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Chapter 12-2 months later

 

          Justin stared out at the shimmering ocean.  Soft footsteps barely reached his ears.

          “ Hey,” Juli’s arms encircled his waist.

          “ Hey,” Justin turned.

The 2 months had seemed like days.  Justin smiled, seeing the simple platinum ring he’d gotten her.  It was a reminding promise to make it work.

          Juli’s eyes glowed with love for him.  Even in the dim light, Justin could see it.

          “ I’m glad you came,” Justin said.

          “ Where else was I supposed to go?” Juli replied.

          “ You could’ve gone home, but I’m glad you’re here with me,” Justin whispered.

          He glanced around quickly for any wandering media, and then let his lips capture hers.  Passion burst through them.  She let her hands run through his curls as she tried to move closer.  Her feet caught with his and they were falling together.  Her back stung as it hit the hard wood floor, but the delicious feeling of him on top of her replaced it.  Justin backed off.

          “ I don’t think I expected that,” he breathed, trying to calm himself.

          “ Me either,” her mouth claimed his again.

          “ Jules,” Justin pushed her away, this time his voice hoarse, “ Not now.  When we do, I want it to be special, not a one night stand.”

Juli nodded, letting him pull her up.  She smiled slightly, part of her applauding, but still she’d wanted him back there.  Juli shrugged.  She was human.

~*~

          Barry’s teeth gleamed like pearls as he stared at a paper.

          “ The perfect couple is hitting Splitsville tomorrow,” he smiled.

~*~

          “Juli, just the girl I was looking for,” Barry said.

          “ In what life?” Juli muttered, “ Make it quick, Barry.  The concert’s gonna start soon.”

          “ I want you to be in my office tomorrow at 3 sharp.  You’re not there, I’ll make sure you’re there next time,” Barry replied.

          “ Is that a threat?” her eyes narrowed.

          “ Juli, Juli,” Barry clucked his tongue, “ I don’t make threats, I make promises.”

          Juli finally decided she didn’t like Barry anymore.

          “ I don’t like sick games,” Juli stated.

          “ I don’t play them.  Tomorrow at 3,” Barry walked off.

          “ I really don’t like that guy,” Juli muttered, jogging off.

~*~

          Justin paced anxiously.

          “ Man, stop pacing.  You’re driving me crazy,” JC glanced up from his magazine, “ Are you sure you want to do this?”

          “ I’m sure.  I love her and I want her to know,” Justin answered.

          “ Then stop pacing for the last time.  Do you have the ring?” JC asked.

          Justin nodded, fumbling around for it in his pocket.

          “ Ok, *N Sync, let’s go,” the stage manager rushed them towards the stage.

Juli waved at Justin before sitting beside Lynn.  Lynn sent Justin an approving glance.  It was no secret what this concert meant, but luckily, Juli was still clueless.

          About halfway through the concert, they slowed the pace.

          “ Tonight, we’re privileged to have a very special part of *N Sync with us.  This girl is responsible for shaping Justin.  We all love her, so Juli, come on out,” JC said.

          Juli stared in shock.  She walked out onstage.  Justin greeted her with a kiss.

          “ To honor you, Juli, we made a video.  Welcome to the family,” JC smiled.

Juli watched the home videos of her and Justin in a blur of tears.

          “ Now, Juli, you’re my girlfriend, but I was talking to my mom and I thought maybe you might join the family,” Justin dropped to one knee, “ Juli Raquel Thomas, will you marry me?  I’ll throw in a basketball.”

          Juli squealed softly.  Justin’s pleading eyes stared up at her.

          “ You’re asking me?” Juli pointed at herself.

          “ No, Juli, I’m asking JC,” Justin rolled his eyes.

          “ You need to learn to be nice to your future wife, Mr. Timberlake,” Juli replied with a smile.

          It took Justin a second to compute what she just said.

          “ Is that a-” Justin began.

          “ Yes, Justin, I’ll marry you,” Juli interrupted, “ Are you gonna wake up?”

Justin quickly snapped out of his stupor.  He fumbled with the ring, trying to put it on.  Juli’s mirth filled eyes met JC’s in silent laughter.

          “ What’s so funny?  You practically gave me a heart attack,” Justin muttered.

          “ Mr. Smooth can’t even get on a ring.  It’s like senior prom.  You were so nervous, you couldn’t even get the corsage on,” Juli giggled.

          “ Wouldn’t you be nervous if you just proposed in front of 20,000 people?” Justin said.

          “ Justin, if you’ve got that ring on yet, we need to sing,” JC’s voice cut in.

          Justin flushed slightly.

          “ This is for you,” he mouthed at Juli, before singing ‘This I promise you’.

Juli watched him.  He was amazing on stage and off and he loved her.  It made her feel warm all over.

          Barry watched with a smile.

          “ I just love this,” he looked like a 5-year old on Christmas day.

His plan was turning out better than he could’ve planned.

~*~

          Juli approached Barry’s office.

          “ Barry?” Juli entered the room.

          “ You’re late.  It’s 3:03,” Barry closed the door behind her.

Juli rolled her eyes, and then watched Barry closely.  He was a gloating devil.

          “ Conrad’s on the engagement.  You two made a beautiful couple.  Too bad it has to end,” Barry said.

          “ What do you mean?” Juli suddenly felt claustrophobic.

          “ I think you know, Juli, and so does your son.  Yours and JC’s if I’m not mistaken,” Barry replied.

          Juli stared at him.

          “ How’d you find out?” she whispered.

          “ I have my ways,” Barry gloated.

This was almost too easy.

          “ What do you want?” Juli asked.

          “ I want you to leave Justin.  I want you to never speak to him again.  In other words, I want you to tell all his dirty secrets to a reporter.  In exchange for me keeping yours,” Barry answered.

Juli nodded slowly.

          “ You remember you half,” she said.

          “ The reporter will be here at 6, so be here again,” Barry replied.

Juli stumbled out in tears.

          She hit someone.

          “ Juli, the bride-to-be should be happy,” JC’s voice broke through.

          “ JC, we need to talk,” Juli said.

          “ Is something wrong with Kyle?” JC’s voice lowered.

          “ No, but someone found out,” Juli replied.

          “ Barry?” JC’s blue eyes darkened to black.

Juli nodded.

          “ I have to leave Justin.  If I don’t, Barry will tell.  It’s the one secret that will tear us apart, JC.  I can’t let him know,” Juli sobbed.

          Justin watched from afar in utter confusion.  Why had Juli turned to JC and not him?  It didn’t make sense.

          “ Getting jealous, Justin?” Barry asked.

          “ Man, get out of my face,” Justin sighed.

          “ I’d be jealous too if you fiancée went back to her ex,” Barry replied.

          “ Well, your wife’s dead.  She’s not going back to anyone anytime soon,” Justin snapped.

          “ You’ll pay for that Justin and you’ll pay for it with the only thing you want.  See Juli there.  Look while you can.  She’ll be gone before you know it,” Barry said.

Justin shivered.  He didn’t like Barry’s chilling tone.

~*~

          “Hey, Justin, look at this.  Learn all Justin’s secrets,” Joey laughed.

Justin picked it up, flipping to the article.  Joey continued joking about it in the airport store, but Justin just paled.

          “ How’d they-” Justin began.

          “ Man, lighten up,” Joey nudged him.

          “ Joey, these are true.  Someone sold me out,” Justin turned, fire burning in his eyes.

          “ What?” Joey look shocked too.

          “ I’m gonna kill whoever did this,” Justin clenched the magazine, “ Barry.”

Epilogue