Chapter 23

Byron sat in his living-room, feeling both angry and frustrated as he started contemplating his next move. He couldn't believe Michael Jackson had threatened to whoop his ass, and it scared him shitless.
   Not knowing exactly what to do next, he invited his business partner Eli over to discuss the situation.
   "Hey, man! Is Everything alright? We're going to be late opening the office this morning." Eli exclaimed as he greeted Byron.
    "Don't worry about being late, we don't have any clients this morning, and the receptionist has the 'closed' sign on the door," Byron replied hastily.
   "So what's up? We don't usually meet at your apartment before work."
   As Byron took a seat on the couch, he hit play on his VCR.
   "Oh shit! Is that Michael and Sparkle?" Eli hollered.
   "Yeah... That's them!"
    "How did you get this?" Eli asked curiously.
    "I'll spare you the details... But anyway-- Michael knows that I have the tape and he's pissed. He came to the office yesterday, and we got into a heated argument."
    "Oh, damn! But again-- How did you get the tape in the first place?"
    Wiping his hand down his face, Byron sighed. "I broke into Sparkle's apartment, OK! I went there looking for something to use against them, and I happed upon the tape. I'm pissed as hell that she won't take me back, and I'm furious with him for not hiring our firm." 
   "Hey, man! I know that you're upset. But you're putting our entire law-firm in jeopardy," Eli shrieked. "If the cops find out about this, we're getting shut down for sure." 
    "I know. That's why I'm going to make a copy of the tape. I'll give one to Sparkle and keep one to sell when they least expect it. This shit needs to hit them hard. I just need to keep Michael off my case for a while," he replied sharply as he started making a copy of the tape. "I doubt he'll call the cops. He doesn't want this to get out into the media."
   "OK, Byron! But why not give the tape to Michael as he asked?"
    "Look-- I'm really not trying to see him again and besides... I have a few things to discuss with Sparkle before I can give her the tape," he replied sinisterly.

***
    "OK, Michael, since Byron is at his office during the day, there shouldn't be a problem gaining access to his apartment and retrieving the tape," Bill spoke confidently.
   "How did you get his address?" Michael asked inquisitively.
   "Oh, that brother was listed in the white pages, Michael. He's not a megastar like you. All of his information is public." Bill bellowed as they all burst out laughing.
   Clearing his throat, Wayne whipped out a map that displayed Byron's apartment and parking lot.   
    "Yeah-- so when we pull up, we'll case the area to make sure he isn't home by looking for his car," Wayne chimed.
   "Can't we just disguise our voices and call his office to make sure he's there first?" Michael asked curiously.
   "No. We can't! That call could get traced back to you, Michael, and we don't have enough time to set up a non-traceable number."
   "Got it. I just want to get the tape back before the public finds out about it. Sparkle wanted me to alert the cops, but that would involve me filing a police report."
   "No, no, Mike, we'll get that tape back! There are too many loose lips that work for the L.A.P.D. We don't want to risk it and have this reported to the media." Bill replied matter-of-factly.
   "Good morning, guys!" Sparkle sleepily greeted as she entered into the kitchen.
   "Good morning, Sparkle!" They all replied in return as Bill and Wayne got up from their seats.
   "Well, we've gotta get going. Have a good day, Sparkle!" Bill replied hastily as they exited the condo.
   When Sparkle looked at Michael, she could see the wheels churning in his head but decided against asking him any questions.
   She had a gut feeling that they had been discussing Byron, but it was too early in the morning for her to get upset; she was already a little sick and didn't need the extra stress.
   "Hey, baby." Michael smiled as he pulled her into his lap.
   "Hi, sweetheart." She replied faintly as she rested her head on his shoulder.
   "Is everything ok?"
    "I think I'm having my first case of morning sickness." She yawned while grasping her stomach.
   "Aww-- Is there anything that I can do for you?" He asked caringly.
   "Not really, but thanks for asking, sweetie."
    Looking at his watch, he realized that it was past the time that Sparkle usually left for work.
    "Are you going to the center today?"
    "No baby-- I took the day off to care for a few things at my apartment."
   Sparkle hadn't been back to her apartment since Byron had broken in and had been staying with Michael ever since.
   While she loved staying with Michael, she was in desperate need of more clothes and a few personal items.
   "Sparkle-- you know how I feel about you being there alone! I have some important business to handle today, and I can't go with you." He sighed.
   "I'm sorry, Michael-- I know that you don't want me going back there alone, but I need to check on my place and pick up a few things. I'll be safe. I Promise."
   Feeling his resolve weaken, he tried not to worry too much.
   Since Byron was at work, he figured it was probably safe for her to return.
   "Sounds good. Just call me when you get there, OK? Hmm, how about an early dinner tonight if you're feeling up to it? I'll just swing past your place to pick you up around four o'clock."
    "That sounds excellent, Michael! It's been a while since we've had dinner out. I'm looking forward to it. I plan on getting to my apartment around two o'clock, so I'll call you then.

***
    After Sparkle returned to bed, Michael went to meet up with Wayne and Bill outside of Byron's apartment.
   Before going inside, they made sure that Byron's car was nowhere in sight.
   Once they were inside the apartment, Michael immediately started looking through drawers and cabinets for the tape.
    "Where the fuck is it?" He hissed in a hushed tone.
    "Just keep looking," Bill replied calmly. "Since he knows you want the tape, I doubt he has it at work with him. It has to be here somewhere."
   When Michael noticed a flashing light coming from the VCR, he ejected the tape that was inside.
    Immediately recognizing the tape, he pressed it to his chest and shouted,
   "Found it!"

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