86,400 Seconds -- 5
One-o-one. It might be the name of the stupid highway, but it also describes how many minutes it has taken us to get from the hills down into the valley. I swear the governor of this state needs to take a clue from the other busy cities in the United States and set up more public transportation. Even in Virginia Beach they had other ways of getting to work besides sitting on a freeway for over an hour.
At this point in my day my knees and ankles are starting to hurt, which usually doesn't happen until the end of the day, after a concert or something where I'm standing on stage and stressed most of the time. This morning hasn't been the best stress wise. The radio has been on and for the most part I've been leaned back in the car seat with the window open a bit since Justin insisted a half hour ago that he wanted the windows open. He and Jayden have been trying to count cars or play some silly game to see who is going to win the race to get off the freeway. If this were a family vacation I'm sure we'd start singing songs or playing "I spy".
"How many points do you have?" Jayden asks. I glance in the mirror and she's counting on her fingers.
"Ten," Justin says looking at her from where he'd been staring out the window.
"What are the rules of this game again anyway?" I ask trying to distract myself from the cramp that has formed in my Achilles tendon of my right foot. Driving around in LA in stop and go traffic should be considered a work out for the calf muscles. I swear my right foot is stronger than my left just from pressing on the gas and the brake all morning. I move my left foot to the brake and twist my ankle around a little bit, noticing that Vivian's watching me do it.
"I'm getting old," I mumble.
"Sure," she says with a laugh.
Jayden leans forward in her seat, "I told you Daddy, every time we pass a car we get a point and every time that car passes us, we lose a point."
"Who's winning?" I ask.
"Me," Vivian says from next to me.
"You are not!" Jayden says.
"That's right," Justin pipes up, "Once we clear that Beemer I'm going to be the winner."
I slam on the brakes when I don't pay attention to how close I am to the car in front of us. Everyone looks startled. "Sorry." I try to look out the window to distract myself.
Los Angeles sucks for traffic, but it also sucks for cars. You get in an accident here and you're either hitting into an eight thousand dollar BMW or you're hitting into a gardener's truck that should have died in the seventies. Either way you're gonna get sued if you get into an accident; a fact that I'm reminded of when I let off the break for a moment and the car pulls forward a little too much before I put my right foot back on the brake.
"Are not," Jayden says sounding young for her years all of a sudden.
"Are too," Justin says. Trust Justin to not even let a little kid win at a game. I know he doesn't mean anything by it, but having the competitive nature that he has doesn't lend him to loosing even if it is to someone about a third of his age.
I put my hand to my forehead and sigh. This isn't going to be a fun day. If them joking like this is getting on my nerves then I'm going to have real issues later dealing with the teenies. Why girls wait outside all day and sometimes all night long to see Justin is a mystery to me. After sitting out all night and basically all morning they're a horror to try to control.
I sigh again. I need a drink, should have grabbed something from the fridge before I left, but I didn't think about it. I'll grab something from the green room maybe. I hope they got Justin's rider list. It's not a big one when he's doing television shows, but having a good Snapple during the day and a cold beer at the end of a night after work is done really comes in handy.
"Ok, ok," Vivian says glancing at me. "Are your father and I gonna have to pull the car over and let you walk to the studio?"
Both the passengers in the back seat turn towards each other as a look washes over their faces then they turn to pout at us.
"Look," Vivian says tapping my shoulder. I glance back and crack up as the two of them keep their faces in pouts.
"You guys are so silly," I say making a face back at them before I notice that our exit is coming up soon.
"I win!" Justin yells from the back seat.
"Let's play cards," Jayden immediately whines when she realizes that she's lost. She instantly pulls the cards out and has dealt out a game before I can look back again.
The smells of Southern California are unique, but driving on one-o-one really isn't where I'd figure the smell of vanilla would permeate the car. There's those flowering plants that they have between the different directions of traffic. I can never remember the name of them, but sometimes when it's really hot and you're caught in traffic it starts to smell pretty good, even over the exhaust fumes. I don't really even notice the change in smell for a while, but see where it's coming from when Vivian turns around in her seat and holds the tiny bottle out to Jayden so she can have some.
"Smells good," Justin says over the top of his cards. I can see in the rear view mirror that his tongue is between his lips and he's giving Jayden a look as if this is the World Championships of Poker; something he's picked up watching too much television when we're on tour. He looks as if he's about to win a few million dollars instead of just a few cards to add to his pile.
It's funny how young he seems when he's with Jayden. He doesn't put up a front with her. This is true excitement in his face with a little extra sarcasm for Jayden's sake. It's the most real reaction I've seen him have to people in a long while. Vivian brings this out of him, but since he and she haven't exposed themselves to the outside world as a couple most of the moments that I've seen him like this are few and far between.
"Vanilla bean--It was in the gift bag from the VH1 Awards--some new company--I don't know how to say the name," Vivian says towards Justin then moves her hands a little. The smell of her and the lotion fills the front of the car. I take a deep breath and hold it. That's one thing I miss lately. I hate not having the smell of a woman around. Beverly used to be big into perfume and scented shampoos. It was never overbearing like some women can get into it, but just the right scent. I could usually smell her before I saw her. It was aromatherapy. Yeah, that's it, it was aromatherapy, but well, after the divorce it because such a turn off. If I smell mint sometimes I think of her and there are certain perfumes that if I catch a whiff of I swear that I want to throw up. It's amazing that a smell can do that.
Vivian's shoulder hits mine as she leans over the seat and she's laughing now. "Hold out your hands you little wiggler."
"Ok." Even though Jayden seems to be intensely into whatever game they're playing, she puts her cards down into her lap and holds out her hands to Vivian.
When the bottle makes one of those farting noises Jayden starts to giggle and Justin soon joins in. You'd think that a twenty two year old could curb his attraction to sick noises, but Justin never has gotten passed that. "Dang girl," he says with a laugh. "You're so gross."
"Yeah--" Jayden says, "Britney should have called Vivian Stinky instead of Justin." She rambles on. "Do you still have that basketball jersey?"
A small hush falls between Vivian and Justin. Jayden won't understand what's she's done. It's not her fault that she said Britney's name. She hasn't been around much since they broke up. Jayden used to be like the third musketeer when Justin and Britney were in Los Angeles together since they usually got to spend a lot of time with Britney's little sister Jamie Lynn and all she knows now is that Britney and Justin aren't friends anymore and that Jamie Lynn doesn't come over to play anymore because she's working on a new television show.
I see the worried look on Vivian's face and the way that Justin turns towards the window, setting his cards down.
"It's like perfume," Jayden says with an excited voice after she starts rubbing the lotion into her skin. She sounds as if she's getting more of a present than just vanilla hand lotion. I know that Beverly doesn't let her get into make up or anything like that. She's still too young for that, but scented lotion isn't something that is going to draw too much attention to her.
"Yep," Vivian says then looks at me and tries to keep talking so that it doesn't sound so quiet in here, "That's ok, right?"
I shrug. I don't care. Even if it was a problem I'm sure it'll wear off by the time we have to meet up with Beverly. Besides, my thoughts are no where near Beverly or Jayden at the moment. It's kind of funny how my job description says security, but really the only thing I've been doing lately is saving Justin from himself.
That sounds so dramatic to say, but I swear some days I was the only person that saw him. His mom would come and visit and he'd sit and stare at her with this blind look before she got frustrated and left him there alone. I'd sit in the kitchen and he'd sit in the living room in front of the television, or I'd sit on the stairs, just out of sight and listen to him in the kitchen. There were a few days that I really worried about the kid, but so far he's been looking more towards the future then wallowing in the past.
I look over at Vivian and she's looking a little relieved that Justin is even talking. We both know that if he gets into one of his moods that the rest of the day is gonna be hell.
I'm about to see if I can get an eye on Justin, but he's leaned against the window with a hand to his forehead acting like he's got a headache. It's a typical reaction. Easier to explain a headache away than a heartache away. He's done a good job so far of keeping it together and I have to think that Vivian has helped. He needs a woman around him that will give him shit, but do it in a supportive way. She's not going to let him act like a brat, but at the same time she knows when he needs to just have a hug.
"You ok J?" I ask. Vivian would have probably asked in a minute, but having her ask makes it seem like we're babying him and in this case we aren't. I'm worried that Jayden will get her feelings hurt and I don't want that. She doesn't deserve that.
He closes his eyes and turns his head up a little.
"Getting too hot in here?" I ask. I don't want to caudle the boy but at the same time he is my boss and I really can't tell him to get over it. I know that his break up with Britney hit him hard. He was full on in love with the girl and even though I don't know every single detail of it, I know that he walked away from the whole thing a different man than he walked into it.
"Headache," he says opening his eyes. He makes eye contact with me in the rear view mirror.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Vivian motioning towards Jayden He turns his head and sighs. He must see that she's worried about him. He soon makes a face at her which causes her to laugh lightly. It's not her normal full out laugh, but at least shows that she knows that things will be ok. "Are we almost there?" Justin whines.
"Yeah Daddy," Jayden whines. She's leaned over and taken Justin's cards away from him. Her eyes stay on him and she looks worried as if she knows that something she said or did was wrong, "Are we almost there yet?"
I clear my throat and move around in my seat a little. I need to get out of this car before my knees lock up. "A few more miles in this then hopefully city streets will be clear."
The music stays up until I hear Jayden say something in the backseat. Her voice is soft and she has to repeat herself twice, but she finally gets Justin's attention. "Justin?"
"What pumpkin?" he says with a weak tone.
"Did I give you a headache?" she asks.
"No pumpkin," he says and catches my eye in the mirror giving me an apologetic look. "I'm just getting tired of sitting in the car."
Justin's phone rings and he reaches for it. "Speak to me--" He says into the phone. It's gotta be one of the boys or he wouldn't speak to the person that way.
I look at the disappointment on Jayden's face as she leans back in her seat and turns to look out the window. While Justin is distracted with the phone she seems to be keeping herself busy by watching the cars outside and kicking at Vivian's seat a bit.