Chapter 25

      "Do you have everything packed, Leila?"

     "Yes, baby! I'm all set, but we could have waited to fly out until the morning."

     "Yeah, I know... But these last few weeks have been extra hard on us both, and I can't wait to relax with you."

     "Michael baby-- I totally understand. I'm ready to relax with you as well... I still can't believe Calvin hasn't signed the divorce forms yet. God, he's such a jerk!"

    "I figured he wouldn't, but when I was speaking with our lawyer, he said not to worry. Given Calvin's abuse towards you, the court proceedings should take place fairly quickly."

     "OK-- That's good to know. Well, I've already notified the court of him not signing the forms, so hopefully, we'll hear something soon."

    Later that evening, as Michael and Leila prepared for Zina's party, they were in good spirits. Michael even helped Leila bake a cake for the party, but his sweet-tooth started to get the better of him. While Leila was in the bedroom changing, Michael got a little mischievous and tried sampling the cake without Leila's knowledge.

   As he attempted to sample the frosting, Leila crept up behind him. "Mr. Michael Joseph Jackson! Put the spoon down now." She spoke loudly, causing him to jump in surprise.

    "Ack! How long have you been standing there, Leila?"

    "Long enough!"

    "But baby! You were taking so long to get ready, and I..."

    Snatching the spoon out of his hand, Leila tweaked his nose. "You'll get to taste the cake along with everyone else later, greedy!" She laughed.

     "But Leila, the spoon already has frosting on it!"

    Placing the spoon in her mouth, Leila licked it clean. "Did have frosting on it!"

    "Ugh! You're so cruel, woman!" He yelped sourly.

    "Hmm... If you're on your best behavior tonight, I'll give you something a little sweeter than this cake." She whispered seductively in his ear.

    "Mmm... What time is the party? We don't have to wait till af--"

    "No! Michael... We'll be late!" She cut him off abruptly, running back into the bedroom when he tried to kiss her.

     After Leila finally finished getting ready, they hopped into her car and made their way over to Zina's place. Leila chose to drive her car instead of having Wayne pick them up and drop them off. They weren't really on a schedule since Michael made arrangements for them to fly to Japan on a private jet.

    When Leila and Michael pulled up to Zina's apartment, she let out a heavy sigh. "We can always tell her that something came up. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."

    "Stop it, Leila! I'll be fine. Once the initial shock wears off, they'll relax. I don't know why people make such a big fuss over me." He giggled.

    "Are you serious? You can't be serious. Do you know how famous you are? Do you know how captivating you are?" Leila guffawed at his remark.

    "Look, you're laughing too, so you must agree."

    "Sorry, baby, but I don't. I'm laughing because I can't take you seriously right now. People faint at your feet." She shook her head sideways.

     "But, you didn't," Michael spoke softly. "That's another reason why I love you so much. You've always treated me like a normal guy. Hell... You even tried to turn me down that night in Miami."

    Leila shrugged her shoulders and smirked. "What can I say... I was horny, and seeing you sweaty after a show didn't do me any favors. You looked so damn hot! But still, I had reservations about that whole situation and morals to uphold."

    "See! That's what I mean. Most women would never tell me that. I mean-- I've had groupies, but that's a different story. Most women I've been in relationships with try to stay on their P's and Q's. I love how free and open you are with me."

    Stroking his cheek gingerly, Leila tilted her head to the side. "So what are you trying to say, Mr. Jackson? I don't have Manners?"

    "Leila... Stop! You know what I'm trying to say."

    "I know-- I'm just keeping you on your toes. Gotta make you sweat a little." She chuckled humorously. "Well, let's head inside. Since it's getting pretty late, we don't have to stay long."

    When Leila and Michael greeted Zina and Coco at the front door, Leila nervously introduced them to Michael. She honestly didn't know what to expect. Either they were going to pass out or keep it classy and cute.

   Rubbing Michael gently on his back, she smiled shyly.

    "Zina, Coco...  I'd like to introduce you to a good friend of mine."

    Michael coughed, taking a small offense at Leila's choice of words. Extending his hand towards Zina and Coco, he made sure to clarify. "Hello, ladies. I'm Michael-- Leila's BOOOYFRIEND." He smiled, emphasizing the word 'boyfriend.' "It's so nice to meet you finally. Leila has told me a lot about you two."

    "Nice to meet you too, Michael!" They greeted back in unison. "I'm so happy that you and Leila could attend my get-together. Come in and make yourselves a home." Zina spoke cheerfully.

    "Oh! Before we go in, I have something for you two." He spoke suddenly, producing two small gift boxes from his jacket.

    "Oh, wow! What is it?" Coco spoke excitedly, shaking the box.

    "Just something I thought you two might like, but please... Don't it open it until we leave. I don't want to make a big scene. I get pretty shy."

    "Thank you, Michael. We understand... But you didn't have to bring us anything." Zina replied in earnest.

    "No-no. I wanted to! My mother taught me to never show up to someone's party empty-handed." He smiled.

    "Aww, that's so sweet of you, Michael. Leila-- you should take a few notes from your boyfriend." Zina chuckled.

     Leila rolled her eyes. "Don't start, Z! And besides... I did bring you something. I baked a cake for the party."

    As Michael watched their exchange, his eye's widened in amusement. Leaning closer to Leila, he whispered. "I like your friends. Zina is hilarious."

    "Oh God-- this is going to be a long night." Leila grimaced, clapping her hand to her forehead.

    After Zina introduced Michael and Leila to a few of her friends, they sat down on the sofa together. Wrapping his arm snuggly around Leila's waist, he rested his chin on her shoulder as they engaged in light conversation with Zina and Coco.

    As the night wore on, no one made Michael feel on the spot. Zina told Leila beforehand that she'd given her guest a heads up and asked them to give Michael his space and behave appropriately. With that being said, Michael still signed a few autographs and posed for pictures when asked by a few of the party guests.

     Being completely engrossed with Leila the whole evening, he never took his eyes off of her. It warmed his heart to see Leila smiling and interacting with her friends. Up until that point, the only other people they had spent time around was his family and Wayne. It was nice being out in the open with Leila enjoying time together as a couple.

    When Leila heard Michael yawn, she giggled. "I guess we should get going. You're sleepy."

    "Yeah... I am, which is good. I should fall asleep pretty quickly on the plane. Luckily, there should be no turbulence. I checked the forecast, and the weather is clear from here to across the pacific ocean."

   Leila spoke sympathetically. "Aww, sweetie... Well, I hope by my being with you eases your nerves a bit."

    "It will, Leila... We haven't even stepped on the plane yet, and I feel much better than usual before flying."

   After saying their good-bye's to Zina and Coco, Michael and Leila made their way to the airport. While stopped at a red-light, Leila asked Michael what was inside the gift boxes he'd given to her friends.

    "So uh... Those blue 'Tiffany' boxes. What did you buy them?"

    "Oh... Just two brooches. Nothing much."

    "There you go being modest again. Just two brooches... From Tiffany's at that!"

    "Are you jealous, Leila?"

    "Not really... Ok, maybe! But only a tiny bit. And it has nothing to do with the gift its self. It's just for the fact that I didn't get one. Ah! human nature at it's finest." She laughed.

    When they arrived at the airport, a member of Michael's security team retrieved Leila's car, and another escorted them to the tarmac through a private tunnel. Once they were aboard the plane, Leila stood frozen. She had never been on an airplane that looked like a luxury home.

    "Wow, Michael! This is incredible."

     "Thanks, but this isn't my personal private jet. I rented this one, especially for you. Since you haven't been on vacation or even a plane in years, I wanted to make this special for you."

    "Aww-- that's so incredibly sweet of you! Mission accomplished Mr. Jackson-- Thank-you so much."

     "AHHhhh! You're welcome, Leila." He yawned loudly, rubbing his eyes. After getting undressed, Michael slipped into bed while Leila was in the bathroom. When she came out, she found Michael tucked warmly under the covers.

     Lying down in front of him, she stroked his lips tenderly before placing a small kiss upon them.

    "I love you, sweetheart."

    "I love you more, Leila." He mumbled half asleep.

    Feeling tired herself, Leila snuggled her body into Michael's. Moving closer to her from behind, he placed his arms firmly yet gently around her. Nuzzling the nape of her hair, he breathed deep, taking in her beautiful scent—a smell of vanilla and cherries. Leila thought the scent was fitting for their trip. She couldn't believe that they were traveling to Japan to see the cherry tree's in full bloom.

    As she rested comfortably in Michael's arms, she felt warm, safe, and loved. It was a feeling that had taken her some time to get used to. She was finally allowing herself to let go of Calvin's abuse and learning to replace it with Michael's tenderness.

    When Leila awoke the next morning, she smiled softly when she saw Michael stretching. She groaned at the sight of him. From his v-taped back, extending to his cute butt, down to his long legs. He was a vision to behold.

    "Good morning Mr. Jackson." She cooed.

Turning around at the sudden sound of her voice, he approached the bed slow and silky.

"Good morning Ms. James. Did you sleep well?"

    "Mmm-hmm... I did, and how about you?"

    "Honestly, that was the best sleep I've ever gotten on a flight." He chuckled deep.

    "I'm so happy to hear that." She replied through a yawn, stretching her arms above her head. When the sheet that was wrapped around her slipped, it exposed her breast slightly.

    Placing a tender kiss on her collarbone, Michael groaned. "God, I want to kiss them so badly, but I can't."

    "Why can't you?" Leila asked curiously as she placed his hands on her chest.

    "Oh-- I have my reasons." He smirked, biting down on his lower lip.

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