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Chapter 9

 

          Justin slipped into the hotel room.  He found his note crumpled up and by the trashcan.  That wasn’t a good sign.

          “ Juli?” Justin whispered.

He found her asleep with black mascara runs.  Justin shook her softly.

          “ Mmm?” Juli opened her eyes.

          “ What’s wrong, Juli?” Justin asked.

          Juli fell into his arms, crying.

          “ Today’s Daddy’s birthday,” she whispered.

Justin pulled her close, knowing how much she’d loved her father. 

          “ Shh, Juli, he’s getting sang happy birthday by the angels.  Isn’t that better than any other singing we could do?” Justin asked.

          “ Uh uh, I’d sing it out of love,” Juli answered.

Justin simply pulled her closer.  Juli let the tears fall.  Justin could carry her troubles.  He always had and always would.

~*~

1 month later

          “ Where are Justin and Juli?” Johnny asked.

          “ Who wants to know?” Joey answered.

          “ The VMA’s red carpet begins in five minutes.  He’d better hurry or we’ll leave him,” Johnny grumbled.

          As if on cue, Justin and Juli exited the elevator.  Both seemed to light up the room.  Tonight was the night they’d be shown to the press.  Both were in matching outfits.  Justin in a tight see-through baby blue shirt with white leather pants and Juli in the same type of shirt and pants with thong straps high above her pants.

          “ The dynamic duo has done it again.  Tell me, where did you get such classic designs?” Joey pretended to be a reporter.

          “ Gap,” Juli giggled as Joey sent her a confused look.

          “ Ignore her.  I think they put something in her coke,” Justin replied.

          “ Let’s go,” JC stood by the hotel doors with Bobbee.

          “ Wait, Justin and Juli, come here,” Barry ran towards them.

          Justin and Juli were pulled off to the side.

          “ The contract is null and void and we’ve found a better girl, Justin,” Barry said.

          “ Wait, who?” Justin asked.

Britney Spears walked in.

          “ She’s paying us a nice sum,” Barry answered, “ Juli is off the tour crew and will be shipped off to jail if I see her with you guys.”

          “ Juli was already on the tour crew.  You take her, you take me too,” Justin grabbed Juli’s hand.

          “ Go up to your rooms then.  *N Sync will have four members tonight.  It’s a good thing you aren’t performing,” Barry said.

~*~

          Justin paced the hotel room.  He finally picked up an ice bucket and hurled it at the wall.  He caught Juli’s frightened glance at him.  Justin fell on the bed next to her.  Juli had pulled her knees up to her chin and was almost in tears.

          “ Sorry, Jules, I’m really pissed.  How could they do that?” Justin said.

          “ It’s ok.  I’m going home,” Juli replied.

          “ Please stay.  I’ve already got a plan,” Justin pleaded.

Juli leaned in to listen.

~*~

          The next morning, Barry walked into the lobby.  He stopped, seeing Justin and Juli speaking to the press.

          “ This is my best friend, Juli.  They’re taking her off the tour crew because she’s a girl.  It’s also the reason I was unable to attend the VMA’s,” he heard Justin say.

          “ Juli, how long have you two known each other?” a reporter asked.

          “ Almost 21 years.  We were born a day apart,” Juli answered.

          Barry couldn’t move.  The reporters were having fun with the story.  He clenched his fists.  Oh, they’d be apart when he got through with them.

          Justin and Juli collapsed on their beds laughing.

          “ Did you see Barry’s face?  We’re so dead,” Justin laughed.

          “ Come on.  It’s almost lunchtime.  Let’s ditch the Mike’s and have fun,” Juli said.

          They walked out towards the elevator.

          “ Hold it you two.  Barry has orders not to let you out of the hotel, Justin,” Mike said.

          “ What?” Justin saw the rest of security coming.

          Hands pulled him and Juli away from each other.

          “ We need to talk, Juli,” Justin heard Barry say.

          “ Let go of me,” Justin fought to get to Juli.

          Juli was pushed into a room.  Barry sat down.

          “ Your downfall is how much you love Justin,” Barry said, “ I told you to stay away from him.  Right here I have a restraining order to keep you from him and Britney nice and close.  The police should be here soon.”

          “ I’d never hurt Justin,” Juli defended herself.

          A loud pounding began on the door.

          “ Barry, Barry, you bastard, if you touch one head on Juli’s head, you’ll be dead,” Justin yelled.

          “ You’re rhyming, Justin,” Barry replied.

Barry harshly pushed Juli into the wall.  Juli crumpled like a rag doll.

          “ Justin,” she screamed.

          Justin pushed the door open.  He was breathing hard as he bent beside Juli.

          “ Are you ok?” he asked worriedly.

Juli nodded, tears falling from her clear eyes.  Justin turned to face Barry, fire blazing from his eyes.  Justin slowly moved towards Barry.

          “ Justin,” Juli slowly got up.

          “ Don’t touch me, Juli.  I’m liable to hurt anyone at this moment,” Justin moved away from her.

          Barry had disappeared from the room.  Juli ignored Justin’s warning and threw her arms around him in a hug.

          “ Don’t let them do that again,” Juli whispered.

          “ I won’t,” Justin pulled her tight.

          “ There she is,” Barry entered.

          “ Mam, please let go,” police entered.

          Juli dropped her arms, but Justin held fast.

          “ She stays and if anyone disagrees, they’re off the tour,” Justin said.

          “ This man is disillusioned,” Barry pulled Juli away.

          “ Justin,” Juli looked back pleadingly.

          “ Lonnie,” Justin tried to pull his arms away.

          “ Sorry, Justin.  We have orders.  When Juli goes crazy like that, we can’t let her hurt you,” Lonnie said.

Justin pulled out his cell phone.

          “Mom, it’s me.  I need some help.”

~*~

          Juli slumped in the chair as a policeman rattled on.  She grimaced as she stuffed another donut into his mouth.

          “ That’s sick,” Juli turned away.

          “ Juli,” Lynn entered.

          “ Aunt Lynn, did Justin send you?” Juli jumped up.

          “ You bet he did.  He’s so mad right now, everyone’s steering clear of him.  I think he’s only broke a few things so far,” Lynn gave Juli a huge hug.

          “ Mam, are you a relative?” the officer asked.

          “ I’m her aunt,” Lynn answered.

          “ Go on, then,” he nodded.

          Juli headed out to the car.  It was a silent drive to the hotel.  Through the glass doors, Juli could see Justin pacing.

          “ Justin,” Juli yelled over the screaming fans.

His head snapped around.  Fans watched as he sprinted out, free of security, and pulled her into his arms.

          “ Never let you go again,” Justin whispered, “ Are you ok?  Did they-”

          Juli put a finger to his mouth.

          “ Shh, I’m fine,” Juli said.

Justin took her hand and the three walked back towards the hotel.

          “ Sorry, Juli,” Dre said, “ You can’t come in.”

          “ All my stuff is upstairs,” Juli replied.

          Justin tightened his grip on her had.

          “ Sprint on three.  One…two…three,” Justin sprinted through the doors with Juli behind him.

They jumped into an elevator.

          “ Close,” Justin slammed on the button.

Guards tugged on Juli.  Lynn walked up.

          “ Leave her alone.  She’s with me.  Barry never said she couldn’t be with me, did her?” Lynn got between them.

          “ No mam,” Dre replied.

          “ Shoo,” Lynn fluttered her hand.

          She looked at the two expectantly.

          “ Barry wants me to be with Britney and is throwing Juli off the tour crew.  I won’t let him and he isn’t used to anyone going against him,” Justin answered.

Lynn turned to give them some privacy.  Justin pulled Juli close in a hug.

          “ I was so worried,” Justin murmured.

          “ I’m here now,” Juli tenderly caressed his cheek where a blue bruise marred it, “ What happened?”

          “ I got into a fight with Wade.  He was trying to be funny, and then he mentioned Barry and I lost it.  JC had to knock me out, just to get me to stop,” Justin answered sheepishly.

          They walked onto their floor.  Justin pushed the open door to Lacen’s room where everyone was.  Wade stiffened, seeing Justin.

          “ I come in peace,” Justin said.

          “ Don’t take it personally, Wade.  Justin was only practicing on you for Barry,” Juli added, “ Be glad JC knocked Justin out.”

          “ I am,” Wade had numerous bruises all over him.

          “ What’s with Barry anyways?” Joey asked.

          “ Let’s tell them the truth,” Juli touched Justin’s arms softly.

          “ Remember when the tour began and y’all thought Jules and me were acting weird?  We signed a contract for publicity which entitled us to act like a couple.  Barry was paid by Britney to null the contract and get Juli away from me,” Justin answered, “ That’s why I snapped earlier.”

          JC paced angrily, while the others tried to think of a plan.

          “ Why can’t we just fire him?” Chris asked.

          “ We’d have to fire all of our management too,” Joey answered.

          “ Lance can manage us,” Chris replied.

          “ Noooooo, thank you,” Lance shook his head furiously.

          Justin plopped down on the sofa with Juli in his lap.  JC watched form his spot standing.  They were the perfect friends, but that was all they could see.  JC couldn’t think of a person better for Juli than Justin and vice versa.

          “ I’m going home with Lynn,” Juli announced.

          “ Jules,” Justin began.

          “ I’m not letting Barry hurt anyone else,” Juli interrupted.

          Justin’s eyes burned with blue fire.  He hated the idea of Barry even looking at Juli.

          “ Where did he hurt you at?” Justin asked.

          “ I’m not telling,” Juli crossed her arms stubbornly and looked away.

          “ I will take you to your room and strip you until I find out myself,” Justin threatened, “ Now, where did he hurt you at?”

Juli reluctantly turned to look at Justin. 

          “ My back,” Juli lifted up her shirt so that only Justin could see.

          Sure enough, her whole back was colored in shades of blue and yellow.  Justin tenderly touched it, then pulled her close, letting ghis chin rest on the top of her head.  Juli slowly drifted off to sleep.

          “ I’m ready to kill Barry just because he hurt Juli,” Lance said.

          “ Barry had bettered watch his step.  He’s got all of us, plus Lacey to deal with if he hurts Juli again,” JC said.

          “ Don’t forget my Momma,” Justin added, “ We’re amuetuers compared to her.”

          “ I just don’t want Juli hurt,” JC said, “ Juli still means a lot to me and I’ll be on the warpath if anyone hurts her.  That includes you, Justin.”

Justin nodded.  Juli stirred and he held his breath.  She merely snuggled closer, an angelic smile on her face.

Chapter 10