86,400 Seconds - 3


When the alarm goes off in the morning I reach and slam down the button that will make it stop.  Before I can shower I know that I need to call and check in with security for the taping so my next order of business is to pull myself up and grab out my phone from my backpack.  I’d turned it off before we got on the plane and didn’t turn it on again before I went to bed so I’m not surprised to hear the beeping when the phone recognizes that I have voice mail.

It’ll have to wait, just like the shower, brushing my teeth, and checking on Jayden.  Security is number one in my life.  First thing I think about in the morning and the last thoughts of the day are always analyzing what happened that day and planning for the next.

My head turns and I find that Jayden is gone.  For a moment I panic, but when I realize that I'm at Justin's and that Lynn probably has her in the kitchen already then finally hear faint noises from the kitchen then I hear Vivian laughing about something so I know that Jayden is out of danger for the moment.

"This is Renee Williams, can I help you?"

The voice isn't familiar and I try to remember if CS told me about any new employees starting.  Normally they send me a list of who is scheduled to be on duty on the property that day, but that doesn't mean that this person isn't a temp or something.  "This is Tiny.  I'm with Jive Records and Wright Entertainment group,” I say after dialing the studio number, “Is CS Grayson there?”

“Sure,” the voice says back to me.  “He’s just stepping out of his morning status meeting.  Hold on one second.”

“Thanks,” I say and move towards the bathroom.  I figure maybe at least I can swish with mouthwash before I start my phone call.  I slug some back and that antiseptic taste makes my throat close and I cough.

"Right on time,” CS says when he gets on the phone, “Like clockwork Tiny.  I swear I can set my clock by your calls.”

I hold the phone away from my mouth and spit then try to get some of the taste out of my mouth quickly.  I don't want to hold him up from other things in his day and I don't want to go slowly through the rest of my morning either.  One thing I hate is being late.  I even was born early.  “How’s it going in La La Land CS?”

“Good, good,” he says.  I imagine him sitting in the back lot at the studio, coffee in one hand, unlit cigar in the other looking around at his schedules while he talks.  Working security it Hollywood is an intense situation, working for a studio like he does is even more frantic.  “I hear your boy’s doing well with the sales and that I’m gonna have to get more security for him.”

I’ve been keeping my ear out for numbers.  Vivian doesn’t seem to pleased about how his mind has been elsewhere the last few days, but no one around seemed to care considering the amount of drama he’d gone through over the summer.  His head will kick in sooner or later.  There was already a glimpse of the old work-a-holic Justin coming back through and he had to thank Vivian for bringing that guy back from the dead.  “He’s doing well, but I think I can handle it.  How does the crowd look today?” I ask.

“Some stalker girls have been here since last night.”  He chuckled a little and took a sip of his drink.  “The five that camped out overnight got free tickets from Gerry this morning so they all freaked out and had to run across the street to a hotel and take a shower or whatever those girls do to make themselves presentable to see Justin.”

I roll my eyes at his comments.  I know that there are a few regulars that we see when we’re in LA, but the whole camping out thing really freaks me out, especially since Justin wasn’t even across state lines until just after two in the morning.  It was ridiculous to think that they would meet Justin in the first place.  He’s gotten more and more secretive lately.  He tries to have the least amount of interaction that he can with the general public, scheduled events are one thing, but just randomly finding him on the street and starting up a conversation probably isn’t going to happen.  At this point in his career it’s just not safe to let him near crowds too often.

On top of that past allegations of verbal abuse towards a fan in St. Louis, cured him of needing to be in the center of things.  It hurts him to know that he can’t be close to his fans like he used to.  There definitely is an aura of closeness that we maintain, but really I’d say that the unattainable part of his lifestyle is what keeps people around.  It’s a fine balance, a tease show for the most part, but it can’t be said that the fans still aren’t trying to get a glimpse of him.

“So you’ll be here in an hour and a half or so?” CS says.

“Yep,” I say, “I’ll call you when we get off the freeway, like always.”

“Have a good one then.”  He knows that I hate talking on the phone and would rather discuss anything that comes up in person.  Most people know that about me.  Kind of sucks when it comes down to staying in touch with people, but deep down I’d rather fly them out to see me in person rather than talk on the phone for an hour.  “I’m gonna do my rounds.”

“We’ll probably be in the XLT today,” I mention, “And my daughter will be with us so there should be four of us coming in and then Barry from Jive is gonna be our contact for the day.”

“Sounds good,” CS says, “I haven’t seen Jayden in a few weeks.  It’ll be good to see her again.”

CS has become one of my family friends in LA.  He checks in on the security system that I installed at Beverly’s house and the one here at Justin's.  He checks in on Lynn and Paul and every once in a while will be the go between me and Beverly when Jayden travels out to see me.  “She sent you a thank you for her birthday presents right?”

“Yep,” he says, “Two personally drawn pictures that are now on the break room fridge just outside my office.”

“Good, good,” I say.

“Welp—“  There is a knock at his door, “This must be Katie coming to tell me that I need to go my rounds, “See ya later on this morning.”

“Yeah,” I say.

I hang up the phone and walk back out of the bathroom and hook the old battery into the charger and fish out the good one from my bag before putting the phone on the bedside table and returning to the bathroom to shower.

*****

I step out of the shower and change into clothes quickly.  I look at the clock and know that I need to make more calls so while I put lotion on my arms and elbows—a force of habit that came when I got married—I go back and find my phone so that I can call the W hotel to get that all squared away.

“This is Patrick Duct.”

“Pat, man, It’s Tiny.”

"Oh shit,” he says falling into the most informal tone of his day.  “Did they lock up all the bars cuz they know you’re in town?”

“Naw man, I’m working for the next few days so no drinking for me,” I say using the moment to plug in my ear piece and put the phone into the pocket of the track suit jacket I’m wearing.  When I was in college I worked security at some clubs and drank at others.  I'm known around town half for my tough work and half for all the work that I caused other bouncers when I was drinking.  Pat had been part owner of one of my favorites for awhile.  He kept up with the place then dumped it for a good load of cash and started doing consulting work for the W Hotels in LA when they got on the celebrity buzz list.  “I gotta take my kid around with me today so no cocktails until later on this week.”

“Dealing with the ex-wife BS this week too?”

“Got that one covered,” I say as I reach to tie up shoes, “At least for the moment.”

“Same here.”

I sigh and tied double knots in my shoes and wonder when I'm ever going to get a position where I don't have to wear sneakers all day long.  Mom told me once a long time ago that if I wore running shoes the rest of my life she was going to never stop worry about me.  Yeah I know I dress up for certain events, but with a guy like Justin as a charge, I basically wear work out clothes twenty four seven.  “Anyway dude, I was calling to check in with ya.  The kid is coming over to the hotel today for that press junket thing.”

“Got ya guys booked in a suite on the right side of the building.  We've got a back entrance close to it and there is a freight elevator that is going to be at your service also."  He clicks his tongue and laughs a bit.  "Security is sweeping the place like the fucking queen of England is coming over.”

“I hear ya on that one,” I say.  We both know that this stuff is important, but we also find that the security measures we take sometimes are a little more strict than what the status of a pop star should call for.

When I reach the first floor Justin is standing with a cup of coffee in one hand and the other hand on his stomach singing a slow version of a song to Jayden while Vivian sits on the counter eating cereal for breakfast with a happy little smirk on her face.   His voice fills the room and emanates to the other parts of the house.

I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songs
I've made some bad rhymes
I've acted out my life in stages
With 10,000 people watching
But we're alone now and I'm singing this song to you

There is one thing you always know is true about Justin Timberlake.  He certainly knows how to woo a woman.  Justin is almost twice her age, but he still can capture her attention.  It's not the big things either.  In the look in his eyes and the way he turns all of his attention to the woman in front of him, although this morning I see him catch Vivian's eye a few times.  I'm not sure if the two of them slept together last night, but something more has happened in their relationship.  He seems more at ease being around her than he was yesterday and while he is spending time with Jayden, he's also sharing a part of himself with Vivian.

I know your image of me is what I hoped to be
I treated you unkindly
And darling can't you see
There's no one more important to me
Baby can't you see through me
Cause we're alone now and I'm singing this song to you

Justin's eyes travel over towards Vivian and she stops and puts her bowl down.  I remember when I had that kind of reaction from Beverly, back in the day when singing or dancing in the kitchen was enough to set her on edge and have her wanting more of me.

You taught me precious secrets
Of a true love , Withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
Now I'm so much better

Justin slides away from Jayden over in front of Vivian and moves her legs a little on the counter so he can pull her close.  He pauses for a moment in his singing then leans and kisses her cheek.

And if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody
Cuz my love is in there hiding

"Do more," Jayden says loudly then turns and sees me.  "Daddy.  Justin was singing to Vivian.  He says that all good boyfriends sing to their girlfriends--did you sing to mommy when you were her boyfriend?"

"I'm not a singer," I say with a frown, "But I used to play your mom her favorite song when I wanted to be nice to her."

"Really?"

"Yeah pumpkin."

Vivian moves away from Justin and looks at me with a slightly embarrassed smile, "We'd better go get ready for the day.  Justin's already done a phone interview this morning and we need to get ready to head to the studio."

"I think that's a good idea," I say and look at Jayden, "Did you take a bath this morning?"

"No," she says, "I took one last night before Mrs. H made me go to bed the first time."

"Ok, well why don't you go up and get changed into jeans and a t-shirt and some running shoes and we'll get your stuff in your backpack and go with Vivian and Justin to the studio then this afternoon we'll maybe go swimming."

"Really?" she said, "I really get to go with you?"

"Yep, but only if you hurry up and get ready.  We don't want everyone to be late."

"Coffee," Justin says shoving a cup into my hand as Jayden runs up to the apartment.  I want to call out to her to tell her to be more quiet, but I know my yelling will do more damage than the sound of her feet on the floor.  Lynn and Paul are both asleep in other parts out the house where they won't hear her, but they might hear me.

I accept the cup of coffee and move around the breakfast bar to sit down on one of the stools.  It creaks under my weight and I keep one foot on the ground to make sure that I don't fall over.  I take a sip of coffee thinking that Justin might go and get ready for the moment, but he stands there watching me.  "You should go get ready."

He nods and drinks up the rest of the coffee in his mug then moves to the sink to rinse it out.  "Long night?" he asks.

I don't even realize what I'm doing, but my legs are stretching themselves and my knees have a slight ache to them from the lack of sleep.  I shrug.  "Not that bad."

"Jayden ok?" Justin asks leaning against the counter, "Vivian told me when she came to bed--when--"  His face turns beat red before he starts to take a breath then stops and his breath rushes out.  "She told me that Jayden had a nightmare last night."

"It's nothing," I say shrugging again.  I don't know why all of a sudden this gets on my nerves, but I really don't feel like talking about Jayden this morning.  I want to just get on with my day.  It's true that I didn't sleep well last night.  I don't remember most of my dreams, but waking up and knowing that my day is going to be spent not only worrying about Justin and Vivian and the schedule, but also Jayden and the residual effects that will come from dealing with Beverly later on tonight haven't set me up for a day with a good mood to follow me around, "She woke up and I wasn't there with her and she got a little spooked.  Nothing too serious."

"You sure?" he asks.

"Yes Justin, I'm sure."  God I wish he wouldn't ask me stuff like this.  It's true that we're friends and that I do care what goes on in his life, but talking about Jayden this early in the morning isn't something that I want to be doing.  I sigh.  Sleeping last night wasn't the greatest.  I suddenly feel like I have a hang over and know instantly that I'm going to be a bear to work with today.

"Tiny?"

"She's fine.  Now go get your ass in gear and we'll get to the studio on time this morning," I snap.  My eyes close for a moment and I take a deep breath.  When I open my eyes again Justin is gone and I'm sitting alone with just my coffee.

"Daddy?" I turn and see Jayden cowering a little behind the counter.

"What's up sweetie?" I ask.

She looks almost scared to talk to me as she holds up my backpack.  "I brought you your backpack."

"Thanks pumpkin," I say and down a lot of my coffee knowing that I'll need to pack her up for the day before I can get everyone in gear to get out of the house.  "Did you get breakfast?"

"Yeah," she says lightening up, "Justin let me have some of his Coco Puffs."

I shake my head and know that I'm going to get a lecture for that.  If it was up to me the girl would be a little girl, but with her mother things are a little more complicated and I can't always bank on the fact that the decisions I make for our daughter will be seen as good judgment.  "Your mother doesn't let you eat that kind of stuff."

Jayden looks very guilty, but she half smiles when she speaks, "Justin says that if I don't tell her she won't know."

"Justin needs to not tell you to lie to your mother," Vivian says coming back in.  She looks at me with caution in her eyes.  I hate that look.  Coming from the fans, that look exudes respect, but from her it exudes fear and I don't want that at all.  Justin said something to her.  She stands behind Jayden with her hand on my daughter's shoulders.  She smiles down at Jayden, "Why don't you go grab one more Chug out of the fridge then we'll grab up everything and head out to the car?"

"Chug?" I ask.

"It's a chocolate milk bottle thing that she had with breakfast."  Vivian motions towards the bottle that Jayden is pulling out of the fridge, "Justin's mom got them the last time we were home and Justin's been trying to drink one every so often since he doesn't get enough vitamins.  I know how that whole Vitamin D and Calcium and all that--"

"Beverly is big on that," I say then hear my phone go off.  I look at the screen and see that it's Beverly's number coming through.  "Excuse me for a minute."  I move away from the counter and slide out into the backyard.

"Morning Beverly," I say trying not to let the dread of talking to her come out in my tone of voice.

"Morning Horace," she says using my real name.  She sounds to be in a good mood.  "I heard that you were taking Jayden with you today."

"Yeah," I say with a sigh bracing myself for the screams that are to follow.  "I hope--"

Her breathing and shallow.  For some reason she's nervous, but I don't understand why.  "That's good."

My jaw literally drops and I turn and look towards the house.  Justin is back in the kitchen now wearing jeans and a t-shirt and smiling and probably singing something more to Jayden.  He's pulled her against him and is trying to teach her to waltz, her feet on his.  I don't know where he gets that stuff from.  He's normally very compassionate and patient with his brother's, but with Jayden he just seems to melt.

"Horace?"

"Sorry honey," I say automatically then cough, "I mean Beverly.  I'm sorry about that."  I start to pace nervously.  If I was a smoker I would pull out a pack and smoke through most of it, but I'm not a smoker.  I'm more of a drinker, but haven't had a chance to get really drunk in a few weeks.  When Justin had a party at home in Tennessee and it was just the locals there so I could hang out and not have to guard him.

"I was wondering if we can talk tomorrow."

My brain shuts down for a moment with the suggestion of talking.  The last time we really sat down and talked it involved lawyers and a judge.  "Tomorrow?"

"Lynn told me the schedule for the day and said that Jayden could spend the night tonight also if she wanted to since you all will be at the launch party thing.  I thought I'd let her since she's been stuck at home the last few weeks with me."

"Ok," I say cautiously not sure to make of her new attitude.  She's never nice to me unless she wants something and since she hasn't wanted anything from me since long before the divorce I haven't seen this side of her in a few years.

Her voice sounds lonely and I hesitate to ask her if anything is wrong.  If there was something wrong I'm not sure that I'd be able to help anyway so what's the point of having her tell me what is wrong anyway.  "Tell her I'll pick her up tomorrow late morning and we'll go to grandma's house for lunch.  Maybe you can join us."

"Join you?"

"Yes," she says, "Why would that seem so strange to you?"

"Well maybe because the last time you and I talked you insulted my intelligence and my manhood and didn't let me see Jayden for spring break."

"You were on tour.  I'm not sending my daughter on the road no matter who I think might be in charge of her."

"I'm in charge of her!" I say.

"We'll see about that."  Her voice is cold and matches the sharp sound of the phone being thrown down onto the cradle as she hangs up on me.

"Great," I sigh, "Just great."

"You ok?"

The voice behind me startles me and I almost drop the phone.  I turn back towards the house and find Vivian standing there watching me.

"Fine."  I run through the list of things I need to do this morning quickly.  "Is Justin ready?"

"Tiny," Vivian's eyes are sad as she watches me.  "Are you ok?"

"Fine."


**What Justin sings is called A Song For You by Donnie Hathaway: http://www.letssingit.com/?http://www.letssingit.com/donny-hathaway-a-song-for-you-jc7zzkq.html**