Chapter 1-December 2000
A tall athletic blonde jogged through the campus of Florida Central. She checked her watched and the pace turned to an all out run.
“ I’m gonna be late,” she muttered.
Jumping into a Toyota 4Runner, she backed out and drove away.
She pushed her way through screaming girls and flashed her pass. She jogged through the airport.
“ Hello, gorgeous,” a voice came from behind with a long whistle.
“ Get away from me, Joey or I will whoop on your sorry self like there is no tomorrow,” she said in a flat voice, turning around.
“ Sorry, Juli,” Joey sent her a charming smile.
Juli rolled her eyes, continuing her trek towards the gate.
“ Justin is doing some important mouth to mouth,” Lance had appeared by her side, “ With the barf bags.”
“ Do I even wanna know?” Juli flung her arms around Lance.
“ Keep it G with my boyfriend, Juli,” a girl said, covering the cell phone she was on before walking on.
A pale, thin Justin exited. Lance gave Juli one last hug, and then jogged after his girlfriend.
“ Is that my Jules?” Justin dropped his bags.
“ Justin,” everyone in the airport stopped to stare at her shriek.
Juli flew into Justin’s arms, almost toppling him over. He swung her around before planting a kiss on the top of her head.
“ I saw Joey on my way here. I think I passed his hottie test, but for some strange reason, that doesn’t excite me,” Juli began chatting taking a bag and his hand.
Mike, the bodyguard in charge of Justin, walked behind them, smiling slightly. He’d watched these two grow since they were fifteen. They’d fought playfully, but Mike could never remember a time they’d actually hurt each other.
Everything about them physically matched perfectly, like a brother and sister would. Blonde curly hair that everyone envied, striking blue eyes and tall lean bodies from nights at the gym. Then there was their personalities, total opposites.
Juli was shy only to strangers, very competitive and at times stubborn. She had a soft spot for kids and always put smiles on any kids faces. Justin, on the other hand, was shy practically always, easygoing and had a huge temper. They seemed to compliment each other, to neutralize anything.
“ So, how’s my favorite-” Juli began.
“ Superstar? Gorgeous singer? Handsome man?” Justin filled in.
“ I sense a serious ego that needs to be popped inside that tiny brain of yours,” Juli paused, “ And no, I was thinking more along the lines of spoiled brat.”
After a chorus of ohs, the *N Sync crew was silent, they knew what was coming next.
“ If I’m a spoiled brat, I don’t even want to know what you are,” Justin crossed his strong arms.
“ I’ll take you down right here, Timberlake, and you know I can,” Juli threatened.
“ Bring it on,” Justin replied.
“ Oh, big bad Timberlake watching chick flicks. Was Britney there too?” Juli teased, giggling at her own joke.
The crew started cracking up. Justin lunged for her, but she nimbly moved away. She jumped on his back before two arms lifted her off like a rag doll.
“ There will be no more fighting, children. Do you understand?” Mike ordered, sending the lazy security guards mean looks. He leaned down to Juli, “ Wait until you get home, then you can kick his scrawny white butt as bad as you want.”
“ I heard that,” Justin announced.
Both pouted as they walked down a narrow hallway towards the baggage claim. Justin pushed Juli slightly, and she turned and pushed him back. Mike got between them before it turned into an all out war.
“ If any of you start a fight, I will send you out there,” Mike threatened.
He pointed outside to the hysterical fans.
“ No, please, I just escaped from that sanitarium, don’t send me back,” Justin mock pleaded, clinging onto Mike’s arm.
“ Sanitarium? Try asylum with endless screaming,” Lance spoke up.
“ Get your hands off me, white boy,” Mike ordered.
Justin pouted, letting his hands drop.
Juli led Justin over to a bench while they waited for the rest of their luggage. She leaned her head down onto his shoulder as his arm draped around her waist.
“ They’re so cute together,” Lacy Chambers, Lance’s girlfriend and a part of the tour crew, sighed.
Lance pulled her close, letting his chin rest on her head.
Justin looked down at Juli.
“ Are you ok? I hope I didn’t hurt you,” Justin asked.
“ I’m fine,” Juli answered.
“ What happened to your hand?” Justin asked, noticing the gauze around her left hand.
“ Burnt myself cooking while your Mom was out of town,” Juli answered.
“ You have a really bad time cooking,” Justin chuckled.
Juli smiled fondly up at her best friend, letting a hand run over the day old stubble on his cheek. Glass shattered and something flew over their heads. Justin pushed Juli under him as they ducked. Fans screamed unholy names at Juli.
Justin stood up, his blue eyes screaming anger. Even Juli had never seen him this mad. He looked about ready to kill someone.
“ Who did that?” Justin demanded.
Screams returned it as fans tried to get closer to Justin. He lifted his middle finger in an obscene gesture.
“ Wow, golden boy can sure get mad,” Lacy pushed her dark brown waves back, her green eyes dancing in amusement.
Juli limped over to them.
“ The fans really don’t like me. That’s the third shoe,” Juli managed a smile.
“ Don’t worry. I have millions of hater sites,” Lacy replied.
Lance’s protective arm closed around her. Justin yanked his arm away from Mike and the other security guards as he stormed up. Everyone caught Juli’s shy, almost hesitant glance up. Justin’s fiery blue eyes faded when they met hers, like fire fades under water.
“ Are you ok, Jules?” Justin asked worriedly.
“ If you define ok by having a 175 pound plus guy crush you, then yeah, I’m fine, but you’re fans sure aren’t. Justin, get used to the fact they hate any girl related to *N Sync and yes that includes you too, Joey,” Juli whirled around angrily, regretting it when her legs became tangled up and her head began to swim.
Joey was able to look innocent, but Juli went falling, Justin easily caught her arm and steadied her.
“ Oh, I really don’t feel good,” Juli groaned, “ Why didn’t God put buzzers on people’s heads to give everyone at least ten seconds before they blew up?”
Justin was still angry at the fans, but it had faded into worry. Juli was never sick and never got hurt (unless she was cooking, of course).
“ Go get your bag, Justin. I’ll get the car,” Juli said, putting a weak hand on his chest to support herself.
Justin nodded, watching her walk away, then turned to Mike.
“ Go with her. I don’t want her hurt,” Justin ordered softly.
Camera flashes almost blinded her as she walked head down. She noticed someone beside her.
“ Mike?” she looked up quizzically.
“ Golden boy wants his Jules safe and sound,” Mike replied.
“ I can take care of myself and he knows it,” Juli fumed.
“ Hey, he’s responsible for my paycheck,” Mike held up his hands innocently.
“ I’m killing him when we get home. Lynn bettered not be there or she’ll see the end of her son starting with those curls. One by one until he’s totally bald, then,” Juli’s mouth ran on about her ways of torture.
Mike’s solemn mouth twitched at the ends with a small smile as he listened to her good-natured ravings. He heard it every time Justin sent him out with her and she still hadn’t killed him yet. Mike knew Juli would never hurt Justin. They were too close.
Juli was too busy fuming to care about anything the fans were calling her. How dare Justin treat her like a girl. I mean, she was a girl, but she knew how to take care of herself. She drove up to pick up Justin. Justin jumped in and they took off.
Justin immediately noted her silence as a bad thing. Juli was a talker.
“ Jules, what’s wrong?” Justin asked, taking her free hand.
Juli took a deep breath. She glanced at his innocent face and all anger fell away. She could never get mad at Justin and it was her only weakness.
“ I don’t need security, Justin. I’m normal and no one’s going to jump me,” Juli answered.
Justin nodded, but didn’t say a word. Now it was Juli’s turn to frown. This wasn’t like him. She turned up the radio and began singing. He’d talk when he was ready.
Justin visibly relaxed. Juli’s soothing voice entered his mind. She had a beautiful voice, but only a chosen few knew. She’d had the dreams of stardom, but he’d achieved them.
“ Justin, wake up,” a soft shaking brought him out of his coma.
Juli smiled when his head snapped up from its resting place from his chest. The gray confusion muddled his eyes, clearing into blue when he realized they were home. Juli was living there during the school year, paying rent for a room. Justin smiled inwardly. What she didn’t know was that the money was always put back into her account.
“ Mom, Dad, I’m home,” Justin yelled excitedly.
“ Justin, shh, they have guests over,” Juli tried to shush him.
Justin ignored her, running inside. Juli shrugged, grabbing his bags. He hadn’t seen his family in forever.
“ Juli?” a little boy ran out to her.
“ Steven,” Juli swept him up.
Steven Timberlake was her little angel. No one could handle him better than Juli.
“ Don’t you want to see me?” Justin pouted.
Steven clung to Juli, like Jonathan clung to Justin. Justin shrugged and let Jonathan wheel in one of his bags.
“ I got thrown out. I guess my shoes are all dirty and now I have to mop the floor,” Justin told Juli.
“ I can see it now in the tabloids. Justin Timberlake on his knees mopping the floor. And guess who’d send in a picture of that,” Juli giggled.
Her giggling became louder, when Justin sent her a dirty look.
“ Juli,” Lynn greeted her at the door.
Lynn Harless never got over how cute Justin and Juli looked together. She looked at them with Jonathan and Steven and nodded. Blonde babies with blue eyes…
“ I don’t like that look, Mom. It means you’re thinking about something and you’re looking between me and Juli. I hate that even more,” Justin said.
Lynn smiled innocently.
“ Just thinking,” she replied, “ Come on, dinner is ready.”
“ Has Mom been acting strange?” Justin whispered as they walked towards the dining room.
“ Nope, but my Mom gets that look all the time. They’re trying to play matchmaker again,” Juli replied.
Justin groaned. Heir mothers had been trying to get them together since they turned eighteen. Almost two years and running, the two had managed to get out of it. The last time had been disastrous and no one knew how Justin and Juli’s friendship remained intact.
“ I have a girlfriend now, thank god,” Justin caught himself.
No he didn’t, not anymore. Justin shut that thought out.
“ It never stopped them before,” Juli replied.
Justin led her towards the dining room. Juli stopped short, putting Steven down. Her mother was there.