Mariann had just finished her interview, and she felt like it had gone well. She could tell the interviewer was impressed with her. She was confident she would get the job. So far, she loved being in California. She felt extremely safe, and she was especially glad that she did not have to worry about her ex-fiancé anymore. The night he threatened her, the police had come and took him to the station for interrogation, and she and his family had to come to the station as well, in order for other sides of the stories to be heard. By the time everyone had related what happened, the officers and sheriffs had examined the info given, and charged Esteban for his stalker behavior. It was one of the longest and most trying nights of her life. She had ended up spending the night by her best friend Elena's house. She was still so shaken that she hadn't felt safe in her condo. Elena was glad about her being there because she knew that it would be the last time seeing her for a very long time.
Although Mariann still hadn't quite recovered from the jet lag, she wanted to go see Michael. She wasn't sure how she would though, because of the tight security. She couldn't be positive that they would let her in if no one was expecting her. She caught a cab to the hotel she was staying at. It was where she would stay until she was positive that she would get the job. She would worry about house hunting then.
The cab driver seemed to be in a foul mood that day. He swore at another driver who was driving slowly, and drove like a speed demon. He didn't even slow down when there was a speed bump. She nearly suffered a whiplash. The ride was definitely not for those with weak stomachs or back trouble. And her back trouble was pretty problematic.
Amazingly, she managed to make it to the hotel in one piece. She usually gave taxi drivers extra money as a tip, if they happened to be respectable, but this one wasn't going to be one of them. She just gave him the exact amount. The cantankerous old man grunted at her and snatched the money out of her hand. Her eyebrows arched up at that. This driver had no manners at all. She wondered if he was ever taught any.
"Now get out of here!" he snarled at her.
"I'm going," she said coldly. She was fuming. She got out of the car and slammed the door behind her. If she messed it up, she didn't care. The experience led her to believe that he was more than just in a bad mood...he was simply a grouch and a terrible driver. If he was mad because she didn't tip him, tough. He didn't deserve it. She was definitely going to use the car she rented after this. The only reason she hadn't used it was because she was afraid of getting lost. She hurried inside and went to her hotel room. She decided she might as well relax, if she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Unless, that is, she could get a hold of the singer somehow. But the question was, how? It wasn't like she knew the number to his ranch by heart. But wait. There was a phone directory on the nightstand.
‘Perhaps the number is listed in here,' thought Mariann. She looked through the directory and sure enough, there it was. She picked up the telephone and dialed the number. Her fingers paralyzed a bit as she was dying the number, but she managed to finish. It was pretty much a guarantee that he would be home, since he couldn't go anywhere. He might be busy, but still at home nonetheless. "Hello? Is this Michael Jackson? This is Mariann Garcia. I am the one who sent you the roses and the letter. I'm great. I've just returned from the job interview. It looks like I'll be living here sooner than I thought. I was wondering if it would be all right if I came by the ranch to see you. All right. Great. I'll see you momentarily." She hung up the phone. She was so happy. His voice made her melt, and he was just as kind as she imagined he would be. She couldn't believe it! She was going to see her idol, and potential new companion. This made her forget the incident with the taxi driver.
Meanwhile, Michael had just finished shooting some of the "Home Movies" documentary. He wasn't feeling well enough to film the entire thing. Fortunately for him, the only thing he had to do for the revamped Living with Michael Jackson biography was to rewatch the interviews that were done by his hair and make-up artist, his second former wife, some of his family members, his videographer and the owner of the Laugh Factory to make sure it would be suitable to air on television. The Arviso's were also doing a rebuttal. He had asked the talk show host Maury Povich about hosting the new version of his biography, and he graciously agreed to. He was no journalist, but he had enough information on Michael to do an objective program on him.
The singer was going over the paperwork for the pending civil court case while he waited for Mariann to arrive. As far as defense attorneys, he was going to meet with Carl Douglas on Monday. His brother Randy had recommended Thomas Mesereau to him, but he couldn't do it because he was working on another case. Michael certainly was not looking forward to all the work this civil suit would involve, knowing all the money that could potentially be put into this case. He wasn't sure how much he could and would win back, that is, if he won the case...that was not a guarantee. He was still going through with it, though. It needed to be done. He just hoped the other tabloid reporters would learn from this.
All of a sudden, one of his security guards entered the office. "Mr. Jackson, are you expecting a visitor?" he asked.
Michael glanced up from his paperwork. "Yes I am."
"Well, there is a lady waiting for you in the den. "
"Thank you." The pop star realized that it must be Mariann. Well, he could get his mind on something more pleasant. He had been looking forward to meeting her ever since she wrote him that beautiful letter. He decided that the paperwork could wait. He got his crutches and hobbled to the den.
Mariann was sitting on the couch, patiently waiting. She was in awe of the place even though she hadn't seen the entire house yet. It was so large. She could only imagine the astonishment she would feel when she saw the entire house. She hoped she would be given a tour. For the first time she had butterflies in her stomach and felt weak in the knees.' Dear me, why did this have to happen now?' She couldn't understand it. Even when she had spoken to Michael on the phone, she had done a fairly good job keeping herself together. She had thought she would have a complete meltdown when having a bit of difficulty dialing the number, but she didn't. And now her heart was beating rapidly and she felt very light headed and nauseous. It was understandable, though, for she never thought this would actually happen...being in the home of one of her very favorite singers, even though it was something she wanted for a very long time.
She heard footsteps. As they got closer, she could feel her heartbeat becoming more rapid by the minute.
‘Uh oh. I hope I don't die of a heart attack before I get to meet him. That would be really bad.' It certainly did feel like her heart would stop. She was almost afraid to look up. She relaxed and took a few breaths. She looked up and sure enough, there was the King of Pop. Now that she was seeing him in person, she was even more transfixed by his presence, even though he was dressed in more casual clothing than the costumes she was accustomed to seeing him wear during his concert performances or award shows. When she saw that he was using crutches, she was very worried. She wondered if something had happened to him between the day the letter got to him and now. She never liked the idea of him being in pain.
Michael took a look at this woman. He had suspected she was putting herself down because her self-image was so low when he read the part in her letter about her being an ugly duckling. Now that he saw her, he was right. He found her to be quite beautiful, with her ice-blue eyes and long dark hair, even though her hair appeared to be thinning in the front, as well as having a few gray strands. Most importantly, she had a beautiful heart, judging from her words in the letter. He rested the crutches down, positioning them against the wall.
Mariann wanted to be close to him and feel his touch, but she was extremely overwhelmed with bashfulness. She stood up very tentatively, and walked over to him. Her legs were trembling as she made her way over to him. It was all she could do not to faint or burst into tears.
Too late. Her legs were no longer strong enough to hold her up. She could feel them giving out on her. She was about to faint, but Michael caught her just in time. She felt like she would melt. ‘Oh, I hope this is not a dream.' It felt so comforting. Some words finally came to her.
"Thank you, Michael. It's so good to finally meet you in person." Her eyes met his, and she was practically hypnotized by his deep brown eyes. They were so beautiful.
"Likewise. Thank you for the beautiful letter and the roses you've sent." He gave her a hug, and she was glad to oblige. She wanted to squeeze him like a teddy bear so badly, but she decided to exercise some restraint. She just met him, and she didn't want to scare him by moving too fast. Michael was gentle with her, too, because she was still pretty bony, possibly even thinner than he ever was. Not a good thing, considering that she was nearly the same height as he was. But it was all right. She could tell that it was genuine and she felt the love very well.
There was such an uncomfortable silence between them for awhile. Mariann wondered if she should take the moment to ask him about the crutches.
"How are you doing?" Michael asked her, breaking the silence.
"I am great, now that I'm spending time with you." She paused in surprise. She didn't expect to say that. But she really did mean it. "So, how are you? How come you had the crutches earlier?" she continued.
"I was bitten by a spider three days ago...on my right leg, my left foot, as well as my hand. You would be surprised if I showed you."
Mariann couldn't help but wince at that. She had seen pictures of spider bites before and she found the sight to be very disturbing. "It's hurting?" she asked.
"Yes, very much."
"Awwww. I'm sorry. How thoughtless of me." She felt so bad that she had him standing up all that time when he was in such great pain.
"It's ok. Don't worry about it."
"No it isn't," she argued. There was much appreciation for how forgiving he was, but she didn't want him to think she didn't honor his wishes at all.
"You didn't know."
"True. Well, let's go sit on the couch." Mariann helped him over to the couch. Even limping was a bit difficult for him to do without feeling some discomfort. He wondered how long he would take to heal. He loved dancing so much, and that was what he missed the most. Of course, that was obviously out of the question. He gingerly sat down. The brunette sat next to him, and rested her hand on top of his. It slightly startled him, but he actually enjoyed the feeling. He couldn't help but notice what soft hands she had. He took her hand and held it gently. His touch, though tender, sent a shiver through her.
At that moment, Prince and Paris skipped into the den, each of them holding a picture they sketched. They noticed the lady who was sitting next to their father. . They had never seen her before. Paris was curious about her. She didn't ask who she was, though, because she was afraid of saying the wrong thing.
Prince noticed Mariann, too. "Daddy, who's that woman next to you?"
"Her name is Mariann. She is a new friend. Mariann, I want you to meet my two oldest children Prince and Paris. Blanket is asleep. Nikki and Kerri are at school, so you will see them later. They have been spending more time here, especially to help me get around."
"Ah, I see." The middle-aged woman turned to Prince and Paris. "Well it is a pleasure to meet you."
"Nice to meet you, too," Paris said a bit shyly.
"You're a pretty lady," Prince told her. That comment made Mariann blush, even though it was coming from an almost six-year old. It made Michael giggle, because he wasn't expecting his son to say that.
"Yes, Prince, she is very pretty," he agreed. Mariann's face looked like a tomato. It was quite an awkward moment for her.
"Hey Daddy, look at what we did in art class!" Prince held up a picture of Spider-Man. Paris held up a picture of her daddy that she drew. It was a picture of him doing the moonwalk.
Michael loved the pictures, especially Paris' drawing of him. His kids had such wonderful artistic talents at quite early ages. There was no denying that they possibly got it from him. Mariann was impressed, too, and she wouldn't be surprised if the children decided to follow in his footsteps when they got older.
"These are wonderful," he told his children.
"Thank you, Daddy."
"You can have that picture of you doing the moonwalk. I've made it for you. You're the best daddy in the whole world."
"Awwww." He hugged and kissed his daughter, and motioned for her to sit in his lap. She happily did so, and handed him the picture she drew.
ABC network was feeling a lot of pressure from the fans about the documentary. Ever since Bashir leaked that one scene, they had been flooded with e-mails from the fans telling them not to even think about airing the rest. The amount of feedback was so overwhelming that they had no choice but to give in to them.
Martin heard about this, and was pretty displeased. He couldn't believe that the fans had succeeded. It appeared he had underestimated them. Well, he wasn't going to accept that. Not at all. He was determined to show the world that Michael was still making what he considered a foolish decision. And he still didn't believe that the singer had the right to fight back. So, what he did was leak the documentary to Court TV and asked Nancy Grace to host it. She gladly did. While hosting the program, she added her own biased opinions. Sierra was sitting down to watch the documentary with her little brother, Josiah. He had wanted to watch it and begged her to watch it with him, knowing that she loved Michael and knew a lot about him.
Sierra had her doubts about it, because she heard first hand from Nikki what was done to it. In fact, she was thinking, ‘No way in hell am I gonna watch this garbage.' But a part of her wanted to see for herself how bad it was, and she knew that her little brother needed major educating on certain things pertaining to Michael. He was so earnest with his begging that she couldn't say no. She thought she had seen everything the tabloid journalists were capable of, so she believed she could handle watching such treachery. That was what she thought, anyway. That was, until she heard Nancy Grace's commentary while introducing the presentation. She swore that if she heard anyone mention the words ‘bizarre, eccentric or strange when talking about Michael again, she would throw her television out the window. Or scream. Whichever came first.
She mentally kicked herself for agreeing to watch the wretched biography. The commentary went from bad to worse, with Bashir's narration during the introduction. She could only imagine how her little brother and other children would be fooled, and how this would give the media an opportunity to demonize Michael. The last thing she needed or wanted was for her little brother to be afraid of Michael because he was fooled into thinking that he was a bad person.
The commentary annoyed her so greatly that she couldn't watch any more. She decided to change the channel. There was no way in hell she would give this cow dung the ratings it did not deserve and she did not think her little brother should, either.
"You know what, Josiah? I think we better wait for the unedited version," said Sierra, turning the channel.
Josiah had been daydreaming throughout some of the narration, so he didn't hear all what was said, but judging from the look on his sister's face and her tone of voice, it must have been bad. "Okay. Do you think the unedited version will be better?"
"I can't wait." He was so deep in thought about this. "Is Michael as weird as the media makes him out to be?"
"No, not at all. He is one of a kind, but not weird. The media is just saying that stuff for money."
"Then I won't listen to them ever again."
"Good." She was happy that her little brother was learning. She decided to call Nikki, to let her know about the leaking of this documentary so she could tell Michael. She dialed her number.
Two rings. "Hello, this is Nikki speaking."
"Nikki, this is Sierra speaking."
"Oh hey girlie! What's up?"
Nikki sounded so cheerful that Sierra hated to be the bearer of such negative news, but it had to be told. "Um...I have good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?"
"Good news. I have to prepare to hear this bad news first."
"Oh. Good. I was hoping you would say that. I am still reeling from what happened as well. The good news is ABC will not air that Living with Michael Jackson film...you know, the one that you saw the preview of last week."
Nikki was very happy to hear that. It meant that all the fans got through to those associated with ABC. She was confident that all the endless feedback would pay off. "Oh, that's great! Our perseverance paid off! Um, so what is the bad news?"
"That snake Martin Bashir leaked the documentary to Court TV. Now what was once a respectable TV station is starting to become trash."
The news shocked and angered Nikki so much that she was speechless. This was low, but after he betrayed her adopted father in one of the worst ways possible, her opinion of the journalist couldn't get any lower. Because she didn't say anything, Sierra thought she had hung up.
"Hello? Nikki, are you still there?"
There was a slight pause. "Yes I'm here."
"What do you make of this?"
"It's an outrage, but it doesn't surprise me, really." As nonchalant as she was trying to sound, Sierra could tell that she was angry. She could hear the quiet fury in her voice.
"Aren't you even slightly angry about this?" Sierra pressed.
"Of course I am. But I am sure the truth will prevail in the end, no matter how the tabloid reporters spin this. Also, that will just give Dad another reason to file this law suit. Attempted breach of contract."
"Oh, that's right. I am proud of him for going through with this. By the way, how is he? Is he feeling any better?"
"A little. However, he has a very long way to go before that nasty spider bite completely heals."
"Oh, I bet. Well tell him I said hello and give him my get well wishes once again."
"All right, will do. Thank you for calling. "
The news about the leaked documentary spread like wildfire. Like Sierra, the superstar's fans knew what to do-boycott it. And that was just what they did.