truthfully.
   "Wow! What are the odds of my ex-boyfriend dating one of your aspiring groupies? I need a drink!" She sighed while rubbing her temple.
    "Me too! I'll go get us something." He replied hastily as he dashed off to the bar.
   After ordering their drinks, Michael felt a tap on his shoulder.
   When he turned around, Danielle stood in front of him with her arms folded.
   "So, I guess there is no chance for us? I thought we had something special when we first met?" She purred sexily, tracing her fingernails across his chest.
    "Don't touch me, Danielle! There has never been! And will never be! Anything between us." He retorted.
   As Michael tried to go past her, Danielle blocked his path.
   "Get out of my way, damn it!" He hissed.
   "And what if I don't?" She replied saucily.
   "Then, you'll be wearing the champagne he's holding bitch!" Sparkle exclaimed as she appeared from around the corner.
   "Well, I never!" Danielle shouted while stomping away.
   "And you never will!" Sparkle called out behind her furiously.
   Since most of the party-goers were tipsy already, Sparkle didn't worry too much about causing a scene.
  She never liked calling another woman a bitch, but in this case, it was warranted.
   Michael was her man, and she wasn't about to let anything or anyone come between them.
   Retreating into a corner, Sparkle tossed back her glass of champagne in one gulp.
   "I'm sorry, baby, but how much of that did you hear?" Michael asked curiously as he quickly finished his drink as well.
   "I heard enough to know that Ms. Danielle is not to be trusted. The nerve of her!"
   "Sparkle, I love you. Please believe me when I say that! Sad to say, but there will be more Danielle's to come. I've been fighting off women like her for many years now."
   Placing a tender kiss on his cheek, she sighed. "I know, Michael. I believe you... and hey! Let's look on the bright side of this. It seems that Danielle and Byron are made for each other! Both are sneaky, conniving, assholes!" She quipped.
   As Michael looked across the room, he caught a glimpse of Byron looking hungrily at Sparkle.
   "Come on, baby... Let's go home! If I stay here any longer, you'll be visiting me in prison." He grumbled. 
   "Forget about them, Michael! When we get home, I'll let you tug on my hair as we make love." She giggled, placing a sensual kiss on his neck, feeling determined not to let Byron or Danielle ruin their night.
   When Michael and Sparkle began to make their exit, they noticed Danielle sitting in a rapper's lap, showering him with kisses.
   "Just nasty, and she's a terrible kisser!" Sparkle commented as she looked at Danielle in disgust.
    Shaking his head sideways, Michael started humming the chorus of 'Dirty Diana.'
   "Well, damn! I'm glad I didn't call her back." He quipped.
   "You better not have! Come on, Michael. Let's go. Danielle could never make love to you the way that I do." She smirked.
   "Sparkle-- no other woman has, can, or ever will!"

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