Spirit of Steel -- 35

Casual was the theme for lunch.

When they found their way out of the shower and got themselves dressed Carolina called for lunch.  Ordering sandwiches and cokes she asked for the picnic to be delivered to their room and found that only a half hour later they were sitting outside in the sun eating.

She had to admit that she liked room service.  It was nice to dial a phone and have things delivered.  It worked well with pizza places and chinese places, but having everything brought to you on a silver tray made everything even more special.

"Thanks for ordering lunch.  These aren't half bad," Justin said with a smile from his seat on the porch.  He'd put on sunglasses and seemed to be ignoring the fact that about twenty girls were standing down near the water staring at him and taking pictures.

"I would hope that they'd be good," she said, "You're paying enough for this room I'm sure to constitute a good meal out of them."

Justin sighed.  "Yeah.  Except I'm not paying the bills this time."

"You aren't?" she sat up in her seat and put her sandwich down.  She knew that sometimes things were paid for by the record label or by management or certain sponsors that Justin worked with, but she hadn't heard who was paying for this trip.  "Who's paying?"

"Jive," he said.  He was so casual about discussing business with her and she liked that.  Most of the time she still couldn't understand the way that things worked in the entertainment industry, but Justin seemed to calm her nerves trying to make it seem that everyday of his life was just as normal as everyone else's life.   "It was in my contract for this tour.  They're picking up the bill for Christmas for everyone."

Her eyes widened.  There were probably fifty people there with them on tour considering that there were over fifteen people on stage with him every night and there were over ten of them that had flown in from Tennessee.  "Everyone?"

Justin shrugged.  "It's common to negotiate things into a contract for a tour and since I seem to be such a popular concert this year I got to do whatever I wanted if I did these two concerts and extended my tour into an international thing."

"They're paying for everything?"

"Well I paid for the jet for you and everyone to fly out, but they booked all the rooms and are paying all the expenses for the week."  He put up a hand to her.  "Don't complain or whatever about it.  I was going to fly my parents out here anyway and there was room for everyone so it just happened at the right time to make sure that everyone got here for the vacation."

"Ok," she said and took another bite.  The sandwich had already been halfway eaten and she wasn't going to waste it, but she definitely thought that she should watch her spending habits.  "What do you want to do this afternoon?"

He set his head back on the chair that he was in and took another bite before he sipped his drink and said, "Well it's Christmas Eve and I need to shop.  It got screwed up the other day, but I'm basically down to the wire.  I have everything that I want to buy up in my head, but that doesn't do much for me if I come to that party without anything for everyone.  I told the boys that I'd take them with me.  I need to call Mike and ask him if he's still gonna take me downtown tonight.  I figure I'll go after hours and get it all done.  The boys will love that since they don't get to break curfew that much."

"Why didn't they come last night?"

"Club shows are a little too raw for them and the clubs don't like to let them in since there is major drinking that happens at these things.  Don't worry though.  They've seen me in the arena show a million times."

"They must miss you tons," she said.

"Yeah," He licked his lips and took another bite.  A sure sign of wanting to delay the conversation and distract her from probing more.  "They're great kids, but yeah, I do miss out a lot.  In the summer they come out to see me on the weekends, but after a few weeks of going back and forth they get bored with me and want to stay home.  They're always welcome out on the road with me and they know that."

She sighed.  "I'm so surprised at how close you are to your family.  I would have thought with you being on the road that you would loose touch with them."

"They're my rock," he said, "If all of this came to a crashing hault I'd still have them--"  He turned and looked at her.  "And you.  I hope."

"Definitely," she said.  "We should take your brothers out this week for lunch or something."

"Shit," he said, "I have to go shopping today."  He groaned.

"What?" she asked at his sudden foul mood.

He put his sandwich down and took a drink of his drink before speaking again.  "It's just such a pain in the ass.  I just need to run out and pick up like five things and I can't do it because I have to take an army of people with me."  He turned his head towards the beach and if she didn't know him better she would have thought that he was throwing evil looks at the people who were clearly aware of his presence on the edge of the sand.

"Honey," she said tapping his leg.  She could see just how stressed he'd become in the last few moments.  "I can go for you.  I mean--"

He nodded that she didn't have to go for him.  "The one thing I wanted to get was your present.  I wanted to be the one to go and pick it out and bring it to you.  You know--NORMAL?  I just want to be able to do things that you're supposed to do when you're in a relationship, like be able to take you to the movies or go shopping or fucking sit here on the beach without BEING STARED AT."

She was shocked to hear this kind of anger out of him considering that the setting wasn't one that would have caused him stress.  "JUSTIN."

"I'm sorry.  I'm just fed up with--"  He looked at her.  "I just wanted to get you something special, but I wanted to be able to get it for you myself."

"Oh."  She sighed.  "You don't have to get me anything."

He pulled off his sunglasses and pinched the bridge of his nose before he put them back on again.  "Yeah I do.  I'm not gonna be a cheap bastard and bitch out of getting you something for Christmas."

"Really Justin."  He was looking a little sick as if the idea of him not getting her something would throw the whole world out of rotation.  "Just being here with you is what I wanted for Christmas."

"But I got you something,"  He seemed very persistant about the idea of him doing things himself.  "Well I know what I want to get you and I know you'll love it and I put so much damn thought into it that if I don't get it for you that it's just--"

"Ok. Ok."  She sighed then thought for a moment.  "Ok.  How about we do this--"  She took a drink of her drink.  "Give me the list of stuff you need to get everyone else then Todd and I can go shopping tonight.  I'll take my mom with me or something and while Mom and I look at the shops, Todd can pick up my present for you and meet us back at the car."

"No," he said, "I'm going to do this."  His stubborn side came out.  "I need to call Todd and then the boys and I are going to go shopping.  I know that we had planned to hang out together today, but I really want to go get this stuff done."

"No," she said, "That's fine.  I should visit with my parents a little.  I feel like I abandoned them since I've been so excited to be with you."

"So give me four hours or so?" he asked.  "I'll make it up to you later."

"Of course," she said.  She sighed.  Being with him was definitely going to be more of a challenge than she thought it would be.

Justin reached and touched her hand.  "I'm sorry I'm being a brat about this.  I just want to do this."

"I know," she said, "I just wish you didn't have to go through this.  I mean I know you love your career, but I feel like there is a part of you that would drop it without a look back if it meant that you were doing the right thing."

"There is."  His expression was flat and serious.  "If it meant that I needed to be with you or with my family then I'd drop whatever I was doing to get to you or them and I seriously wouldn't think twice about it."

The seriousness in his face was scary.  She wasn't sure all of a sudden that she liked being put on the same plain as his family.  It would be fine if he up and left for somewhere to see his family, but for him to put her on that list scared her.  No one put her on that level and she worried for those moments that he stared at her that she would let him down and not live up to what he seemed to have made her in his mind.

"Let's hope you never have to test that theory."

"Well hope that I test them in a way that doesn't involve you breaking a limb," he said with a laugh.


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