Spirit of Steel -- 26


When he opened his eyes he could hear the ocean.  He'd thought that he'd wake up before her, but when he opened his eyes he found that she wasn't in bed with him still and could see that the back sliding doors in the bedroom were open.  She was sitting out on the back porch after having changed into a pair of shorts with a book in her hand and his sunglasses on her face.  Her feet were propped up on the low railing of the porch and she looked as if she'd been there for a while.  He wiped his eyes and took a deep breath.  He found the clock next to the bed and saw that it was almost noon so he pushed himself up and shuffled towards the back door.

"Hey," he said coming out the door.  He walked over to her side and put a hand on the chair behind her shoulder and leaned to kiss her on the mouth.  It was a quick move, but she smiled when he'd done it before shock took over.

He noticed how she shut it and put it in her lap, cover side down, and smiled.  "Hi."  Her voice was slightly high pitched.  "Feeling better?"

"Yeah," he said with a yawn before he pulled a chair over next to her.  He put his feet up and scooted down in his chair so that his head could rest on the back of the chair.  He turned his head towards her and reached out towards her lap.  "What are you reading?"

She ducked her head and held up the book.

"Justin Timberlake: The Unofficial Book by Martin Roach?"  He smiled at her.  "Really?"

"It's kind of embarrassing," she said, her face flushing to a reddish color, "But I saw it in the store the other day when I was out getting Christmas stuff and I that it would be funny to read."

He clicked his tongue in his mouth.  "Just when I think I know you, you turn up with something new to surprise me with."

She stared out onto the water then sighed.  "Are you mad?  I didn't mean for it to--"

"No," he said and then made a funny face, "Disappointed, but not mad."  He mocked her.

"Thanks," she said with a laugh and pulled the book away from where he was still eyeing it and set it down on the far side of the chair from him.

"What'd you do that for?" he asked.

"I think I'm done embarrassing myself for the time being."  Her body straightened as if she was trying to sit in a more proper fashion.  "Thank you very much."

"It's cute Lina," he said moving his hand to the arm rest of her chair.  He looked out at the water and let a few breaths go by before he turned to her with a half smile.  "But if you want to do a background check I'm sure that RollingStone or one of those magazines probably has better information than that Martin guy."

"You're trouble Justin Timberlake," she said with a half smile.

He liked the way she said those words.  There was no truth to the statement, or at least no serious truth to the statement and he was certain that she was the only woman besides his mother that could call him trouble and tease him that way without having him get really upset over it.

"If I want the goods I know I can always go to your mother."

He had to laugh at that.  They might not have known each other that long, but she'd learned quickly about who really controlled him.  Of course he was a grown man and could handle most things himself, but when it came down to laying down the path for his life, there was no one closer to the situation than his mother.  She could anticipate his moves sometimes before he'd even made a decision about his life.

He watched her push herself up until standing and then leaned down to kiss him.  "Speaking of her, we should get ready to walk up to lunch with everyone."

"Do we have to?" he whined letting his arms and legs go slack.  He would never really avoid his family, but to have her away from everyone for a while was something he'd been looking forward to.  "I thought I'd have you to myself for a few more hours."

"How sweet," she said and kissed him again.  "If we go have lunch with everyone I'm sure that I can convince everyone to let us alone tonight."

"Can't," he said with a sigh.  "I've got sound check at around five before I do some radio interviews then perform later on tonight.  Maybe tomorrow?"

She stood up straight, used an even expression to speak.  "Sure."

She was disappointed.  He could see it in her eyes, but there wasn't much he could do about it.  After tonight he'd have all his evenings free until the last night and he had already planned a few nights out with her and a few nights in with her, so they would have their time together, but at the moment she was looking at him as if it had been a mistake to come to Hawaii. 

"It's not that I don't want to," he said moving to hold her hand.  "You want to come with me tonight and watch the show and everything?"

"Sure," she said with a smile, "I'd like to see you in the club again.  The big shows are great, but you with the Black Eyed Peas is more my style."

"Your style?"

"Up close and personal," she said and leaned again to kiss him.

He sighed and pushed himself up.  "Let me go grab a different shirt and we'll head up to lunch."

She nodded and moved into the cottage to get her shoes.

*****

It only took about five minutes to walk up to the main hotel.  They walked along the beach for a while then cut across the golf course.

When his feet hit the grass he bent over with one hand to touch the grass then looked up at her with a smile.  "I haven't been golfing since before my ankle got messed up."  He made sure that his hand was clean and sighed, "Do you know how strange it is to see grass again?"  He looked up at the sky and noticed that too.  "The sun too.  It's crazy how you start to miss the little things in life like that."

She made a face at him and kicked at a leaf that was lying on the top of the groomed grass.

"What?"

"No offense honey, but do you even like what you do anymore?" she asked.

He moved towards her and hooked an arm around her knowing that they should walk up to the hotel or they'd be late.  He had every intention of answering her question, but he'd rather do it on the way there than hear it from his family because he was late.  "I go back and forth sometimes about it," he tried not to sound too dramatic about it.  He didn't want pity about it, but he wanted her to know that it was a struggle for him to keep himself in the business when such a big part of him was tired of it.  "I love the performing.  I love that I have the money in my bank account so that I don't have to worry about anything for the rest of my life.  The parts that I don't like are the parts when I have to deal with reporters and paparazzi and the fact that I work nights and don't stay in the same place for more than a few days in a row right now."

"So it's like everything in life," she said with a nod.  "Like I love that I can still be around fencing, but at the same time I have a really hard time with being there and not being able to have it be like it used to be."

"That really must be hard on you," he said.

"Yeah well," she said, "It's nothing huge.  I mean I could have gone back to school and gotten a degree and gotten an office job, but I felt like I still have more to give the sport before I give it up."  She walked along for a few feet.  "I think you have a lot more to give the music industry before you give it up."

"You think?"

"Justin.  I've never heard you be this unsure of yourself," she said as if she was scolding him, "Of course you have more to give.  I think you've just started to tap into your solo style.  You were great with NSYNC--I checked out some of your CDs and some videos that your mom had.  You were good, but I think you're more free in your solo style."

"Really?"

"Yeah," she said, "I've been listening to your CD and there are some songs on there that are really great.  I don't want to feed your ego too much, but I would hate to see this be the last album that you put out."

"Thank you," he said, leaning to kiss her cheek.  "That's such a nice thing to say."

"Well I'm a bit selfish," she said leaning into him a bit.  "I want you to write a song and dedicate it to me then--"  She moved away from him and put her hands up to the sky.  "And sing it to me on the night of the Grammy's after you have just given me a big huge diamond like the one in Titanic."

He almost tripped over the cement curb that was at the far edge of the golf course.  "What?"

"I'm kidding," she said reaching out to him so he didn't fall.  "Watch it or you're gonna mess up your ankle."

"I'm fine," he said finding himself a little angry at the thought of her grand adventure for him.  He'd thought that she'd been sincere about wanting him to stay in the business, but her little fantasy land was leaving him with a headache.

"I'm just joking."  She smiled at him.  "I just want you to be happy and I know that the music is what you get the happiest from."

"I think my priorities have changed though," he said, "Because I think there is some competition for my music now."

"What's that?" she asked.

"Fencing," he said and moved into the fencing pose that she'd taught him.

"Oh my god," she said putting her hand to her heart.  "That is--"  She tilted her head.  "Actually that's pretty good."

"Yeah," he said, "It actually is good exercise for my legs.  I told you that I did all that research for ESPN or whatever and I started to shadow fence and found out that its a pretty good work out."

"You did?"

"Yeah," he said, "I have a full length mirror that I travel with so I started to kind of fence with myself in the mirror."

"Very inventive Timberlake," she said.

"You have no idea," he sighed then straightened up.  He took a deep breath, "Shit.  I need to stretch before I do that again."

She laughed a bit and moved to hug him then kissed him again before she pointed out that his grandparents and the parents were waiting for them.

He straightened up immediately and waved to everyone then noticed that Trayce had joined the group.  He was going to be with them in Hawaii for Christmas and Justin knew he needed to keep an eye on him.  His mother had been invited to come to Hawaii to stay with everyone, but had come down with the flu a few days before the trip so Trayce was spending only his second Christmas away from home in his life that Christmas.

"Hey everyone," he said coming up to them.  "Did they find a table for all of us?"

"They're setting it up right now," Lynn said.  She'd changed into a skirt and a lighter t-shirt as had the other women in the family.  He was glad to see that they were all settling into the island life instead of covering up for the winter like they would have had to have done if they'd stayed home.

He was glad to see that everyone was settling in.  He knew that Carolina was still having a little trouble getting used to his life, but he hoped that this week would show her that even though he was on tour there were certain normal things that he liked to do.


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