“Mr. Clark, will you send Carly Hawkins up to the office please?” The voice over the intercom startled the students in Mr. Clark’s seventh period AP geometry class.
“I certainly will. Carly you might want to take your belongings with you since the day is almost over.”
Carly nodded and collected her things before walking out of the classroom and into the hallway. She had no idea why she was being called to the office. There were a thousand reasons why someone would be called there, but she couldn’t think of a single one. The closer she got, the more intrigued she became.
Opening the door she was greeted by the school secretary Mrs. Mitchell. “Good afternoon Carly dear. There’s something up here for you. I’ll be right back.”
Carly’s eyebrows furrowed in her confusion. She nervously pushed her hair behind her ear and waited for Mrs. Mitchell to return. When the woman returned a few minutes later with a huge bouquet of pink roses Carly stared at her in shock.
“These are for you dear. Can you believe how beautiful they are? I’ve never seen such a beautiful bouquet in my life. Someone thinks you’re very special.” She pushed the flowers into Carly’s hands.
Carly looked so hesitant to touch them that Mrs. Mitchell wondered what was wrong with her for a moment. “Are you sure these are for me? Carly HAWKINS? I think someone mixed me up with Carly Bryant. You know the sophomore who is dating Cameron Bussey. I don’t know anyone who would send anything like this to me.”
Mrs. Mitchell smiled brightly and pointed to the card. “Why don’t you read the card and see if it makes more sense after that.”
Carly placed the vase on the counter and reached for the card. She was certain that this was all a mistake. Her father didn’t have the money to send her flowers like this. She knew without a doubt that if he had the money he would do it, but there was no way he did. Her hands shook as she tore open the envelope and looked at the card.
“Welcome to the Transcon Family. (Sorry about the other day) Justin T.”
Carly dropped the card and it fluttered to the ground. Mrs. Mitchell came around the counter and put her arm around Carly’s shoulders. “Are you ok sweetie? You look as pale as a ghost does. I hope it’s not bad news.”
Carly’s eyes were as large as saucers and she shook her head quickly. “No ma’am. I just didn’t expect something like this. It’s…it’s just…just a shock is all.”
Mrs. Mitchell picked the card up off the floor and handed it to her. “So these really are for you?”
Carly nodded her head quickly once again.
“Well then I’m so happy for you dear. Now you go on and enjoy them. They are absolutely beautiful.”
She walked out of the office with the bouquet in her arms and headed into the parking lot where Adrienne’s car was parked. School hadn’t been let out yet so she leaned against the car and read the card over and over again.
“Why would Justin Timberlake be sending ME flowers? This has to be a joke. This is all one big joke.” She looked at the card again and tried to see if the handwriting looked familiar. It didn’t.
It still didn’t seem real to her. She had to keep saying it over and over just to grasp what she held in her hands. “Justin Timberlake. THE Justin Timberlake sent me flowers. Justin Timberlake sent Carly Hawkins flowers. Justin Timberlake heartthrob of N SYNC sent Carly Hawkins, the most forgettable girl on earth flowers.”
The bell rang and Carly was still sitting outside staring at the card in shock when Adrienne ran up to her. “Oh my God Carly! Whose flowers are these? They are gorgeous.”
Carly looked up at her friend who was busy smelling all the roses. She handed the card to Adrienne and watched her as she read it. Adrienne’s eyes widened so much that Carly was afraid they were going to pop out.
“Oh my God. Oh my God. OH MY GOD! Please tell me that Justin T is not Justin Timberlake of N SYNC. Come on Carly. Tell me that. I need to hear the words girl.”
Carly shook her head and stared at her shoes while she answered. “I would love to tell you that, but the only Justin T I know at Transcon Studios is Justin Timberlake.”
Adrienne’s jaw dropped so low that she resembled Sebastian from The Little Mermaid for a moment. “Get in the car. Get in the car right now Carly.”
The two of them loaded their things into the car and were well on their way to Transcon Studios when Adrienne finally got her voice back. “I want to know what’s going on around here Carly. You get a job at Transcon Studios, you don’t tell me, then you meet Justin Timberlake, you don’t tell me, AND THEN you know him well enough to where the boy is sending you flowers and you don’t have anything to tell me. Well you better figure out something because I want to know what’s going on here.”
“I don’t know what’s going on Aidee. I’ve only said about three sentences to the guy so I’m just as shocked and confused by all this as you are.”
Adrienne turned off the interstate and parked outside the studio. “Something sounds fishy around here. The world’s most eligible bachelor, well for teenagers anyway, is sending you flowers and you don’t know why? Are you Britney Spears in disguise or something?”
Carly had a good laugh at that. “I think I’m probably about as far from Britney Spears as one person can get. Will you take those flowers over to my house and put them in my room? I don’t want to bother with them at work. Please Adrienne. I’ll try to find out today what is going on. If I see him which I doubt.”
Adrienne looked at her friend closely and finally gave in. “Ok. But I’m going to pick you up tonight and I want to know all about it. So get ready to give some answers then.”
Carly opened the door and got out. She could still hear Adrienne mumbling about the flowers from Justin. To tell the truth, Carly was rather starstruck right now. She’d never even had a real boyfriend much less have a guy send her flowers. Now the first person to have ever taken the time to send her flowers was none other than Justin Timberlake. There had to be a good reason for all this. There was nothing about her that was memorable and her first impression with him hadn’t been a great one.
All it takes to get a guy to send you flowers is to dump some sandwiches and a Pepsi on him? I wish I had known this sooner.
She walked towards the building and noticed that there were more cars in the parking lot today than usual. That probably meant that some of the guys were there, and that probably meant Justin too.
What in the world and I going to say to him if I actually do see him?
Carly had been cleaning for about two hours and she still hadn’t seen Justin. She had run into JC and Lance, but Justin was nowhere to be found. She was still puzzled by how easy it was to talk to Lance and JC. They were really special guys and really great to be around. They always had bright smiles on their faces and acted like they were genuinely glad to see her. It made her feel good to see that.
She dusted her way down the hallway and when she reached the back she heard the most beautiful music coming from studio five. She opened the glass door and dumped out the trash bin while she listened to the song. It was one of N SYNC’s songs but she couldn’t think of the title right that second.
When she looked inside the booth she noticed Justin with headphones on and saw that he was the one whose voice she was hearing. A few seconds later she heard JC’s voice singing along with him and she honestly thought she had died and gone to heaven. JC and Justin’s voices seemed to be made for each other. They blended so perfectly and so united. Carly closed her eyes and listened closely.
“Why do you run and hide, say what you feel inside. Why must you always fake it…oh yeah. Girl you need to understand…you’re heart’s safe within my hands…and I promise I’ll never break it.”
Justin opened his eyes while he continued to sing and noticed Carly standing outside. She had her eyes closed and was swaying peacefully to the music he and JC were making. She looked so peaceful and so enthralled by what she was hearing.
He stopped singing and walked out into the lobby where she was standing. “Carly?”
Her eyes opened suddenly and she looked at him shyly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt but the music was just so beautiful. You two sing very well together.”
He smiled brightly and put his hands on his hips. “Did you get my flowers?”
He regretted it the moment he asked because she went back into her shell. Her head lowered and she slid her foot across the floor nervously. “Yes I did. I’m not sure why you sent me flowers, but thank you for them. They are very beautiful.”
He looked closely at the girl in front of him. He wished he could compliment her and tell her that she was just as beautiful as those flowers, but unfortunately he didn’t know her very well, and honestly she wasn’t a very pretty girl. He didn’t believe in giving false compliments so he pushed that idea to the side. But he did vow that all that would change. He would take care of everything.
“I’m glad you liked them. I just wanted to let you know that we’re all glad you’re here and that I hold no hard feelings for our…ahem…collisions.”
She looked up into his eyes for a moment before returning her gaze to the wall. “How did you know what school I go to?”
He chuckled at her confused expression. “I have my little secrets. It actually wasn’t that hard. Your name isn’t all that common so I had it figured out in about thirty minutes. I’m just glad you like them.”
Who wouldn’t like getting flowers? “Yes they were very lovely. I won’t keep you any longer. I’m sure you have a lot of work to do.”
When she turned to walk away he ran around her and blocked her path. “Actually I’m on vacation this week. We’re not scheduled to be in the studio until next week. Would you like to come inside there and look around?”
Justin almost smiled when he noticed how badly she wanted to go inside. It was written all over her face. “Oh no. You two are busy working in there and I don’t think I’m supposed to be in there.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door. “Come on. If anyone asks I’ll say that I needed your help in there. I’m always spilling things so we can say that you were cleaning up my mess. ANYONE who knows me wouldn’t have a hard time believing that.”
She stepped inside the big room and marveled at all the musical equipment and buttons. Five huge microphones hung from the ceiling and she could see JC sitting on one of the stools in front of one.
He looked up and smiled at her. “Well hello again Carly. Nice to see you.”
She smiled and waved. “Nice to see you too.”
JC looked over at Justin and saw a look of determination on his face. He grinned and chuckled quietly before grabbing his stuff and walking towards the door. “Well I think I’m done here for now. Catch you later you two.”
Carly watched him leave and turned to look back at Justin. He was staring at her intently. What she didn’t know was that he had a huge yearning to find out how well she could sing. He knew that if he pushed her, she would run from him and then he would be back to square one. This was the first time she had actually let him touch her, and even though it was only his hand, she hadn’t pulled away yet.
He led her inside and over to one of the microphones. “This is pretty cool huh? I remember the first time I walked into a recording studio and saw one of these. I think I’ve been fascinated ever since. You can touch it if you want. Go ahead.”
Carly wiped her hands off on her overalls and gently reached up to touch the shiny microphone. She wondered how many people had sung into this particular microphone and how many records had been sold because of it.
Justin smiled at her and walked around to the controls. He pushed a few buttons before looking back at her. “Which song do you want to hear? Do you know our album?”
She thought for a moment before answering. “I like your new song. The slow one.”
He looked back down at the controls and a few seconds later the beginning of “I Drive Myself Crazy” began to play. He ran over to where she was standing and handed her a pair of earphones. “Put these on. You’ll hear the music in there and if you speak into that microphone you’ll also hear yourself in there. Go ahead. Don’t be shy.”
She looked extremely uncomfortable but eventually she put the earphones on and listened to the music. A little while later she hummed a little and looked up at Justin excitedly when she heard her own voice.
He came around the booth and sat down beside her at the next microphone. “Pretty cool huh? You can sing if you want. I’m about to. It’s not being recorded or anything.”
What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
She looked at her hands, which were laying in her lap and continued to listen to the music. Justin started singing the words to the song and she looked over at him when his clear voice came into her headphones.
“Come on Carly, sing along. You know you want to.”
She smiled at him and sat up straight. Then she leaned forward until her mouth was close to the microphone, and just as she was about to start singing the first few bars of the next verse Joey and Chris came bursting through the door.
“What are you doing Justin? Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to work on your days off?” Chris laughed at him and pulled the headphones off.
If Justin could have spit fire at that moment he would have. She was just about to sing and those two idiots had to come in and ruin everything.
“Careful Curly, you might scare our guest with looks like that. Calm down baby boy, calm down.”
Justin looked even harder at Chris after that statement and Chris decided he had better shut up. “I was just showing Carly how things in the studio work.”
Carly slid off of the stood and took her earphones off. “I need to get back to work. Thank you Justin for showing me around.”
The three guys watched her run out of the room and disappear from sight. Justin had to admit that there was some improvement, but not a whole hell of a lot.
Later that night the studio was pretty much deserted and Carly was sitting on the curb outside waiting on Adrienne. She had her journal out and was busy writing down everything that had happened to her. Some of the things she still couldn’t believe, and other things she would rather forget. It was so amazing to her that she was going to be finished with school soon and then her life would truly begin. The real world was at her fingertips and she could wait to make her mark on the world. That is, if she ever got the opportunity to.
She was sitting there writing a little while later when a shiny red car pulled up beside her. She didn’t look up until the passenger side window slid down and a voice called her name. She recognized the voice as Justin’s. “Are you going home tonight or are you just going to hang out here?”
Carly looked up even more until she saw his shiny eyes and curly hair. “I’m waiting for my ride.”
Justin thought a minute then smiled evilly when an idea popped into his head. “I can drop you off if you need a ride. I don’t like the idea of leaving you here on the side of the road all by yourself. There isn’t anyone left in the studio except for the night watchman and I doubt he would hear you if something happened out here. Come on Carly get in.”
Carly glanced at her watch and read the time. Adrienne was already an hour late. “The bus is going to come by any minute. It’s running late just like my ride is.”
Justin reached over to turn the radio up. There was a report on about a huge back up on the interstate, which was causing extreme delays. Carly groaned when she heard the report.
“Is your friend taking the interstate?”
She nodded and realized that the bus would be coming from that direction as well. The only choice she had was to take his offer.
“Are you sure you don’t mind? I doubt that my house is on your way home.”
Justin unlocked the doors and reached over to open it for her. “Nonsense. Besides I would be worried for the rest of the night if I left you out here. Now get in.”
She sat down in the plush car and closed the door. He waited for her to buckle her seatbelt before turning onto the road and driving down the street.
While they drove down the street Carly occasionally looked over at Justin. She could only pick up on his features whenever they passed under a streetlight, but she did manage to watch him somewhat.
I wonder what girls would pay to be sitting where I’m sitting right now. Carly Hawkins is sitting in Justin Timberlake’s car and he is driving her home. Who would believe this?
“I’m not sure where you live so you’ll have to tell me where to turn.”
She shook her head and told him which street to take next. He actually was a much better driver than she thought he would be. Most guys their age liked to show off and drive wild. Justin was taking his time and enjoying the view and music blaring out of the speakers.
After riding in silence for a while she finally spoke up. “I really like your car. It’s nice.”
He smiled and shifted gears. “Thank you. It was something I’ve always wanted so when I made enough money to treat myself, I got one. I don’t get to drive it a lot since we’re on the road all the time, but I try to indulge every once and awhile.”
He looked over and smiled and she felt suddenly nervous. It was quite a feeling to be alone with this guy. He exuded confidence and she…well she wasn’t quite sure what she exuded but it wasn’t anything special.
A little while later he pulled up in front of her apartment and unlocked the car doors for her. “Thank you for bringing me home Justin. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’m glad I could do it.” He reached his arm out and touched her hair delicately. “You have really beautiful hair. Ever think of cutting it? Short hair seems to be the style nowadays.”
Carly could feel every move his fingers made in her hair, and she felt it all the way to her soul when his fingers accidentally brushed the side of her neck. “Um…no I haven’t. I really have to go. Goodnight Justin.”
She jumped out of the car, ran to her door, and went inside. Justin watched her run away and sighed loudly. Things weren’t exactly going well and he needed to get busy because they left to go on tour in a month.
Carly leaned her back against the door after she shut it and closed her eyes. Not only had Justin Timberlake sent her flowers today, he had spent time with her, driven her home, and then run his fingers through her hair. Didn’t he see what everyone else saw? Why did he seem to find something different in her when everyone else saw only the wall she had built? Justin was successfully tearing down that wall and she wondered why he was getting to her so easily. She had only known him for a few days now and already she felt she could trust him.
Her father and Ariel where already in bed and she was thankful for that. She didn’t really want to talk to anyone right now. She showered, changed, and then went to her bedroom where she continued her journal entry for the day.
“Life sometimes confuses even the watchful. The most confusing, yet wonderful day of my life has finally happened and I’m not sure whether I should be watchful, or filled with wonder. Hesitant or happy. Wistful or woeful. I only know that for the first time in my life I wish I could tell the world that I’m not as invisible as everyone seems to think I am. The only problem is, no one would ever believe a word of this. I’m not sure I believe it myself.”
She looked over at her dresser and smiled brightly when she saw the flowers from Justin sitting there. At this moment she had no idea how many problems those flowers were going to cause her. Right now she was still stuck in her world of dreams, and for once, in the giddiness of a girl her age.
- Chapter Five
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