1,440 Minutes -- 1
I can hear myself breathing, that steady in and out heavy type of breath that isn't quite a snore, but it's normal breathing. As my eyes open I realize that it's not me snoring, but the soft sound of someone else's breath in my ear that woke me up. My shoulders pull away from the warmth on my back and I try to turn over to see who I'm with because basically I know there have been nights in the past that I've woken up and not known where I am. It's a horrible thing to explain to someone, especially when I see his or her reaction. It's not what anyone thinks. I've been working with NSYNC for years now and it's not all that uncommon to have basically a pile up. If we're on our way to a city and are waiting for a flight people just basically cuddle up to whoever is near them and sleep until the plane comes.
I smile at him and let my body soak in the fact that I'm cradled in his arms with his hands on parts of me that he's never touched before. His one hand has made its way a little inside my sweatshirt and I swear if we'd been alone he'd probably have curled it all the way up into my shirt. I'm about to think about the rest of what might have happened if we'd fallen asleep alone the night before when I remember that we weren't alone.
"Vivi," I hear close to me. I feel groggy and for a moment stare at Justin's lips making sure that he wasn't speaking to me.
"Vivi," I hear again but this time I realize that it's not Justin, but one of his brothers that is calling my name.
I should be waking up in his arms feeling safe and protected, but as soon as I hear that voice I go onto the defensive and try to figure out how to explain to Steven and Jonathan what I was doing in their hotel room all night long. It's too confusing for little kids to deal with the relationships of the adults around them. I truly think that while Justin and Britney were sleeping together that Steven and Jonathan believed that they were best friends and that sleepovers were just a part of what friends did with each other.
I turn back towards where I was originally facing and find Steven sitting on the edge of the bed with three bags of candy in front of him.
His hair is standing on end and there are still crease marks from his pillow on the side of his face. From the looks of it, and the clue from the open mini bar, I can see that he's gotten himself into trouble already this morning.
He knows better than to get into the mini bar. We--or rather Justin--had an incident with this a few months ago when the families were all in Jamaica. Steven loved the idea of having a virtual vending machine in his room and took advantage of it. As I notice the sleepy look in his eyes I pray that he didn't get anything to drink considering that the hotel usually provides Justin with bottles of alcohol and beer if he wants them.
"Steven," I say in a harsh whisper. I want to throw swear words in there, but I know he'll pick them up and repeat them when he shouldn't so I clean up my act. "What are you doing buddy?" I try to soften my voice knowing that he's going to get scared if I really get upset with him.
"I got hungry," he says.
"Your brother is going to kill you," I say aloud to myself as I move away from Justin, pulling his arm from around me to tuck it back into his body. I slide down the end of the bed then come around to the side where Steven is sitting and grab up the bags of candy. "Your brother is going to kill me too."
I hear a whimper behind me when I move across the room to get rid of the candy. When turn around Steven has tears in his eyes. He's spit the candy he'd had in his mouth out into his hand and is using his other hand to wipe his tongue off. "I'm sorry," he says and starts to cry, "Please don't tell Justin to kill me."
"Shh." I put the bags out of sight and move across the room and scoop him up into my arms and take him into the bathroom. He hugs himself to me like he's my own and for an instant I wonder in the silly back part of my brain, if I had a kid with Justin if it would look like Steven. I sit him on the counter move quickly to clean him up and try to stop him from crying so that he doesn't wake Justin up. "Steven." Leaning against the counter I catch a look at myself in the mirror and feel extremely embarrassed. I should have slept in my own room the night before. If I had maybe I wouldn't be thinking about the man in the bed in the other room instead of where my attention should be on the little boy in front of me. "Justin isn't going to kill you," I say.
His eyes open wide and I can see tears catching in his eyelashes. Justin looks exactly like him when he cries. Only a few people in the world know what that looks like, but I've had the horrible experience of seeing it too many times. "But you said--"
"It's an expression," I say, "You know that you're not supposed to eat candy for breakfast--" I look around for the clock and don't see one in the bathroom. "Wait," I say, "What time is it?"
"There's a clock in the other room."
I instantly turn away and search for the clock, leaving Steven on the counter with soap still on his hands. If my heart wasn't through the roof when I woke up next to him it is now as the schedule for the day runs through my head. I didn't remember what a chore it was to have the boys around. I mean I love the two rascals like my own brothers, but baby-sitting on the road isn't the best way to spend the day no matter how good or bad the kids are.
"Vivian!" He uses that little kid annoyed voice that you almost have to laugh at because it's so cute. But I can tell from the lower lip pouting--another thing he has in common with his older supposedly more mature brother--that he's going to be really upset in a second if I don't get him off the counter and cleaned up.
I turn back around when I catch sight of the clock. It's only five in the morning--what is it with little kids wanting to get up so early? Don't they know that they should savor the treat of sleeping in now because it doesn't happen often when they are adults? So I've got an hour before I'm going to wake Justin up to go to the press conference he needs to be at while I check on the boys getting to the airport.
My eyes hit the sight of Justin in bed and my knees go weak. I swear if I were wearing heels right now I would have tripped. I see him like this every morning, but somehow today there is something truly sweet about the expression on his face. Normally he has no expression on his face or a pained expression since his break up with Britney, but today he actually looks happy. I don't want to assume that it's me that caused this reaction, but for an instant I love the feeling that would give me if it were true.
I wonder if he knows that I like to wake him up in the morning before his alarm goes off because I like to watch him sleep. It's the best time of the day, the only time of the day when he's truly at peace.
People go crazy over JC saying that he's a tortured artist, but in reality Justin is more tortured, at least in my eyes. Justin never really had a choice about what he was going to do with his life. My sister said that I should call Child Services or something when I first told her that, but really it's not a labor law thing at all. It's Justin that pushes himself so hard and it's my job, my never-ending drama in life, to make him slow down.
My hand goes to my forehead as I think about the arguments I've had with him about this. I pull the mother card on him and he hates me.
I need an aspirin.
Lynn says I'm an angel for grounding him like I do. The boys visiting was a not so blatant way of having him not be running all over the place. If I'd let him work all of yesterday he'd be dead today and he'd try to work all today. He knows what he needs to do to make it in the business and he gets aggravated when he can't say yes to everyone that needs a piece of his day. The only way to get to him is to sneak family in. When he was dating Britney it was her that would take him out of the spotlight, but now I think he craves the spotlight so he won't have to sit at home alone thinking about what happened.
My phone rings somewhere on the bed and I rush to grab it up careful not to push the blankets around too much and wake up Justin. He's turned on his side and is in his most comfortable sleeping position and I don't want to pull him from that.. "Hello?" I say quickly moving away from Justin to catch the call.
"Vivian?" Sonia's sickenly sweet voice comes across the line.
"It's Sonia. We're changing the location of the interviews this morning. I know that they were supposed to be on your floor, but the interviewers are going to talk to him instead in a conference room at the Renaissance New York Times Square. I'll meet him in the lobby when he comes over here."
"Same time?" I ask.
"Yes," she says.
"Ok," I hear myself saying in a nice sweet voice. "I'll make sure that he gets over there on time."
"I've gotta go Sonia," I say.
"Where are you?" she asks.
"I'm trying to get Steven some breakfast. I'll talk to you later on today--" I cut her off by turning off the ringer before I turn the power completely off and shove it onto the table.
"Steven stop yelling," I say harshly as I walk back into the bathroom. I close the door and wash the rest of the soap off his hands. I'm rough with his hands for a moment before I realize it and I lean to kiss his forehead. "I'm sorry buddy. I'm still half asleep."
"Its ok," he sighs then slips off the counter to wipe his hands on the towel across the small room from us. He hangs on the towel a little as I wipe my hands. "Can I wake up Justin?"
"Not yet sweetie." I put my hand on his head and pushed his head back a little so he'd look up at me, "How about we order you some real breakfast and see what Jon is up to before we wake your brother up?"
"Can I get pancakes?" he asks.
"If they have them," I say. "Why don't you go and find your clothes and we'll get changed and see if we can get something brought up.
"OK," Steven says softly and walks towards the living room.
I hear the sound of the covers moving and I look to see Justin pulling himself from his sleep. "Morning Justin."
He rubs his eyes and looks around sleepily. "What's going on?"
"I'm getting your brother breakfast--" I don't look in his direction for more than just a glance because I know it'll cause too much drama if I do. My heart rate is through the roof and I can feel a cold sweat break out over me. My body still can remember what it was like for those few moments when I was lying in his arms and I don't want for my legs to betray me and take me over to where he is again. "--I'm gonna go take my shower and come back so you can get ready and get out to your interviews."
"Ok." Justin rubs his face and puts his hands over his hair a few times then smiles. His t-shirt is totally wrinkled and his eyes are just open enough to barely see out of even though I can tell he's trying to force them open. "What are we ordering Steven?"
Steven runs over and jumps up onto the bed. "Pancakes."
"I wonder if they have blueberry," Justin says throwing all his attention towards his brother.
I'm silently praising Jesus for that because I'm not sure what else to say to him.
"Hmm?" I say and blink a few times. I must look like an idiot standing there staring at them. I should have run to my room as soon as I woke up, but there I am standing there staring at them.
He's pushed back the covers and has gotten out of bed without me noticing. He's already half way over to me, with a very concerned look on his face.
His eyes crinkle at the side and he's licking his lips again. "Are you ok?"
I nod and look around trying to back away from him when he walks towards me. I would love to just curl into his arms right now and hug him, but I know that I can't. I need to get out to my room before I seriously ruin my job and my friendship with him. "Did I bring my phone over here?"
"I'm sure I did," I put my hand through my hair and realize I must look like an ogre. "Well I'll go and get my shower and I'm sure I'll remember where I put it."
"Vivian," Justin finally says in a firmer voice. "Vivian--" He traps me with a hand on each of my upper arms and stares at me hard for a moment. "Did you sneak out and get a cappuccino while I was asleep?"
"No," I say, "Why?"
He licks his lips. Have I told you how awesome it is to see that in person and imagine that those lips are on you? Of course the only time he's ever licked me was on my first birthday after I started working for NSYNC. Chris had surprised me with a party and held me down while the guys tickled me and I as I found myself at the bottom of the pile Justin was joking about it being a dog-pile and he licked me.
He squeezes my arms slightly and laughs a little with that half grin of his, the one that he uses in his videos when he's trying to be a cocky little bastard. "Because you're jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean."
I try to play innocent and look at Steven who is now lying on his side in the pile of blankets on the bed watching us with his thumb in his mouth. "I am?" I turn back to Justin.
"Yeah," he says. His eyelashes touch his cheeks for a moment and he takes a deep breath and smiles. "I love that you're so perky in the mornings, but you're starting to worry me this morning."
"I'm sorry," I say, "I just have a million things to do before you head off to your stuff and Mike and I take the boys to the airport." I lean and pretend to look at the clock. "I'm going to take them to the airport with Mike. I don't know if I told you that, but I think it'd be best if I went with them. I know how you worry--" I'm totally rambling at this point and looking like an idiot I'm sure. "Which reminds me--You need to get in the shower and I need to get ready."
"Come here for a second first." His voice lowers into the sound at the beginning of Like I Love You and I seriously feel weak in the knees.
It's only a man like him that can cause me to feel this girly. Sometimes I wish I had a girl around to share these things with, but for the moment I don't trust anyone enough to talk to them about the way I feel about Justin. The other girlfriends of the NSYNC guys know that Justin and I have a very close friendship, but I have not revealed even half of the feelings I have for him. Or at least I've tried not to reveal them to people.
"What?" I say and look up at him. I don't think he realizes how close we're standing. It's not like I have never been around him like this before, but after last night's trip to the bar and the extra hugs and hand holding, I'm having a hard time being comfortable with any of this. I don't want to ruin the moments that we shared the night before. I don't want to talk about it or think about the consequences that would come with it.
"Come here," he says. His hand moves up my arm, over my shoulder and around so that he's cupping my chin. My eyes lower to look at his fingers under my chin then and when I look up he's there only centimeters from kissing me. "I just wanted to kiss you good morning."
My breath catches in my throat as I feel his other arm wrapping around my waist to bring me closer. There is only one thing that I can think of to say. OH MY GOD! What I wouldn't give to have a night in bed with this man. I guess technically I did have a night in bed with him, but it wasn't exactly the most romantic thing since Steven was upset about being left alone. What I'm talking about is the feeling of his hips against mine. Like right now he's got them against mine. He sways a little like he's doing some little romance slow dance. Intimate stuff like this kills me and I haven't even got a clue where all of this is suddenly coming from.
My heart stops and I seriously start to black out. That whole darkness taking over your eyes bit isn't a joke. Wouldn't that be insane to have a guy go to kiss you and you faint?
I was insane for doing this. I don't even remember how I got through holding his hand and sleeping next to him. It was fast I guess, but this is going way too slow. I should be girly and try to soak it all in, but the more practical part of my brain is now waking up and wondering if Tiny or Mike will walk in or if Sonia will change her plans and show up at the hotel instead of being over at the Renaissance New York.
"Justin," I sigh and turn away from him. It's the hardest thing in my life I've ever done, but I have to. Not because I don't want to kiss him, not at all, but more the fact that I wouldn't want to stop kissing him and at this point in my day I know that's not something I'm going to start.
"Hey," he says and I can hear the hurt in his voice. I quickly reach and kiss his cheek then escape from the room. "Order your brother something. I'll be back in forty five minutes so that you can go over and meet up with Sonia."
"Go over?" he asks. "I thought the interviews were here?"
"Yeah well plans change," I say with a shrug. "Go get your brother something to eat and I'll come back and watch them while you get in the shower."
"Ok," he says in a vague tone as if he doesn't really want to agree with me, but is doing it because he knows that I'm not going to turn around and come back to him.
In the hallway I close the door and look around and of course that's exactly when I realize that my key is inside Justin's room. You know that little walk people do when they are walking in one direction and totally forget their keys or something and they snap or something then turn the other direction as if they just turned around that it wouldn't look right? I've forgotten my key so I do my little turn around, place a hand to the door then pull it back to knock.
The door flies open and Steven rushes towards me with the key and my shoes in his hand.
"Thank you sweetie." I lean and look him in the eyes for a moment. "Make sure that Justin doesn't forget to order you those pancakes."
"He's on the phone already," Steven says, "But I think he's mad at me."
"He didn't find your candy did he?" I ask in a whisper.
"No," Steven said, "He was just mumbling and pacing like he was mad."
"I'm sure he'll be fine honey." I move to stand up and see Justin standing there watching me with this confused look on his face while he talks on the phone. "Go on in and get ready." I avoid his eyes on me and focus on Steven. "I'll be back in a little while and we'll see what Mike is up to and maybe we can stop by Nate's to get you a key chain before we leave."
The key chain thing is a strange obsession with Steven. He keeps them in a box at home and I'm sure that he's going to do something with them someday, but for now they're his show and tell piece for school. He's got one from almost every state in the United States thanks to my great shopping skills. Justin tries to remember to get him one, but I usually am the one who actually goes and picks them out. Its yet another thing that I do that is clearly outside the realm of my job description, but I guess there are a lot of things under the title "Personal Assistant" that aren't normal.
Steven hugs me one last time and I finally close the door and leave Justin and the boys behind. The hairs on the back of my neck standing on end as I slip down the hallway and into my room. Something about today is going to be different. I have that extreme Twilight Zone tension thing going on right now that makes my neck ache as I step out of my clothes and into a shower. If it were me and this wasn't a work morning I'd schedule a massage and spend the rest of the day in bed, but I know if I don't get back and see Justin before he leaves for his interviews it'll be noon before I see him again.
My door opens the first time I try the lock and by the time I'm undressed and into the shower my brain still trying to process the night before and this morning.
My hands turn on the cold water before the hot and for a moment I think that the delicious thoughts I have about Justin in my head will disappear, but despite the cold water my brain still pictures him standing there in the doorway, pants bagging around his legs and his hand scratching his stomach. The confused look on his face is still in my head. I like the idea of keeping him on his toes a little considering that up until now it's been him who has had a bit of power over me.
I tell myself that I need to calm down, but when a girl's brain gets an idea in it about a boy it's hard to turn that off. I try not to play what-if in my mind, but I can't help but to wonder if one day I'll be in the shower and Justin will be waiting for me. I can picture him coming into the bathroom to shave in the morning. I love watching him shave... maybe it's one of those suppressed feelings about me missing my father or some BS like that, but it's so sexy to see a man have to be that careful and precise when they're doing something.
Watching any man with his shirt off while he shaves always seems like entertainment to me, but with Justin its much more than that. He always starts on the left side of his face after putting mint scented shaving cream all over.
I never can remember the name of the brand he uses, but I know the scent anywhere and even when he's not around if I smell that mint scent I think of him.
While thinking of Justin I grab my shower gel and start to clean off. At least if I'm going to think about the boy I need to do it while I'm showering so I don't fall behind since I could spend days on end thinking about him.
Shaving for Justin is an entire process. He gathers his things like a surgeon going into surgery laying a towel, his razor, shaving cream and aftershave on the counter before he starts. If he's got a shirt on he'll slide it off and lay it away from the sink so that it doesn't get wet before he turns on the water and cups warm water into his hands to splash on his face. He only uses a little bit of shaving cream and uses the gel type that you have to rub together in your hands to make into lather. God knows how many times I have pictured his hands working that shaving cream into circles and wondered what it would be like to have them rubbing over the better parts of me.
By the time the lather is on his cheeks and jaw and slid carefully over his upper lip he looks perfect like the models in the Gillette commercials do when they're showing the close shave examples. The few times I've seen him shave he always looks into the mirror and seems to be concentrating on his face, but will have a full out conversation with you while he works on removing the hair from his chin and cheeks.
I rinse off and start on my hair as I think about Justin moving the razor around his face to clear it of the night's growth of stubble.
When he's finished he wets a washcloth and presses it to his cheeks to get the rest of the shaving cream off. He's very precise and if he happens to drip on himself he wipes any messes up quickly. I guess that's the only drawback to the man. He's a clean freak... which would seem to be a good thing since little boys and men seem to be a little messier than girls, but with him it borders on obsession and I find myself having to count to ten on those mornings when he's spilled something on his pants or jeans and has to change before we leave the hotel room.
As I step out of the shower I glance at the small alarm clock I always keep in my bathroom and realize I'm running later than I thought I was. I grab the towel and dry off quickly then slip into the hotel robe that is on the back of the door before I run on bare tiptoes to the outer room and start to dig in my suitcase that's been lying on the extra bed in the room for two days now. I know that I should unpack, but after my three dresses are put into the closet and my blouses are brought back from the dry cleaners, the rest doesn't seem like it needs to be hung up.
I slide into underwear then find a clean pair of jeans to put on, leaving the robe on the top of the extra bed. I hang the towel around my neck and catch a reflection of myself in the mirror. Oh how many times have I done that whole Demi Moore drying the hair with only the towel around my neck scene from the movie that I can never remember the name of it? It definitely is a way to start the morning.
This morning is an exception. I grab a bra and hook myself into it before I wrap my hair in the towel and go back into the bathroom. I towel dry my hair and then run a brush through of it before I start to dry it. While I'm drying it straight I look around and try to collect up all my make up with a free hand.
Make up goes on quicker than I thought this morning. I tend to not wear too much anyway so I spend only a few minutes on my eyes instead of trying to do more with them. Liner and a small amount of shadow and mascara do the trick before blush goes on over my cheekbones. I line my lips with a pencil and put on a matching color of lip gloss before I pull my hair up into a clip at the back of my head.
I run back out into the outer room and hear a knock at my door. "Girl. It's Tiny. Open Up."
"Hold on a second!" I call to him.
I pull on a blue button up long sleeved shirt and pull out my black boots to wear before I go to the door and open it.
Tiny smiles at me. "Running late?" he asks.
"Just a little," I say and finish buttoning up the shirt.
"So what's the deal for today?"
"Justin's got morning interviews over at the Renaissance New York hotel. Sonia will meet you there," I lean down to pull on my boots. "I'm going to take Mike and the boys to the airport and then meet up with you around lunch time at Planet Hollywood then the rest of the day will be a photo shoot with Jeff Hemp for the spread for Rolling Stone or was it Teen People... I can't remember. Anyway... we'll be going to a warehouse thing for three or four hours then Justin has an appearance on TRL before we hit his party and then we jump on a plane to LA." I turn my head to the room. "FUCK. I still need to pack for that."
"It's all good." Tiny pulls out his phone. "I'll call down and make sure that Jack packs up your stuff when they pack up Justin's crap. Between Jack and D they'll make sure that everything gets to the plane. You know that."
"Tell Jack that I'll pack as much as I can before I leave," I grab up my backpack and go through it really quickly to make sure that everything is in there that I need then grab my black jacket. "But if he includes my bags into what Justin is sending with D over to the airport I'll love him forever and make sure that his niece gets tickets to Justin's show here in two weeks when he performs at the Charity night."
"Got it," Tiny says. He turns away a little as I join him in the hallway and close up my door struggling to keep my backpack on my back as I do it. "This is Tiny. Hey... yeah man it's early, but not that early. Yeah... we're headed out to LA today. I need you and D to collect up the bags for us. Justin has his rolling suitcase and a Nike gym bag and he'll be carrying his backpack. No suits this time. Vivian also has--" He turns back to me.
I look back at the door. It's always the same array of luggage that I have with me, but I just go over it in my head before I tell him my list. "A wardrobe bag and a rolling suitcase and my black over the shoulder bag."
He repeats what I've just said to him into the phone then adds the information about his baggage before he hangs up. "Ready?"
"Yep," I say.
We head down to Justin's room again and Tiny knocks on the door. I hear Jonathan say that he'll get it and moments later we're back inside.
"Justin's in the bathroom," Jonathan says quietly, "But I got pancakes with Steven if you want some."
"No thanks," Tiny says.
"Ok," I say and walk over to the table that has been set up near the couch. Steven is eating his pancakes slowly with his hands and looking as if every breath is only one breath away from him
bursting into tears.
"Hey sweetie," I say putting my backpack down. I push his hair back off his forehead. "You ok?"
"No," he says and looks down at his plate.
And so begins the torturous process of pulling the boys from their brother to go home. It amazes me at how hard this is every time.