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Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part IX
London, March 8th 2009

With a loud thud the back of his head bangs against the wall. The collision taking him totally by surprise; causing an immediate pain in the spot of the burned part of his scalp. His eyes wide in terror drop down to his bicepses, witnessing the grip on his arms getting tighter, stronger, pushing him into the wall behind him. Those fingers around his upper arms press deep into his flesh, hurt him, scare him. Cause bruises on his sensitive skin.
Never did anyone touch him like that. Not since he was a boy and Joseph grabbed and lectured him. Never has he been so afraid again, with his heart beating too fast in his chest and his pulse almost strangling him.
“Let me go!” he spits into the ugly face hovering above him.
Tries to pull out of his trap, but Thome won’t let him, pushes him more, as if he is trying to shove him into the cold concrete of his hotel room.
It’s the cruel nightmare of physical abuse that makes him freeze and stop to breathe. That makes him panic and break down inside.
“Stop your bullshit, Michael! You’re going to do these shows and you gonna go to that press conference tomorrow and announce the comeback of the century, hear me?”
The scent of the breath hitting his nostrils is disgusting, making him sick, making his stomach turn at the smell of digested meat.
“I told you I signed up for 10 shows! Why would you push me to 50? It’s not enough time! It’s too much! I’m not gonna do it!” he yells, turning his head and closing his eyes.
He can feel the sting of tears behind his lids. Can feel all the long forgotten fears rising up in his chest. This argument has gotten out of hand too quick. Much too fast for him to realize he was provoking his business partners, pushing them too far with his head-in-the-sand attitude. Maybe this strategy has been working for him far too often in his life, maybe his ways of denying, shutting out and not facing intricacies would finally be his doom after all.
“Listen, Mikey, you were the one bragging about how you could do it all again! You’ve been the one asking for the Guiness Record! Now you gonna go boy!”
There’s Randy’s face appearing right next to Thome, his thick short finger with the chewed nail pointing straight into his face, a furious grimace erupting in anger.
“I won’t! I won’t deliver mediocrity. I ain’t working that way! These shows are not tight yet, it’s too early, I can’t do this to my fans! I won’t disappoint the people who love me most.”
Thome’s grip tightens once more; stopping his blood from circling in his veins, making his arms turn cold and numb.
“You’re not ruining this, you freak! We advanced you more than generously on this contract, remember? You’re not even in a position to get out of this now!”
“So sue me!” he growls, trying to be brave and defy them, pushes as hard as he can to get away, ripping the fabric of his silk red shirt.
But he is trapped, with his back against the wall and he knows there’s no easy way out now.
Phillips starts laughing, a nasty, evil tone, a sound that makes Michael’s ears howl painfully. He shakes his head and turns away from them.
“Let him go, Thome!” he says huskily, pacing the room.
And as soon as Michael is free he steps back, makes distance between him and those two men who took control of his life so subtly, almost unnoticed and walks back behind a big white sofa to shield himself from their threats. But it’s too late. They already have him where they need him to be. Helpless, obedient, without control. It’s their time to give him his quietus.
“Michael, my friend, you’ll do this press conference tomorrow. You’ll announce these shows and be really really excited about your final curtain call. Your fans are waiting for you boy. For the “King of Pop”. They are waiting to see their idol again! Don’t you know how much they’re looking forward to see you perform again? Millions of people?”
Randy is lulling him into this state where he feels safe, where he feels most comfortable in the arms of his loving fans. And when he’s almost ready to believe it and give in to him, although he knows it’s too much, the schedule too tight, the shows not ready, Phillips crosses the room and closes the distance between them again. Points his finger once more and whispers lowly:
“Don’t change your mind, Mikey! Cos if you do, I’ll make your life a living hell. I’ll make sure you’ll lose everything! Your catalogue, your home, your dignity! But above all, I’ll make sure you’ll lose your kids. And you’ll never get them back!”
He turns around and makes a few slow steps, turns again to find Michael staring at him. Features frozen, his lean body trembling with fear.
“It’s only one call.” he adds, his thick small index pointing in the air. “And the world will be reminded of who you really are, Wacko Jacko! And this time, there won’t be no court acquitting you! This time the world will get all the dirty details of your sick mind and how you abused all those boys! I know all the right people who will be more than willing to spill some tea about your secrets. You know how money can do anything!”
The door slams with a terrifying sound and the two men are gone. The dead silence of the room too loud to bear. He feels sick. Runs for the bathroom and throws up into the sink. Feeling like a knife was stabbed into his back he falls to the ground and starts to cry. Rolls up into a ball on the tile floor and screams, his voice echoing off the walls, a heart wrenching, pain filled sound. And for hours he can’t stop the tremors, can’t stop the panic, can’t think of anything else than losing his life all over and forever again.
The last thing he clearly remembers is crawling back into the room like a wounded dog, grabbing the two bottles of vodka and whisky on the small table next to the TV screen and drowns every thought and every emotion in his system.
He can’t let it happen all over again. He can’t risk losing his life, his children and the woman he already needs to carefully hide away from those who took control of him. So he drinks for dear life, numbs his sanity and gives himself up to fate.

A day later, on March 9th, the world witnesses someone called Michael Jackson announcing 50 comeback concerts at London’s O2 arena, starting off in July. It’s the remaining shell of the man he once used to be. Someone whose mind is still intoxicated and whose heart is cold. Someone who got deprived of his pride, slapped and shoved into a cold shower to sober him up and make him function. And all he can focus on during this press conference is that this will be his final curtain call. That he’ll be strong enough to suck it all up as he always did in his life. No matter what. Cos after that he finally will be free.

Pilanesberg (South Africa), early October 2009

The house is still peacefully silent when she walks through the rooms, traces her fingers across furniture, touches framed pictures and reads lines of wisdom that came straight from his heart.

Home gives you courage to know yourself.
Home gives you beauty for your eyes to see.
Home gives you love to complete your life.
Home gives you sunsets to warm your heart.
Home gives you friendships to brighten your being.
Home gives you patience to accept the truth.
Home gives you comfort on a difficult day.
Home gives you rainbows beneath the clouds.
Home gives you hugs when your spirits sag.
Home gives you faith so that you can believe.


Wiping tears from her eyes she watches their glasses of his favorite red wine on the table. Both still filled, not a single drop missing. And yet she knows he enjoyed every sip of it. They have been talking silently. All night long. She felt him holding her tight in his arms. His lips against her face, their fingers carefully entwined. He gave her room to cry, to grief, to be angry. And he gave her his undying love in return.
It’s the right time, the right day, the perfect morning to do what she came here for. Even though it makes her skin crawl and her heart ache, even though it terrifies her, she knows it’s something he wants her to do. To set his spirit free and open up the way back home.
So she prepares herself for this journey. Wears that dress she knows he loved so much, combs her hair and leaves it open, remembering how he liked to twist the strands around his fingers, play with it while they were cuddled up in bed. Looks in the mirror and sees the traces of too much pain, too much tears and deep grief written all over her face. Straightening her dress she caresses her belly, smiles and knows he loves what he sees.
After a long while of sitting quietly, there is a warm strong breeze coming up, rustling through the branches of the Marula, playing with her hair. It feels like someone is wrapping her arms around her and whispers into her ear. Lips caressing her face tenderly as her trembling fingers try to untwist the black lid of his urn. Pressing the jar tight to her chest she hesitates once again, lowers her face and watches her tears fall down on it.
She’s so afraid to let go, to free his soul and stay behind. But then there is the caress of the wind again, the whispering in the trees that sounds so much like his voice, his sweet loving voice that soothes her heart so calmingly.
“I want to come home to you.” he says and reminds her of that last phone conversation they had.
Late at night, when she was getting up for work in New York and he was turning in for the night in Los Angeles. The night before the world would turn dark. The night before this life became empty. When he still made her believe that he was so excited and happy about these concerts, when he still lied to her about what was really going on.

New York / Los Angeles, June 25th 2009

Her alarm has gone off a few minutes ago and she is sitting in bed rubbing her eyes, trying to shake off that warm, comforting feeling that tries to persuade her to go back to sleep, when her cell plays that familiar tune and flashes a picture of his beautiful face into the darkness of their bedroom. Smiling she takes the call and grabs for his shirt underneath the pillow next to her, holding it to her face to smell him. She always does when he calls her that early in the morning. When she’s still in bed. To feel like he is right next to her.
“Good morning, Angel!” he whispers into her ear and sends a shiver down her spine, makes her heart jump, like he still does every time he calls her.
In all those years, through all the highs and lows, the bliss and the despair they have been through, she has never stopped to be madly and crazy in love with him. He still makes her heart race; he still stokes up the fire in her belly, makes her butterflies rise. He still has it all and he always will.
“Hey, Baby! It’s really late over there!?”
“Yeah, I just came back home and I wanted to hear your voice before I go to sleep.”
“Aw, you’re sweet! So how did rehearsals go? Are you happy?”
“Tonight was great, Pru. It’s coming together now. I can feel it, you know? Yeah, I’m really happy!”
“Sounds great! I can’t wait to see the show, Moyo!” she says and plays around with his shirt. “I’m so glad we’re finally back together on Saturday.”
He chuckles and she can hear him moving around, turning off water, like he is in the bathroom.
“It’s only been like 10 days, Angel.” he chuckles and teases her.
“You know what I mean.” she pouts and turns on the dim light.
Getting out of bed she sits another while on the edge of the mattress painting random patterns into the fluffy carpet on the floor with her red painted toes. The line is silent for a while before he sighs and breathes lowly:
“I know, Angel. I can’t wait till the two of you get here. I’m so happy you come along with me and … you know, after these concerts we’re finally free.”
“God yes! It still feels like an eternity though!” she chuckles and gets up, walks to the window and stares into the night.
She can hardly believe that after almost 13 years they’ll finally be together as a family. Living under the same roof, with all the kids, together as husband and wife.
“Patience is a virtue, Angel.” he laughs softly, his voice down low and it makes her pulse speed up.
“Don’t you think I’m a real virtuoso by now, Mr. Jackson?”
Though she doesn’t mean to, there’s an ironic twang to her words that stings his heart. And yet he knows she is right. He knows this woman is out of this world. A gift from god he most probably doesn’t even deserve. All those years she has been by his side no matter what! And now he’s gonna make it all up to her. After these concerts. Will make her his wife, take her home and finally start the family life they both have been dreaming about and yearning for so long.
“You are, Pru and I love you so much for this. I don’t take this for granted!”
“I know you don’t, Baby.”
There’s a faint noise on the line and for a short moment she hears how the speaker of his phone is covered by his hand and he’s talking to someone else in his room.
“Michael?” she calls and stares at her phone for a second.
“I’m sorry, Angel.”
“Who’s there? The kids still awake?”
“God, no! They are all fast asleep. I told them they can’t stay up that long and wait for me every night. I’m feeling bad though, when I’m not here early enough to tuck them in.”
She smiles and shakes her head. She knows how they are still his little babies who are tied to his hip when yet Paris and Prince are growing up so fast. They are almost teenagers now and though they love Michael to bits and pieces she can see how they are starting to become more independent.
“So who’s with you?”
“It’s just Doctor Conrad, Detective Solomon.”
They start laughing at his mischievous comment but at the mention of his doctor’s name she becomes concerned.
“Is there something wrong, Michael? Are you in pain again?”
“No, Angel, I’m fine. Don’t worry. It’s only the fluids. You know how I sweat it all out.”
“But I am worried. You’ve lost so much weight lately!”
“Nah, gurl, c’mon. You know all my routines. I can’t dance with all that flab around my waist.”
They laugh again and though she rolls her eyes, not knowing what he’s talking about. Since that trial four years ago he never gained back to his average weight. And remembering the last night they made love she knows how he felt so gaunt underneath her fingertips.
“I’m just saying, Baby. I want you healthy!”
“I am, Pru! So how’s my baby girl? Is she excited yet?”
He’s perfect at distracting her. At hiding and covering things he doesn’t want to talk about.
“Oh goodness, Mike, she’s a handful these days. I don’t know what I’d do without Maria now that Grace is in London. She’s talking nonstop about going to Europe with Daddy and her whole room is piled up with stuff she wants to take.”
He sits on the rim of the tub giggling, smiling wide at the thought of his youngest daughter turning the big apartment in New York into a mess. Looking around his own rooms he makes a mental note to ask the maid to clean up again.
“It’s no fun, Baby!” Prudence pouts and smiles.
They are all packed and ready to head to Los Angeles in three days and leave this condo behind for a very long time. Maybe forever. She looks around and feels her heart becoming sentimental. It’s been such a long and turbulent time here. A time she will never forget.
“Only three more days, Angel.” he whispers and starts the excitement in her belly again.
“I can’t wait, I really can’t!”
“Are you wearing my ring?”
Her eyes drop to her hand, tear up at the beautiful golden band that hugs her finger in a warm embrace. Ever since he slipped it on her a few weeks ago, she feels a subtle warmth around that spot, like his love is simmering inside the precious gold.
“Sure.” she whispers and caresses the ring with her thumb.
“It’s my promise to you. And you know I really mean it. We’re going home after the shows. I’m finally gonna take you and the kids home to Africa and I’ll make you Mrs. Jackson.”
She smiles and bites her lip, can’t believe that after such a long time her wildest dream is coming into reach. In only a few months she’ll marry the man she has been waiting for so long. He’ll make her biggest wish come true after all.
“I love you, Moyo.” she says, wiping a single tear from her cheek.
“I love you more, Angel.”
Pinching the back of his nose he gets up, takes a last look into his own eyes reflecting from the mirror and turns to leave the bathroom. He prays silently that god will help him through those months ahead of him, through these shows that terrify him so much. Prays for mental and physical strength and for that divine love that always pushed him to never let go. To walk every path and reach his goals.
He hates what he is doing. Pushing past his own believes, fighting against that inner voice that tells him to pull out of this deal. Lying to the precious people he loves so dearly, who are the world to him. But that’s exactly why he keeps doing it after all. That’s why he keeps going day by day. He wants to reach this last goal of fulfilling his dream of family life. Of marrying that one woman who has stood by his side like a rock all of these years. Of going home with her and the children. Far away from the spotlights, from all the evil of his show business life.
He’s so ready for this, for another challenge, all the new things he wants to do and that’s why he’s determined to be stronger than the voice in his head and the alarming signs of his body.
“Go and get some sleep now, Baby. I’ve got to get ready for my last day at work.”
“Yeah, I’m really tired.” he says and feels exhausted; his body worn out, limbs aching, mind racing. Maybe tonight he’ll really manage to fall asleep and get his much needed rest. He switches off the light and remains leaning at the doorframe for another while.
“Call me before you’re heading out tonight? Leni asked for you when she went to bed last night.”
“Of course! I’ll call right after lunch, ok?”
“OK, fine, I’ll be home by then.”
“Kiss her before you go?”
“Yeah, I’ll do. Get some rest, Baby, and we’ll talk laters! I love you!”
“Take care, Angel. I love you more.”

She tilts her head back and faces the sky for a while. The baby blue with those few torn white clouds that are always up there, above the Marula, like a permanent blanket protecting her. She takes in the sweet caress of the morning breeze and when silence settles in her heart, when the whisper in the branches turns into Michael’s voice talking to her once again, she finally feels some kind of peace in her heart. Something soothing, that only he can give her.
Closing her eyes she can feel him pressed against her back, his familiar lean frame painted on her dress, his strong arms wrapping around her waist, holding her in this unique embrace that gives her so much concealment in life. He cups her belly and caresses her there, makes her smile, when he buries his face against her neck.
It’s all that she needs. To know that he still holds her, still loves her. Knows about the beautiful gift he has left behind. Assures her, that everything she does is exactly what he had wished for. Effortlessly she untwists the urn and drops the lid to the ground. And without doubt she grabs a handful of his ashes and gently dusts it across the serene landscape of the place he loved so much.
“Welcome home, Moyo!” she whispers lowly, watches how his soul spreads and grows wings, dances in the air and settles around those strong old roots of the Marula.
She can feel his overwhelming love, these strong emotions he gave her from the very first day they met wrapping her up safely and now she knows they are finally free. Their love finally came home.



In early April 2010 Prudence Solomon gives birth to a beautiful baby boy called Michael Levi. A child that Michael had wished for so badly in those last weeks of his life. To become a father once again and pass on his pure love and his dream about healing the world to yet another sacred child.

And by holding their boy and listening to the sound of his screaming voice she feels this is how Michael will truly live on forever. Through the eyes of a child, with the genuine love of an innocent heart.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part VIII
New York, Mid June 2009

It’s early afternoon when she unlocks the door and stumbles across three bags and a big brown Louis Vuitton case. There are toys dragged out from Helena’s bedroom scattered all over the floor in the hallway and just around the corner, on top of the kitchen counter there are left overs of KFC and a message from Grace waiting for her.
“P, took the kids out, MJ’s working. Enjoy your quality time! ;-) Call you before we get back. G.”
Placing her purse on one of the chairs she steals a filet bite and smiles bright. It’s the best feeling in the world to come back home after an exhausting day and find a battlefield in her apartment that causes a wild rush of butterflies in her stomach by simply knowing her man and the kids are finally back.
Moving across the living room she finds his jacket on the backrest of the big sofa and right in front of their bedroom she’s greeted by one of his black loafers. She kicks off her high heels and leaves them right there; next to his abandoned shoe.
Carefully cracking the door open and peaking inside, she feels her pulse speeding up, needs to suck in air and bite her lip at the heart-melting sight she finds. There’s a path of his clothes, another shoe, black pants, white socks, a loud patterned Audigier sweater, marking the way to their king size bed. It’s all messed up, comforter on the floor, notes and papers on her side of the mattress; the TV turned up, as if someone’s profoundly deaf, playing cartoons. And in the middle of mayhem she finds Michael dozed off.
His black curls spilling loosely over his tilted face she watches him sleep for a while. Holding on to a notepad in his lap, his chest is rising and falling slowly underneath his white v-neck shirt. And although he is tucked away under the sheets, although she can still feel a slight dampness in the air and smell a hint of shower gel, she knows he’s wearing a pair of his blue pajama bottoms. There’s the door of the big walk-in closet standing ajar, and she can see the mess he caused in there, looking for new underwear.
Tracing her eyes up his body she stares at his slightly parted lips and feels that instant need to climb into bed and kiss him, wrap him into a tight embrace and just feel him sleeping in her arms. She misses him badly; the time they can share together these days is getting scarce. He’s so busy preparing for the upcoming shows; working hard. Too hard. And she’s worried about him. He lost weight those past weeks, looks a lot thinner. He started working on his face again and when she looks closer she can see the evidence on his skin. She reads it in the papers and sees him on TV, coming out of doctor’s offices, hidden behind masks and sunglasses. It is something she learned to accept over the years. Something she never tried to prevent or argue about. She knows his reasons and she never judged him.
Stepping out of her black skirt and unbuttoning her blouse she moves closer, smiles down on him while she slowly undresses.
“Hey Angel” he whispers and stretches his back, makes room for her to climb in next to him.
“Hey Moyo,” she says lowly, kneeling down on the mattress and bends over to kiss his lips softly, “So good to see you, Baby!”
She can feel him smile against her mouth, his hands tracing up her naked arms to pull her closer.
“C’mere.” he sighs and makes her straddle him.
Giggling playfully, she pulls him into a strong, tight embrace, buries her face into his curls and combs her fingers through the thick black strands.
“Oh boy, I missed you so much!” she whispers against his ear, lips tickling his temple as his fingers crawl across her back.
“Hmm, sorry I neglect you, gurl.” he murmurs against her skin, face between her breasts, inhaling her sweet powdery scent.
Closing his eyes he holds her for a while and starts blowing small soft kisses along the cups of her bra.
“That’s my favorite color…” he whispers smirking, knowing she has cocked her head to watch him caress her.
“I came here prepared, knowing what my man needs… but maybe you wanna go back to sleep for a while?” she teases, feeling him growing hard against her warm tingling crotch and starts to grind on him slowly.
“I wanna fuck you…” he breathes softly and makes her heart race like crazy.
It’s the first time he looks straight into her eyes; his big brown chocolate wonders begging her for love, like the eyes of a child on Christmas Eve asking for presents. It makes her gasp and stare at him, makes her go weak in his arms when she watches his eyes blinking, shutting tight before his velvet mouth claims her lips and draws every last breath from her throat with his hungry kiss. He pulls her tight, thrusts his hips carefully against her and makes her feel how hard he is, how painfully he’s aching for her.
“I wanna fuck you so badly!” he whispers again, in-between those deep slow strokes of his hungry tongue.
His kisses like a promise, a testimony of what his body wants to do to her, he unclasps her bra and traces his fingertips up to her shoulders, yanks the fabric off of her so teasingly slow and makes sure it faintly brushes her nipples before he drops it to the floor.
“Gawd, Michael…” she chokes, not able to do anything but hold on to him, bite her lip and lose the fight against her moans when he touches her there.
His big warm hands cupping her breasts, bringing them up to his lips to caress her dark swollen peaks with the swirling tip of his tongue. Somehow she finds the hem of his shirt, manages to pull and yank it up, get him out of it when he raises his arms to help her undress him.
“I need you, Baby! I need to feel you…” she sighs, when he rolls her over and lays her down, when he’s between her legs, and kisses passionately all over her chest.
“What about the kids?” she hears him, his hands travelling south, hooking into her red panties that are obviously stained with her lust for him.
“Grace took them…” she gasps, and spreads her legs wide for him as soon as the small fabric is gone.
“Gee… don’t do this to me, Angel!”
He stares at her swollen center, touches her softly before he lowers his head and kisses her, traces his tongue carefully over her hot aching spot, further down to her opening, licks her cream and a low groan escapes from the back of his throat when he feels her trembling underneath his caresses.
“Baby, please, I… I need all of you.” she whispers, sighing, reaching out to touch him and show him what she wants.
His eyes are like fire when he reluctantly stops eating her, crawls up the length of her beautiful body and comes face to face with her; the scent of her lust lingering on his lips, her juices like sugar icing all over his mouth.
“What do you need, Angel? Tell me…”
Holding his face in her eager hands, she drowns in his eyes, realizes how beautiful he still is, how deeply in love they still are. How he still can make her melt in seconds, lose control and give him whatever he asks for.
“I need to feel you deep inside of me, Baby.” she says and kisses him urgently, makes it clear she doesn’t want soft and slow; wants all of him, inside of her. Locked and united.
So he lets go of her, yanks down his pajama bottoms when he lies down next to her and grabs his huge erection. Makes sure she watches him wrapping his long fingers around himself and jerk it in quick short strokes.
“Turn around, Angel.” he gasps, when he can feel the strong excitement in his loins already turning into that hot pulsating pressure that has him slow down his hand and avoid contact with his swollen tip.
And when he spoons her he just lays still behind her for a short while, traces his hand carefully over her soft warm skin to recover and calm down again. Pecks small kisses across her arm and feel her round butt pressing against his crotch.
“I love you so much, Pru.” he exhales and grabs her leg, rests it on his thigh and sinks into her center slowly, has her moaning out loud and hold on to his hand for dear life.
He can watch her features slipping, a sensual smile gracing her face when he thrusts deep into her for the first time and the sight turns him on, makes him bite his lip and concentrate on what he’s doing. He wants all of her, wants to see her fall apart in his arms, as strong and fast as he can.
He feels so lost without her, so empty and dried out when she’s not with him. When he pretends to be someone he does not want to be anymore. For a moment his thoughts drift off, hurt him, make him wonder why he is doing what he does, why he takes all the shit, why he takes all the risk.
And maybe it’s the exact same moment that makes her realize how thin and bony his body feels on her back, how concerned she is and never really says anything. How much he changed and sometimes even feels like a stranger when they can only talk on the phone, when he sounds worn out, cloudy and doesn’t make much sense to her.
But it’s only a moment, a wink of an eye, cos then their love and the pleasure, the passion and desire for each other are stronger. Fade out reality. It’s when looking over her shoulder watching him making love to her, with his long black curls clinging to his sweaty face reminds her of 1996, when he loved her like that for the first time; against a door in a hallway of an aquarium. It’s when her passionate voice shakes him to the core and makes him feel so alive. Makes him realize why he is even doing all that he does.
“Oh Baby, not like that Michael…” she moans, holding on to his hand, fastens her grip and rests her head back against his shoulder as if to steady herself and not lose ground.
“Why?” he whispers, brushing his lips softly against her ear; yet he knows the answer already, knows why, reads on her face why and it makes his stomach somersault, makes his hips thrust a bit faster, deeper.
The word so deep and heavy, intense like his movements that fill her tight warmth up to her spot, he makes her gasp and moan, breathe louder, harder, when he starts to rub her clit in slow soft circles at the same time. Causes strong waves of pure pleasure in her lap.
“You’ll make me cum so fast…”
“Oh boy, say that again, Angel.”
He can feel the throbbing in his tip, feels his fingers on her wetness slipping, losing control when she starts to shake against him, when her inner walls constrict so tight around him and her voice cracks and drifts, turns into passionate cries.
“You make me cum so fast… Baby … Michael, gawd!”
And that’s when he feels like losing ground, feet slipping, body sailing, soul soaring. The speed of unloading his lust making him dizzy, shaking him, making him tremble and feel hod and cold at the same time.
He gasps for air, squeezes his eyes shut, and pulls her into a tight embrace. Holds on to her until his chills subside. Feels his flesh creep, a thick layer of sweat covering his body when he rolls onto his back and smiles at the ceiling like an idiot high on drugs.

“Baby! What are you doing in there again?”
She props her head up on one of her arms and stares to the door of the walk-in closet. He’s in and out of bed for the umpteenth time, restlessly pacing up and down in front of her when he talks about the production, his features stressed and tense yet gloriously excited the next moment. Going in and out of the bathroom, roaming around in the closet instead of spending that much needed quality time close to her.
“I’m just checking on the safe, Angel. Did you change the code?”
She drops down on her back and rolls her eyes.
“Of course, Michael. You asked me to change it last time, remember?”
“So what is it?”
She frowns, raises her head again.
“Blanket’s birthday!?”
He stays silent for a moment, sighs loudly and peaks around the corner.
“Blanket’s birthday?” he asks and at his lost expression, those empty eyes that search for an answer she wonders if he really forgot about it or if he’s just checking on her.
“Like two-one-zero-two-two-zero-zero-two.”
He disappears and she can hear him typing in the code, open the safe that sits in the wall behind his clothes, closing it and opening the heavy metal door a second time. Then finally he comes back to bed, crawls under her sheets and cuddles up against her warm body.
“What’s wrong, Michael?” she asks lowly, concerned about his strange behavior, and entwines their fingers.
“Nothing.” he says and looks at her, touches her cheek and combs a strand of hair behind her ear. “Just checking, Angel. I brought another stash of money.”
“Again? Why are you always carrying that much cash around, Michael?”
“Listen, Pru, you know they are after my money and my catalogue.” his voice is dark and just above a whisper and she can see an alarming hint of fear flashing in his eyes. “Cash is the only thing in my control.”
“You are scaring me, Baby! What is this all about?”
She sits up and looks down on him, not knowing what he is talking about. In 13 years they never talked much about his money. She never asked questions whenever he gave her a big bunch of dollars or when he asked her to open an account after Helena was born. It was his way of taking care of her and their child.
She understood his reasons to hide huge amounts of cash wherever he was living in case the kids were kidnapped or they got threatened. She understood when he asked her to install that safe into the closet and store more than 2 million dollars in there for the same reasons. But now that he brings more and more cash and asks her to store it almost every time he comes home to her makes her feel uneasy.
“I just want you and Helena to be well-funded. If something happens to you or her, if something happens to me…”
He grabs her hands and squeezes them tight. An expression on his face she has never seen before. Something that makes her shudder and feel utterly worried.
“I’m just saying, Angel. When we go home to Africa next year, when we are finally married, everything will be easier. I promise you, Angel. Please just trust me.”
He silences her every question with his kisses, with his art of making her quiet, of not asking any further and just to be all that he needs her to be. His love, his warmth, his home. The place he can be who he wants to be.

Pilanesberg (South Africa), Early October 2009

“I was such a fool! How could I be that blind, Grace?”
She stops in her tracks and drops the knife, stops cutting ginger into small dices and watches Grace gathering her belongings. Feels her hands start to shake at the thought to let her go the next morning.
“What are you talking about, Honey?”
“Michael. He changed so much those past months. It was crystal clear, right before my very eyes. I should have known that there was something so wrong!”
She covers her mouth as if to stop herself from screaming and closes her eyes. Shakes her head no and tries to breathe easy.
“When will you stop that, Pru? When will you stop blaming yourself?”
Grace freezes in her spot and glares at her, clenching her hands. Wants to pull her into a tight embrace and cry, yet she can’t. Feels too exhausted, to overwhelmed with all the emotions she handled those past weeks.
“Never!” she yells and looks furiously at Grace, storms away from the kitchen counter across the room and out on the deck.
“Pru, no one could safe him. Michael did what he was used to all of his life. He was in denial. He didn’t want to face the truth…”
“What truth, Grace?”
“That he couldn’t do 50 shows, Prudence! That he should have had the guts to pull his ass out of that crazy deal or just tell them no, instead of going back to the old habits.”
The truth hurts and it cuts her heart into a million pieces. All over again. And she wonders how many times will she be able to go through this pain, how many times will she survive her heart bleeding out?
“Something must have happened when he announced those shows in March, Grace! Prior to that, he was so full of energy and joy. He looked forward to do this. I know he didn’t just pretend…”
“Of course something happened, Pru! Shit got real. Suddenly Mr. Jackson woke up and realized he was not in control. He was not the one to pull the strings. And that’s something Michael just doesn’t like. It’s either his way or no way… You above all should know!”
From one second to another the conversation gets out of hand. Too much turmoil, too many emotions, too many questions unanswered and too much pain in the game.
“Why are you talking like that?” Pru whispers and she can’t help but cry now, facing the truth behind Grace’s words.
“How can I not talk like that? Just look at what happened, how much hurt he caused!”
“You shut up now!”
“He knew what he was doing, Pru. And you know that. Don’t deny now! He willingly put his life at risk and THAT is just beyond me… I don’t get it. How could he do that to you and the kids?”
It’s only a mere second without thinking before she spins around and slaps her in the face.
“You are not talking like that in his house, in front of me, Grace! Never, hear me!?”
Running down the stairs that lead to the pool she feels her heart racing so hard in her chest, her pulse throbbing so wildly in her throat she feels like passing out on the spot. All the things Grace says she has thought about so many times herself, has been angry at him, furious, has tried to blame and accuse him.
And yet, it never eased her pain. It never made her heart any lighter, stopped her tears or filled the emptiness she feels inside. Nothing ever changed the fact that the love of her life is gone.
Walking the grounds with her hands down the pockets of her pants she feels drawn to the Marula, to the place where she can feel him so very close. And she quickly climbs up the steps and sits down on the old sofa, leans back and stares up into the blue sky above her.
“Moyo,” she calls him lowly, asks him to forgive her for being upset with him, for feeling angry sometimes, for not understanding why he never trusted her enough to tell her what was really going on.
“What happened to you, Baby?” she cries lowly and curls her body into a ball, pulls her knees into a tight embrace and sobs herself to sleep.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part VII
Disclaimer: The following chapter might contain disturbing and/or painful descriptions and touch sensitive issues.

Los Angeles, June 25th 2009, around noon

Drifting off to La-La-Land.
To the place where there is no voice in his ears, no pictures in his brain, no melody moving his aching body.
He can feel his features relax, the pain slowly fading from his aching limbs and this calming feeling of shutting down taking over; after hours of struggling once again. Like he does almost every day, for weeks now.
His thoughts go drifting, become dull, lose shape.
He thinks of her and their baby, feels his heart speed up at the thought of all those plans. They will come to fruition. Soon. He can feel it down in his stomach. Last night was great. He had fun, he felt good. The show came together now and he started to feel excited again.
Feeling weightless, like floating, he sighs and exhales.
Without sound, without air.
Eyes wide open he looks around, knows that he’s too far away.
He knows this state.
Has been here before.
Not that far. Not like this.
He tries to come back down like the last time, just turn around and slip back on solid ground, but this time he can’t reach.
It’s too much space, too much light.
He feels panic in his chest; knows that something is wrong.
And yet, this feels so incredibly good!
It’s so beautiful and bright.
So serene and soothing.
Without pressure, without pain.
All the malicious attacks, all the lies and accusations, all his burdens and sorrows left far behind. He finds them smashed and scattered all over the floor.
Down there, where there is chaos going on.

Kicking and struggling.
Trying to reach through the ethereal cloak of light when he sees his babies crying.
Those gifts of god, his treasured saviors.
“Lord, please forgive me, let me go back home! Please, let me go back to my children!” he prays and cries.
How could he do this to his loved ones?
“Prince! Paris!” he screams.
Colors fading into bright white light.
There is someone calling. Waving. Smiling. Waiting with arms wide open on the other side.
“Lord, I need to be with my children!”
His soul about to be torn into a million unfixable pieces.
But before the pain gets too much there’s music in his ears, soothing him so perfectly. And those arms around him carry him gently, love him softly, ease all his pain.
Looking back.
One last time.
He wishes them well.
Catches a glimpse of his physical body, a burnt-out shell of someone he once used to know.
Opening his arms wide he reaches for the sky, tilts his face and bathes in music and light.
It’s here on those holy grounds where he walks free again.
Where pirouettes and spins come off so easily.
Where his soul is cleansed from all the burdens life threw upon him.
Where he’s wrapped in pure love, freed from flaws and damages, he is welcomed back home.

Los Angeles, June 25th 2009, late evening

Not knowing how she made it here. What time it is or how many hours have gone by. Unaware of those people around her, the voices, the sobs, the screams and the crying. Only hearing the frightening silence after all.
She’s freezing cold, or maybe boiling hot. Can’t feel her numb body, only the pounding pain of her heart. Through a haze of stinging tears she sees the children, his mother, brothers, sisters, people going in and out of the room on the other side of the hallway. She can’t remember their names. Doesn’t know her own, doesn’t know who she is and what she’s doing in here. She has lost sight of her daughter, of Gerry and Maria, has lost track of everything that was her life before.
After hours someone asks her if she wants to leave with them, take the kids home to Hayvenhurst. She doesn’t know his face, hears his words but doesn’t understand what he’s saying. She just shakes her head no, drops her eyes and watches her fingers, touches the golden band and flinches, as if it is hot and poisoned and hurts her even more.

Not knowing how her feet carry her or why she is still functioning at all she enters this room, feels a cool breeze when the door falls shut behind her and makes her jump. There is that smell in there that makes her stomach sick. There is that blue neon light shining from the ceiling, a light that tints the room into a pale white shade, a color that is surreal, like everything about this day.
For minutes she stays unmoving. Frozen with her back against the cold door, pressing her shoulders hard against it, to feel anything, to stay grounded and keep her mind sane. She doesn’t dare to look at him, doesn’t dare to look in the direction of the stretcher. Sucks in air and fights against the lump in her throat, fights for air to breathe and the courage to live.

Like her he sits on the floor, knees pulled up to his face. Crying like her, sobbing like her, reaching his hand out but cannot touch her. He tries harder, but the distance of dimensions is too far. He calls her name, but his voice remains unheard, echoes in the room and hurts his ears.

She never wanted to feel his skin so cold. She never wanted to see him sleep so deep. She never wanted to see him like this. Empty. Lifeless. His pure heart silent. His angelic voice mute. The light in his eyes gone out. The passion of his soul faded.
She never thought he would leave her behind. Like this. Without saying goodbye. Without holding her hand, squeezing her for one last time.

He watches her staring across the room, at the gurney that carries his physical body. Watches her getting up, approaching him slowly, hide her quivering lips behind her hands when she finally dares to see him for the last time. He feels her pain, sees how her heart breaks, how it tears into pieces and starts to bleed. He feels her body trembling in shock, knows she is fighting so hard to keep her sanity.

Tears falling silently onto the white gown, soaking the fabric upon his unmoving chest. Lips quivering, hands trembling. Sucking in air as her fingertips touch his. Terrifying sobs escaping her lips when her fingers crawl into his cold hand and he doesn’t respond. Calling his name desperately, she touches his face, his hair. Collapses and wraps him in a tight embrace. Buries her face into the crook of his neck and cries and cries and cries. Cradling him slowly, holding on to his dead body for dear life.

“I love you so much, Angel.” he says, over and over again.
Sits right next to her and wishes he could reach out and hold her. But he can’t. He wants to wipe her tears and kiss her one last time but he can’t. Like he can’t change what happened. Like he can’t rewind time and make things undone. He is finally free and yet he lost everything. Gained peace and yet has to witness how a million lives have been torn to pieces.

“I can’t live without you, Baby! Don’t leave me, Michael!” she begs; screaming, choking, hardly breathing, running out of air. Sinks down on a chair next to the gurney with no strength left.

“I’m here, Angel.” he whispers into her ear and at the soft whiff of his words she flinches a bit, raises her head and looks around the room. Hopes to see him walking through that door, smiling, joking, laughing his head off cos he pranked her so bad once again.
But the room remains dead silent, empty and cold.

Los Angeles, June 26th 2009

That night there is chaos all over the house. No one strong enough to control the situation.
Two babies desperately crying, calling for daddy and mommy at the same time.
Two children crying silently, falling apart with every minute that is cruelly ticking away. Separating them more. Extinguishing him further.
A mother is crying and wailing, whimpering and choking on her tears, rocking herself from side to side with that picture of her son in her shaking hands.
There’s Grace trying to keep it all together, cradling the kids, kissing heads, squeezing hands, while tears are silently falling from her face.
This is like war. Like a bloodstained battlefield. Smoke still rising from the guns.
This is like Jericho. Where there is nothing left but despair, pain and tears. No sense and no hope at all. And in the middle of this unfamiliar place she is holding her head, pressing her fists against her temples, pulls her hair and crashes her knees when she falls to the floor. Crouching together to protect herself from more pain. But it’s too late. It already happened. No protection, no comfort, no home, no love. No more!
She can’t help but throw up. Again and again and again. The bitter acid burning her throat, choking her to the point where there’s no air in her lungs anymore. Until her body starts to spasm and someone gathers her from the bathroom floor, holds her and strokes her back. Combs back her hair and whispers softly to her.
Through hazy shades of tears she recognizes a woman. Wraps her arms desperately around her neck and falls apart in her arms.
“Grace, I lost my life…” she sobs and holds on to her friend for dear life.

Los Angeles, June 30th 2009
She’s been crying in the arms of a mother who has lost her baby. Has been falling apart in the embrace of siblings who lost their brother. Has been cradling children to sleep who are her life and yet feel like strangers at the same time. She has no one who can soothe her, who will dry her tears and comfort her pain. There is no one in her life anymore to hold her.
The love of her life gone. Vanished. Faded away forever

Los Angeles, June 30th 2009

She’s been crying in the arms of a mother who has lost her baby. Has been falling apart in the embrace of siblings who lost their brother. Has been cradling children to sleep who are her life and yet feel like strangers at the same time. She has no one who can soothe her, who will dry her tears and comfort her pain. There is no one in her life anymore to hold her.
The love of her life gone. Vanished. Faded away forever

South Africa, Early October 2009

She never heard him flatline. She never saw his heart go into arrest or a green line on a monitor proving her eyes he was gone. And yet that nasty sound, that devastating picture haunts her. Settled in the back of her brain to come back out and shake her to the ground every time her mind is still.
She jolts out of her dreams; the cruel monotonous sound loud in her ears, her body trembling, quivering like a quake shaking the earth.
Getting up out of bed, she starts to cry. Again.
Feels her heart breaking. Again.
Tearing into a million pieces and starting to bleed. Again.
She stammers his name, over and over again.
As if he can hear her. And somehow he always does. Stings her chest to let her know he’s around.
She roams through the backpack, touches something hard and cold in there; flinches as if something bit her fingers and pulls back her hand for a while.
Looking inside again she finds one of his sweaters, the one he wore the last time. The one she retrieved from the hamper the day her world came crashing down. She buries her face in the fabric, inhales his scent that is still lingering inside and quickly puts it on. Closes her eyes and feels the tears slowly subside. Being close to him makes her feel safe. Like he wraps her into one of his loving bear hugs and cradles her slowly.
Feeling brave enough she looks back into the bag, stares inside, onto the black container that is hidden inside. Dares to rest her hand on top and just tune into him for a while.
“Soon.” she whispers with a smile gracing her face.
And though she still feels like crying, though her body feels weak and nauseous, she knows it’s a new day, a new morning, a new chance at life.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part VI
“Mommy, can I climb up there?”
“Of course, Baby, go ahead!” she says lowly, caressing the girls hair and for a moment she stands still, watching the big old Marula standing with its strong roots so safely buried into the grounds.
Her heart is aching with the memories that keep coming back while being in the presence of the tree. Memories of the day they first met, of the day they first kissed. Of those seven days when they became one. Whole. Forever connected in their hearts.
“Be careful, Leni. Hold on tight to the steps!” she calls and watches her daughter from a distance.
The little girl is fast, climbing the old steps like she’s been climbing up there for the umpteenth time in her life, when in reality she has never done this before. With strong grips and secure feet. Like her Daddy always used to.
“Come up here, Mommy!” she calls and beckons Pru to follow upstairs.
For a moment she feels like her heart is standing still, as if the thought of climbing up that tree will kill her in that very instant; sucking all air from her lungs, strangling her. For a moment her head is spinning and her eyes start stinging with hot tears; until she feels a warm breeze of air on her arms soothing her, wrapping her into a comforting embrace and a low chuckle brushes her ear.
Feeling for the black backpack on her shoulder she inhales deeply, can’t help but smile when she finally dares to move on. She climbs up their tree slowly, step by step and has to turn her head when she hears that chuckle again. Has to skim her eyes through the branches and stare up into the bright blue sky for a short while.
A huge lump is building in her throat as soon as she is up on the deck of the tree house, where there are dried leaves and dust all over the weathered wooden floor; where there is that old rattan sofa still sitting on one side. Slightly broken and without the brown soft pillows she remembers so well.
“This is so cool!” she hears Helena beam, running from side to side, bending her head over the rails to look down to the ground.
And yet her sweet little voice seems so far away. Cos in her head there’s only his voice singing to her lowly, with his soft lips brushing her ear and she can feel his arms around her again, like the very first day they came up here, when they were dancing slowly and falling in love so deeply.
She can smell his scent again, that sweet heady perfume that used to intoxicate her all those years. All over again. It never became old. It never failed its magic. And his scent still lingers on. On her mind. On her skin. Every day.
“Yes, it’s beautiful. Daddy loved this place so much.” she says and needs to sit down on the edge of the seats. Needs to put down the backpack and place it at her feet.
“Did he climb up here too?”
Helena sits down next to her and her big brown eyes look sad all of a sudden, her dark hair playing around her face, those chiseled features that resemble him so much.
“Yes, Baby. We used to climb up here often. It’s where I kissed Daddy the first time…” she whispers smiling and yet can’t help but start to cry. Silently the tears fall, when their baby girl puts her head on her knees and holds on tight to her with her small hands.
“Do you think he can see us, Mommy?”
“Of course! He’s looking down on us all the time and he’ll always take care and look out for you, Leni. He’s always with you.”
The girl turns her face to the blue sky and shields her eyes with one of her hand to block out the sun. Her little finger pointing into the air.
“You think he likes it better up there? What does it look like where Daddy lives now, Mommy?”
She’s taken aback, doesn’t know what to say. Every single one of her daughter’s questions asking too much of her. She doesn’t know any answers or how to give her comfort, doesn’t know how to talk about him without tearing her heart into pieces over and over again.
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
Helena gets up and walks to the middle of the tree house, holds her face to the sky again and spreads her arms; a striking pose that shakes Prudence to the core.
“I think he has a huge stage with all those lights and music and he’s dancing and dancing and dancing.”
The girl spins around in circles and smiles and giggles when she comes to stop, walks back and hugs her crying mama and climbs back into her lap.
“I miss my Daddy.” she whispers and rests her head against her chest.
And all Pru can do is hold her and caress her back, comb her fingers through her soft silky hair and kiss the top of her head.
“Me too, Baby, I miss him so much!”
“Why did he have to go then?”
Because he was killed!
Because I didn’t take enough care of him!
Because I didn’t realize that he was lying to me!
Because this is what happens when people are after money and don’t give a fucking damn about someone so vulnerable and fragile.

There are a million answers blurting out in her brain; answers that cut her open and make her bleed. And every one of those answers is blaming her. Pointing an ugly finger into her face and make her realize that she wasn’t there to save him.
“He was so tired, Leni. He’s been so very strong all of his life, he’s given so much… maybe too much…”
Her voice dies when the tears choke her and the pain gets too much. So she hides her face in her hands and bites her lip hard, until she can taste her own blood, and tries hard to keep herself together. To not break down and fall apart in front of Helena all over again.

“She’s finally asleep now.”
She hears Grace voice from the living room and pulls her arms closer around herself, rubs her arms to get rid of the chills that run up and down her spine.
“I’m sorry. I just couldn’t get a grip…” she says faintly and drops her eyes to the ground, watches her naked feet on the dark wooden floor.
“It’s ok, Honey. That’s my job, right?”
Shaking her head no, she tries to swallow the lump in her throat.
“No, Grace. This is what a mother should do. Mike always was strong enough for the kids. Even in his darkest hours he never stopped to take care of the kids. You know that.”
“Prudence, please, you’re the best Mommy any kid could ask for. You’re having a hard time right now and that’s perfectly fine. Leni is fine. Don’t worry so much.”
They fall silent for a while, the night sky wrapping her into a soft embrace that reminds her of so much warmth and love, of comfort and safety she always finds in this place.
“What if I’ll never be strong enough, Grace? What if I’ll never be ready to do this?” she breaks the silence, still standing on the big deck that is hovering above the pool area. Staring into space, across the grounds to where the Marula reaches its strong branches into the clear width of the open sky.
“Don’t pressure yourself, Pru.”
She can hear Grace filling glasses and walking up behind her.
“You can take all the time in the world. You’ll know when you’re ready.”
Drinking from her glass she tastes the sweet heady taste of Michael’s favorite red wine on her tongue and she can’t help but close her eyes, keep the liquid on her tongue for a moment and think of him; feel him on her lips. A kiss that makes her drunk and intoxicated, has her head spinning and her body aching.
“It’s such a huge responsibility, you know. I don’t wanna disappoint him, his mother… I still can’t believe she allowed me to…”

Early July 2009

The chaos of agitated voices starts messing with her head, her sight gets blurred when the tears start to fall and her quivering legs and hands try to make her body move, to get up from her seat next to Jermaine who’s screaming at Randy on the opposite side of the table. Grabbing the backrest of a couch she stumbles over her own two feet, makes all of them freeze and stop the heated argument and stare at her; a woman they hardly know, someone who speaks her own mind about their deceased brother and has a distinctive influence on his kids.
“I can’t believe you! Michael would be disgusted… with all of you!” she screams.
The words slipping from her lips so effortlessly, from her upset mind, it takes her by surprise. Staring blankly at his siblings, his mother, his father, she can’t help but shake her head, feel her sore heart beating so fast again, she feels like passing out.
“You all don’t know nothing about him! You make me so sick!” she says and hastily walks out of the room. Runs up the stairs to the room Katherine allows her to stay in since that fateful day.
Falling down onto the bed she grabs a pillow and holds on to it for dear life. Cries and cries and cries; her soul bleeding, her heart aching, she falls apart. Not strong enough to keep herself together, not knowing how to breathe anymore. She starts choking on her sobs, calls his name over and over again. Doesn’t notice when the door slowly opens after a while and Katherine slips into the room.
Wrapping her arms around her, his mother cradles her softly, caresses her back and cries silent tears with the woman she knows her son loved so dearly. He had kept her well hidden and protected all those years. And yet Katherine knew from the day she first saw him with her back in Africa years ago, he had lost his heart to her. And although they had never talked about her much, although there had been only few occasions and little time they had spent together, Katherine knew how he had needed this woman to survive, to get through the years of deep despair and how much he relied on her.
“Ssssh, girl, it’s ok. It’s all ok. I know your pain.” she whispers gently and though her heart is torn, her life shattered into a million pieces, her age and wisdom of life still can give comfort so well.
It’s in those arms where Prudence finds some sort of calmness, a place where her tears dry after a while and her heart starts to slow down.
“I’m sorry, Katherine. I didn’t mean to interfere. I know it’s none of my business.” she says lowly once she manages to sit up next to her, dry her face and wipe her nose.
Katherine grabs her hand entwines their fingers, squeezes her palm and looks at her softly.
“What do you think, Prudence? What would Michael want?”
Both of them start to cry again, silent tears that find their way down their cheeks so easily. And she doesn’t know what to say, shrugs her shoulders, not wanting to think about it.
“I… he… we never talked about… THIS…”
Drying her eyes again she stares out of the window, feels something drawing her across the room, to get up and look down on the magical grounds of Hayvenhurst. A place that reminds her so much of Neverland. The place he called home and that got robbed from him. The place that was ripped out of his heart so cruelly and turned him into a refugee.
“All I know is that he wanted to go back to Africa after the shows. It was his biggest wish; we talked about it all the time. He wanted to settle down and come home so badly.”
Turning around she finds his mother fiddling around with the comforter of the bed, stroking her hand across the soft fabric over and over again.
“He wanted to go back to the Lodge?” she asks lowly, her voice distant, as if her memories are drifting back.
She has been there once, has seen that beautiful place, has walked with him hand in hand while he showed her around. She remembers his happy smile, his eyes wide with joy and bliss. She remembers how he loved the peace this place gave him and the closeness to god he felt there. And all of a sudden it seems like she can feel him squeezing her hand, like he did when he stopped in the middle of their tracks, when he looked into her eyes and said:
“Mother, I feel like I finally found what I've been looking for so long. This place and this woman, the children and the baby that is growing under her heart,” and he had pointed to the porch where a very pregnant Prudence was happily playing around with the children, “they are my best of joy. They are my savior and the love I’ve been searching for all of my life.”
“Yes, Katherine, we wanted to go home to Pilanesberg. Settle down at the Lodge and he wanted to start working on movies. He had plans for some kind of studio for him and Prince, where they could shoot and practice… oh, you know how he’s overflowing with ideas once he has set his mind on something.”
A small smile flashes across her face while she talks and thinks of his excitement whenever they had talked about their plans lately.
“Prudence, we never had much time to get to know each other and I didn’t make you feel very welcome in this family but I know how much my son loved and adored you.” Katherine admits, gets up from the bed and walks slowly towards her, her slight limping more obvious these days.
“I… I love him so much, Katherine. I don’t know how to live without him, I don’t know how to go on without him.” she chokes, the despair getting stronger and more painful again with every word that she speaks and she can’t help but hug his mother and hold on tight to her. Can’t help but yearn for someone to comfort her since now that he’s gone she’s all alone and on her own.
“Would you take him home, my girl?”
She freezes in her embrace, sucks in air and holds her breath.
“Would you take him home to Africa? To the place where he wanted to be?”
“Oh my god…” she sighs and feels her knees shaking, her hands trembling and she needs to let go of Katherine and sink down to the ground.
“Are you serious?”
Katherine sits down on a chair next to her, dabs her handkerchief to her cheeks to dry her skin.
“I know you are right, Prudence. Michael would be disgusted with this fight about his resting place. I know Neverland is not an option for him and Forest Lawn, I don’t know, he would be close to his grandmother but…”
“You’d lock him away in that mausoleum, Katherine!” her hands still shaking, she looks at his mother with so much hope in her eyes. Knows she can’t be selfish, yet prays to god that maybe she can take him home.
“You think so?”
“He’d be terrified in there. He’d feel abandoned and lonely, cut off from everything he loved so much! He wanted to be free, Katherine, he yearned so much for living in peace and close to nature. He felt so close to god and His love in Africa.”
There’s a few moments of silence in the room; heavy silence when both of them are tuning into the rhythm of their hearts and the connection to the man they both love.
“I want my baby to be happy, Prudence. And I feel like this is the right thing to do.” Katherine whispers, her voice shaking, holding on to her chair for dear life.
“I’ll take him home and I’ll stay with him. I’ve been thinking about it those last days, Katherine. Me and Leni, we’ll go back home anyways. I feel this is the place where we belong.”
Katherine nods her head and manages to give her a small smile when she reaches out her hand and entwines their fingers once again.
“This has to be between you and me, my girl! For the family and the public Michael will be laid to rest at Forest Lawn. But you will take my son home.”

Grace can feel the inner turmoil that is upsetting Prudence, the huge emotions that weigh so heavily upon her.
“She knew in her heart where he belonged and where he would’ve wanted to be.”
“But what if she regrets one day? What if she thinks I took him away from her?”
She turns around and looks at her friend; with big dark eyes that are filled with so many questions and the torment of her life.
“She holds him deep in her heart, Honey. Where ever he would be, she would never go to visit that place. I guess Michael told you that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in resurrection?”
She nods, taking another swig from her wine before she puts the glass down on the banister and pulls Grace into a tight embrace, knowing without this woman she would have lost her mind by now. She says a silent prayer for this beautiful friend, for the one who knows everything about their relationship, who was there from the very beginning to the last second, who is still here and stands by her, who is the only one she trusts and feels close to, now that he’s gone.
“I think you’ll know when it’s the right time.” Grace whispers and rubs her back slowly.
“Yes, I know you’re right. He’s getting impatient with me though.” she chuckles through her stifling sobs, her face hidden against her friend’s shoulder.
“Oh boy,” Grace giggles and let’s go of her, “someone’s not in control for once!”
They both laugh together and sit down on the loungers, relax and breathe in the cool night air, listen to the vivid life that’s going on in the pitch black of the Savannah.
“Katherine wants me to come back to Hayvenhurst and help her take care of the kids, Pru.” Grace finally says and looks at her, watches her features get serious.
“I thought she would.” she nods and swirls the rest of her wine in her glass. “She needs you to help her adjust them to this new life.”
“I don’t know how to feel about the situation. I feel like you and Leni should be a major part of their life and you should take care of them.”
They stare into each other’s eyes and freeze for a moment. Knowing this is no option at all.
“Grace, I love those kids to pieces, you know that. But they don’t belong to me. He wanted them with his mother and I do respect his wishes.”
“I can’t believe you! You know he would have changed this decision today if he could! He would not want you to leave them alone.”
She sits up and grabs Grace’s hands, squeezes them tightly and looks at her.
“I won’t leave them alone, Grace! If they need me, I’ll be there. But this was our silent agreement all of the time. These are Michael’s kids. Even if Blanket is my son. He is his father’s child. Like Leni is mine. We always felt like this. And I’m more than thankful now that he always kept me hidden in the dark. That he always respected my wishes and kept me a secret. Grace you know what would happen if I’d take an official role in the kid’s lives now! You know it so well!”
They fall silent again, sipping more wine, listening to the monotonous sound of the crickets, until Grace nods her head and agrees with her.
“Gosh, I know you’re right, Honey, the media would tear all our lives further apart! But what about you, Pru? Will you be ok? Won’t you come back home?”
“We are home, Grace! This is where it all began; this is our life, our love. This is where Michael wanted to settle down.”
That’s a fact. That’s all she knows and holds on to. Through all the pain and despair, this is what she felt so strongly from the first second on; when she sat in the cold sterile room of the morgue, holding his cold pale hand, crying against his lifeless chest.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part V
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Sucking in air, holding it in, listening to the sound of silence. Lying awake in the darkness of their room she stares at the ceiling and tries to concentrate on her respiration. On something that calms and distracts her from the pain in her heart, from the stinging of her eyes and the emptiness inside.
For days she wakes up in the middle of the night again, at 3 in the morning, the usual time for her to get up and ready for work. When he would call her and say good night before he would turn in; when he would stir in his sleep and blink at her, drifting back into his dreams when she kissed him on the forehead; or when he would already be sitting up against the headboard his specs on his nose reading a book or scribbling on a notepad whenever his insomnia tortured him.
For a while she thinks about their life, the highs and lows, the times they spent together and far too long apart. How they fell in love and never out of it again. How people close to her still don’t understand anything about him, her and this “weird” relationship. How they ask her what it was that made him so special, why she accepted all that came along with loving him. And she knows, that in a way they feel sorry for her, say she deserved more, someone who’d put a ring on her and care for her like a real husband would do; who would not spent weeks and months travelling the world without her, separating her from one of her children, not acknowledging her in front of the world and only introduce her to a few special people he trusted in his life. They say she deserved a random relationship and healthy everyday life.
Grabbing his shirt that is covering her chest she hides her face into the fabric, pulls it close like hugging him and inhales the faint scent that lingers inside. She smiles and shakes her head. Nothing was ever random about Michael. Neither his looks, his character, his smiles and his strong aura, nor the way he lived and loved. And looking back she doesn’t regret one single second with him.
She doesn’t need her name on a nuptial agreement, doesn’t need a mention in his will or in any headline on a tabloid paper all across the world. She doesn’t need anything like that, cos he gave her so much more. His endless and genuine love. He took care of her the best way he could and the best way he knew. Gave her everything he had from the bottom of his beautiful heart.
Yes, in a way he always had been selfish; ripping his chest open and letting her face the unique abyss of his personality, the complexity of his soul and the naïve intricacy of his mind. He expected her to understand what no one would ever be able to figure out. Yet it was so easy to love him, to dedicate herself to him and manage to fight every obstacle in their way. It was so easy to forgive him whenever he failed, when he hurt her and made her bleed. When he would break free, run away or just ice her out. Even when her heart hurt and her soul was ready to let go, the look in his eyes, his raw and deep love written all over his face always made it all worthwhile to stay and hold on.
She thinks about those last years, the time that shook his faith to the core, broke his backbone and hurt him the most. Hindsight she knows it’s those cruel allegations, these years of malicious darkness that killed him slowly. That made him doubt and never really trust anyone anymore. It turned him into someone different, into a man that started to doubt himself.
Yet they managed to survive, to save the true love he stored away in his heart, the tender look in his eyes and the gentle touch of his fingers. Even if it took a long time, the man she always knew, who loved her dearly, purely, genuinely, who adored his children and the simple things in life never vanished away. He was saved by his strong believes in god and compassion, in loving and caring. He still had it all deep inside.

Bahrain, late September 2005

"You came..." he whispers and stands still in his spot. As if he doesn't dare to move closer to her.
She nods and smiles, watches him carefully with her dark eyes tracing his every feature. He looks healthier than the last time; gained a bit more weight and a light glowing complexion on his pale skin. His hair is shorter now, messed up as if he just woke up and got out of bed. And the dark stubble around his jaw adds to her impression. She always loved him most this way; looking so casually perfect and natural to her. Not hiding behind the make-up and the need to be flawless.
Stepping closer she sees him chewing his lip nervously as if they meet for the first time. And in a way they do; starting over once again.
"Leni is missing her Daddy." she says and hides her own feelings, her own hopes of getting back into his arms.
She's afraid to find out if there's anything left for them. Another chance at love. Is afraid to find out if he still loves her the way she loves him. He lowers his head, a hint of glistening tears in the corner of his eyes.
"I'm sorry i hurt you." he says, his voice thin and he needs to swallow the pain that comes alive with his words.
"Yes, I know. It's ok..."
She doesn't really know what to say now. Doesn't want to argue or fight; just wants to come back home again.
"Want to show me around for a while until she wakes up?" she asks and reaches her hand out to him. Makes it easy for him to return and take back the spot in her life that still belongs to him without doubt.

"Thanks for the shower." she mumbles from beneath the white fluffy towel, rubbing her long brown hair.
She's wearing his bathrobe and her warm damp scent impregnating his room makes him nervous. The way her naked feet sink into the carpet when she walks over to him, the way his silk robe hugs her frame so neatly and reminds him of what is hidden underneath makes it so hard for him to breathe.
He's excited like the very first time, when she came out of the shower in Africa, when he made love to her against the wall of his room. The memory jolts a warm lightening through his stomach. Gives him butterflies as her beautiful face appears from the towel and she looks at him with those amazing dark eyes.
"I guess your room should be ready soon." he says lowly, smiling, but secretly hopes she'll stay a little longer.
"It's no problem. I'm all good now!"
Throwing the towel onto a chair near the window she looks at him for a while. Yearning for the moment to come when they will be just them again. Mike and Pru. Moyo and Angel. A man and a woman deeply in love with each other.
“How are you really feeling, Pru?" he asks and suddenly his voice is much deeper, with that intimate tone to it. A sound that makes her shiver and tingle.
Staring into his eyes she knows he caught her off guard now, he can see her heart racing and her pulse throbbing heavily on the side of her neck. And for a moment she's afraid to answer, to tell him the truth and reveal her vulnerable feelings. But she's been hiding them for too long and knows they need every chance they can get to mend and heal their love. She knows telling a lie to protect her injured pride will hurt them even more now.
"I'm homesick, Michael!" she says, the words slipping so easily from her tongue although she doesn't understand what she's saying.
But obviously he does, obviously her words stir him and hit him deep down inside. Getting up from his spot on the bed he slowly moves closer to her, encourages her to speak on.
"I feel so very homesick for you, Baby!"
Freezing in his spot only inches away from her he looks down on her tilted face, caresses his eyes tenderly across her skin and finally opens his arms and beckons her into his embrace.
"Come back home, Angel, please come back home and forgive me." he says and pulls her in, wraps his arms tight around her and holds her close for a very long time. Until they are ready to kiss slowly, softly, so very shyly, as if it could ruin them to move too fast.

Closing his eyes, his silent tears run down his cheeks, stain her tender lips and make her taste the bittersweet flavor of his love.
“It’s ok, Baby, don’t cry.”
“I… I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong.” he sobs weakly and tries to hide his face against the pillow, tries to hide his embarrassment and the shame that is paralyzing his body; but she won’t stop kissing his face, won’t stop pressing her warm naked body into his embrace, won’t stop making him feel like they are finally back home again.
“Don’t pressure yourself. We’ve got all the time in the world…”
“You know this never happened before…”
Her passionate kiss silences him, her tongue invading his mouth and her hands on his damp skin make him dizzy. He’s so ready to fall with her again, at least his heart is. But his body and mind won’t play along. He is still bruised and battered. His soul too crippled to make love to her, the way his heart yearns to.
For a long while they just lay in silence, caress and drown in each other’s eyes. It’s a new beginning without words and yet they know they’ve still got a long way to go.
“I love you so much, Angel. I don’t know what I’d do without you…” he whispers in her ear, spoons her and breathes her in, buries his face in her hair and closes his eyes.
He knows the woman in his arms endures so much, goes through hell with him and back and he feels guilty and ashamed, knowing he still is damaged too much to give what she needs and deserves; to end this drought and quench her thirst and hunger for his love. Hearing her crying lowly in his arms, her body trembling against his frame he feels his heart sinking, anxious to maybe lose her after all.

Ireland, June 2006

Holding hands they are walking the green fields of an island that finally heals him. After all those months it’s so easy to talk and laugh again, to run with him, to stumble and fall and roll around in the grass, breathe the fresh summer air and bury her fingers in his hair. Looking deep into his eyes, just gently pecking his cheek while he holds her close to his body, panting out of breath, with that beautiful smile gracing his face.
Ireland is the place that heals his wounds, blows off his demons and opens his heart again. It’s a year now since he left Neverland, travelled the world like a homeless, fighting and working hard to glue together the thousand pieces of his broken heart.
It’s the first time and the first place she finally meets Michael again. The man she still loves madly. The one she wants back in her life so desperately. It’s the place where his kisses taste like much more again, where his tongue in her mouth becomes passionate, where she can finally feel his yearning fingers on her skin and his body reacting to her again.

She knows she has to be careful, slow, gentle, but above all – no matter how fast her heart is racing, no matter how much she wants this to happen - she has to make him feel safe and respect him. Has to give him room to accept his feelings and time to find out if he’s ready to fall. If she does push too much now she might ruin the moment, the chance to get him back completely, the physical side of him, the part of him that talks by expressing his feelings with only his body. If she does push too much now, he might stop her, pull back and lose the foundation he slowly has built up again.
Tracing her finger across his bottom lip, she sinks into his eyes, reads silent messages of fear and frustration, finds a glimpse of hope and want in the brown abysses when she moves a little closer, just enough to meet his body and feel his frame painted on her clothes.
“You look beautiful tonight” he says and swallows, a flush of redness warming his cheeks.
He finds strength and trust in the way she approaches him so casually. As if it isn’t almost a year, as if she hadn’t gone through this emotional desert, as if her heart wouldn’t run dry. He’s grateful for the way she never blamed him, how she always made him feel so loved. Genuinely. Endlessly. No matter if he pushed her away, stopped her, if he was cold and crippled.
The way she wraps him into a silent embrace and caresses his back, lays her head gently on his shoulder, shakes him, fills him with so much warmth and encourages him to pull her tight. To rest his hands on her hips and rub her there; a spot he knows she likes and feels how it makes her light and fluent in his embrace.
Her hand disappears in his hair, massaging her fingers down his nape, moving slowly with him. Like this is a dance, so easy for him to join in. His fingers on her waist cause that tingle in her stomach she has been missing for so long. A feeling that was almost lost and forgotten. But now that it’s back it hits her so hard and intense she has to bite her lip to stop a low moan from escaping her lips. Wants to silence that proof of need, of lust, of overwhelming want for him. Too afraid it might scare him, put too much pressure on his fragile courage, yet she dares to rest her head against his, lock eyes with him and slowly sink into a kiss. Move her lips carefully on his velvet mouth and nearly pass out when he reacts to her the way she has prayed for so long. When he lets her tongue come home to him, explore him tenderly and taste the divine gentleness of his love. She has to pull him closer, sink her fingers deeper into his neck and clothes, as he starts kissing back, invading her with his hungry tongue, and shyly demanding to take control.
She can’t help the moan now, has to press her legs tight when she feels that aching tingles spreading from her spot. To receive so much from him after all this time takes her heart and body by storm and she can’t deny her need now, can’t disguise those feelings any longer.
“I miss you, Baby!” she whispers into his mouth, pulls his lower lip and sucks on it gently.
Causes him to grasp her tighter and walk her back to her bed.
“I miss you too, Angel! I do!”
When they sink onto the mattress and he pulls her on top of him she can feel his hard crotch against her thigh and for a second she has to hold her breath, close her eyes and enjoy that feeling, that evidence of lust, of his body reacting to her, of his heart and mind allowing him to feel sexual desire again. Sliding her hand between them she subtly touches him there, her fingers trembling, still hesitating to go any further.
“Do you want me to stop?” she asks lowly, prepared to give up, to let go of him and be lost again.
But he shakes his head no, closes his eyes and licks his lips. Covers her hand with his and makes her feel him, his huge erection underneath his clothes.
They tear up as she slowly unzips his pants, frees his aching flesh and touches him there tenderly. He sucks in air and a shiver of insecurity and lust ripples through his slender waist. After all this time he still can’t shake off this feeling of wrongdoing, of guilt in his stomach although he knows he never did anything inappropriate to anyone. Although he gradually recovers from this state of shock. Although he allows himself to feel lust and desire again and has been yearning for her so very long.
And she gets it, senses his insecurity, like she’s always known him so well, inside and out, can read his body and mind by heart and knows what to do to make him feel more at ease. To give him confidence to trust his own feelings. So she kisses him tenderly. Her soft warm lips carefully touching his tip, blowing butterfly kisses all over him until she can feel his fingers searching for her hand.
“You’re so beautiful, Michael. I love you so much!” she whispers, entwining their hands to make him feel save.
“I love you more, Angel. You gotta believe me, I never meant to abandon you!” he cries lowly and hides his face against the pillow, closes his eyes and surrenders to those overwhelming feelings that make him rock hard between her tender lips.
She makes him high with the perfect roll of her tongue, with her skillful sucks and the careful bites of her teeth. It’s been so very long and for the first time he realizes how starved he feels, how his needy body soaks up her endearments like a dried out sponge.
Her hands slowly undress him, peel him out of his pants and unbutton his shirt; her palms gently gliding across his sensitive skin, over his abdomen and up to his chest. She makes him gasp and moan, cry out in pleasure when she slowly lets his long thick length slip out of her hot mouth and covers his throbbing tip in sweet tender kisses.
“Let me love you, Baby, will you?” she whispers with her lips tracing carefully up his belly, moving slowly, giving him time to adjust, to feel at ease and acknowledge his needs.
And when they are face to face, drowning into each other’s eyes, him undressing her, the feeling of bare skin when they are finally naked and chest to chest they get lost in a sensual frenzy, in a rush of passion and desire, an uncontrollable ecstasy that tears down his walls and sets him free.
Straddling his waist she entwines their hands, slides them up above his head and bends forward, bites her lip hard when he gently sucks one of her nipples and twirls his tongue around the hardened peak. His features relax beautifully when he tastes her, eats her flesh hungrily and proofs he didn’t forget one single trick to make her swoon and melt, fall apart and come undone.
It’s this moment when all of her feelings overwhelm her, crash down on her and shake her to the core. Make her tear up at those incredible sensations of love and relief, of lust and want, of her life becoming whole again and every piece that once was apart gathers together again. It’s this moment when all her blood seems to rush to that one spot between her legs at the subtle sensation of his huge erection against her entrance that almost gets her off in the very instant of making contact. It’s this moment when his big brown eyes look up at her and he nods his head yes, when she can feel his hands clasping her tight and his hips finally thrust up and meet her lap.
“Love me, Angel, hurt me and bring me back home.” he begs and holds on to her for dear life.
When their bodies collide and lock it makes the earth shake and their minds black out. It’s like a twister raging on wasteland, like a storm tide washing away solid ground. Effortlessly his hard flesh parts her lap, penetrates her deep and fills her up with that long forgotten strength and power that takes their breath away.
It is relief that makes them cry out loud, their voices joining in bliss and sexual rapture.
“Oh, gawd, Baby… Michael…” she’s too far away, too close to the edge to stop herself from falling. She’s too wet for him to hold on longer, her walls clenching and constricting too fast, too hard around his throbbing erection to keep himself from cumming. So they let go, of all that has happened, of all that has kept them apart, let go of all bottled up emotions and embrace in the bliss of their love.

For hours and days this is what they do. Make love. Tender and gentle, rough and hard. Slow and fast. Find their way back and shake off the past. He’s like a kid, curious, forceful and without inhibitions, yet shy and reluctant, ashamed of his own animal needs sometimes. But at the end of the day, at the end of this journey he’ll hold her in his arms and kiss her, hold her face so tenderly in his big hands, drown in her eyes and thank her for showing his unsheltered soul the way back home.

Yawning and stretching her body in the sheets she realizes she fell back asleep. Comes back from a dream that tastes so much like reality. She can feel him between her legs. Her spot still warm and damp, aching for his special touch. And she’s sure she woke up to his heavy breathing against her ear, to a sound in her room that is filled with his unique energy suddenly. She grabs his shirt, traces her fingers across the fabric and breathes him in again. Hears his voice whispering words that come back to her every day now.
“I want to come home to you.” he says.
His words make her heart beat fast. So fast and hard it almost chokes her. She needs to sit up and breathe in heavily, brush back her hair and try to calm down, when a loud thudding sound scares her to death; makes her flinch and squeal and switch on the light on her nightstand.
There’s nothing but this room and her, his shirt in her hands and that black backpack sitting on the sideboard on the opposite wall. She gets out of bed, moves slowly, breathes in and out again and finds a book on the floor. It’s one of his favorites, fallen from the same board with the bag on it. Picking it up, she holds the book for a while, traces her fingers over the cover and stares at the backpack for a while.
“I’m not ready yet, Baby.” she says and starts crying.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part IV
Neverland, March 9th 2005

He’s so angry. His body, his heart, his soul, every pore filled to the brim with anger and rage. His mind spinning furiously. He’s so upset at the way people think of him like that. How people want to believe in those lies. Portrait him as a monster. Make up disgusting lies about things he’s never done. Not even thought about in his darkest dreams. Things that are not even on his mind, much less in his heart.
This whole trial is the worst nightmare, the worst ordeal he has ever faced. And yet for months he keeps up his façade, keeps up his pride, holds his head high and flashes a smile into millions of cameras; he holds up his victory sign every single day he walks into court, jumps up on the roof of a car and dances for the whole world to see that he’s unbreakable, invincible, that he won’t ever let them bring him down. But deep down in his heart, if he’d rip open his chest or tear down his fake visage, if he’d raise his voice there would be nothing left of his gentle soul.
And on this day, after having to sit and listen to the boy’s testimony, to hear this bunch of made up stories and malicious lies rolling from what he thought was an innocent child’s tongue, he’s seething with aggression, his limbs aching with bottled up madness and his mind yearning for release, for a simple black-out or a fatal collapse that will finally end this horror trip.
Bursting with energy he pins her to the wall in their room in the guest house as soon as they get there. As soon as everyone has padded his back and wished him luck for the next day, told him to be strong and promised their support, he drags her upstairs, without saying a word; urgent to lock the door and get away from it all.
He needs to release the tension, to shut out the white noise that is terrorizing his ears all day. Has to get rid of that aggressiveness that controls his body, pulsates through his veins and now hurts in his fingertips; burning like fire or a fever that is trying to fight a contagious disease.
So he rips her white blouse, busts the button border and tears the fabric away from her shivering body. She knows what he wants, tries to help him get rid of his belt and frees his massive erection; so hard and swollen, it must hurt him painfully. But her eyes are wide and kind of terrified. Maybe she’s afraid he’ll hurt her, maybe she’s even scared of him. But she lets him, encourages him to make it happen fast and bring relief.
“C’mon Baby, hurry!” she hisses when her panties drop to the floor and he’s standing there, with his jacket and shirt, tie still on. Only his slacks and briefs down at his feet. When he grabs her legs and lifts her up, pushing her into the wall to steady her.
And when he enters her with one harsh thrust she has to close her eyes and hold her breath, has to sink her nails into his shoulders and can’t deny the pain. They have been fast and furious, passionate with desire so many times, but this is different.
This is not about lust or urgent need. This is raw. This is his injured pride, his bleeding heart, his torn soul and his shattered mind. This is a man who is ripped, who is staggering with a knife in his back, who chokes on the ugliest allegations and fights for truth and acquittal, who above all battles for his pure existence. This is a man who is about to lose his sanity.
Holding his face to her chest, she hears him breathing heavily, feels his hot tears on her skin. She knows he’s not enjoying this, she can feel how his body is shaking with frustration, how his moves get desperate and uncontrolled. Kisses his temple and tries to soothe him, make him feel save and loved.
“I’m here, Baby, I love you!” she whispers into his ear, traces her lips gently down his strong neck and blows butterfly kisses onto his sensitive skin.
And that’s when his mind blacks out. When all of a sudden there is nothing but silence and darkness. Except the ridiculing grimaces of monsters growling those allegations, 14 in number, every single one, over and over again; laughing him down and pointing their fingers into his face. There is nothing left but the sound of crying children, innocent tearstained eyes looking at him, accusing him.
And that’s when he can’t breathe anymore, when he recognizes the actions of his body. When he feels disgusted with himself, with what he is doing to her, with the way he’s capable to even think about something sexual in the situation he is in.
“Stop! This needs to stop!” he screams into her face, let’s go of her legs and pulls out.
He stumbles back and stares at her in terror. His big brown eyes wide open, frozen, haywire. And for a second there is dead silence in the room, before his hands fly up and cover his mouth, acting in a frenzy to prevent the disaster of completely falling apart. But it’s too late, his stomach too sick, his body too shocked. He is out of control and he knows he can’t fight anymore. He loses this battle and finally gives in; at the end of his rope he finally abandons to his despair.
When he starts to choke and tastes the disgusting hot stomach acid on his tongue he can’t help but throw up, the hot brown liquids mercilessly gushing from his lips through his fingers. It’s a huge onrush of vomit pouring from his mouth, covering his shirt, dripping over his clothes and onto the floor. Again and again he’s heaving and choking, the power of his sickness forcing him violently down to his knees.
“Oh my god, Michael!” she screams and exhales heavily, hit by the strong scent of acid and digested food.
Quickly kneeling down next to him she tries to help and calm him. Wraps her arm around him and holds his face.
“I’ve got you! Don’t worry. You’ll be fine in a moment!” she whispers in shock and holds him when his body seizes and another gust of vomit floods from his mouth. Stains her blouse and drips from his lips down on her trembling fingers.
“Sssshhh, try to breathe easy, Moyo.” she tries to calm him, when he starts coughing and sucking in air. “Can you get up, Baby?”
“No! Don’t touch me!” he screams between chokes and tries to push her arms away from him.
“Ssssh, it’s ok Baby. It’s all ok.”
She caresses his back, grabs the next fabric from the floor and wipes his hands. Wants to clean his mouth and help him up. But now his body collapses completely, gets too heavy for her to hold up. He sinks to the ground into the puddle of vomit and starts to shake. He’s crying. Screaming. Hiding his face in the crook of his arm.
“Don’t touch me, Pru! Let me go!” his voice is so desperate, begging her to move away from him and leave him alone.
And when she backs away and watches him from her distance, when she realizes what happens to him, how those demons of panic and pain, of disgust and shame finally take control of him, she starts to cry. Helpless. Hopeless. Not knowing what to say or do. What to do to save him. Them. This relationship. It’s the last time he touches her in an intimate way. For a very long time.

Neverland, March 10th, 2005

From that night on he starts to fall apart. Every day a little bit more. She has to watch him fade, physically and mentally, transforming into a ghostlike shell. And it happens fast.
The throwing up never stops. Every morning when they are heading out to court they have to stop the car so he can empty his stomach, get rid of the few things he forced himself to eat. Dry heaves until his body shivers with pain and he falls back into the black leather seats.
She’s right next to him every single one of those days. Behind the black tinted windows. Holds his trembling hands in hers until they arrive at court where they sit and pray for him before he gets out and leaves her behind.
She’s not allowed to come along. Tom Mesereau a strict attorney who refuses more media frenzy than there already is. So she waits in a hotel room near the courthouse. Paces the floor, stares out of the window, watches the time ticking away until his driver picks her up again and he slips back into the car next to her after a long exhausting day.
He barely speaks of what happens inside. But she can see the pain written all over his face. She can see the light fading from his eyes every day a bit more and his energy slowly dying away. Holding his cold hand she caresses him gently, tries to soothe him the best way she can. And sometimes, after a while of driving in silence he looks at her with his still beautiful eyes, squeezes her hand weakly and flashes her a very small smile.
That morning he slips in the shower; a loud frightening noise jolting her out of her light sleep. She jumps up from the mattress and hears his whimpers, runs the short distance and finds him on the bathroom floor. His chest is bruised and swells quickly above his ribcage. Grabbing his back and groaning in pain, tears rushing uncontrollably from his eyes she knows this is serious. And as if his mental pain is not already enough for him to bear, the incident adds strong physical ache on his stressed and worn out body.
It’s the same day she stops trying to keep him away from his pills after all. Realizing he won’t see the next day without the medication that gives his body and mind the much needed few hours of rest.

Neverland, June 14th 2005

“What do you mean, you’re leaving?” she asks lowly, and gets up from her spot on the bed. Stops him in his tracks, from pacing up and down the room, and makes him stand face to face.
“You know, it seems like I made an art of hurting and letting you down. I always thought it was only me going through hell, being stabbed and slowly killed. Who had his heart torn to pieces and bleeding dry. I finally know better now! I can see now what I did to you, how I abandoned you, how it was me slowly killing you!"
"No Michael, why would you think that way? I know how..."
He raises his hand to stop her, closing his eyes nodding no.
"I hate what i did! I look in the mirror and feel disgust for myself. I'm scared of myself, of the man who allowed this to happen to me, to you, to us! I don't deserve you! I can't ask you to stay, to wait, to give up everything for me. You already gave up your heart for me. I can't ask for more."
"Baby, please, you know I'd do anything, I just want to be by your side. You will heal, Michael, you'll be you again soon!"
She tries to hug him, pull him into her loving embrace. But he snatches her hands and rubs them with his thumbs. Carefully, softly, with his head hanging down. With his eyes watching the tender touch, filling with tears until they flood and spill.
Looking at her with those painfully empty dark pools she feels a harsh shock ripping through her, tearing her heart apart, shaking her mercilessly to the core. She starts to cry, watches his lips starting to quiver when her own tears spill over.
"I'm so sorry, Angel." he chokes, shaking his head no.
And now she knows without another word being spoken that he's leaving her. Breaking up with her. Giving up on love.

Neverland, June 15th 2005

She finds him sitting near the window, cradling their sleeping baby. His voice soft and low, shaking and breaking between the tears that he cries.
“Why Michael?” she asks, standing in front of him, taking him in.
He looks tired and worn out, his face pale and gaunt. He’s lost so much weight, his sorrow painted all over his beautiful features. She knows he is broken, full of pain and despair. Yet she doesn’t understand why he’s ready to give up on her and his daughter, their love that carried him through all those ugly months of thunder and storm.
“I’m not strong enough, Pru. I… I can hardly breathe on my own.”
“But you can up and leave the woman and child you love?”
She starts to cry again and needs to turn away. She does not know what to say anymore, not knowing where this is coming from. She doesn’t understand his reasons and those feelings that seem to urge him to break up with her now.
“Prudence, please, I … just look at me … I’ve lost everything, my faith, my hopes and dreams, I’m an empty shell.”
Oh, now they are back to Prudence and Michael, she thinks and feels her heart turning cold. She gets angry, at the end of her own strength. After all this time, after all the drama they have been through she has nothing left herself.
“Why not go home to Africa, Moyo? Stay for a while at the Lodge and recover? We can take it slow and …”
“No, Angel, please, I told you I can’t ask for anything more. You’ve gone through so much with me… it’s time I stop being selfish! I see how you suffer, how this love is hurting you. But I can’t change anything right now.”
He gets up from his seat and moves closer, with the baby in his arms, kisses the little forehead and inhales her soothing scent of powder and innocence.
“I won’t let her go, Michael! Forget it if you even thought about taking her with you!” she spits and it sounds harsher than she intended and it makes him jump and stare at her.
The tears falling from her beautiful face cut his heart deeper and make him feel more selfish, more unfair than he knows he already is.
“I would never take her away from you, Prudence! She’s your child…”
“She is OUR child, Michael, and Blanket is my child too! Did you forget about that? And what about Paris and Prince? They are like my own flesh and blood! They were tied to my hip those last two years! It’s not only you I’m losing!”
She feels the anger rising in the pit of her stomach, the pain and frustration taking control of her.
“You’re not losing us…” he whispers and shakes his head no, lays Helena down into her crib and tries to touch Pru’s shoulder, to make her turn and look at him. But she shakes his hand off and moves to the door, exhales heavily before she leaves and says:
“This is selfish Michael! To turn your back on our love and cut us off!”
Her words shake him to the core, make him bleed some more, rip him further apart. And yet he’s not able to change anything. Right now all that he knows is that he needs to get away, needs to be alone to pick up the pieces of his ruined life and try to glue himself together again.
“Take care of him!” he hears her say to Grace, who is gathering all their belongings and getting ready to leave. And when he steps closer to the door he catches a glimpse of the two women hugging each other and crying together. Grace caressing Prudence’s back, touching her hair gently, the way he knows he should do, and that’s when he realizes how much he’s hurting her and breaking her heart.

Pilanesberg (South Africa), September 2009

“He knew he was wrong the very first minute we left Neverland.” Grace says when she sits back down next to her and holds out a glass of juice.
She nods her head and takes a few sips, tries to shake off those still painful memories.
“I know he did. But I wish I would have pushed him more, would have insisted to stay with him, you know? Sometimes he needed someone to take control…” she chuckles and smiles, rests her head back and stares at the ceiling.
“Tell me about it! How many times did I have to force him to call you? I said “Listen, Mike, you either make that call now or you better never mention her name again!” and I was pointing one of the kid’s water guns into his face.”
They both start giggling, until Pru sits up and grabs for her hand.
“Thank you for everything you did for us, Grace. I know he’d be lost without you and maybe our relationship too.”
“No, I mean it! I know how you always supported us. And this time after the trial... god, I don’t know if he would have been back in touch if it wasn’t for you!”
Grace shakes her head and squeezes her hand.
“He missed you so much, Pru. Even if he didn’t mention you I knew when he was thinking about you. He didn’t need me to know he wanted you back in his life.”
“It took us so much time, you know? I mean to really get back together…”
She remembers the many times she flew out to places all across the world to meet him and try to fix their relationship. How hard it was for them to trust and feel and to let love break down the walls between them again.
“I know!” Grace chuckles and smirks at her, wiggling her brows mischievously.
“You nasty!” she gasps and throws a pillow into her face and they start laughing again, when Grace pretends to be innocent and shrugs her shoulders.
“It’s not my fault! You knew I was living right next door!”
She can feel a rush of heat on her cheeks and laughs some more, hears him giggle in her ears and sees him hiding behind his hands in front of her eyes. And for the first time in weeks it feels good to think about him and feel a few rays of light entering her heart.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part III
It’s the scent of rain mixed with the sweet familiar smell of cinnamon and toast that wakes her in the morning. Sliding out of bed she sits still for a while. Watches the grey sky turn blue, inhales deeply and closes her eyes again for a moment.
She hasn’t slept that long in weeks. It’s the first time she didn’t wake up through the night, with her eyes wet from crying, with her heart beating too fast in her chest and the frightening feeling of being alone. For a moment she turns her head and stares at his empty part of the bed and knows she’ll never get used to that. Although they never really lived together in those past years, though she had to sleep without him so very often, she knows it will be different now forever.
“Hey,” she says when she enters the big kitchen, finds Helena chewing happily on her French toast while Grace prepares another few slices of the sweet breakfast.
The delicious scent hits her stomach, makes it twist and turn, mixes appetite and a slight wave of nausea when a dear memory of Michael cooking breakfast for her flashes before her eyes.
“Hey, good morning, Honey!” Grace greets and hugs her when she stands right next to her and observes the slices of toast roasting in the pan.
“French toast again?” she asks and pours herself a glass of cold milk before sitting next to her daughter, caressing her combed brown hair.
“She asked for it…” Grace tries to explain.
“It’s my favorite!” the girl beams and her big brown eyes melt Pru’s soul.
It’s like looking into Michael’s beautiful chocolate pools, charming her, like he used to do so very often.
“And Daddy’s too!”
Breathing in heavily, she buries her face against the girl’s hair and kisses her head, swallows that big lump in her throat and tries to smile for her again.
“Yes, Daddy’s too.”
And before there's enough silence to make her cry again, Grace pushes a plate with French toast across the counter and squeezes her hand gently.
“I’m glad you got some rest, Pru. You look much better today.”
“Thank you,” she whispers and stares at her breakfast, “It feels good to be home.”
For a while she eats slowly, bit by bit, tastes the sweet cinnamon and vanilla on her tongue and can’t help but remember his flavor, his sugary kisses, that sweet cinnamon breath that always seemed to linger on his lips. There is so much she misses about him, so much she will never forget and that can never be replaced.
It’s the man that was ripped out of her heart. The simple man with his limitless love for life, children and the planet. The man he was underneath his clothes, far away from his superstar persona. The bold male beneath the shy boy skin.
She will always remember how he felt in her arms, his body on hers, the way he walked and carried himself, the way he bit his lip or flashed her the most beautiful smile. She will never forget the way he loved her so unconditionally. How it felt like the best thing in the world to kiss him. To sink into his tender lips, holding his face and feel his arms wrap around her waist. To lay back into his tenderness and let him carry her away.
To kiss him was the most blissful moment in her life. And always would be. And the next best thing was to trace her hands up the button border of his shirt, lowering her head to watch her fingers gliding across the soft fabric and inhale his intoxicating scent, see him swallowing excitedly, his larynx slightly twitching, when she slowly undressed him and slid her hands across his smooth warm chest.
He felt so good underneath her palms, his firm frame, his silken skin, the camber of his breast.
His body was a wonderland. Something she still can’t comprehend; a landscape of porcelain skin, of hidden valleys and prominent peaks. A world where her thoughts ran dry and dreams came alive. His body was her haven, the sacred place she called home.
Helena tugs impatiently on her shirt and jolts her out of her daydream, out of that warm feeling when Michael wrapped his arms around her, pulled her close and gave her that deep seducing stare of his eyes that melted her right on the spot; out of that amazing feeling when his lips softly sank onto her mouth.
“Huh? What…?” she stares at Helena quizzically and tries to focus again, to slow down her heartbeat and control the rush of butterflies in her belly that makes her giddy and distracted.
“Can you help me paint a picture for Daddy?”
“Of course, Baby! I’d just need to go through the drawers and find you some paper later, OK?”
The girl nods happily, jumps off her stool and runs into the room that has been set up for her next to the master bedroom. Prudence and Grace lock eyes for a moment, wishing they both were only about four years old and not understanding the finality of death.

Searching for the promised blank paper, she opens the old antique sideboards and secretaries. Finds pens and books, things they left behind on one of their many visits to the Lodge over the year, in happier days, when they were still light-hearted and madly in love. And for a moment she needs to breathe, has to hold on to the old wooden furniture and feel his warmth lingering in these rooms.
He had loved this place so much, loved to come home to “the cradle of god”, to the place where he felt his roots were in. It was his biggest dream to settle down with her and the children once this tour was done. To hide away from superstardom and finally spend his time on new exciting projects that were already taking shape deep inside his heart.
Unlocking another drawer she finally finds a stack of blank paper and a brown leather-bound notebook underneath. And it makes her heart skip the beat when she opens it up and finds his handwriting on the light yellow pages. Makes her body shake and her lips quiver when she finds herself being flashed back to those dark times they both had wished so desperately to leave behind forever.

in the middle of nowhere you find yourself
looking back and wave goodbye
turn around and see a new horizon
and even when there's a black line marking the sky
you know you can't just stop and stay
you have to move on
no matter how hard every footstep seems to be


i wish i could fade out the brain
silent my heart or just kill the pain
instead i feel like drowning in blood
pouring from my very core
if this is what it feels like when your heart is crying
when you feel like you're slowly dying
when losing faith and all hope is gone
then i pray that there's this one place where i belong
where i can run to and find your eternal love
welcoming me home


Angel, my love,

I know I disappointed and hurt you so badly and yet I still believe in miracles. I still believe in faith deep inside. I still believe that heaven has bound us.
I have seen nothing but misery in my life until you came and saved me. All these years you have been giving straight from your heart. You never tried to change me and held me even in times we spent apart.
You are the only one who has seen the real me, all my light and all my dark. I revealed myself to you in ways in which I thought were impossible. And yet you have been giving everything that I still desire to receive from you now.
But my soul is hurt and my mind confused. Though you possess my feelings, though I love, obey and honor you beyond words, I’m not able to conceive and share this love right now.
I pray to god every day to heal me and to release me of those demons, so I can be free to love and cherish you again, to have you back as my soul mate, as my wife and mother to my children.

Love is not made for the faint-hearted
It's not made for those who hesitate on the sidelines
You must be tremendously brave,
tremendously audacious,
to throw yourself into the eye of the hurricane
You must have incredible faith in your ability
to mend a broken heart
to risk falling into the arms of a lover
whose motivations you might never fully understand
In a deep sense, passion is meant for the resilient
for those who know that they'll find their way back onto solid ground
no matter how badly they fall
It's meant for those who are confident
that love's disillusionments won't ravage them beyond repair
And it's meant for those who recognize
that sometimes a massive love followed by a massive failure
is more glorious than a timidly lived success.
Love is made for people like you, Angel
who still give when others have nothing left
who never give up on the ones that are carved deeply into their hearts
Love is not made for people like me
who try hard but always fail
who always up and run instead of trying to hold on

Please forgive me and love me always!

My deepest love, Michael


Her tears are kohl. Black pools that stain the paper with his favorite make-up; smudging his blue inked handwritten letters that spell his beautiful name underneath the last lines.
“I think he wrote these before we left for Bahrain. I remember him sitting here crying, caressing the pages before he placed the book back in the drawer. He was so torn and devastated to leave you like this...” Grace says and squeezes her shoulder, bends down to wrap her arms around her and hold her for a while.
“I should have been here! I should have been with him! I should have been the one to be strong for him and hold him and heal his wounds. Instead I let him go and roam around the world like a homeless vagabond…”
“Don’t do this to you, Pru! Don’t feel like this. You know he was the one who chose to leave back then. It’s what this trial did to him! He never felt safe anywhere for very long …”
“But it’s true, I failed him! I failed to love him the way he needed to be loved. I am the one who made a massive mistake allowing him to suffer silently on his own. I failed to see what was happening. Instead I let him go and lick my wounds, wallowed in self-pity cos he left me behind when actually he wasn’t strong enough to play happy family with me! God, I was so wrong!”
She gets up from her seat, upset, angry, with a heart that turns cold and freezes with blame. In the middle of the darkest hours of her life she finds herself back again in that abyss, in the ugliness of a time when everything started to go wrong. When she failed for the first time and couldn’t convince him to refuse to do this fatal documentary that announced his downfall with jubilant fanfares; that took control of his life and finally tore him apart.
Realizing that she never was powerful enough to influence and guide him, realizing she was helplessly watching him wasting away, heart crumbling, faith fading, soul dying, she sits back down, weak and desperate and curls up in a corner of the sofa. Rests her head against the cushions and doesn’t even find the strength to cry anymore.
“I wish I could die…” she whispers, staring into space, staring at his handwritten notes on the table. “Then I could be there for him now…”
“Don’t even think about it!” Grace hisses, but for once she has to turn away and leave the room, has to give in to her own grief, has to release her tears and try to breathe fresh air, new life into her lungs and shake off the blank despair in her heart.
She has seen it all, watched him fall, watched him fade. She always tried to be his friend the best way that she knew and yet it seems like nothing, no love, no friend, no child, not even god could have saved him.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part II
“I’m worried about her. She hasn’t cried like that when her father died, Grace. We really should call for a doctor.”
“What do you expect, Gerry? She lost the love of her life! She lost the man she was about to marry! Michael was snatched from her life within only a few hours after they last spoke!”
Those words still cut deep. Although he has made his peace with her and Michael long ago there’s still that cruel thorn that pierces into his heart.
“But look at her, she’s lost it completely. She’s unresponsive for hours now, clinging to that bag.”
Grace sees her sitting against the wall in the master bedroom holding the black backpack she never lets go for long since they left Los Angeles. She won’t allow anyone to take it and hugs it in a tight embrace, cradling herself slowly inbetween heart wrenching sobs that shake her lean body to the core.
She’s lost weight in those past weeks. The shock of losing Michael still omnipresent every second of the day. She can’t eat, can’t sleep, and sometimes it’s even hard to breathe. Every time silence tries to sink in, grief and memories strike back. Every time the tears fade away for a few there’s a random trigger, a scent, a sound, a picture that rips open those incurable scars on her heart.
“You should go now, Gerry. You did all you could to help her come here, but I think she needs time to herself now, time to get her feet back on the ground.”
He stares at her for a while, thinking about the past weeks, about what has happened and feels his own shock of losing a friend still lingering in his heart. Never did he expect to meet her in times like these, with her soul being ripped out of her fragile body. With her heart shattered and her mind broken.
“Yes, maybe you’re right.” he sighs and steps towards the bedroom, watches her staring at the bed across the room. “Staff should be here in a few, Grace, and if you need anything out here, please call me!”
They hug for a brief moment and before he leaves he kneels down next to Prudence, touches her hand gently and makes her look at him. Finds her beautiful brown eyes blood red, swimming in a sea of tears, her lips quivering with emotional turmoil.
“I’m gonna go now, Pru. Will you be ok? Do you need anything?”
He sees her chest heaving, her lips parting to suck in air and exhale deeply.
“Michael…” she chokes and starts sobbing again, the pain and despair shaking her body violently.
Gerry pulls her close and holds her, lets her cry against his shoulder and cling to his shirt. He caresses her back and can’t help but allow his own tears to fall silently. He can feel this huge loss himself, fights with his own grief and a heavy feeling of remorse.
He regrets that he never really spoke to Michael again after his gentle soul had forgiven him so generously for keeping Prudence in a marriage that never had been real, keeping her tied to a paper that never changed her feelings for him anyway.
He feels guilty of slandering his friend, of being so angry at the fact that her love was never meant for him but for Michael. He feels so overwhelmed looking back how this man approached him in one of his darkest moments, with so much sorrow and pain weighing heavy on his body and soul and yet gently holding him, patting his back, whispering “I forgive you, my friend”.
He can hardly imagine how Prudence must feel to lose this pure and divine love only Michael was able to give.
“I know, Darling. I know. I’m so sorry!” he stammers, not knowing what to tell her, how to soothe her or make it any easier.
“I don’t know how to live without him, I just can’t…” she sobs, letting him go and curling up her body on the floor. Grabbing for that bag again and hiding her face against the fabric.
“You can, Pru, you have to! Leni and Blanket, Prince and Paris, they need you! We all need you, Darling. And above all Michael needs you now to carry on!”
“Why did he go? Why did he do this to me?”
Her body is shaking so violently it frightens him. He tries to gather her from the floor, to lay her down on the bed, but she’s pushing against him, fighting him when he tries to separate her from her backpack. And in his confusion, his helpless state of fear and despair he just backs away and lets go of her. Stands there frozen while Grace hurries into the room and manages to pull her into a tight embrace. Cradles her softly with her hand on the back of her head. A gesture Michael used so often as a sign of his genuine affection. And it seems to calm her after a long time of crying in Grace’s arms.
“You need to try and get some sleep, Honey. C’mon let’s lay down on the bed.”
Like in a trance she obeys, drags her worn out body across the room in Grace’s arms and falls down on the mattress.
“The bag…” she whispers lowly, with her weary eyes shut tight.
“It’s here, right here next to you, ok? He’s here…”
Grace roams in the pockets of her pants, searching for a small blister of pills that will calm and help her sleep.
“Can you get some water, Gerry?” she gives him a quick glance, her hand never leaving Prudence’s hair, caressing her gently.

When she’s finally calm and still, her body exhausted from crying and the effect of the pills kicking in, they dare to leave her alone, to give her a chance to fall asleep.
The room is dim, the last shadows of dusk creeping through the windows and for a while she just lays there and stares outside, into the distance where she can see their tree. And with one hand she reaches out to that place where she kissed him for the very first time; where she fell head over heels in love with this beautiful, unique man.
They have gone through so much, so many highs and lows, gone through darkness and light, have spent times in symbiosis and so many years too far apart. But whatever happened to them, never did she expect she could lose him forever.
“Moyo…” she whispers and touches the bag on the floor next to her bed. Holds on to it as if it would stop her from losing ground.
And as if Michael can hear her he wraps his arms around her, lies down next to her and carefully soothes the pain in her heart. He whispers softly into her ear, words so inaudible, miles away from her, yet she hears him loud and clear.
For a moment she turns her head, traces her eyes slowly across the grey shades of the room and listens carefully. She knows closing her eyes and opening her soul he’ll come and be with her again. He’ll bring back the memories and make her live through them once more. Will show her places she’s never been to before, will make her see scenes she never has been part of and will make her feel his endless love.
The pictures come randomly, in all colors and shades. Some loud, some silent, some full of love and many of them so cruel. And she knows she can’t pick or decide where to go. He leads the way, holding her hand, taking her with him, wherever he’s ready to go.
“I love you so much, Baby.” she whispers lowly, and squeezes the strap of the backpack in her hand.
And just before she drifts off to sleep, when there’s already silent pictures creating in her mind he gently entwines their fingers and lets her know he’s there.

Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part I
aftermath (ˈæf tərˌmæθ); noun; a period of time following a disastrous event [...]

Pilanesberg (South Africa), September 2009

The sky turns grey as the big black car makes its way across the dusty roads of Pilanesberg. Passes burned lands and faint silhouettes of blue big mountains in the distance. It’s the smell of heated leather and the sensation of warm wind on her skin that brings back the nausea; the taste of vomit on her tongue, the feeling of soreness in her throat.
She closes her eyes and feels the sting of tears. The hot liquid pooling at her lids, breaking through the veil of her lashes, finding its way down her cheeks. Burning her skin, staining her clothes.
It’s the heat of home that hits and rips her open. For the umpteenth time since winter fell upon her.
The gasp escaping her lips sounds like a failing attempt to suck in air, like dry heaving followed by a series of coughs. And to rise up against the pain, the twisting knife in her heart that paralyzes her body, she holds on tight to the door handle. Until her hand hurts and her knuckles turn white.
“Are you ok? Shall we stop?”
It’s so hard to turn her head, to open her weary eyes and look at the driver. At his grey hair, that turns into jet black curls. Into his worried blue eyes that look like beaming dark chocolate pools.
“You want to get out for a moment, Prudence?” he asks again, and his lips suddenly turn into the most beautiful smile she has ever seen. A smile that fades every pain and despair, turns every dark into light. A smile she won’t ever see again.
The thought makes her bleed. All over again. Makes her body turn into ache, makes her mind turn numb and empty, makes her soul feel abandoned and lost and all she can do is shake her head no and lean back against the window and cry some more. Silent tears. Those that hurt the most. That sting her eyes like fire, burn her skin and strangle her throat.

The car drives on. The monotonous sound of the engine filling her ears and lulling her into that state between wake and sleep. Where she is safe, where there’s a place she can feel close to him again. It’s something her brain creates to keep her going. To make her pull through weeks of crying and falling apart. Of suffering unbearable pain and witnessing her heart dying. Of countless hours of running and screaming. Till her throat is sore and her legs collapse. It’s a state to shut down her tired body, to fall asleep just a little and fade reality away.
When they finally arrive at the Lodge, when she gets out of the car with her knees bucking under her weight and she has to hold on to the door, it’s the first time she can see beauty, she can feel warmth in a comforting way. Her eyes roam the grounds, the familiar home, the porch with the simple swing they hung up there for the kids and the old Marula standing solid in the distance, raising its branches into the grey sky, calling her home.
Coming home should make her the luckiest woman on the planet. Coming home should make her feel safe and loved. Coming home she should wear his wedding band on her finger and his surname beautifully adorning her passport. But it’s not like that. Nothing is like that anymore. Nothing will be like that ever again.
She lifts up her sleeping daughter from the backseat of the car and holds her in a tight embrace. The little girl with the long brown hair is the only reason to keep her strong. To keep her going. To not slit her wrists and follow the man who was snatched from this life so unexpectedly.

Taking in the familiar sights of the Lodge brings back all the memories in one heavy rush, strangles her throat and makes her shiver. And when she feels her heart starting to race and her limbs going weak, she turns to Grace and hands her the sleeping child. Her hands shaking she combs back her hair and swallows bravely. Sucks in air and tries not to break down and cry.
“Give me a moment alone, please…” she whispers and watches Gerry unloading their luggage. Big suitcases and bags filled with her life. All that is left of it.
Entering the big entrance of what once was a luxurious hotel lobby and turned into what Michael had called their cradle of love years ago, she feels like losing ground. Tracing her fingers over antique furniture, old treasures he loved dearly, she walks slowly, crossing the hall and drags herself upstairs, to those rooms where love and fate once began.
She’s weak, feckless, her heart too full and yet so empty, she is numb and yet in unbearable pain and above all she is lost. Desperately lost without that one love by her side.
Feeling her soul drowning she touches every piece of furniture, every door, every handle, tries to stay grounded and wiping the rough rivers of tears from her cheeks. Her breath sounds hollow in those rooms that once were filled with laughter and joy. With love and life. They seem to be dark and cold now. Frozen like her heart.
She stops at the master bedroom. Dreads to open that door that leads back to everything they had. She knows opening that door will tear her apart. Will crush all her strength she managed to keep up for all those weeks. She knows opening that door she will go through the highest highs and the lowest lows all over again. She knows she’ll meet Michael there, on the other side, where there is no way back and nowhere to hide.
It takes only one draw of her breath, one blink of her eyes, one touch of that wall where they made love for the very first time to tear her apart. To make her fall to her knees and scream like a wounded animal. The lethal bullets of that merciless gun firing at her over and over again. Until she’s bleeding out and her voice dies.

7 Days In Africa - Chapter 33
Touches and kisses are fast and urgent. Too hot to handle on sensitive skin. Burning too relentlessly to linger for a moment or rest in place. So it’s tongues probing, lips devouring, hands sliding on every inch, every angle of undressed bodies and entangled limbs. It’s passion and lust, love turned to greed, desire turned to need. It’s the most powerful feeling. A thing between bliss and pain. Too mighty to understand. Not knowing why now, where it came from or where it goes. But it’s every emotion, every feather of the wings of two souls, every breath of two lungs. It’s more than the mind can process and the heart can take.
It’s him penetrating her; with his massive weapon fighting her. To own and possess her, to extinguish and unite her with him. It’s her pulling him deeper, swallowing him wholly, until he is gone. Lost without her forevermore.
And that’s when the tears start, when his beautiful eyes are flooded with those diamond salt lakes, when his body starts to shake in her arms. When he reaches for her hands to entwine with his, holds onto her for dear life and chokes on his moans. On those huge feelings that make him fly, that give him wings and wrap his heart into a silken bandage of healing love.
“You’re my world, Angel. You’re my one and only love!” he cries and arches his back underneath her, pushes his hips up to meet her thrust.
“Gawd, Baby, I love you so much! I’ve missed you so much every day!”
She squeezes his hands and her moves become ragged strokes, strong and intense pushes into her open lap that buries him so very deep inside her it takes his breath away. Cause a tantalizing void in his brain and make him fall back against the mattress, when he feels his lust erupting from his loins, exploding deep into her beautiful body.
“Ooooh, sweet Jesus, noooo! What… what are you doin?” he moans, his features slipping into the most beautiful expression of utter love and bliss.
“I’m loving you, Michael. I’m loving my man!” she whispers, her own tears now falling upon him, onto his quivering lips. Her chest collapsing into his arms as she cums with him, falls apart with her face against his neck, her ears filled with his moans and groans, sounding like the most beautiful ballad written and sung only for her.
Showering her with soft blown kisses his arms wrap around her and hold her close. With his hands on her head and back they stay locked and entangled in that embrace that feels like a new found home. The sound of their breaths a rhyme to the words that he’s whispering into her ear.
“Marry me, Angel. Be mine… please be mine.”
He repeats them over and over again. Lowly. Making her skin creep and her hair stand on end. She can’t help but cry and smile against his neck. Kiss her lips on his throbbing vein there and trace her hand up his arm, across his chest and search his face to hold him, caress his scrubby chin. Until she’s ready to look at him, to drown into his beaming eyes that promise the world to her.
“Will you be mine?” he asks again so sweetly it pulls her heartstrings and makes her ache so badly for that one wish to come true.
“I wish, but you know I’m still married, Baby.”
She shrugs her shoulders and pouts at him. Playing around with a strand of his hair as she tries to read his mind.
“Everything will change, Angel. We’ll take care of that soon. There’s so much I want to tell you, so much happened back in London we need to talk about. But first tell me, will you be mine?”
“Are you actually proposing Michael?”
Her eyes are wide, fixing him, not believing a word he’s saying. And that’s when he grabs her waist and rolls them over, comes lying atop of her and kisses her tenderly. A kiss that is sweet and slow, lazy, with his warm swollen lips moving sensually on her mouth.
“Say yes…” he whispers, pulling her lower lip with his teeth before he lets go and paints the lines of her face with his fingers.
“No, Michael, I want to know what’s going on. Is this going to be your proposal?”
He feels she’s getting impatient and nervous, winding her body underneath him to get away, but he’s too strong and he wants to play more. Pins her hands to the mattress above her head and stares her down.
“Please! Say yes!” he whispers and kisses her again. Moves his hips slowly against her and makes her feel his growing excitement.
“Baby that’s not fair!” she whines, biting her lip.
“Say it.”
“I want a real proposal. Something heavenly! Romantic much! Michael-Style!”
He smiles and nods yes.
“I want to go home and live at Neverland with you!”
“And I want another baby!”
“Oh my god, yes. Yes, we’ll have more babies.”
Closing his eyes he inhales deeply. Takes in all the love and bliss he can feel with her and he says a silent prayer, thanking god for this woman.
“You know I’ll be yours, Baby.” she says and kisses his forehead. “I’ve been waiting so long for that day to be free and belong to you.”
“Thank you! I love you so much!”
He kisses her again before he lets go of her hands and sits up next to her, wraps a sheet around his naked waist and hides away his still prominent need for her.
“So when are we going home? When are we doing all this, Michael?”
He chuckles at her excitement, fills two glasses with pink champagne and sits cross-legged next to her. Tracing his dark eyes across her beautiful body and thinks about all the things he wants to do to her once he has told her about his hopes and plans. Those things that have made him feel stronger and braver, that made him look forward to come back home and finally make her his. To allow himself to be human again, to show the world who he really is and maybe even introduce them to the woman he’s so madly in love with, who is mother to his child and who loves him for all the reasons that no one ever knew about.
Once the world will know who Michael Jackson really is, they will finally understand him and stop doubting and it will be safe for them to be official, in public, for everyone to see.
“Soon, Angel. But first I’ll do a TV documentary and it’ll change everything! Pru there’s that guy I met in London and he’s really nice. He’s done this interview with Lady Diana years ago and we’ll work together. We’ll show the world who I really am. Show them all the beauty of Neverland, talk about the charity stuff I do for the children and let the world see who Michael Jackson is. We’ll show them the truth and finally stop all those lies and false portraits about me.”
She sits and stares at him, putting her glass down and focuses on his mouth speaking. Reading his lips and trying to figure out if she really comprehends what he’s saying. If he really means the words that are slipping from his tongue so excitedly. Full of conviction and enthusiasm.
“Oh, wow… really? You want to open your life like that to someone you only just met?”
She’s confused, irritated and wondering. He always avoids journalists, interviews, documentaries. He always used to say that every time he tried and gave them a piece they swallowed him wholly, ate him up and spat him out, making him look like an eccentric monsters.
He never wanted to allow a journalist back into Neverland again, much less near his children. And now he is ready to open his whole life to someone? She doesn’t approve of that for one minute and her voice seems to show.
“Pru, you don’t understand. A friend of mine introduced me to this man and he promised me that he’ll do this right next to me, you know. I’ll have my hands on the material and will have the final saying in this. He’s only interested to show the world what they need to see about me. I’ve been suffering for so long with all the slander and tabloid trash about me. Now is the time and the chance to show the real me.”
She sits there, frozen in her tracks, observes him for a really long while, watches him smile and sip on his champagne, paint invisible patterns with the tip of his finger on the skin of her ankle. And for a while she is truly convinced that this is completely wrong. That there’s no way the world outside of his safe cocoon will ever truly understand who he really is; will understand his actions or reasons. Sometimes even she doesn’t understand him and for a short moment she feels the need to speak up against this. To make him see that there’s nothing he has to prove to a world that is so disparate and far away from his own.
“Baby, don’t do this! I don’t know why, but it scares me! So many people have betrayed you. So many people pretend to be on your side and then turn out to be only after your money. They will never understand who you are. They will never understand why you live the way you do. Why you do the things you do. Why there are all those children and families around at Neverland. No one can explain to people who…”
“Are you saying this is wrong?” he gets upset as soon as she mentions the children.
And she sees his body grow rigid and turn away from her. Scooting to the edge of the bed and turning his back on her.
“Are you saying I’m doing anything wrong, Prudence?” his voice is sharp, stuck in his throat as he chokes on his words.
“No, Michael, don’t get me wrong! I know you’re not doing anything wrong! I know, but most people just don’t understand. They don’t see who you are!”
“That’s why I’m doing that! I can’t stand being Wacko Jacko, the pedophile weirdo anymore! I can’t take it any longer being seen as someone who I am not.”
She can hear the hurt in his words, knows how much his heart is bleeding every time he is facing a mean, slandering headline again. She knows how much he wants to be freed from those prejudices and rumors people spread about him over and over again. This is the ghost that is haunting him for such a long time, the one horrible nightmare he needs to get rid of so badly.
Crawling up behind him she wraps her arms around him, rests her face against his back and listens to his heart beating fast in his chest. Feels his chest heaving with desperate anger.
“Baby, I know. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m just wary about things like that. I’ve seen so many people hurting you in those past years. Please promise me to be careful, to have your people check this really carefully?”
She pecks soft kisses to his spine. One by one, from the middle of his back up to his neck, looks at him from over his shoulder and feels sorry for what she has said. She doesn’t want to be one of those who make him feel like he is the freak the world wants to see. She doesn’t want to add to those grueling feelings she knows that are hurting him so bad.
“Trust me, Angel.” he whispers and looks at her. His doe eyes begging her for support.
“This is gonna be a great chance. It will finally reveal all the positive things that I do. All the love that is in my heart. And after that, I’m going to marry you. You’re going to be mine forever and I’ll give you all those beautiful babies and we’ll finally be what we’ve longed for so long.”
He seals his words with a soft and tender kiss. A kiss that makes her weak and fades away that gut feeling that something about his idea is so terribly wrong. And when they slowly pull apart and drown in each other’s eyes he says it again, with his hand on her cheek, holding her safely, securely.
“Trust me!”
Little does he know that with these words slipping from his lips so effortlessly he signs his name on -the dotted line of the contract with the devil. Selling his soul and sealing his fate.
Little does he know that he starts the hare running that will make him face the darkest abyss of his lifetime.
Little does he know that there’ll be a stampede after him, running him down, making him fall, plunge him into a gaping chasm.
There is no sign warning them to keep off those grounds, nothing to hold them back. Maybe only that uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, that slight nausea that she feels dwelling for a short moment, before she kisses his neck again and assures him that she trusts him.
There’s not one single thought about snakes and backstabbers, about those who are out for money or want to see him fall.
There’s not one thought about risk and danger, about maybe losing it all.
Little does she know that by not fighting and stopping him she’ll turn into an impotent onlooker of his downfall.
Little does she know that soon she’ll have to pull him out of the deepest bog, has to push him through the most unknown lows of human tragedy.
Little does she know that one day she’ll have to help him stand up and walk, has to help him breathe and spoon-feed him.
Much less does she know that she’ll go through hell and back with him before she finally has to see him die, day by day a little bit more.