86,400 Seconds 8

When we get to the hotel there is an overhang area that we drive up into before someone comes to the car to valet park it.  I pop the back hatch so we can get out everything from back there before I hand the keys over.  I walk around to the back as Justin helps Jayden out of the back seat.  I help pull everyone's bags out of the back and we trudge towards the lobby.  Jayden immediately grabs onto Justin's hand and they look almost like twins walking next to each other with their backpacks on.

I open and hold the front door for everyone.  I do this by reflex now.  As Justin passes me he says thanks quickly and when Jayden passes me she giggles at me.  I take one last look around while Vivian and Barry from Jive go into the lobby.  There aren't any fans here, at least not ones that I can see straight out on the outside of the building.  There are a few cars on the far side of the street and without looking twice I recognize three paparazzi.  I didn't see them at the studio, but I'm sure there were there somewhere in the crowd of people.

The lobby is a different story.  I immediately notice a few girls are standing to the side watching us.  This wouldn't normally catch my attention, but it being a school day it seems strange that a group of fifteen or sixteen year olds would be standing in a hotel lobby.  There isn't a school around here for miles and this isn't a great kid hang out so I know that they are here for him.

Justin seems to notice me tense up a little and keeps his head down.  I see his grip change on Jayden's hand as we make our way over to the elevator.  He even is breathing a bit shallow.

Jayden moves to hold Justin's hand with her other hand.  "Daddy?"

"What do you need Jayden?" Justin answers for me as I keep my eyes on the girls across the room.

I glance down and see that Jayden is looking up at me.  "Daddy why are those girls staring?"

"They like me," Justin says then clears his throat when Vivian makes a small protesting noise from behind him, "I mean they like the music that I make so they came here to try to see me."

"Aren't you going to say hi?" she asks innocently looking at the girls.  "If they came to see you then you should say hi."

"Maybe when we leave," Justin says.

Jayden does the unexpected and turns and tries to pull away from Justin's hand.  When she doesn't get away from him she cups her one hand to her mouth and yells out to the girls.  "We have to go, but Justin will say hi when he's done."

The girls start to giggle and when I make eye contact with Vivian she's got a silly smile on her face.  This is definitely not what we expected today, but at least everyone steps into the elevator a moment later without having to deal with the girls getting too close.

Barry from Jive presses the button on the elevator wall to get us to the fifteenth floor.  Somehow we've passed the front desk.  I'm assuming that Barry has checked us in already and that everything is set up and waiting for us to get there.  Sometimes we use conference rooms on the lower floors for stuff like this, but today we've actually rented two different suites, or rather Jive has rented them out.  One suite, as we pass and can see into the room, is a gathering area for the reporters that are going to be talking to Justin.  There are already about fifteen people in the room and they all seem to look up at us as we walk by.  The other is a suite for the interviews to happen in, two doors down from the first room.  Both are top of the line and I know will be comfortable for the day.

"Can I talk to you for a second Barry?" Vivian asks just as we are going in.  She gives me a look then Justin a hard look when he steps towards her.

"Come on you two," I finally say and push Justin and Jayden into the room.  The place is already set up.  There is a coffee table and a couch with a spot that looks to be cleared for any camera crews that might come in.  Bottled waters are sitting on an end table and there are extra pillows on the couch.

"Nice," Justin says and goes into the bedroom.  He drops his backpack onto the bed and moves into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Jayden is looking around, having dropped her backpack near the coffee table.

When there is a knock at the door Jayden runs to get it and I have to move her out of the way so I can let the reporter in.

"Whoa," the guy says when he sees me.  He looks down at Jayden who's behind me trying to see who is at the door.  "Do I have the right room?"

"That depends," I say trying to make sure the guy knows that there will be no funny business going on today.

"Jerry Armor.  I'm with Launch News."  He shows me his business card immediately, not that I need it.  "Barry said that you were ready for me.  Or rather that Justin is ready for me?"

I lean out the door and see Barry on the phone, but he sees me and waves to me to let the guy in.  I could make things easier on this guy and act a little more hospitable, but I don't.  In my profession, formal is the only way to go in situations like this.  I need to keep up the image that I'm in control, even if sometimes I know that I'm just as helpless as everyone else.

"Yeah," I say, "Justin will be ready in a second.  Have a seat."

Jayden watches as the guy comes into the room.  "Daddy?" she asks moving closer to me.

"Sorry," I say to Jerry.  "We'll go get Justin."

I pick up Jayden and start towards the bedroom.

"We ready?" Justin asks from the doorway of the bedroom.

"Looks like it," I say nodding towards the reporter who is looking over some notes.

Justin walks past me into the room.

"Jerry Armor," the reporter says with a handshake to Justin.  He gives me a look as I move to the bedroom.  I'm not looking straight at him, looking more to getting Jayden out of the main room into the bedroom so she won't disturb anyone, but I still feel the guy's eyes following me across the room before he turns his attention back to Justin.  I don't like the intimidation factor for the most part, but here it's needed.  Even though Barry from Jive will be up here in a few minutes, for the moment I'm the only barrier between Justin and the reporter.  "LAUNCH News."

"Hi," Justin said and takes his seat.

Jerry is a nervous type of guy.  I'm sure he's done a million interviews, but press junkets are different.  They are rushed and that never is a great thing for reporting.  It leads to misunderstandings and misquotes all the time.  "I want to jump right in since I know your day is packed."

"Great," Justin says.

Leaving them alone for a second I put Jayden in the bedroom, closing the door behind me most of the way.  I put Jayden down on the edge of the bed and move back towards the doorway.  "Baby you gotta be really quiet ok?"

Jayden around so that she can open up her backpack and sit more properly.  "Ok Daddy."

I watch her settle into a seat then am fascinated by the way she stands on her knees to see out the window before she sits back down. 

I can hear the introductions still being done between Justin and the reporter and I know that now that they're sitting there the guy is going to put everything on record.  On record.  It's the worst thing in the world.  To safeguard people from making misquotes or making up stories, Justin always does interviews with other people in the room.  Privacy is a dangerous thing in a situation like that.  No one around Justin wasn't a he-said-she-said or he-said-he-said situation to happen.  Everything in Justin's life when it comes to things like this needs to be documented.  "Let me go check on things really quick then you can pull out your coloring book again and finish that picture for Justin."

"Ok Daddy," she says in a hushed voice.

Jerry turns on his little tape recorder as I return to the room.  I pull a chair over out of the way and set it in the doorway so I can see Jayden in the bedroom, but also keep an eye on Justin and Jerry.  "So with NSYNC on a hiatus you decided to keep working.  Was that a conscious decision or did it just happen?"

"It's really more about timing than anything," he explained. "It just worked out."

"Were you always thinking of this kind of a project?"

"It's something that's kind of been an ongoing thing for me as a kid, and I just got, you know, in the madness of all the *NSYNC craze, things just got so crazy. I think as a group we decided to kind of slow down and see where our heads were at and what we wanted to do for the next record. You know, I just got this creative spurt and went in the studio, and here it is."

"So who can you name as your influences on this album.  Are they different than who influenced your work with NSYNC?"

"I was lucky enough to grow up in a time where we could watch people like Michael and Madonna and look up to them as pop icons. I just think, you know, there's other music out there for me, and there's other music that influenced me. I think you'll definitely hear a little bit of the Eagles in the harmonies. I think you'll hear, you know, a lot of Stevie Wonder in songs like 'Senorita' and a ballad called 'Still On My Brain.'"

"Do you ever think of yourself as an inspiration for other artists?"

"Not really," he says with a shrug.

That's one thing I love about this guy.  As much as he jokes around about being cocky when he's with his friends, the man truly doesn't know how to handle compliments from his peers.

"Well I have a quote for you," Jerry says.

Justin shrugged.  "Ok."

"In a recent interview with Nelly, said, "Well, I mean, me working with Justin (Timberlake)...Duke is talented. I don't care what you say, you can't deny if it's talent, man. Man, duke is crazy. And me saying that, I just like to make good music, folks. You hear me. I want to do things different."

"Wow," Justin says with a bashful look on his face.  "That's-that's flattering."

Barry comes in the other door and nods to me before he brings me over a list.  He quickly leans towards me.  "Here is the list of people that are allowed in during the interviews."

"Where'd Vivian run off to?" I ask knowing that she should probably have this list before I do.

"She'll be back in a second."  He pauses and watches Justin for a moment as he is telling this Jerry guy goodbye.  "She had to make a phone call."

"Did she seem ok?" I ask.  I don't want to start trouble, to put my nose in where it doesn't belong, but I'm certain that something is going on with her and I have a feeling that she's about to go cry on the phone to someone.  She doesn't do it often, but today seems like an appropriate time for her to do it.  After what Justin told Wayne I'd be upset too if it was me he was talking about.

"Yeah," he said, "Why?"

"Just wondering if she was feeling ok."  I try to think up a good enough lie to make it seem as if I'm only checking up and not prying.  "We had a night flight last night and I don't think anyone slept that well."

"She looked ok to me," Barry shrugged.

"Ok," I nod.

Barry looks at his phone to see the time.  I look at my own watch and see that some of the diamonds are falling out of it.  I've hit it a few times on doors and the car doors.  Next time I have a chance I'll have to go see Jake in New York and get him to fix it.  I spent a shit load on this watch and I need to make sure that I keep this thing looking good.  It's all about status when you're hanging around Justin.  We aren't really all that caught up in it, but the status we have makes people assume that we do and live a certain way.  "Let me make one more last run through with the reporters outside and then I'll come take over watching Justin's interviews so you can spend some time with Jayden."

I sigh.  "I hate to be a trouble."

"No trouble at all," Barry says, "I'm the one that needs to be in here anyway."

I nod.  "Thanks."

Pushing himself to his feet Barry gives Justin a smile then leaves the room. slips from the room quietly and soon the first interview of the day is being finished.

"Thanks for the time," Jerry is saying soon and Justin shakes his hand one last time before he plops back down onto the couch.

As soon as Jerry is out of the room Justin sighs.  "Where's Vivian?"

"Making a phone call," I say quickly.  "She'll be back in a bit."

Another knock sounds at the door and another reporter comes into the room, this time with Barry from Jive.

"Rick Astor," the guy says as he takes his seat.

"I'll take over," Barry says and tells me that I can go in the other room with Jayden.

I get up and move and only half listen as the guy starts in with his questioning.  "Hip-hop music has recently become more pop, what's your take on this since you seem to have pulled the pop world and the hip-hop world together on your album?"

"I think music is gonna make a full circle in the near future.  I think it might end up going back to an era like the 60s, where people really didn't classify what was hip-hop.  I mean, you look on Billboard and there's the R&B and hip-hop charts, and then there's the pop and top-40 charts and there's the rock charts.  I mean I can't even keep up with all of them."

I smile at the thought of that.  The boy has been reading up again.  I know he reads Billboard magazine, but didn't think that he paid attention to the charts that are outside his own market.


"What pumpkin?" I ask and move to sit on the bed.  The door is still open a little so we'll have to be a bit quiet, but for the most part I can at least have a conversation with her without getting into Justin's way.

Jayden  smiled, "Can I come on tour with you?"

"Not until you're older honey," I say.  I don't know why this has come up, but that's the only answer I can give her to explain why she can't come with me.  Hanging out with her for a few days here and there is fine, but actually packing her up and taking her on the road wouldn't work for either of us.  She'd be bored to death.  I'd never get to see her.

"Please," she says, "I'll be a good girl."

I sigh.  I wonder if Beverly has been using her behavior to get her off the whole idea of coming to spend time with me.  I could see that if she'd been horrible that she might not get to spend time with me, but I know Beverly's way of thinking and the little things are bigger to her than to other people.  "You're a good girl already honey."

"If I'm a good girl why can't I come and see you?"

This is not the conversation I want to be having with her right now.  I need to talk to Beverly about this before I try to explain it to Jayden.  I want her to come and visit and I know she'd be a good kid, but I don't know if Beverly will even let her come with me for a weekend or two.  She seemed too strange on the phone earlier for me to believe that she's going to let our daughter be with me more than just a few days a year.

Interview with Yahoo! LAUNCH is adapted from the following articles to fit the storyline:

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Last updated: 08/14/04.