Chapter 22

    "Stop it, Michael!"


    "What? I'm not doing anything."


    "Yes, you are!"


    "Do you really want me to stop Leila?


    "No baby-- but you're gonna be late for rehab."


    "Mmm... I know, but you wouldn't want me sitting there in pain, would you?"


    "Michael! You'll be alright."


     "But it relaxes me, sweetheart. It's a very vital part of my recovery process."


    "Oh, God! What am I gonna do with you?"


    "Love me-- just love me, Leila."


    With each tender kiss, Michael placed upon Leila's lips; her resolve began to weaken. Lifting her arms above her head, he groaned with delight as he lightly bit her nipples through the thin nightshirt she wore.

   When Leila's hands landed in a pile of papers, she turned her head to the side as she moved them out of her way. Michael had been working on some music earlier and left his run sheets scattered across the bed.

    Instantly recognizing the familiar handwriting in addition to Michael's, Leila pushed Michael off of her.

    "Leila baby, did I do something wrong?" Michael shouted, his heartbeat racing.

    Leila waved the sheets of paper in the air erratically. "What in the hell is going on? Why is Calvin's handwriting on these?"

    Removing the papers from her hand, he looked at them in confusion and then back at her. "Leila... Does Calvin go by any other names?

    Yeah, he goes by the name 'Treble-C.' He came up with the nickname for his producing gigs. He only goes by his real name: Calvin Harris, once he gets paid. The jerk didn't want people to know that we were married. He feared it would prevent him from being hired if an artist thought he didn't have the time to be a family-man and cater to their projects fully."

    Michael glowered. "What a fucking idiot! That's the most bullshit thing I've ever heard."

    Leila blinked, putting two and two together. "Michael-- are you working with a producer named Treble C?"

   "Fuck! I am... Correction-- WAS! I'm so glad I haven't had the time to hire my new producers yet. He was up for consideration."

    Leila spoke softly. "So what are you going to do? Are you going to confront him?"

    Michael fumed through clenched teeth. "You mean tell him that we've been making love? Kick his ass for laying his goddamn hands on you? The only reason I didn't confront him months ago is because I was trying to respect your wishes. I didn't want to do anything that would upset you. But now that you're away from him and with me, that's all changed. Don't worry, I won't fuck him up on-site but I got something for his sorry ass."

    Leila began to cry. "Michael, please don't. I'm afraid."


    "Afraid of what, Leila?"


    "I'm afraid he'll try to hurt me."


    "But isn't that why you filed a restraining order against him?"


     "I haven't turned the forms in yet."


    "Not even the divorce forms Leila? What are you waiting for?"


    "I'm sorry, Michael. After your family reunion and you going into rehab, I got sidetracked."


    "Leila baby... It's ok. I'm sorry-- Don't cry. I'm just ready for you to be completely free of that asshole. I'm ready to--"


    "Ready to what baby?"


    "Make you my wife, Leila. I'm ready for us to move forward... Start a family."


    "Start a family? But you know I can't." She hung her head low.

    Lifting her face towards his, Michael smiled. "There are other ways we can have a family, Leila. We can adopt. That's something I've always wanted to do, you know?"

    "But I--"

    "No but's... I'm want to marry you and start a family. I'm ready, sweetheart. I'll be turning 40 in two years. Were not getting any younger." He laughed.

    Taking a quick look at his watch, Michael realized he was going to be 20 min late for rehab. "Sorry, baby... I gotta run, we'll continue this conversation later."

    After planting a long and passionate kiss on her lips, he dashed out of the door.


***

    "Sorry I'm late-- I was having an important conversation with my girlfriend," Michael announced shyly, rushing to his seat.

    "It's OK, Michael. Everyone runs late every once and awhile." Doctor Bank's replied kindly.

    When Michael first started 'alcoholics anonymous,' it took him a while to get used to. Throughout the years, due to him being famous, he was accustomed to being closed off and guarded. This was the first time in life that he found himself talking with others about his problems.

    While the 'Betty Ford Center' recognized that Michael was the biggest celebrity ever to grace the planet, their mission was to treat everyone the same. The center sought to heal people of their addictions through education, group therapy, counseling, and peer interaction in a safe, supportive environment. 

   Unlike Leila's treatment, there was no set time limit for the outpatient program. The intensive outpatient program he was in hosted sessions four times per week and would become less frequent once he reached his recovery goals. As of right now, one of his was not to drink when he became upset or depressed.

    Since his nightmares about Patrica had stopped, he didn't list it as one of the issues he needed to overcome.

    In the last dream he had about her, he realized it was her telling him to let her rest and that she didn't blame him for anything. She wanted him to be at peace and happy in life. The reason he was having nightmares was due to the blame he was inflicting upon himself for not being around when she died. Now that he had come to terms with everything, the nightmares stopped immediately.

    Taking her seat, Dr. Banks greeted everyone with a smile. "I hope this week has been a good week for all of you. Would anyone like to discuss what challenges they were faced with this week and how they chose to overcome them?"

    Raising his hand nervously, Michael began to speak. He was usually never the first to talk except for when he greeted others, but with each passing week, he began surprising everyone when he started opening up more.

    After hearing a faint 'Excuse me,' escape Michael's lips. Dr. Banks acknowledged him politely. "Yes, Michael... I see your hand up. Please share your experience with the group."

    Michael cleared his throat as he began to speak. "Well-- this week when I had become upset over a business deal that fell through, I notice that I didn't have any desire to drink. Though I haven't had any alcohol since my relapse over a month ago, I'd still have the urge to drink when things weren't going my way. I've realized that drinking doesn't solve my problems. Sometimes I think, 'oh! I'll just have a little,' but I've come to know that's not true for me. Right now, I can't just have a little. If I even have one taste, it'll send me down the wrong path, so I should abstain from it altogether."

    Doctor Banks nodded her head in agreement. "Sounds like you have acknowledged your weaknesses and have turned it into your strength. That's great, Michael! This is the #1 milestone that you have overcome on your list. Thank you for sharing this with us." Dr. Banks beamed.

    After the group therapy session was over, Dr. Banks pulled Michael A-side. "I just want to tell you that you're doing great! I'm also happy that you and Leila are participating in our 'couples counseling' program. Drug and alcohol addiction can take a significant toll on couples and their relationships. It's so imperative that you two continue to support each other. I know that you two have gotten clean over the past few months, but it's also great for you both to keep learning about each other's self-care needs related to your addictions.

    Michael bowed his head in humility. "Yes, Doctor. I don't think that I could have made it through this without Leila. My life was in major turmoil before reconnecting with her. She's been my rock and refuge for the past several months, but we do have one more huge hurdle to jump, and that's her divorcing her husband."

    Because Michael and Leila wanted to be completely honest in their recovery process, they admitted to Dr. Banks that they were having an affair. If they were going to be successful in healing together, they needed to be upfront about everything.

     Thankfully Dr. Banks didn't judge them for it. When Leila first joined rehab to get over her substance abuse, Dr. Banks was her therapist as well. She knew Leila's history with Calvin and how Michael helped to get her into the clinic. Because of this, she encouraged their being together but suggested that Leila hurry and divorce her husband. It was extra stress that neither of them needed during their recovery process.

    "So has Leila's divorce been finalized yet? We haven't discussed this for a few weeks now." Dr. Banks asked curiously.

    "Not yet, Dr. Banks-- When Leila and I returned from my ranch back to my condo over a month ago, so much had been going on that she hadn't gotten a chance to submit the forms."

    Dr. Banks spoke sternly but was sympathetic to their situation. "Please, Michael-- tell her to hurry and file the forms. The sooner she begins the process, the sooner you and Leila can start living your life freely together."

    "Yes, I know. That's actually why I was late for therapy. Leila and I had this same discussion earlier this morning."

     Leaving out the part about Calvin, Michael reassured Dr. Banks that Leila would be filing for divorce soon. Though he had been honest and forthright about everything pertaining to their relationship up until that point, he viewed his ordeal with Calvin differently. He saw it as a serious conflict of interest, both personally and professionally.

    It was something that he needed to address and handle on his own terms.

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