86,400 Seconds 15

For a little girl, my daughter sure can make a lot of noise.  When she finally realizes that she's going to be included in tonight's festivities, she lets out a scream that would rival any of Justin's fans' screams.  This brings everyone towards the doorway with worried looks on their faces and while Jayden is jumping up and down with Vivian trying to calm her a bit, the doorbell sounds.

"What's wrong?" Lynn asks instantly.

"Nothing," I say to her and Paul.  He seems to understand the interesting behavior of this group and brushes off the incident with nothing more than a nod.  Motherly in every movement, Lynn presses a hand to her chest looking as if she's just been scared out of her mind over the scream.

Justin slips by me with a sarcastic tone to his voice in a comment that comes out so quickly I almost don't hear what he says, "I'll get it."

I know that I should answer the door.  Technically I'm not on duty and that being at the house gives us a little shorter list of things and people we have to look out for, but the instinct is still there to do all the helping and footwork.

Moments later, after two bags are set carelessly onto the floor in the entry, a third girl is jumping up and down with Vivian and Jayden.  In my old age I'm forgetting things.  I knew that Teena was on her way over, but I forgot that the time was whizzing by and that soon we'd all be on our way to the party for the night.

"I don't know what we're celebrating," Teena says as she celebrates, "But this is great."

"Jayden gets to go to the party tonight," Justin says slipping back by me.  "I'm going to jump in the shower."  He looks at Vivian and starts towards her, but when the girls are so caught up in their conversation that no one notices, he looks at me.  "Can you make sure that the girls actually GET READY for the party instead of just celebrating the idea of them going to it?"

I nod to him and try to pull Jayden away for a minute.  If this is going to work, there needs to be some ground rules put into place from the beginning.  I kneel down on one knee as Teena and Vivian stop jumping and immediately start talking about Vivian's hair color and outfit for that evening.  My knee cap feels as if it's on fire, but I stand the pain for the moments that I need to talk to my daughter.

"Can I really go?" Jayden asks looking half scared that I'm going to tell her she can't go because of the screaming.

"Yes," I say eyeing Vivian and Teena who are still chatting over hair and make up, "You have to be good though.  And if I say something, no arguing.  There are going to be too many people there tonight and you need to--"

Vivian finds her way over. "I'll keep an eye on her.  Justin will be doing interviews and I'm planning to find a seat and keep it for most of the night.  VIP section will have extra guards and all that.  She'll be fine."

"Yeah," Jayden says.

"Well--"  I take a look at her.  "Your hair is already done, so you better find something to wear--"

"We'll find something," Vivian says.  "Why don't you go grab a little nap or something and I'll look after Jayden."

"Nap?" I eye her as I get up from my kneeling position.

"Business night ahead," Vivian says with a shrug.

I continue to eye her as she starts to let a laugh out.  "But a nap?"

"I was going to suggest it to Justin, but he disappeared--"  She looks around.  "Where'd he go?"

"Upstairs to shower."

She looks a bit confused.  I track her eyes as she looks around the whole entry way as if she's trying to remember the path in which Justin took to disappear.  First she looks from the living room, to the door, then back towards the bottom of the steps before she looks back at me.  "Oh."

"Yeah," I say taking my turn to laugh.  "You and Teena were talking hair and make up and I don't think he wanted to bother you."

"Hmm," she says then looks back. 

"Yeah.  Oh and hmmm," I say, "The two of you crack me up.  You should really get up there and see what he's up to.  If I know him well enough he's up there fuming over the fact that he's not the center of attention."

"We need to get everyone dressed and hair done," Teena says.  I gotta curl your hair up.

"Yeah," Vivian says still looking a little dazed, but manages to move towards the stairs that will take the girls upstairs.  "Jayden, go grab your bag and we'll see what we have for you to wear.  No one is going to dress up too much so I think that a skirt and a cute little t-shirt would be good."

"Ok."  Jayden instantly disappears out of sight.

Taking my time of things I let the girls get down to business.  I slip into the kitchen and find Paul sneaking a beer out of the fridge.


"Long day?" Paul asks.

"Naw," I say, "Ex-wife."

Paul uncaps his beer and leans against the counter.  He knows all about ex's.  He's been lucky though in that Justin's biological father has been very accommodating to everyone on their side of the family.  In reality things with those two families have been eerily smooth.  But, every once in a while everyone is reminded that there are two families and two ways of doing things.  Jonathan and Stephen are always allowed to visit and Justin is always welcome at home in Memphis, but when school work and soccer and basketball schedules come into play, no one can have an easy time of things.  "How are things going with that?"

"As good as can be expected," I say.  "She's getting remarried."

Paul looks about as shocked as I am.  Being in the position that I'm in has involved both of our personal lives.  One of the rules of being a bodyguard is to keep yourself separated from your charges, but when you're together twenty four seven and when children are involved, that line gets crossed so many times that it doesn't seem as if there is a line anymore.  "What?"

"Yeah," I sigh.  "He's actually a great guy and all, but it's just--Shit."  My shoulders slump.  "He's an old co-worker of mine.  She told me the reason she couldn't be with me because of the travel and all that came with it and now she's going off and marrying someone exactly like me.  It's just--"

"Tough stuff."

"Paul?" Lynn comes into the kitchen now wearing a terry robe.  Her hair is wet, half up in a clip on the top of her head and the other half already straightened out.  "Babe.  You gotta get ready if we're--"

"I know."  He downs a good swig of his beer and leaves me in the kitchen.

As I'm making my way upstairs to jump in the shower and to change into my clothes for the night, I hear my phone ring.  I let it go to voice mail.  I'm sure that it's something related to tonight, but I need five more minutes of peace and quiet before I start working again.  I think I deserve that much after today.

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