"It’s six a.m. This better be good," she mumbled into the phone leaning to turn on the light. The bright light hurt her eyes, but as she leaned to find her glasses she got used it after blinking a few times. She'd fallen into bed about two hours before and had been sound asleep when the phone rang. To any normal person it would have been early, but on Patty's schedule it was as if she'd been woken up at one in the morning after going to bed at midnight.
"Hey Cli," a male voice said with a slight laugh at the end.
Smiling at the sound of her shorted Patsy Cline nickname she turned and stared at the clock. "Curly Q? Where are you?" Her excitement was muted by her morning voice and tiredness.
"New York, I think."
"Well I went to sleep in Australia and woke up a few times then got up about an hour ago when the planed landed so God knows where I am," he explained, "We haven't gotten back on a plane so I think its New York."
"It must be New York then."
She heard a noise behind him and wondered where exactly he was. Most times when she'd talked to him he was on a train or a bus or in some van on the way somewhere or sometimes she'd catch him late at night his time and he'd be getting ready for a short nights sleep.
"And as far as I know New York and Orlando are in the same time zone," she said, "So why are you waking me up?"
There was a pause and Patty wondered if he was looking to see what time it was since he knew that he shouldn't call her if she'd just gotten back from work. "Oh shit. I'm sorry Cli, we just got in from the airport and since I was asleep so long I couldn't go back to sleep." There was a pause and she heard a muted groan as if he'd sat down in a chair or something after a long day then he continued. "I hate time zones. I never know what time it is."
She sighed. "It's ok Justin." She used his first name so that he knew that it really was ok and she wasn't just saying that to be nice. Sometimes he seemed to apologize more than he should, although she did her own apologizing too.
"So what are you doing tomorrow?" he asked.
"I don't know. Why?"
"I'm going to be home--"
"You're going to be in Orlando?" Patty sat up in bed as her heart rate shot through the roof.
She'd been talking to him over the phone for almost three months now, since the group had left in the middle of November on the world tour. They'd become good friends over the phone, falling into strange conversations that ranged from favorite foods to the workings of the religious community in Tennessee that Justin was a part of (when he could be). To see him again was going to be strange. They had a certain relationship over the phone and she wasn't sure how they'd act towards each other in person since the last time they'd seen each other they'd had one of those awkward kissing moments…
"So you're going to be gone for how long?" she asked trying to keep a hold of Jonathan's hand while Bubba struggled in Justin's arms.
They were at the compound saying goodbye. Justin had called her that morning saying that he wanted to talk to her in person before he left so she'd driven out to the place and had joined everyone else to say good-bye. The guys would be gone for almost three months and although she thought that the moment was something just for family to attend she found that everyone seemed to welcome her into the sad crowd as if she was family.
Justin moved his head to the side of Bubba's so that he could see her and smiled. "In about three months," he said, "Although Johnny would probably like us to be out longer."
"What about Christmas?" she asked. "And Thanksgiving?"
"We're going to be home for a few days for each, but I'm going to be up in Tennessee for them."
Bubba took that moment to hug Justin tightly and he stopped and hugged his brother, emotion playing over his face. It wasn't exactly sadness that she saw on his face, but it definitely wasn't showing that he was pleased. He looked a little nautious, as if the thought of being away from them was going to leave him feeling sick to his stomach until he saw them again.
"Oh," she said trying not to sound too sad.
They were friends, but she didn't know how she would go for that long without seeing him since they always seemed to have a blast together. He'd come over a few times since the night of the barbecue and babysitting and they'd laughed forever about the silliest things, especially the jokes that were written on the string cheese packages that Patty had in her refridgerator. Patty never had known any guy to think those dumb jokes were funny.
"When I get back in February I have some time off I think, but I'm not sure because I'm going to be filming a Disney movie for a week in Canada." He finally set Bubba on the ground and knelt next to him and tied up his little brother's basketball shoe. He spoke softly to him, looking him in the eyes. "You're going to be good while I'm gone right?"
Bubba nodded his head wildly.
Justin turned to look at Jonathan. "You too right, or no more new video games?"
Jonathan nodded and gripped Patty's hand a little tighter. He'd grabbed onto her hand when they'd first found each other in the crowd. Both of Justin's little brothers seemed to have an instant connection with her. When they'd first met at the picnic that Leah had brought her to, the boys had played with her most of the afternoon. When she and Justin had babysat them a few days later the boys had treated her like a sister, hugging her and kissing her good night as if she was family. It was something strange to see considering that Patty had never had younger siblings. She was the youngest of a huge Catholic family and her closest sibling was three years older than her.
"And you too…no more breaking glasses and cutting yourself?" he said looking up.
She felt a little butterfly in her stomach when he looked at her that way, but she pushed the feeling out of her head knowing that he was too young for her. Five years age difference wasn't something that was easily forgotten. "How'd you hear about that story?" she asked, "I didn't have my hand messed up when we met."
"JC told me about it," he said with a laugh.
"JUSTIN!!! We need to hit the road!!!"
Justin stood up and turned to find Mike staring at him from next to the van that was going to take them to the airport. He turned back and looked at her for a long moment then turned and yelled to Mike. "I'll be right there!"
JC walked by them and Patty reached out and grabbed his arm. "Not going to say goodbye?"
"Sorry," he said with a sad face. She could tell that the last week or so since the big break up had been hard on Leah, but it looked as if it had been hard on him too.
"Well give me a hug Joshua," she said.
They hugged for a moment and Patty wanted to tell him to call Leah again, but it was as if they both knew it wouldn't do any good. He'd called a few times in the last week, even going as far as to leave messages at work for her, but Leah had made her mind up and nothing was going to change that.
"I'll be fine," he said, "Tell her I said hello--well goodbye anyway."
Lynn, Justin's mother, reappeared after excusing herself to go talk to Chris's mother for a moment. She looked sad, although Patty figured that she'd tried to clean herself up, since she seemed to have that "I-just-cried-and-now-I'm-fine" look on her face.
"Come on kiddos, let your brother go so they aren't late," she said to her two youngest sons.
Bubba let go of Justin's hand and took Patty's and waited patiently as Justin hugged his mother. They spoke to each other for a moment in a hushed tone before he turned and picked up Bubba one last time, hugged him then reached out and pulled Jonathan over to him for a moment.
Patty waited, not sure of the proper procedure for saying good-bye to the group, until Justin let go of his brother finally and they walked off with his mother to where everyone else was waiting to leave.
"So…" she said looking at him nervously. She didn't exactly know what to say to him.
"Come on and walk me to the van Cli," he said. They walked slowly and right before he turned to step into the van he turned to her.
"What?" she said when she saw the look in his eyes. It was as if he'd forgotten to do something and had just rememebered.
"Come here and give me a hug," he said. He pulled her into his arms and held her close for a moment longer than she expected then leaned and kissed her on the lips. Before she could say anything he stuck an envelope into her hands and climbed into the van….
************END OF FLASHBACK*****************
"You still there?" Justin asked.
"Yeah, sorry," she said.
"So are you going to be at the airport?" he asked.
"I have to work tomorrow night," she said.
Justin took a deep breath and let out one of his "I-hate-my-life" sighs. "Well what about the next day?" he asked.
"I have to work. I work until this weekend."
"Crap. I wanted to hang out."
"Well come by and visit some night," she offered.
"Yeah and hang out in the bar?"
Patty wanted to smack herself. She still hadn't gotten it through her head that Justin wasn't going to be twenty-one for another year. He'd just had his birthday about a week before. She'd called him and had sang happy birthday into his cell phone message machine.
"Well you could stop by and say hello," she said, "Maybe sit and have dinner, I know the chef. I think I could get you a deal."
There was a noise in the background and a moment later a different voice said, "Who dis?"
"Hi Joseph!" Patty said.
"Damn! How'd you know?"
"Duh?" Patty said.
"Anyway Justin needs to get his ass off the phone."
"What for this time?" she asked.
"It's butt o'clock in the morning you night owl…some of us need our beauty sleep," he said.
"Well you'd better sleep for the next month!" Patty playfully replied then in a softer voice said, "opps, there I go again saying stuff out loud."
"Funny Lefty!" Joey said.
At the end of his message to her she could hear the phone being ripped away from his hands. There was a scuffle in the background and Justin got back onto the phone with a breathless voice.
"I've gotta run…" There was a noise that sounded like something being knocked over and she heard and "Umph!" before Justin got back onto the phone. "I'll talk to you later this week. I'll try to stop by if I can."
"OK, talk to you later Curly Q," she said with a laugh.
She heard a chorus of "byes" then the phone line on his end went dead.
"Move over Ass!" Justin said loudly when JC fell over onto him as the plane began to make it's approach into the Orlando Airport.
"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" JC grumbled and moved so that his head was resting on the window.
"Haha, funny C," Justin said with a smart tone.
"Leave me alone," JC grumbled.
Justin smacked him. "Are you going to be this big of an ass for your whole vacation?"
"Yes," JC grumbled.
"Damn it C, you need to get off your ass and go and talk to her."
"What are you talking about?" JC asked.
Justin stared at his friend. "You know exactly who I'm talking about."
"Not this again."
"Yes this again," Justin sighed. "The last time you had girl troubles I told you to dump her, this time man I think you need to go after her."
"I tried that already and she's pissed at me and won't talk to me!"
"Well try harder!" Justin said, "You're giving up too easily."
"What do you know about it?"
"C, you've been a fucking dick since you guys broke up and if no one else is going to call you on it, then I'm going to have to…" Justin said loudly causing a few people around them to look over. He lowered his voice and said, "You haven't written a damn thing in three months, you never play your keyboard anymore and I know that you love to sleep, but this is gotten out of control…I think that you're turning into a hermit."
"Who cares," JC sighed and leaned his head against the window again.
"Most of us, or are you so into your own little punk ass world to notice that too?"
The plane touched down and as they taxied to the gate Justin leaned over to look out the window. He knew that his mother was going to be at the compound to meet him, picking to leave the screaming girls at the airport to give him a welcome home without her, but he wanted to make sure she hadn't shown up unexpectedly.
"Move over Justin or I swear--"
"Shut up JC," Justin said, "Go back to sleep or go pout or something."
JC threw an arm out and pushed Justin back and for a moment Justin wanted to hit him back. They'd always had a good relationship, except for most of the regular little brother sort of teasing that had gone on in the beginning and Justin was surprised to see JC acting so strangely towards him.
Instead of starting something, Justin sat back in his seat and got ready to be greeted by the fans. He took off his bandanna and refolded it before putting it back onto his head. He'd been growing his hair out and hated it, but the movie that he was filming at the end of February would be done after a few weeks and he'd be able to cut it down again.
He was a bit tired still from all the traveling and knew that he needed to be level headed when they headed through the airport so he took some deep breaths to calm himself down a little after the scuffle with JC. He didn't like all the screaming fans when he was tired, but he was going to have to put up with them until they got to the van.
When the plane pulled into the gate, Johnny and the security exited first then slowly the guys gathered their things. JC was the last off, after Justin hit him on the leg to tell him that they'd arrived. He'd gotten a sour look from him then heard JC moan and groan his way off the plane mumbling, "I hate Orlando."
The crowd seemed to surround them in seconds and although there weren't really that many fans there, the sound gave Justin a headache after only a few minutes. He shook hands and smiled while trying not to trip over people on his way out to the van. Although he knew his luggage and everything was being taken care of for him he still wondered if he'd get all his stuff back since the last time when they'd flown into Orlando someone had briefly misplaced his suitcase.
Once seated into the van Justin rubbed a hand over his face and tiredly looked at JC who was in the front seat already on the phone with his mother. He knew that he was talking to his mother because he looked as if he was already complaining to her about something.
"Justin move your skinny ass over!" Chris yelled into his ear.
Justin looked over to see that Chris was waiting to sit down next to him, but there wasn't enough room next to him on the bench seat.
"Sorry," he mumbled and scooted more towards the window.
As the van pulled away from the curb, everyone seemed to follow JC's lead and soon the five members of the group, as well as the five members on the security staff, were on their cell phones. Justin called his mother on her cell phone first then dialed Sweet Pea's knowing that Patty would be at work.
"Hello?" a female voice answered, "Sweet Pea's."
"Leah?" Justin asked plugging up his ear so that he could hear over the other conversations in the car. He saw that JC turned and stared at him for a moment then turned back to his own conversation.
"Justin?" the voice asked.
"Is Patty there?" he asked.
"No, she left a while ago."
"What?" he said, "I thought that she worked tonight."
"She had to run out for a minute I guess," Leah explained.
Justin scratched his head through his bandanna and looked out the window. "Ok…well tell her I'm back in town and that I wanted to talk to her."
"Ok," Leah said.
Justin was going to hang up the phone when he saw JC looking at him again. "So Lee, what's up with Sweet Pea's…still going strong?"
"Yeah," she said with a strange tone to her voice. "Justin I don't want to talk to him so stop stalling and just hang up. I'll talk to you later."
Justin's eyes flew open. "You don't have to bitch me out Leah." He hung up the phone without a good bye and wondered for a moment if he was going to be able to live through this vacation with the two of them acting them the way that they were.
Patty parked her truck, hopped out, and walked towards the house. Jonathan came running down the steps of the house. "Patsy!"
She hadn't seen the kid in almost three months, but she grabbed him up into a hug then saw Bubba making his way down the steps, holding tightly to the banister unlike his older brother.
"How've you been?" she asked then hugged Bubba when he reached her.
"Good," they said in unison. "Justin called and said that they are going to be here soon."
"That’s good," Patty said, "So where is everyone?"
"Inside," Bubba said, "Are you gonna have dinner with us tonight?"
"I don't know. I have to go back to work, but maybe I can stay for a while."
Patty didn't have a clue what had made her take her lunch break and drive out to the compound, but she'd found herself already at the gate before it hit her that she didn't really have any reason for being there.
"Hi Patty!" a voice called from the porch.
Patty looked up to see Lynn standing on the porch with an iced tea in her hands. "Hi!"
Jonathan and Bubba took that moment to grab her hands and pull her up the stairs and into the house. "We gotta cake!" Bubba yelled as they pulled her into the huge living room where all the mothers, sisters and brothers had gathered awaiting the van full of people to reach the house.
Patty waved nervously at everyone as if she'd just given them all a false alarm by arriving when she had. She saw Tyler and Heather playing cards with Chris's sisters and was going to go and say hello when Jonathan broke away from her and ran over to the front window.
"THE VAN!!! THE VAN!!!" All he would have needed was a little white suit and he could be Tattoo from Pleasure Island.
Everyone got up from their seats and made their way onto the porch. Patty held onto Bubba's hand nervously. "Up!" he finally said, "Up!"
She leaned down and put him onto her back piggy-back style then went out to see what was going on. Everyone was milling around now and the guys were giving out hugs to everyone. She hadn't been to a family reunion in a while and the scene made her miss her parents and other siblings.
"Go!" Bubba said into her ear a little too loudly. "Go!"
"Hold your horses Bubba," Patty said calmly. She carefully made her way down the stairs and joined the crowd.
"Justin!" Bubba yelled.
When Justin turned and looked in their direction she saw an instant change in the look in his eyes. He'd looked tired, but excited to see his brother run up to him and hug him and greeted everyone with smiles as all the other siblings and parents welcomed him home, but the look in his eyes when they were on her almost scared her. If she didn't know better she would have said that there was love in his eyes. She wondered for a moment if she was making it up in her head, but when he came over to them and hugged both Bubba and her she knew that there was something different going on between them.
"I thought you had to work," he commented.
"I did," she explained as Bubba crawled over her shoulder and into Justin's arms almost falling onto the cement. She pushed her hair out of her face. "Shh…I'm cutting class."
"How long do you have to stick around?" he asked as Bubba latched onto his neck hugging him almost to death.
"Just enough time to say hello then hit the road again," she lied. She had a half-hour or so but didn't want to overstay her welcome. She really had only wanted to stop by to see what Justin's reaction was to seeing her before she headed out again. She'd been pleased with her little experiment.
"You closing tonight?" he asked.
She looked at her watch then back at him wanting to make a quick escape. She knew that if she stayed too long something would happen between them that she wasn't sure they were ready for and at the moment she didn't want to ruin their friendship by acting on an impulse that they both knew would hurt them more than help them. "Yeah," she said, "Every night."
"Give me a call when you get out," he said, "I wanted to talk to you about something."
She stared at him for a moment, seeing the serious look on his face and wondered if he wanted to talk about them. She didn't know why she was getting so worried about talking to him, but something told her from the look in his eyes that their conversation was going to be a serious one. She hoped it wasn't what she thought it was going to be about. She didn't want to have one of those "so-whats-up-with-us" conversations. She wanted to be his friend, no matter how cute he was. She knew it would be dangerous to get to close to him. She already knew way too much about him and she found it strange for him to know that she knew all about him and have him still want to talk to her.
"Sounds good," she lied again. She leaned and hugged him then kissed Bubba's slightly chubby cheek. "On the cell?"
Patty patted Bubba on the back as he still hung to Justin then made her way away from the group and got into the truck. Rolling down the window she paused for a minute to put on her sunglasses then watched Justin hugging the rest of his family before she backed the truck up and did a three point turn and made her way down the driveway again.
Justin was on the porch when Patty's truck disappeared down the street from the compound and as Bubba and Jonathan pulled him into the house with the others he bumped into JC who was standing with his mother talking over something.
Without waiting for a reaction from JC, Justin apologized, "Didn't see ya man."
"Was that Patty out there?" JC asked.
"Yeah," Justin said.
"I don't think you two should hang out," JC said.
"What?" Justin came back with quickly. "Since when do you give out girl advice?"
"She's five years older than you J," JC said.
"Yeah well we're just friends so it doesn't matter anyway. You have--" Justin stopped and took a breath and smiled at JC's mom. "Never mind…anyway…we're just friends and she stopped by to say hello, but she had to go back to work and I'm sure you're not going to be seeing her any time soon so don't worry about it."
JC stared at him for a second then turned to his mother. "Excuse me mom…Justin and I have something to talk about really quickly."
JC's mom gave them both a strange look, but didn't seem to protest when JC grabbed Justin by the arm and took him out onto the front porch.
"What the hell is your problem?" Justin asked.
"You." JC crossed his arms across his chest and stared at him. "I don't want you bringing up Leah and I don't think you should be seeing Patty."
"I'm not "seeing Patty" and besides it's none of your business," Justin said.
JC stared at him for a long moment not saying anything and Justin could see that his friend was trying to hold back a tantrum that had been building for almost three months now. "Just stay away from the two of them."
"C, you really need to chill out." Justin leaned against the railing, "You're gonna have a heartattack or something if you don't relax a little."
"I'll relax when you aren't flirting around with someone who is old enough to babysit you."
"Whatever JC," Justin said. "If I didn't know better I'd think you were smoking something because you sure are talking funny."
"What?" JC asked.
"You've been like this since the breakup. You have a short fuse with everyone and have been a complete asshole to almost everyone on the tour. You need to break down and beg for that girl back before everyone kills you for being so moody."
"Me beg?" JC stammered out.
"Yes, you know that thing where you go to someone and tell them that you love them to death and that you're miserable without them and that you are going to loose your job if you can't be with them and that the world--"
"I get the picture," JC said madly turning away from him. Justin watched his friend's shoulders scrunch up.
"Just go and see her again, you never know--"
"Leave me alone," JC snapped.
Justin watched JC for a moment then turned and went into the house. He'd known JC long enough to know that the guy was upset. He hadn't wanted to fight with him, but he knew that if he didn't get the guy mad enough to go and solve whatever problem with Leah that there were going to be bigger problems between him and the group. When it came to fights and the group Justin was a little over protective. They had yet to have a huge fight between the five of them, and he wanted to keep it that way, especially now that their fame had kicked from neutral to a hundred miles an hour over night. They needed each other and without JC around he knew that things would fall apart.
"I saw him today," Patty said as she walked back into the bar when she saw Leah behind the counter. She'd walked in a little later than she had planned to, but decided that it was worth getting in trouble. She hadn't seen Justin in a long time and after her short visit she thought she'd make it through the rest of the week ok.
Leah turned from where she was ringing up a drink for a customer. She pushed the cash drawer closed and leaned a hip against the counter. "What are you talking about? Who'd you see?"
"I saw JC today," Patty said casually hoping that Leah wouldn't break out and scream at her.
Patty had managed to avoid the subject for the last few months. She hadn't even really told her much about how she and Justin had been talking; figuring that Leah wouldn't want to hear anything about the group. She'd planned on keeping it that way until she'd seen how depressed and moody Leah had become while away from JC. It had been one thing to have Leah become a hermit after her parents' deaths. She had been so alive with JC and no matter how bad Leah hated to hear it, JC was good for her and from what Patty had heard from Justin it was a two way street. JC had been the same way with Justin and the others.
Leah's half smile disappeared. "And I want to know this?" She made a face. "Because?" Leah asked with a curt tone to her voice.
"Oh give me a break," Patty said frustrated with Leah's cold reaction. "You know that you've been waiting for them to get back to town."
"Yeah right," Leah said sadly.
"Jesus!" Patty called out.
Leah grabbed her arm and pulled her into her office. Patty knew she was in trouble, but couldn't help, but to smile at her reaction to hearing about JC. She'd been right all along about Leah's feelings for JC. No one would be that overly hyperactive about someone if there weren't feelings behind everything.
When the door was closed Leah turned to her and madly asked, "What are you doing?"
"Give it up Leah."
"Give what up?"
"Come on," Patty said, "Like you enjoy going home to Tahoe every night instead of seeing him."
Leah stared at her with a shocked look on her face.
"You were in love with him Leah and you let him go and now look at you…. You're a mess."
Leah still stared.
"I've put up with you for the last three months and I haven't said much about the two of you, but really, can you just go and get him back because if not I think I'm going to have to quit because I cant stand to see you like this."
"Like what?" she finally asked.
"I mention his name and you cringe and look at you…you're almost crying just at the thought of him."
Leah reached up and wiped her face, although there were no real tears there.
"I saw him today Leah and he looks like shit and from what I've heard through Justin he's been as miserable as you."
"Whatever," Leah said and turned to leave.
"I swear to God Leah if you don't talk to him now that he's back I think I'm going to have to lock you in a room with him. I plan on staying friends with Justin and I know that he and JC are going to be close and if you act the way you did a minute ago when Justin shows his face in here---"
"Patty just leave it alone and get back to work," Leah said pulling the door open she exited the office, slamming the door shut behind her.
Justin was lying in bed with the TV watching the end of a late episode of Real World when his cell phone rang. He rolled over and grabbed up the phone from where he'd left it on his nightstand and softly said, "Hello?" He got up and shut the door to his room then went back over to his bed knowing that the rest of the house was already asleep. It was almost three in the morning Orlando time, but on his strange sleep schedule he felt as if he should be running around outside. Going overseas always did that to him, but he tried to be as quiet as possible knowing that his parents were on Orlando time.
"Hey Curly Q," Patty's voice came over the line sounding stressed out and tired. She rushed her words and he could tell that she was hyper about something that happened at work.
"What's up Cli? Long day?"
"Don't get me started," she said, "I swear to God I think I'm going to quit."
"Leah and I got in a fight."
"It was stupid," Patty said. She let out a sigh. "She just needs to get laid."
"So you had a conversation about JC again?" Justin said with a laugh. He lay back down in bed, propping his head up so that he could talk. "JC's been acting the same way."
"Anyway…" she sighed. "What did you want to talk to me about?"
"Actually I have two things." He stared at the signed poster of Janet Jackson on his wall, the one she'd given him while they were on tour together, and took deep breaths. It was nice to be back in his own room, but at the same time he almost felt like he should be at a hotel since he'd spent the last three months in different ones.
"So shoot…I'll talk about anything if it'll get my mind off how pissed I am at Leah."
"Well maybe one of the things I have to talk to you about will get that little situation cured."
"OK, you've got my attention," Patty said.
"You heard about Lance and Nicole's wedding at the end of the month, right?"
"I knew about that…"
"Well I was thinking that if they don't get together on their own that you should take JC and I'll take Leah and we'll get them together."
"What? Force them together at the reception or something?"
"I don't think it'll work."
"Stuff like that only works in the movies," she said.
"Well we have to try something," he said, "JC and I almost got into a brawl this afternoon and I know that the other guys are pissed at him for being so moody."
There was a pause. "Let me think about it," she said, "What else did you want to talk to me about?"
"I…" he said.
"Spit it out Curly."
His heart raced and his palms were actually, literally, sweating. He actually was experiencing stage fright. He took another deep breath. "I wanted to know if you wanted to go out this weekend."
"Sure, we should go play some hoops or something?" she said, "We still have that bet going on…right?"
Justin remembered their conversation on the phone about playing basketball sometime, but that wasn't what he had in mind. "I meant like go to dinner or something."
There was a pause and Justin put a hand to his forehead. He could tell from her silence that he'd just messed up whatever friendship they had. He'd been thinking about asking her out since they'd first met. At the barbecue Patty had been real with him. She'd been bold enough to tell him things that most girls wouldn't. Honesty was her thing and it was nice to hear for once. She didn't kiss his butt or try to get something out of him. She just wanted to hang out and play cards and party without the expectation that there was more to come.
"I guess we can go out," Patty said, "But isn't it sort of hard to…I mean with your fame and all?"
Justin smiled at the sound of her answer. "There are places we can go…things we can do and still have fun."
"I don't know…I hadn't planned anything yet," he said.
"Well if you want to go do something then plan something for Thursday," Patty said, "I have that day off."
"What do you think you're doing?" Patty asked as he leaned over from where he was sitting on her couch to undo the laces on his basketball shoes.
"Taking off my shoes," he said with a curt tone.
"Cuz I don't want to sleep in them."
"Sleep in them?" She looked at him kind of funny. They had been sitting around in jeans and t-shirts watching movies for most of the evening which had been pretty relaxing, but when she'd gone to change into her pajamas she figured he would have gotten the clue that it was time for him to head home. Now that he seemed to be settling in for the evening, she wasn't sure if she wanted him to stay, although the thought had crossed her mind more than a few times.
"You don't expect me to drive home after drinking do you?" he asked.
"You had a beer."
"Well if I have a beer and get pulled over I'll have a ticket and maybe get a-rrested." He smiled as if he'd just made an extremely profound comment.
"Whatever Curly Q," she said. "You can sleep on the couch I guess."
"But my back…" he whined.
"You should be glad that I don't call your mother and have her come over here and get you," Patty teased.
They'd been acting that way since he'd picked her up that morning around ten. They'd played around at the compound before lunch then went and grabbed pizza at Gino's, where they found themselves saying hello to Nicole who was working the counter, then they'd driven to get some movies to watch and had hung out at her house most of the evening.
"Oomph!" Justin put a hand to his chest as if he'd been shot. "Had to use that "MOM" card didn't you?"
Patty smiled widely. "There are some blankets in the TV cabinet. I'll get you a pillow."
His mocking tone and cheesy smile made her smile as Patty went down the hall to her room and grabbed one of the pillows off the bed to bring back to Justin. She did feel a little bad making him sleep on the couch, but she knew that it would be safer for the two of them if he stayed in the living room than in with her. He was too young for her and she had to keep that in mind when trying to deal with him or she was going to find herself in some kind of relationship before she knew it.
When she returned to the living room a few moments later Justin was spread out on the couch underneath the blue blanket that she'd left in the cabinet for such occasions. He was watching television with a half smile on his face but sobered up when he saw her.
"Make yourself at home why don't you?" Patty said throwing the pillow across the room to him. It hit him a little, but he managed to make it land on his lap.
"Aren't you going to tuck me in?" he asked.
"What?" There had been sexual comments flying all day, along with the flirtatious smiles and hugs, but Patty hadn't let it go farther than that.
"It works for Jonathan and Bubba. You tucked them in when we babysat them."
"Don't push your luck Justin," Patty said with a glare.
"Can't a guy get a break?" Justin whined.
"Oh yeah, right…THE JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE looking for a break?" Patty laughed.
"You wanna take this outside?" he asked.
"Sure, duke it out in the street over a good night kiss," she said.
"Hey, I just wanted to be tucked in." He leaned back and looked at her with an innocent look. "Kissing isn't in my contract." Justin sat up a little, plumped up his pillow and lay back again, "But I'm always open for renegotiations."
"What? Are you chicken?"
"Me?" she said with an offended tone, "Chicken?"
Justin made a clucking noise.
"Stop it and go to sleep," she warned.
Justin continued to cluck and now wiggled his fingers in a "bring-it-on" motion.
"You're not going to let this go are you?"
"Not until you kiss me." He gave her a cocky grin and she felt herself giving into the challenge.
"Fine. If it'll shut you up then you can kiss me," she said and walked over to him.
"OH NO!" he said, "You have to kiss me."
"But I'll be taking advantage of you since you did have a beer," she stood staring down at him for a moment.
"It was just a beer," he said and in one moment had sat up and pulled her into his lap.
"One beer?" she asked with a laugh.
"Yeah," he said taking her arms and resting them around his neck then he placed his hands on her hips.
"So…do you want a movie star kiss or a regular kiss?" she asked nervously stalling the inevitable.
His eyes were staring at her face closely and for a split second she wanted to know what he was looking at. Her question was answered a second later. "You have really nice lips."
He was trying to be romantic and she didn't want things to get serious. They'd had too good of a time to ruin it with drama.
"I like watching you lick your lips," he confessed with a soft voice. His tone was even and his eyes glanced up from where they'd been gazing at her lips to make eye contact with her.
Patty felt herself moving her tongue to lick her lips and stopped when she saw a smile form on his face.
"Awe," he said in a sigh, "Why'd you stop?"
"Leave me alone Justin. You want your kiss or not?"
"Yes please," he said with the innocent tone of an altar boy. He gave her another one of his smiles.
"Well close your eyes because I'm not going to kiss you if you keep staring at me," she said, "It creeps me out."
"Thanks," he said as his ego deflated a little.
"Just close your eyes," she repeated.
"Fine." Justin's lids closed and his eyelashes found their place on his cheeks. He tipped his chin up a little. "I'm ready when you are."
Patty stared at him for a moment trying to gather her courage. She had to do it. Get it over with. Then move on. Taking one last huge breath she leaned towards him slowly trying to calm her breathing so he couldn't tell how nervous she was. She tipped her head to the side slightly to the side and moved in more trying not to hit her nose into his.
When her lips met his she let out a breath and captured his bottom lip in hers. Her hands moved up and held his cheeks close as the kiss deepened. He was a great kisser, somehow knowing just how much pressure to put on hers. He moved his lips in time with hers, holding the kiss as long as she kept her mouth to his.
When she felt his hands gripping the material of her T-shirt she forgot where she was for a moment. His hands pulled her shirt up a little and he moved his hands against the small of her back, holding her close as the deep kiss continued.
Patty was enjoying the kiss, but when his hands slid below the waistband of her pajama bottoms she pulled back. His eyes instantly flew open and he stared at her. The sleepy romantic look in his eyes spoke volumes. It scared her to see him so head over heels over a kiss, but they couldn't deny the connection they had. The tingles. That electrical feeling that still ran through her veins causing her heart rate to go through the roof.
His hands never left her waste, but she felt trapped there somehow. When she saw his lips begin to move to speak she put a finger to his lips to hush him. "Don't."
Justin silently replied to her request by kissing her finger. "Goodnight?" he said, almost asking if their evening was over.
She nodded and moved to get up, but he didn't let her right away. A glare at him fixed the situation and soon she was on her way to go to bed alone.
"What's HE doing here?" Leah asked Patty the next day at work.
Without acknowledgement to her she asked, "Who?"
"JC just walked in with Justin," Leah explained.
Patty's heart rate went through the roof as Justin's name was mentioned and while she should have been standing there worrying about Leah's reaction to JC's entrance, all she could think of was her reaction to seeing Justin again. "I don't know. Maybe they had a lunch break?"
Leah checked her watch. "At eight at night?" She stared at the duo for a moment then turned away from the bar. "I'll be in the back."
"Fine," Patty said without looking over at her. Her hands were shaking knowing that Justin was walking over to her and she was trying her hardest not to drop the glass in her hand. He looked good that day. He must have gotten a chance to go home and change after their night out together because he wasn't wearing the clothes he'd been in when they'd parted ways that morning.
"Hey Cli," Justin greeted her a moment later. He gave her a smile while JC proceeded to push his hands deep into his pockets and tip his head in silent acknowledgement of her.
Not making eye contact with either of them she nervously rearranged the napkins on the counter and pretended to make sure that all the people at the bar had what they needed. "What's up boys?" she asked.
"Nothing much, just wanted to stop by," Justin explained. Patty watched as he nervously leaned against the bar.
"This wasn't my idea," JC mumbled then looked at her with wide eyes. "No offense."
She smiled back at him. "None taken."
"You don't work on Valentines Day do you?" Justin asked.
"No," she said then looked down at the napkins again. Why was he asking? They'd gone out once, but there wasn't supposed to be another date after that.
"I wanted to know if you wanted to hang out that night," he said.
"I guess we could do that," she said, "Although I'm sure your date wouldn't like that."
"I don't have a date," Justin said with a pout.
"What about you JC?" Patty asked just as Justin was starting to stare at her with a longing look. She got a dirty look out of JC, but delighted in seeing his eyes drift to the closed office door.
"Why don't you come and hang out with us on V-day?" Patty offered then looked at Justin, who didn't look pleased, but kept his mouth shut, "We can have a "no-date-night" like on that one episode of FRIENDS."
"I think I missed that episode," JC mumbled.
"Come on," Patty whined. She prayed that JC would say yes because she didn't know if she could handle being alone with Justin again. "Please, we'll watch movies and play cards and get drunk and be single together."
"I'll think about it" JC said.
"Good enough," Patty said.
She left to go help a customer and when she returned the guys were gone. The woman who had been sitting next to where they'd been talking looked over. "The young one left this for you."
Patty stared at the folded napkin that the woman handed her and thanked the woman before moving away from the counter to read the letter that was written in sloppy writing across the blank paper.
We had to go…I wanted to spend Valentines with just you,
but if we can get JC and Leah together then I guess we
can spend another night alone together.
Patty wanted to laugh at his comment about doing something special together but didn't. She was afraid that he was serious about making plans for an evening together. She didn't need that type of drama from him.
To keep her mind off of Justin Patty went and knocked on the office door to release Leah from her hiding spot. "They're gone."
Leah answered the door and returned to her seat at the bar. "What was that all about?"
"Justin and I made plans to have a "no-date-night" for Valentine's Day." Patty cleaned the counter. "You should come and hang out with us. You know…get a good buzz on and watch movies and forget how single we are."
"I'll think about it," Leah said with a skeptical look on her face.
"So what the hell is going on with you and Patty?" JC yelled over the sound of wind and traffic as Justin maneuvered his new Boxster through the streets.
Justin smiled at the mention of her name. He had wanted so badly to hug her hello or kiss her earlier in the bar, but hadn't. There were two rules in his life. No PDA's and no PDA's in front of JC. He couldn't really be attached to anyone in public, because of his image and all, and secondly he knew that JC was going to have this conversation with him sooner or later and it seemed as if sooner had arrived. "Nothing's going on right now…but I'm working on it."
"If Johnny hears about this--Hell if your mother hears about this--you're gonna get a--"
"You worry about you," Justin warned. "My mom has met Patty before and likes her. The two of them even went out shopping together while we were gone."
"That doesn't sound like your mom."
"Patty babysat Jonathan and Bubba. That put her in good with the 'rents." Justin turned the car towards home with a frown on his face knowing that the conversation was far from over.
"Did you tell your mom where you were last night?" JC asked.
"No," Justin replied. "And she doesn't need to know--not that anything happened. I fell asleep on her couch."
"Hey. I may want the girl, but I know not to--"
"Oh here it comes," JC grumbled.
"Here what comes?" Justin asked.
"Your whole speech on how you're such a little angel," JC said, "You're starting to believe your own hype."
"I am a little angel," Justin said.
"In your dreams Timberlake," JC said.
Justin stuck his tongue out and sped up.
"JC didn't come?" Patty asked as she answered the door that Saturday night. Holding onto the doorknob for balance she stood on her tiptoes and looked over Justin's shoulder onto the empty front porch.
The smile that had formed on his face when he'd seen her dressed in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt faded with her words. That wasn't the kind of welcoming he'd expected. He didn't want the red carpet treatment, but having her ask about JC pissed him off a little. "He came," Justin mumbled with a sigh.
When he stepped into the house Patty quickly ordered him to take off his shoes.
He laughed and winked at her. "Oh, so I can stay tonight?"
"Whatever Curly," she said holding the door open still she looked outside a minute. "Where's JC?"
Justin ran his hands through his hair and sighed again. He knew he should be patient and not bug her, but he couldn’t help but to feel bad. He'd wanted to invite her out to dinner for Valentine's Day, since he'd missed her birthday in December. He'd sent her flowers and a balloon, which hadn't been much, but being overseas there wasn't really a way for him to get home to celebrate with her. "He went for a walk."
"But it's pouring," she said.
"Hey don't look at me. If the guy wants to go out and get pneumonia then more power to him."
"Well come on in and leave your wet stuff by the door." She walked past him with a smile and walked into the house a little more.
"Hey Justin!" He heard Leah called from further in the house.
"Hey Leah!" Justin called out and slipped out of his jacket then kicked off his shoes leaving them by the door. He walked with Patty into the house with a smile on his face.
"What?" Patty asked.
"For a minute there I really thought you wanted to see JC." He put his arms around her and hugged her.
"Not now Romeo," she said pushing away from him she made her way into the living room and flopped down on the couch.
"Later then?" he asked and flopped down next to her. He reached out and plopped a hand down on her leg and gave her a squeeze.
Patty glared at him.
"Nice curls Justin." Leah was curled into a recliner across the room with a half smile on her face. He hadn't expected a warm welcome from her considering that she'd walked away when he'd been at the bar earlier. It was nice to not have tension between them for a moment.
"I hate my hair," He groaned running his hands through his hair. He finally got up and went and stood in front of the mirror and fixed his hair. "I can't wait until my movie is over so I can cut it again."
"I like the curls," Patty said as he sat back down. She leaned over and ran her hands through his hair making a clump of it stick up like Alfalfa of the Little Rascals.
"Well then I'll keep 'em," Justin joked. He gave her a wink knowing that he was going to blush before he did it.
"So what are we doing tonight guys?" Leah asked.
"Where's Lance when we need him?" Patty mumbled. Justin gave her a smile, but the comment about Lance's managing skills was lost on Leah.
Justin moved a pillow on the couch to get more comfortable, "Movies and whatever…according to our manager here." He patted Patty's leg again.
Patty hopped up and went to search for a movie and Leah got up from her chair. "I'm getting a beer." She pointed over at Justin. "Want one J?"
He slapped a hand against his chest as if he was shocked by her comment. "I'm a minor," he said with a serious tone then said, "You're going to corrupt me!"
"Sure…sure…" She rolled her eyes. "So you want one or not."
"Is the Pope Catholic?"
"You aren't Catholic!" Patty said from where she was leaning into the TV cabinet.
Leah laughed and disappeared into the kitchen.
"Found one!" Patty said holding up "Thomas Crown Affair." She pulled out the tape and inserted it into the VCR before joining Justin on the couch again. She sat down next to him, but didn't touch him. "A little Double-O-Seven for you boys and a little hottie Pierce Brosnin for us girls."
"You boys?" Leah asked coming back into the room. She dropped a beer bottle into Justin's outstretched hand then before either of them could answer her she turned back around, "I gotta get the bottle opener."
While Leah was out of the room Justin turned, plopped a pillow in Patty's lap and put his head on it.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"You're very bold Mr. Timblerlake."
"Is that like KC Masterpiece Bold or regular bold?"
Patty laughed and patted his head. "You really are a piece of work."
A moment later a scream pierced the air and Justin flew off the couch into a standing position causing Patty to forget her startled state from the scream to laugh at Justin's stance. It was a cross between a Bruce Lee Kung-Fu move and some strange dance move.
"Oh my God!" Leah screamed.
As if in reaction to her scream the front door flew open and JC stomped in the door.
Patty jumped up seeing him come in the door and immediately shouted. "Shoes!"
JC gave her a strained look, narrowing his eyes madly at her then called out, "Levi are you ok?"
Leah emerged from the kitchen with a wet spot on the front of her shirt and a half scared, half mad look on her face.
"What happened to you?" Justin asked pointing at her shirt.
"I startled her," JC said softly. His eyelashes were lowered as he looked at Leah.
The tension was horrible between the two of them and Patty almost wanted to kick them all out. If she was going to be single she at least wanted to have a peaceful Valentine's evening, no drama for her.
"What happened to your shirt?" Patty asked looking at the way that the basketball sized wet spot on her shirt was making the material stick to her.
"I saw him in the window out of the corner of my eye and thought he was…" She looked down. "Ah Shit! Thanks JC. Now I'm going to smell like beer all night."
"Go and grab a T-shirt from my room."
Patty walked over to where JC was standing and stopped him from walking towards Leah. She knew that if they got into an argument now the whole evening would be ruined and it was too early to split up the evening. She and Justin were just starting to flirt and she didn't want to have to send him home before she had a little fun with him that night.
"Look at you," Patty said putting a hand to the sweatshirt that JC was wearing. She grabbed the bottom of it and pulled it up for him accidentally catching his T-shirt in the process causing him to grab at the T-shirt to keep it on. "Take those off. I'm sure I have something for you to wear too."
When she turned around she couldn't help but to see the strange look in Justin's eyes as well as seeing Leah staring at her from the hallway. She knew that the motion of touching JC like that was going to upset Leah. That had been the plan in the first place, to make her a little jealous, but she hadn't expected the same sort of reaction out of Justin.
"Leah will you bring JC that XXL Old Navy shirt?" She turned around and reached out and touched JC's hip to see if his jeans were wet.
"Hey!" JC yelped and jumped back.
"And grab out my old b-ball shorts for him too!" Patty called.
"Basketball?" Justin said with a perked interest settling back onto the couch.
"Yeah," Patty said.
"Great…you had to mention basketball…" JC groaned and made his way into the house a little more, pausing to slide out of his socks and shoes.
Leah returned wearing a fresh T-shirt and came close enough to JC to hand him the clothes--a pair of sports mesh basketball shorts and a huge T-shirt--before retreating to the far side of the room where she curled up in the recliner near the sliding glass door.
"I'll be right back," JC grumbled under his breath. He shot Leah a half angry look and left the room.
Justin watched JC leave and flopped back down on the couch with Patty. He scooted down into the couch more throwing his leg up so that his foot was in Patty's lap. She held her hands away from his foot with a disgusted look on his face and he moved it, opting to switch around so that he could put a pillow in her lap and lay there staring up at her a little sideways and upside down.
"What are you doing?" she asked him.
"Picking up where I left off," he said.
"Oh really?" she said looking down at him.
Her face softened after a moment and she put her feet up on the coffee table. Justin let a smile form on his face then yelled out, "Hurry up C! Let's get this movie started."
"For that, you get dumped," Patty said. She stood up; pushing Justin's head up then dropped his head onto the couch.
"Owe!" Justin said then watched Patty disappear into the kitchen.
JC returned to the living room in the shorts and shirt and took a seat in the empty recliner. He stared across at Leah then gave Justin a dirty look, one of those "why-are-we-here-again?" looks.
"Drinking games," Patty said holding up the tequila.
"Drinking games?" Leah said with a slightly whining tone.
"Come on, we're all here single on Valentine's day…at least we should have a good buzz," she said then set the Tequila bottle on the coffee table. She quickly passed out shot glasses and said, "Come on over."
They all gathered around the table and lined up the shot glasses and Patty poured the shots.
"Asses up!" Justin said with a serious tone taking the shot too quickly. The alcohol burned on the way down, hitting the back of his throat causing him to lose his breath, but he didn't dare show it. JC would be on him about it in an instant and he didn't want to look bad in front of Patty, even if it was a year or so until he became legal, he had to hold his own with her on this one.
Patty was about to take her shot but stopped and closed her eyes as a laugh froze her. "Shut up and drink Timberlake."
"I second that motion," JC said and closed his eyes taking the drink in one smooth motion.
"For once I have to agree," Leah said slightly wincing from the alcohol.
Patty took her shot then said, "Round two."
Justin looked at her sideways and slid his shot glass over to her.
"Five then we watch the movie," she said.
"Are we counting the first one?" Justin asked.
"Hell no!" Patty said.
Justin took the first of the five with no trouble, but the third took away his breath and fourth made his throat feel a little raw. By the fifth he let out a cough.
"What?" Patty said patting his shoulder. "Done already?"
"No," he said offended by her comment. "You don't sing all day then throw alcohol at your throat do you?"
Patty laughed and took a seventh shot. "My grandmother can out drink you Timberlake," Patty teased.
For the first time that night JC actually smiled. "You gonna take that?"
"No." Justin said.
A half-hour later the stereo was blaring music and Justin and Patty were dancing around.
"Come on, Leah," Justin said pulling her up as a Britney Spears song came on.
They began to dance around with Patty while JC sat down in the recliner again to watch the drunk triplets try to imitate Britney's "Ops I did it again" with Justin playing the lead role. He was surprisingly convincing as the lead roll and even threw out a few moves that Britney actually used.
JC laughed then pushed himself up and went to get a beer.
Patty followed him into the kitchen and found him looking for the beer bottle opener.
She grabbed it out of the drawer where it had been put away then smiled at him. "So are you having a good time?"
"Yeah." He smiled, popped the top off the beer and drank a swig before offering it to her. She took a sip and handed it back. "This was a fun idea."
"Are you going to stop being a hermit now?" Patty asked.
He drew the bottle away from his mouth, as he was about to drink and with wide eyes asked, "Excuse me?"
"Justin says that you've been a hermit since…"
"Please can we not talk about her?"
The song changed in the living room and they could hear laughing for a moment before it got quiet again.
"JC you're acting like an idiot if you don't see that she loves you still."
"Whatever," he said taking a swig of beer. He leaned back against the counter. "She won't talk to me."
"Well make her!" Patty said. She went and grabbed a glass out of the cupboard and paced the room going to the water cooler to get water then to get ice cubes all the while mumbling, "Why am I telling you this? You're like the most popular guy in the whole world and you're coming to me for advice?" Patty drank down some water then let a smile form on her face. "I must be the coolest girl in the world!"
"Did they die in there or something?" JC asked pushing away from the counter.
Patty followed him into the living room where they found Justin and Leah hanging all over each other dancing. They didn't notice them in the doorway and JC looked too shocked to say anything.
When Justin leaned and began kissing her JC dropped his beer bottle to the ground and in one motion had jumped over the back of the couch and grabbed Justin around the shoulders pulling him away from Leah before anyone could say anything. Patty dropped her glass and scrambled over to the couch as the boys began to wrestle. She couldn't tell what exactly was being said, but it sounded mostly like swearing coming from JC and a shocked reply coming from Justin.
A huge thud stopped the fight. When they paused at the sound they found Justin curled into a ball with his hands on his forehead. Being drunk no one thought to even ask if he was ok even though he was rolling back and forth swearing under his breath as if he'd really hit his head hard.
"Damnit JC!" Patty yelled, "Get the fuck out!"
"What did you just do?" Leah said with tears in her eyes looking at the whole seen with a shocked look. The coffe table was moved into a strange position and somehow the pillows on the couch were now on the floor.
Patty went over and pulled Justin's hands from his face and could see that his forehead and a slight cut on it. She turned and stared at JC as he got up and paced the room then slid open the back door and went out onto the porch, slamming the glass door behind him.
"Don't let him drive anywhere," Patty said to Leah helping Justin up. She may be pissed at the guy, but she didn't want him to go and drive anywhere if he'd been drinking.
"He doesn't have any keys," Justin mumbled.
"Come on," Patty said pulling him along down the hall towards her room hoping that Leah would be able to handle being alone with JC for a moment while she fixed up Justin's forehead.
Once in the master bedroom she sat him down on her bed then went into her bathroom. "You should probably put some ice on your forehead, but you need to get that cut closed up first." She heard a mumble from Justin as she pulled open the mirrored cabinet in the bathroom and pulled out some cotton balls and a Band-Aid box and went back into her bedroom. She wasn't much for being the ER type of doctor, but she knew how to use a Band-Aid and hoped that would cure him temporarily.
Justin was lying on his back with his hands on his forehead again. "Sit up," she said as she sat down. He did as he was told and she found that he had blood not only on his forehead now, but had it on his hands too.
"I can't believe he just did that," Justin said sounding still a bit dazed by the whole incident.
Patty moved his head a little so she could see the cut then went over and turned on the lamp. "Well you were kissing Leah, I would have done it to," she said, "If I were him."
"You're jealous?" he asked.
"No," she said quickly. Dabbing at the blood, she pressed down to try to get the small L-shaped cut to stop bleeding.
"Owe!" he protested.
She let up on the pressure of the wound and stared at him for a moment before softening her tones a little to ask, "Are you ok?"
"I just rearranged your coffee table with my forehead," he whined and almost screamed, "No! I'm not ok!"
"Be careful Justin," Patty said after his hand flew up and almost hit her.
"Sorry," he said.
She removed the cotton ball from his forehead and replaced it with another. "Open up a Band-Aid for me," she said.
Justin did as he was told and soon was handing her a Band-Aid.
When his forehead was fixed Justin leaned against her a little.
"Don't think you're getting off Scot free," she warned.
"What'd I do?" he asked. "He was the one who attacked me!"
"You were all up on Leah," Patty said with a little attitude waving her arms around.
He stared at her for a moment.
"What?" she finally asked.
"You're jealous," he said with a shocked tone.
"No I'm not," Patty stated hoping that she'd sound convincing. She couldn't help but to feel a little jealous. She'd had gotten used to him trying to hit on her and didn't like the idea that he would move onto someone else. It wasn't that she'd made up her mind about wanting him or not, but she didn't want him to have anyone else in the mean time.
"You are," he said. A smile formed over his face.
"No," she said and got up. She brought him back a wet washcloth then went out into the front of the house to see where her two other guests had disappeared.
"What's going on out there?" Justin asked when she returned to the room.
"They're out on the porch talking."
"Should I go out there?" Justin asked pushing himself up from the bed.
"No. Just sit back and don't touch your forehead," she said coming over to pull his hands away from his head. She took the washcloth back from him, finding that his hands were now clean and went and put it back in the bathroom. "You frustrate me to no end Justin Timberlake."
Taking a moment to look around the room Justin settled back against the pillows on her bed and smiled, "You know you love me though."
"What’s your definition of love?" she asked with a sarcastic tone returning to the bedroom.
Justin chuckled as she settled herself onto the bed next to him, looking at his forehead for a moment before turning to stare at the blank screen of the television. He put an arm out and around her and pulled her against him. "I think that if you were really sick of me you'd have kicked me out a while ago."
"You're seriously delusional."
"Oh come on," he said.
"What have you been smoking?" she asked.
Justin squeezed her again. "Admit it…you like me."
"You're…" She sat back and looked him over. "You're...amusing."
"Oh come on!" he whine. Letting her go he sat up and moved so that he was sitting next to her Indian style. "You're the boldest…"
"Big mouth?" she supplied for him.
"Thank you." He nodded. "You're so bold in telling everyone else what to do when it comes to relationships. You should follow your own advice."
"You seem to think that this is all SO simple," she explained, "I can't like you…it's too complicated."
Justin grabbed her hands from where she'd been resting them against her stomach and held onto them as he spoke, picking them up and dropping them down again with each word. "Just say the words. I…like…you…Justin."
"I…" she smiled. "I think you're too young for me Justin."
He dropped her hands back to her stomach and leaned back a little. "That's not what you were saying the other night when we were kissing."
"Ugh!" He pouted. "How is it that I can get a crowd of 40,000 people to sing a verse of one of the group's songs but I can't get you to say four words?" He could see it in her eyes that she liked him and there was so much that had been said over the phone to tell him that she did like him, but with her it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit.
"Cuz I'm stubborn…. Besides…I'm not interested."
"You piss me off sometimes. You know that?" He watched her for a moment. "How come you weren't like this on the phone? Maybe I should call you up so we can have a regular damn conversation." He reached for his cell phone in his pocket, but she stopped him.
"Fine…I'll admit it," she said.
"Yes?" he said, "I'm waiting."
"Ok…" He watched her take a deep breath. "Here goes…I…like you Justin."
Justin jumped up and bounced on the bed for a moment with his hands over his head. He didn't care that the jarring motion made his head hurt. He'd gotten her to admit what he'd known for a while now which meant that things would be moving forwards from there on out. He watched her bounce around on the mattress for a moment before plopping down, butt first, making her almost fall onto the floor as the mattress reacted to his landing.
"Justin quit it or you're gonna break the bed."
He wiggled his eyebrows realizing how her comment could be turned into a sexual comment, which made her laugh. He'd waited to hear that sound in person for months.
"Great," she groaned.
"What?" he asked.
"I've just released the monster."
"That thing that some would call your ego."
Justin grabbed her and pulled her over into his lap. "What are you trying to do? Be a smart ass?"
"No. I'm already that," she said.
When he leaned to kiss her she leaned back. "What now?"
"Just because I like you doesn't mean that you can kiss me."
Justin's arms dropped from around her. "You're too stubborn for your own good," he said.
"I know." She smiled at him and leaned to kiss him.
When her lips met his he captured her in his arms again and held her close. As the small kiss that she offered turned into a bigger one he moved his hands under her shirt, like he'd done the first time they'd kissed, but again when he put his hands down below her waistband she pushed him away from her.
She retreated this time with her face looking completely pink. She wiped her mouth off and said, "We can't do this."
"Do what?" he asked.
"This." She held her hands out for a moment waving between the two of them.
"You're born in the eighties for God's sake!" she said. "You were like in first grade when the New Kids on the Block were out."
"Second actually," he said.
"I was in junior high!" she said, "I graduated from high school when you were in seventh grade!" She reached up and covered her mouth and stared at him with wide eyes.
"Oh stop it," he said with a laugh finding it funny to watch her freak out a little. "You make this sound like something bad."
"I'm glad you find this funny."
"If you kiss me again I'll shut up," he said.
"Justin Timberlake, you hornball!" She paced the room. "Do your fans know about this?"
He nodded no. "They probably still think I'm a virgin."
"You're not?" she asked.
"Hell No." He smiled at her quick question and the way that her face twisted into a look that showed how puzzled she must have been.
"So Mr. Man…" She took her place back on the bed next to him. "How many?"
"How many what's?"
"You're such a liar. I can't picture you…doing…" Patty avoided his eyes.
"I'm nineteen for God's sake!"
"Yeah well I thought that you were religious."
"You sound like my mother," he said.
"Your mother knows?"
"No," he said.
There was a pause in the conversation when they heard the sliding glass door open and heard Leah and JC's voices in the living room.
Patty went over and closed the door. "So were they fans?"
"Since when did you become Barbara Walters?"
"I'm just curious." She stared at her waiting for an answer from him.
"No they weren't fans," he replied after awhile.
"So who were they?"
Patty folded her arms across her chest and said, "I'll be back in a minute."
While she was gone Justin took a moment to finish looking around her room. He'd looked around a little when she'd first left, but now he took his time reading the bindings of the books on her shelf above a small desk. Secret Garden. Heidi. Little Princess. He laughed at the thought of her being anyone's "little princess" since she was too brash and bold to be that girly.
"They're still alive," Patty said coming back in.
"I wonder what they're talking about."
"JC's probably yelling at her for kissing you."
"I was just trying to help them out. Who knew that I'd get--"
His cell phone rang and he grabbed it up.
"Justin Randall Timberlake! Where are you?"
"Mom?" he asked.
There was a laugh on the other end of the line. "It's Angela."
"Whoa!" Justin said, "You sounded just like--"
"So are you doing anything naughty?"
"No," His mind flew to the things that he'd like to be doing and his eyes flew to Patty as she sat back down with him. She smiled at him looking a bit nervous then went over to her dresser.
"Anyway…Joey wants to talk to you."
He could hear the phone being passed to another person.
"Waaasssuuuuppp?" Joey said.
"Waaasssuuuppp?" Justin replied.
Justin looked over to see if Patty would laugh at his greeting to Joey and found her with her bare back to him. She was slipping out of her T-shirt and putting on a tank top. Justin almost dropped the phone as he watched her turn back around. Her shirt got caught up a little and for a moment her belly button was sticking out.
"Justin!" Joey yelled in his ear.
"What do you want?" Justin grumbled.
"I just called…to say….I love you," Joey sang to him.
"Fatone you need to get a life."
"Seriously though where are you?" Joey asked.
"Well call your mom cuz she called over there looking for you."
"Mom or step-mom?" he asked.
"Flesh and blood."
"Thanks Joe," Justin quickly said. "I'll talk to you alter." He hung up the phone before Joey could say anything else.
"That wasn't very nice," Patty commented. She was standing by her dresser rubbing lotion down the length of her arms.
He gave her a smile and a wink then dialed his mother's number.
"Who you calling?" Patty asked. She paused for a moment then laughed and sang out, "Ghostbusters!"
"My mom is on my case for something," he said, "I don't know why she didn't just call my cell pho--"
"Mom why'd you call Joey?" he said.
"Where are you?" she asked.
Turning away from where Patty was smiling at him he spoke softly, "Over at Patty's watching movies."
"Are you going to be home tonight?"
"I don't think so."
"Justin you know the rules. I don't care where you are, but if you aren't coming home let me know so I don't stay up half the night wondering where you are."
"Sorry mom," he said, "I love you."
"I love you too honey."
A moment later he hung up the phone.
"Overprotective mom?" Patty asked.
"Just a little." He put his phone back into his pocket and watched her.
"I think it's cute," she said, "At least you don't have older brothers and sisters doing the same thing."
She approached the bed again and moved the comforter out of the way then pulled back the sheets. When she stared at the pillow he was leaning against he sat up and handed it to her then stood up from the bed.
"Are you going to stay up all night?" she asked as she slid under the covers.
"You're not going to kick me out?"
"No, not unless you snore," she replied. She took a deep breath. "I don't think that you want to listen to Leah and JC fighting all night so you'll have to stay in here."
She watched him for a moment. "Bottom drawer on the right. There should be some basketball shorts or something in there."
Whatever confidence he'd had a while before disappeared the moment he had to open her dresser drawer. He found in the bottom compartment of the dresser, among old T-shirts and sweatpants, a pair of huge basktball practice shorts. They didn't look like hers at all and for an instant he wondered if they were an old boyfriends or something.
Holding them up he looked at her and asked, "Whose are these?"
"My brother's old ones from college." She lay back on the pillows with a smile. "Tar Heels…Just for you."
Justin made his way into the bathroom, changed quickly then returned to the room wearing just the practice shorts.
Cautiously he approached the bed, walked around to the far side and slid under the covers. He thought for a moment that she might be asleep, until her eyes popped open and with a smile she said, "No kicking me in the middle of the night."
When the sound of a knock was heard at the door Justin stared at the doorway nervously.
"What's up?" Patty called.
"Where's your extra pillow?" Leah called in to them.
Justin gripped the comforter to him almost afraid that Leah would walk in.
"I'll get it," Patty threw back the covers and leapt out of bed and went towards the door.
Watching her leave and noting Leah's expression as she saw where he was sitting, Justin tried to calm down. He'd told the truth about his status as being a non-virgin, but he hadn't told her that when he'd had sex in the past he hadn’t spent the night with the girl.
"Justin! Damn it! You got mud all over the floor." She threw down her backpack onto the couch and with a scowl on her face she reached down and picked up his sneakers and walked them out to the back porch, plopping them down next to the door where he'd left his basketball and another similar looking pair of shoes.
He'd come over about a half an hour before and after giving her a quick kiss on the cheek she'd ushered him into the bathroom so that he could get ready for the picnic at Lance's house that night. They'd been at meetings that morning for their new recording schedule and he'd driven over to pick her up.
Any normal person would have wondered why he hadn't gone home to take his shower, but Patty didn't mind having him there. Since Valentine's he'd sort of moved in. He spent his time off with her and slowly but surely she was getting used to the idea that they might end up being a couple. She wasn't exactly fighting the inevitable attraction between them, but she wasn't going to be bowled over by the pressure he put on her about relaxing about the whole situation.
She had her reasons for resisting him, but they sometimes got outvoted by the way that he seemed to have worked his way into her life. She hadn't even thought twice the morning after Valentine's when he'd made himself breakfast. He'd ended up staying to eat lunch with her and when he showed up at the bar every night just as they were closing she followed his car home and crawled into bed with him to snuggle and sleep the night away in his arms.
At times, like when she found his clothes all over the bathroom or his muddy shoes on the carpet, she had second thoughts about letting him be so comfortable in her house. She wasn't sure if she should feel like she was babysitting, but it seemed at times that he needed a little more guidance than she was used to giving someone she was dating.
There hadn't been anything sexual between them, other than kissing, although Justin seemed to like to test that little boundary every so often. His age and the strange situation that they were both in made Patty want to make sure that this thing was going to work out before she was going to start to sleep with him. She kept trying to remind herself how young he was and how at that age she'd have fallen head over heels for anyone who'd been sexually interested in her.
"Hey Cli?" Justin called from the bathroom.
"What?" she asked still mad over finding his shoes on the carpet. She made her way into the bedroom then heard the fan on in the bathroom and went to investigate.
"Have you thought any more about the whole JC and Leah thing?" he asked.
She turned the corner into the bathroom and found him shaving. It was times like that, when he would be in her house--doing normal every day things--when she would forget and let herself enjoy their time together. During the day though she worried about how people would react to their age difference. There were only a few years between them, but to her, being that he was only nineteen, really made a statement. "I don't know. From what Leah said, the two of them talked on Valentine's Day night, but they haven't talked since. Has he been in a better mood since then?"
"No," Justin said, "But I haven't really spent a lot of time with him. I'm still afraid he's going to hit me again."
"Well at least we know he still has feelings for her," Patty said.
He wiped his face with a towel, tightened the bandana around his head, and looked over at her. "I wish he hadn't used my forehead to figure that out."
Patty noticed some shaving cream on his neck and went over and wiped it off with the towel. She leaned against the counter. "You were kissing his woman. What did you expect?"
Justin leaned over and kissed her. "I didn't expect to see you jealous, but it's nice to be loved like that."
"Love?" she asked. "You seem to throw that phrase around a little too easily Justin. I still haven't made up my mind about you."
"I think you have."
"Well if you keep leaving your shoes all over my house I may just have to kick you out."
As she started to retreat from the bathroom Justin put an arm around her and pulled her close, "You'd get lonely at night if you did that."
"You're too much Justin," she said, "I just wish you'd tell your mother where you were at night."
"She'd kill me," he mumbled.
"See Justin…that's what worries me," she said, "I don't want to be with you if you're going to be lying to people. Keeping your relationships from the public is one thing--I know that much--but you can't lie to your family."
"Fine then," he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the bedroom. He sat down on the bed, pulled on a different pair of basketball shoes and said, "We'll go tell my mom right now."
Patty watched him with a smile then checked her watch. "We have to get over to Lance and Nicole's."
"You want me to drive?" he asked.
"You drove the Boxter didn't you?" she asked noting the certain look on his face. His spending habits worried hHer. He had more clothes and more shoes than Amelda Marcos and she wondered if they did end up together if he'd keep those spending habits up. She was into saving her money, not spending every penny that she got. Not that his bank account would even notice a car's worth of money gone.
"Why do you hate that car so much?" he asked.
"Because you won't let me drive it," she answered.
"You crashed your old car twice and just got a speeding ticket in your truck," he said, "I'm not letting you hurt my baby."
As Justin backed out of her driveway a few minutes later he put a hand around on the headrest of her seat so that he could make sure and not to hit into the other cars parked on the street. He glanced over at Patty with a smile and she leaned an patted his knee then left her hand on his thigh. "Smile Justin. Today's going to be fun," she said.
She'd known how early he'd gotten up that morning. He'd tried not to wake her up, but she had the habit of waking up just long enough to say good-bye. She'd done it the last four mornings. It ripped at his heart every time he had to leave her there. He'd wanted to be able to have a normal life and a normal relationship, but with her stubbornness, his early morning meetings were just another reason for them not to date.
"I know," he said sticking his tongue out at her. He flipped the car into gear then took off down the street passing her neighbors with a wave to a high school aged looking girl who was on the front porch.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
"One of your neighbors is a fan," he said. He watched Patty slowly remove her hand from his thigh and fold her arms across her chest. He let out a sigh and looked over at her. "Damn." He flipped into another gear and sat back.
"What?" she asked.
"You act all jealous with stuff like that, but then you won't treat me like I'm your boyfriend," he said. "I'll never understand women…" He made a turn and changed gears again, this time accidentally over reving the engine.
"You want me to drive?" she asked.
"No," he pouted.
The silence and pouting lasted for another ten minutes until they pulled through the gate at Lance's. There were a dozen or so cars parked out front and when they got to the back yard it was covered with people. Justin looked at Patty, knowing that she would want to go and talk to Leah, who he'd seen lounging in a chair next to Angela and Dani.
Surprisingly enough she stood next to him for a moment then slid her hand into his and leaned to whisper in his ear. "I like you Justin, remember that ok?"
The sound of her words made him feel a little better, but when she broke away from him to join the other girls he watched her leave with a little sadness.
He knew that he had his work cut out for him. He needed to convince her that they were meant for each other. She'd sounded so great on the phone while he was on the road, but now in person she seemed to be resisting every step forward he was trying to make in their relationship. She hadn't ever really said her opinion of him sleeping over, until earlier that day, but he hadn't really found her resisiting much when he cuddled her against him at night before they fell asleep.
He felt a slap on the back and stepped forward a little losing his balance. He turned and found JC watching him with a half smile on his face. It was one of the first smiles the guy had had on his face for weeks.
"Don't stare too hard Justin."
"Are you drunk already?" Justin asked noting the beer in JC's hand.
"No." He took a drink from the bottle. "Just working on a good buzz."
"Be careful C," Justin said, "I don't want a cut on the other side of my forehead tonight."
"Don't worry," JC put his arm around Justin's shoulders, leaning a little more than he should have and said, "It's all covered. I've got a plan." JC tapped his forehead with the long neck bottle and said, "It's all up here."
"Whatever you say C," Justin said. "Just keep a count of those beers."
Justin hated being the fatherly type to JC--it didn't seem natural for the fatherly figure of the group to be needing to hear his own advice--but lately JC needed a little of it. He hadn't been himself in almost a year. First it had been over the break up with Boo, then he'd fallen for Leah and had been lovesick over her, then he'd crashed when they'd broken things off.
"You know what?" JC asked taking another swig of beer.
"What's that?" Justin replied.
"You should fuck Patty," JC said.
"What?" Justin pushed JC's arm off him and looked at him square in the face.
"Just get it over with," JC said, "She's good for you…"
Patty suddenly appeared in front of them, handing Justin a Snapple then looking at JC. "How you feeling there JC?"
"Good," he said.
"How long have you been drinking today?" she asked.
"Not long," he said with a smile.
"Well why don't you go hang out with Joey and Chris for a minute, I need to talk to Justin," Patty said putting an arm around him.
JC nodded drunkily at them and made his way over to where Chris and Joey were playing cards.
"What was that all about?" she asked.
"Nothing," Justin replied as she hugged herself to him. He stepped away from her, keeping her at arms length as JC's words rumbled through his head. He should just get himself rip roaring drunk and throw himself on her. At least he would mess things up with her quicker that way.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing," he lied and opened the Snapple downing half of it before he spoke again. "I just don't feel good."
She reached up and touched his forehead, "Like flu sick?"
"No," he said pushing her hand away he shook up the Snapple and walked away from her.
He made his way over to Lance, who was sitting next to the barbecue with his mother. "Hey," he said with a quiet voice.
"Justin honey, are you ok?" Lance's mother asked breaking away from her son to come over and look at him.
"Yeah, I'm just a little tired," he said rubbing his forehead.
"Where's Patty?" Lance asked.
"Somewhere around here," Justin said with a frown.
It was dark before Patty talked to Justin again. He'd spent most of the afternoon sitting with the guys playing cards and she'd stayed over with Leah, who announced to the girls, after a few beers that she and JC were going to get back together.
Patty wasn't sure if she should take Leah seriously considering how drunk she had gotten over the course of the afternoon, but when she saw JC and Leah sitting on the edge of the pool together kissing she guessed that Leah had been serious about the reconnection with JC.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Justin said from behind her.
"You'd be broke if you did that," she said and turned around to face him. "You still mad at me?"
"I wasn't mad," he said coming around to her he sat down in the grass near the chair she was sitting in and patted her leg. "I'm just frustrated."
"I know I haven't been fair…"
He cut her off. "I have to leave tomorrow," he said.
"What?" she asked.
"The director of that movie I'm working on just called. I leave in the morning for Canada," he said.
"Come with me," he said reaching out to take her hand.
Her eyes went wide and she thought she might pass out since she couldn't tell if she was breathing or not.
"Come and spend the week with me up there," he said.
"Justin," she said finally catching her breath. "I can't…"
She watched his expression change into one of sadness and anger. "Well, I guess I have my answer then." He pushed himself up off the grass and walked away from her.
"Great," she sighed. She got up out of the seat and ran after him.
"What answer are you talking about?" she asked.
"Nevermind," he said with a sigh.
She put her hands on her hips. "No, tell me."
He rubbed his forehead as a headache began to form on the side of his head that had been hit a few days before. "Just forget about it. I'll come by and get my shoes and stuff before I leave." If he was going to do this, he was going to have to separate himself from her forever because it would hurt too much just to be friends.
"Why should I stay?" he asked. He really didn't have a reason to want to stick around. If she was going to act like that and not be real with him about her feelings it was just a waste of time to stay.
"Because you drove me here."
He knew that he should give her a ride home, but after her refusal to go with him to Canada for the movie he couldn't think of anything but getting away from her. "Like you can't get a ride home?" he said.
"Justin, what the hell is wrong with you?"
"I should be asking the same thing about you," he said, "If you don't want to be with me then just say so cause I'm getting tired of the head games."
Patty was shocked again. "I do," she said, "But you can't just jump into something like this head first."
"You jump into everything else head first," he said, "Why not me?"
He watched her silently.
"Cuz you're going to hurt me," she finally said.
Tears welled up in her eyes which totally tore at his heart. He stepped closer to her and cupped her cheek with his hand and looked into her eyes. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"But you will," she said, "It's inevitable. You're going to be going back on the road and I don't think I can handle that."
Justin pulled her into his arms and she began to cry.
"I've totally fallen for you, but I can't let myself enjoy that because I know that it's impossible for us to be together."
"It's not impossible," he said.
"Well it's not going to be a picnic," she said into his shirt.
"Who said anything was that easy?" he asked.
"Everything in your life is easy," she said, "You have the luxury of doing whatever you want."
Justin pulled back from her for an instant. "My life is not that easy," he said. How could anyone call his lifestyle easy? "Because if that is what is getting in the way I could I'd drop this singing thing right now, if it was going to keep us apart."
"What?" she asked.
"I swear it," he said, "I'd drop it all in an instant for you."
"You don't want to do that," she said.
"I'd do it," he said.
"Justin you can't do that," she said looking over at the porch to the other members of the group.
"Watch me," he said as he walked over towards the porch.
"No wait!" she said and pulled him back over to her. "Don't do that."
He laughed at her a little, "So can we get on with things now?"
"I can't make you any promises Justin."
"I'm not asking for any," he said. He took a hold of her hands and looked into her eyes. "Just have fun with me until the ride is over."
Patty rolled over in bed and smiled. It was way too early in the morning to really be in that good of a mood but as she watched Justin slowly trying to make his way out of bed she couldn't help but to be happy.
As he slipped on his boxers and walked around the bed to go to the bathroom she watched him. His hair was sticking out in all directions and as he rubbed his face he finally realized she was awake.
"Morning," he said with a tired look in her direction.
"What time is your flight?" she asked.
"In about three hours," he said.
"Have you packed yet?" she asked.
"No," he said, "But that won't take me long. They have wardrobe stuff for me. All I need is a pair of sweats and a pair of jeans to wear in between shooting times."
Patty sat up, keeping the sheet to her chest with one arm while reaching out to him for the other. He came over and sat down next to her on the bed and leaned and kissed her. "I really wish I could go with you," she said, "But I have to work."
"I'll be back before you know it," he said, "I'm going to come back for the rehearsal dinner then the wedding then leave the night after the wedding."
"Are you gonna take Leah?" she asked.
"I think I should and you should take JC," he said. He leaned his forehead to hers.
"Save a dance for me?" she asked.
He must have hit the sleep button on the alarm and not turned it off, because the alarm clock chose that moment to go off again. Patty broke away from him to turn it off and said, "You'd better get in the shower."
"Go back to sleep," he said, "I'll say goodbye before I leave."
She smiled at him. "Ok."
He kissed her once more before running into the bathroom and shutting the door.
When he was gone she sat up in bed for a moment concentrating on the sound of him stepping into the shower then lay back with a smile. She still wasn't one hundred percent sure that things would go well with them, but at least in the mean time she got to enjoy him.
She must have fallen asleep because a few moments later she felt the bed move and when she woke up he was practically laying on top of her. He smelled of soap and toothpaste as he lowered himself down to capture her bottom lip with his in a deep kiss.
"I'll see you in a few days ok?" he said.
"I gotta run."
"I know. It's ok," she said, "Give me a call tonight when you get there."
"I will," he said.
"I love you," she found herself saying.
He smiled and kissed her again. "I love you too."
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