~*~ Every last word of the pages to follow is from an author's vast imagination and is therefore not supported in true reality. Although the characters to be featured are prominently factual, the numerous scenarios, situations, and events they will encounter throughout the course of the tale are not! Its principal objective is that of enjoyment and entertainment to you, the reader.

~*~ Underage reading or any other illegalities is not condoned nor encouraged in any way by said author. He also will not tolerate any form of plagiarism towards any of the words to come as they are his and his alone. Neither the author nor the Nifty Organization makes a profit from this, or any story, posted on their site. He does it of his own freewill.

~*~ Address any type of question and/or feedback to jc71883@hotmail.com, making sure to add a relation to the story on the subject line of the e-mail as to guarantee its reception.



Chapter Thirty-Seven

~*~ Resting on Laurels ~*~



Familiar wrought iron gates is heard clanking and fidgeting in the background as he is on the basketball court practicing a few jump shots and defensive techniques against air. It goes mostly unnoticed because his concentration is tunneled into the orange globe in his hand. A limo pulls up to the overhang of the house and stops to let out a driver so his job can be done. She steps out when the door opens and immediately looks up, glad to be back home and soon to be reunited with her boyfriend. It is a weird feeling that this is the first time they are seeing each other for the new year and she is still upset about it. There has to be a more proactive role on both sides for this to work. For them to be together. Vanessa tips the driver and he is on his way after suitcases return home. She has had a lot of time to think and it cannot continue on this way. Something will have to give in for it to work.

It is early in the afternoon and outside is sexily cloudy as she enters their home together and calls out his name. Suitcases remain in the grand foyer while his girlfriend walks to the kitchen to still find herself alone. The whole house seems to be quiet. A faint bouncing sound forms itself in the distant future and warrants being followed to the origin. Now that she is here, mixed feelings are clouding her once focused demeanor. She loves him so much but their relationship has felt stalled for the past months. They will never step backwards of course but he refuses to step forward. Outside, Kobe Bryant is on the custom basketball court he designed for himself shooting the ball from different angles. Sinewy arms glisten with salty sweat and his masculine legs propel him forward to mimic plays in his head. Vanessa walks onto the edge of the court and he immediately notices it at the very corner of his eye.

"Baby---you're home!" the baller excites as he grabs the ball and jogs over to her. "You didn't tell me anything."

They kiss and she tastes the sweat on his lips until they break apart and, "Happy New Year's honey."

"Happy New Year's. Why didn't you tell me you were coming back early? I would've come to get you."

"It was a last minute thing. Come and take a shower," she holds on to one of his hands and tries to drag him off the court. "I'll take all the built up tension away."

"---I---have to get in a couple more exercises."

There cannot be any red flags right now. He is supposed to be climbing up the walls with his raw hands just like any other red-blooded man because he has not had sex in almost two weeks. But the truth is that the basketballer is completely sexually satisfied at the moment because of Justin. He wanted this time to have his libido recover but that is a passing dream. Bryant promises her that he will be there soon and to get started without him. They kiss and he gets back to shooting while she walks away to await him up in their bathroom. She cannot suspect anything and despite his sexually pleased state, she is still extremely enticing to him. She will always be but he can no longer deny how his boyfriend makes him feel when they are intimate. They are at roughly the same level mainly but he is almost positive that the singer will surpass her eventually. Because he shares so much more with Timberlake.

Ten minutes later and the basketball court is completely barren because he has kept her waiting long enough. They will need to talk about all that is on their minds about how they spent, or did not the then ending of the last and beginning of this newest year. She is focused on that but of course intimacy comes first. It should always be that way with every relationship. But communication and honesty are key elements as well. There is no denying it. Kobe skips steps to get to the second floor and peels away his damp shirt upon entering their bedroom. A hot shower sounds so inviting right now and will help relieve his tense muscles. He enters the warm bathroom and sees his love through the glass getting more wet. The Los Angeles Laker removes the rest of his clothing and slides the glass door open enough for him to step into the shower with her. Lips make a play for the back of her neck and connect.

"Uh," she silently moans. "I knew you wouldn't keep me waiting."

"How could I? I missed you so much," Bryant whispers back. "I know we have to talk."

"How do you know that?"

"I have a feeling. And---I know you."

Vanessa sighs, "So you say. Which do you want to do first?"

He moves closer to her ear to tell her, "You decide. I'm following you my love."

She finally turns around and faces him. It is there in her eyes; his instincts are never wrong where his girlfriend is concerned. The shooting guard waits until everything is acknowledged and their naked wet bodies are moving in for a kiss. Sweetness at first because she is fragile and he hates himself for it. Because of his selfish need to be with Justin, his longest relationship is suffering. But his boyfriend's emotional state was so broken that he had to step up and help him deal with it. No matter the cost. Now he is doing it all over again for the woman he loves. And just like his vacation up in Aspen, this is a necessity and a requirement for them to make it through stronger. Both his relationships seems to run parallel to one another more and more each day and it spooks him to no end. The similarities are becoming more evident and it feels like both his lives are forcibly merging together. To become one.

Bryant gently holds their hands together while their kiss ever so slowly to get her adjusted for the act itself. His mind is solely focused on her because he loves her and has missed her over the past weeks. Talking on the phone is needed in his profession of course but it hardly does anything to quench specific thirsts. It is the nature of their lives. Vanessa pushes back against him and goes from almost docile to far more aggressive and willing to please her man. Water bounces off skin and kisses evolve into something far more intimate and pleasurable. Blood rushes down to his stiffening organ and goosebumps of pure sin erupt on the surface of their skins. She tastes so good; it is an addicting taste and scent and gratification. Kobe moves in closer and closer until there is no air in between them so he can fully begin to quench her longings and reconnect with her. What she wants most of all.

Hands roam over naked damp flesh to only heighten satisfactions but to familiarize every curve and indentation all over again. It is a big adventure that will never get old or finish. His girlfriend kisses his ear and begs to be taken without any instrument of foreplay or sexy games. She wants it, him to take her away. For them both to fly off in the cradle of life. He moves over and presses his lover's back onto the glass sliding doors of the enormous shower to as their lips ravage one another's. Sparks fly in between them when hands fully surrender against the glass and the slight pressure begins. The baller's pelvis moves in and grinds against hers in a sensual display of affection and attention. The sweet friction already created in the middle makes Vanessa shudder in her man's arms as if her body is pleading for more. Her knees are weak and they have to connect. She deeply loves him; now is to show it.

"Oh Kobe. Oh baby---" his longtime girlfriend gratifies under his touch. "Yeah. Touch me there."

"I like touching you there. I've missed you so much baby."

"Show me."

"I love it when you challenge me," the basketball star murmurs to her.

Circular grinding motions cease and he begins to press into her sensually. She arches up and remembers this sensation to a tee. And how much she has missed it. There has been a felt distance between them as of late but that can all work itself out after this. There is one special way to reconnect and it must happen for any relationship to survive. Kobe's hardening rod thrusts in and their lips combine to finish off the mood. Warm water beats down on their bodies while their lovemaking truly begins to flourish. He does not want to go slow because the teasing is done with so the pace quickens much to both of their satisfaction. Vanessa moans cutely but willfully to continue the sexual assault. The tightness enveloped around him drives his raging libido to take her fully but the last shred of himself waits for her to become comfortable. He is big and needs to get used to. No matter how many times.

Her biting him on his collarbone releases the one ounce of control he was holding on to and he loses it and falls into the passion. His hips thrusts closer to hers until even water could not get past them and she arches again to readjust to her man. Fingers caress his short hair and once deep breaths are now shallow memories of the not too distant past. Vanessa groans and grunts in his mouth while their wet bodies harmonize and become one. She closes her eyes and lets the waves and waves and ripples rush her to reach the ultimate pleasure. Kobe smiles when he looks at her and presses his open palms against the glass door to support himself more. It is not a smart decision but logical thoughts escape them both at the moment. Hands roam down his sculpted shoulders and chest and back. He is a god. He is a sexy god whose charm and charisma are boundless and naturally him. Justin cannot be on his mind.

"Uhuh. Yeah sweetheart---" his girlfriend drums out. "Give it to me."

"Oh baby. Aww---"

Kobe feels a shudder expand throughout his body and it tells him that he is close. Her lips are all over him and their hands leave fingerprints everywhere. Vanessa moans softly as if only a plea for more because she knows it is close to being over. Her boyfriend's exquisite stamina is able to pleasure her more completely and longer than she has ever known. Granted that he is her first serious relationship and she lost her virginity to him but she hears what her girlfriends tell her about their most private moments. Steam sinks into their wet skin and enhances their passion and lust even more. A tight tingling sensation deep within his lower abdomen forces a small grunt out of him and then it happens. Bryant bursts open inside her at the crucial tip of an everlasting thrust and both lovers cry out in missed pleasure and ecstasy. His plunges maintain themselves but for not much longer. He is so amazing at this.

Now the true shower can begin. She grabs the bar of soap and begins to lather her boyfriend's masculine pecs and chest while he kisses her neck and cups her breasts. The act itself may be over but the afterthought of caressing and caring is just as important. The satisfied baller grabs the bar of soap from her hands and begins to rub it all around her. They have not taken this type of shower in a long time but he still knows where his hands should go. Where he should touch and kiss. Vanessa is the first to finally finish with her shower so she leaves him alone in search of a towel to cover her cold body. It is only a few more moments before the water stops falling and the shower is left behind completely. It will only get harder from this point on and although Kobe is not in the mental mood to talk about it all, he fears that there is no other direction to turn into. This must happen sooner or later.

"You were great in there," she ambushes him when he walks into their overly large closet to find something to wear.

"What can I say---I had a great partner. I missed you," they hug.

"What do you want to eat for dinner? I can make us a quick something."

"We can just order in. I'm not that hungry right now. Maybe Chinese or Thai," the Los Angeles Laker suggests while he continues to looks for clothing.

"Okay. I'll order it in a minute."

Bryant finally settles on his clothing and exits their closet to change into them. He needs moments to recapture his mind mainly because everything his boyfriend Justin has said to him on their last day in Aspen and even their conversation after that is starting to sink in. He walks a fine line between the morally right and the illegally corrupt. No one in the public would believe his true intentions of using the drugs and his entire career will come in the crossfire were anything to get leaked. All his legitimate hard work would be tarnished and he is almost positive that his already legendary basketball profile would not be able to survive it. All these things in his mind are true and real and valid but he has been burned by his father every day since he can remember. It is too much of a burden to handle alone anymore. Vanessa kisses his cheek when his eyes are glued outside and heads downstairs.

He only snaps back to reality when she calls him downstairs to retrieve her suitcases from where the driver left them earlier at the entry of the house. They are returned to the large master bedroom and Kobe starts to put up mental barriers in preparation of their conversation. There are certain things that should never be mentioned in his girlfriend's presence of course so these precautions have to be taken as of late. Ever since his relationship with Timberlake has evolved, these measures have been put in place. If he has not been living a double life before then there is absolutely no denying it from now on. Vanessa's voice echoes lightly throughout the house as she talks to her mother on the phone. The Sun is ripe in the sky but is threatening to leave them all in darkness once more as he looks out and is engulfed in his own thoughts. Both are on his mind and it feels like a tug of war for his attention.

"You're a million miles away," Vanessa announces herself in their bedroom.

"I---know we have to talk," he turns from the window to face her.

"I don't think we can put it off any longer."

"That's not what I'm doing."

She sits on their bed, "You've been distant for a while now. I didn't want to admit it or thought it was stress but I was wrong. We're disconnected from each other. What's going on?"

"I'm sorry we weren't able to spend the holidays together. I know it was hard."

"Talk to me. Tell me what's happening with you. You're so far away. I can barely touch you anymore honey."

"My career is so complicated---" he begins but is interrupted.

"---You can't keep blaming your career for the problems between us."

"What problems do we have Vanessa? I've given you everything you ever wanted. You know how much I love you."

Those words should have never come out of his mouth. They only shed more light on his overgrowing guilt and heartache of having to deceive her. Them both. Silence creates a very uncomfortable ambiance in the room and while he searches for something to say, nothing flourishes itself at the very tip of his tongue. This stress will break him. There was actually a small insight where Justin got through to him about quitting his usage but moments like these make the drug so much more needed. Its purpose is still mainly to keep his father out of his head but the uses are unwillingly expanding. Kobe now uses and abuses the drugs to deal with situations like these. From both his girlfriend and boyfriend. It seems to be the only constant thing in his life at the moment and this is the scariest thought he has ever experienced. The singer's words echoes deep within his head. Maybe it is all true. No!

"Is that what it comes down to? You give me everything I want so I can't bring up any problems we have. Just by saying that you should realize that we have huge problems Kobe. You can't throw money at our problems and hope they'll go away. I'm not your whore!" she almost screams out.

"I never said you were. I know you're not."

"But you refuse to admit that there are problems between us. Real problems that money can't solve."

Bryant ponders in himself first until, "II'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that before. I don't know baby---"

"You have to talk to me. You've been keeping so much from me. I know you are. The holidays weren't the only time we spent apart where we could've been together. I feel like you're not trying. It's easier for you to say your career is getting into our relationship rather than admitting the truth."

"What's the truth?" he questions her from the window.

"Kobe you have to tell me. I don't know what your truth is. I'm not a part of your career. You barely take me on the road with you or we don't spend enough time together."

"I'm working. Is that what you want?" the baller genuinely asks as he moves closer to the bed their share.

"Why do I feel like I'm not a part of your life anymore? I'm supposed to be the most important thing to you but that's not how it is. I'm behind your career."

"It's been like this since the beginning and you never said anything like this to me. Basketball keeps me on the road a lot and now that I have so many endorsements and press events I'm traveling more. What changed?"

Vanessa looks up at him when he is standing directly in front of her, "The beginning wasn't like this. I know you travelled a lot but you would always call me or try your best to rush home to be with me. The last couple of months have been different. Tell me why."

She is right of course. The last couple of months have been spent both with her and Justin so of course he has to miss some dates or stay out on the road longer than is truly needed. All the more reason he should break it off with one of them and get back to his singular life but that cannot happen now. Kobe loves Vanessa with everything he is but the same feelings are attributed to his boyfriend. He was not supposed to fall in love with the singer so soon, if even at all. An intense bond brought them together at that charity basketball game last year and his curiosity simply took over and he had to explore Justin. Everything he found kept drawing them closer and closer together until the love word was used. While this relationship thrived the other with his longtime girlfriend wilted. The balance the basketballer has tried so hard to maintain has crumbled before him. It is all conspiring against him.

"Are you hiding something from me?" his confused girlfriend tries a different approach. "Are there things you're not telling me?"

"---No. I don't---know. You know everything about me baby," Bryant finally sits on their bed next to her. "I've been under a lot of pressure lately. I need more time by myself to think about it all. My career is in overdrive."

"That's my point. You're career is on top of the world but you're not taking me along for the ride. I've been there with you since the beginning Kobe. That hurts."

He sighs, "I---didn't think you'd want to come along with me to all these events. I'm just going by how it was before."

"But you career changed. And we haven't. I'm not a part of it anymore."

"I know I haven't been there," he obviously states. "If this is what you want then it will happen."

"It's what we need. We have to be together more. I'm losing my touch with you. Or touch."

Vanessa fights away tears and falls into her man's supportive body for comfort and reassurance. He keeps looking straight ahead while she silently cries on his chest and abdomen. His arms wrap around her for comfort and nothing is said but he wants to so badly. This new revelation will make his relationship with Justin that much harder to see the light of day but this is definitely needed. His girlfriend is highly emotional, with good reason, and this is threatening to rip their love to shreds. The Los Angeles Laker can no longer try and deny it or look the other way because this current relationship has been neglected by him. It is dangerous because maybe, deep in his mind, he always knew his girlfriend would be there for him. For them. Bryant now knows that he is taking her for granted and that all these feelings are warranted and he deserves to feel as terrible as he does right now. Stability will be here.

"Don't worry sweetheart," the baller comforts her. "I won't let that happen to us. I love you too much to lose our connection."


Everything is a lie between them. A simple search, which should have been done at the very beginning, justifies it all to him. Their extensive and blindly stable relationship since high school and their bond ever since. He is so stupid for this. For everything. The young songster refuses to fall into the rut that is known as his self destruction because he has become stronger. Though it is all because of Kobe Bryant; his new and now eternal source of pain. What they had was perfect; at least he thought so but beneath the surface was a completely different story. Justin sits in a darkened room in his palatial home thinking and wondering. Confusion leads his emotions astray but he will not cry again. His insides are already too wet but there is nothing else he can do. Timberlake is trapped in these strong feelings he has for this man he loves. This man he is still in love with despite all of this.

Only two days after JC Chasez unintentionally broke his world, Justin is working and making sure to keep up with his normal schedule. It helps his mind get away but he is careful not to take it to the extreme and become hurt again. Inside feels black and unhealthy however. They have to talk but he does not want to. There is no way this relationship can continue now that he knows what he does. No possibility now. His heart is broken and facing the basketballer will be too hard to bear but things have to come out in the open and people must move on. Timberlake still fingers the seamless pendant around his neck. It is becoming too heavy a load to keep carrying around but parts of him will never want to rip it off. A complicated mess has thrown him so far off course that he is fighting and struggling just to think straight and walk that delicate line between control and complete breakdown. Why?

"He isn't the one," he finally admits after days of contemplation.

They have not spoken in two days but that will soon change. Appropriately enough, he is scheduled for a dark photo shoot that requires no smiling or positive emotions whatsoever. It is meant to edge his image out to get even further past his once squeaky clean teenage self from the days of the band. Clothing is black and the scenery is dark and almost gothic and his fingernails are even painted black. A photo shoot is the easiest way for Timberlake to get out of himself for the day and though he is asked to exhibit most of the shadowy emotions built inside him, it is a differentiated experience. Justin's day ends late in the evening and even though he is not hungry he forces himself to grab a bite to eat while still on the set. The megastar is in his dressing room readying himself to leave to only go home and crash. He grabs his phone to leave but there is a text message from earlier in the day on the screen.

Hey. Call me. I miss you. KB

A succinct text message throws him back to his reality and he looks at the words to take them deep into thought. They have to talk evidently but this conversation cannot be had over the phone. Being immature and ignoring calls and texts is not the way to go either. Though working up the courage is much easier said than done. Justin sits on a chair inside now former dressing room and rests his elbows against the table to think. It is getting later and the studio should be closing very soon so he gets up to leave. Outside is darkened as he walks to his car and gets in. The former N*SYNCer starts the engine to his midnight blue Audi TT Roadster and stays in the parking lot; the Lamborghini has not been driven since his conversation with JC Chasez. That is immature too but he cannot help it. Timberlake is so hurt and confused and upset at everything having to deal with Kobe Bryant. Nothing is sane.

He dials and waits before genuine voice answers, "There's someone I've been thinking about all day."

"Where are you?"

"Driving home. I had some public appearances today. What about you?"

Driving home to her.

Justin remains quiet but, "I'm in the car going home too."

"That Lamborghini is great. I knew you'd love it."

"Love doesn't begin to describe it anymore."

"You know---maybe you should find more ways to thank me. I mean, it was an expensive car after all," Bryant coyly plays with him as if nothing is wrong. "I really want to see you."

"Funny---I've been thinking the same thing," he sounds cold and abrasive.

"Justin? Baby you sound upset. What's going on?"

"I---I'm just---tired. A long day."

"Are you still in Los Angeles?"

"For right now. I leave next week," the singing star stops at a red light and looks out at the night's sky through the raised window.

"Okay. I have some things to do tomorrow so how about the next day? We can go to this secluded area I know up in the hills."

Silence but then, "Why don't we meet at your house?"

"I---can't babe. I have some family members staying with me for a few weeks."

Lies run out of bounds since the beginning of their conversation. There was a long time when he would believe all this but now everything has changed. He is driving home to her; they share the same bed, the same house. That is why Timberlake is not invited there and he doubts he will ever be. Now his insides are filled with butterflies because he has a date with his adulterous boyfriend. But this has to end because he is starting to question his role in their relationship. Knowingly or not, the young superstar is the other person in and already established relationship. Granted their relationship together is not as conventional, he is seeing himself as the reason in between Kobe and his girlfriend's relationship. This position makes him sick and fuels his anger and hurt more. But they seemed so perfect for each other. Now he will have to perform some lies of his own to eventually get to the truth. A lie for a lie.

"You're so quiet. You're distant J---" the irony comes back to the shooting guard in a big way. "What's wrong?"

"Come to my house for dinner then. I'll---make us something. Around seven?"

Kobe tries again with, "Justin---talk to me. Did I do something? Are you mad at me?"

"I'm tired," he lies. "I'll see you in two days?"

"Yeah---sure. Of course."


His engine roars up to his driveway with bright lights beaming to guide his way home. Justin tucks the mobile device in his back pocket when he gets out and lights immediately bathe him from above the driveway and around the house. This is welcomed but brings with it the sight of the crystal blue Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera that mocks him. He walks to it and runs his fingers across the smooth metal surface before leaving it behind and walking into his house. Kobe Bryant's voice soundly echoes deep within his head. He spoke as if there were absolutely no secrets between them and if they were the perfect couple. Timberlake resents his boyfriend's unknown cockiness but it is unhealthy and dangerous so he tries his best to dismiss it. They have to talk now more than ever but it will be a difficult and daunting conversation to have. In the kitchen his phone goes off once again.

"Hello?" the R&B songster quickly answers before looking to see who it is.

"Hi honey," his mother Lynn's voice greets him on the other side of the line.


"How are you?"

"Fine. Why?"

"I can't ask how my son is?" she answers back.

"I guess."

"That's enough Justin. We need to talk."

The former N*SYNCer stops until, "No we don't! We don't have to talk about anything!"

"Listen to me. You may be a famous star but you're still my son and there will never be a time in your life where you can even think of talking to me like that do you understand?"

"Yes---mom. I'm sorry," he is genuinely so. "I'm just so tired. It's been a long day and I have a lot on my mind."

This is not who he wants to be talking to right now but he was caught off guard when he picked up the phone. She is trying to help of course but they have had this conversation a few times before, since he came back from Aspen, and it will ultimately lead to the same topic much to his annoyance. The singing star grabs a bottle of water from the refrigerator to quench his dry throat while listening to his mother trying to meddle and delve far deeper into his life than he is comfortable with. Her relentless demeanor is only pushing him away but he knows he was wrong for snapping at her earlier. Timberlake hops up and sits on the granite countertops of his kitchen while trying to keep his mother at bay. A strong headache is coming into his brain and he really just wants to take some pills and falls asleep on his bed but some many obstacles stand in his way of this simple request. It is never easy.

"I don't want to see him mother," Justin coldly says of the request to see his father. "There's nothing left to say."

"How can you say that honey? He's your father---"

"He hit me and disowned me. What's left to be said? And you're the one calling me, not him. Why are you doing his dirty work for him?"

There is a pause, "That's not what this is. You know how important both you and he are in my life---"

"He's your ex husband. Why should you keep taking care of all his problems?"

"Do you hate him that much?"

"He hit me. Or weren't you there to see it? I've never been hit in my life and the first time it happens to me I'm a grown man. He had no right---"

"That's true sweetheart. He had no right but we have to work this out together."

"Does he even know you're doing this?" their conversation is becoming exhausting.


"Mom---you're lying. You don't have to take care of me anymore. I'm okay."

"It seems you're lying too. I know something's bothering you. Like it's weighing you down."

"Oh yeah? How can you tell that?" he almost tries to smirk.

"I'm your mother Randall. I know when my child is upset. And this has nothing to do with your father---"

Timberlake hangs his head in an attempt to subside his now throbbing head while he thinks of her words and what he will have to do only two days into the future. Now this conversation about his father stresses out and upsets him even more but she is right about him being distracted and weighed down. As much as he thought this conversation would be just as same as the others, it is morphing into something different because of his emotional instability. The outside looks so put together and focused but inside is a wired mess of jumbled thoughts and harsh actions wanting desperately to be set free. Lynn keeps talking into his ear and he only manages to catch every third or fourth word. Justin honestly does not have the heart to fix things with his since estranged father though he begs himself everyday to try and find the compassion to do so. Despite everything, he loves his father but anger clouds it.

"You know what bothered me most about that night?" he starts in because he is forced down this memory's lane. "It wasn't that he hit me or called me names. You didn't do anything."


"You did nothing when he hit me. You felt how shaken I was but you left me and followed him out of the house."

"I wanted him to come back," she tries to defend. "I went after him to bring him back to avoid what is happening now. To get him back so we could sort everything out."

"How could you think either of us wanted to talk after he hit and told me he doesn't want me as a son anymore? You saw how angry and shocked I was. I was shaking mother!" Justin's throbbing head is threatening to explode but this needs to be said because he has been keeping it in for too long.

"Justin---I was trying to avoid---"

"You chose his side over mine. You chose your ex husband's side over your son's. Your own son."

"No. It wasn't like that sweetheart. I just wanted us to work out your issue as a family before it went too far. Like where we are now."

"My---issue? So that's what it all comes down too then?"

"Honey---I'm only trying to protect you."

"Protect me? From what---myself?"

It all makes so much sense now and he is wondering why he was not able to put it all together sooner. His mother is obviously not comfortable or happy to have a gay son. He is not caught totally off guard by it because it is a huge adjustment in the way they view him but this conversation has taken a turn for the worse. Having her voice her true thoughts and essential disappointment hurts him far more than his father striking him across the face. The crooner sighs to himself and feels completely alienated from the person he once was. Everything was so perfect only a few weeks ago but now it is like he does not even recognize himself anymore. Everyone is pulling him in so many different directions that he will eventually crash. The phone line stays quiet because both are thinking of what to say to get their point across with hurting the other. Lynn will never know how deeply she cut her son on this day.

"You have to give me time to process everything you said that day Randall. You know I love you," she says.

"I do know that mom. That's what makes this so much harder."

"Oh honey---"

"I'm not going to apologize to you or dad or anyone else for who I am. I'm happy with myself and if you say you love me then you should have no problem with who I want to date. You're supposed to love me---not my lifestyle."

"You're right. You're right. It's just hard sweetheart---"

"I have to go. I need some sleep and my head's killing me," the former N*SYNCer is too hurt and upset to continue their conversation.

"But Justin---you have to understand---"

"Bye mom. I'm sorry I'm not the son you wanted."

"Don't hang up Just---"

The phone line dies due to him and of course she calls back but he is no longer entertaining it today. Needing a full night's sleep, he turns the mobile device off and rests on the kitchen counter under him and presses his face within his palms to regroup himself. His mother's admission overwhelmingly blindsided him and now he has two parents that disparage his lifestyle. It is not just a lifestyle though, it is who he is. They, being his parents, should know that he did not choose to be this way to spite them or rebel or even that the entertainment industry or a singular relationship turned him gay. It does not work like that. Watery eyes force tears down either side of his cheeks but Justin uses the back of his hand to wipe them away before hopping off the granite countertop and tossing the empty plastic bottle into the garbage. The phone stays lifeless on the counter while he makes his way upstairs.

A warm shower wants to do the job of comfort but its basic task is all that happens. He stays under the spraying nozzles until the water starts running cold and then the novelty wears off. Timberlake slinks out and rapidly and halfheartedly dries his skin before wrapping the towel around his waist and walking over to the sink to brush his teeth. The stress of the day has not been washed off his skin and he loads up the automatic toothbrush with toothpaste to begin brushing. Even quick glances into the mirror hurts and cannot be bared. Someone is staring back at him that he cannot see or maybe he does not want to see. When it mouth feel minty and fresh he replaces the electric toothbrush on its stand before wiping away more of the steam from the fogged mirror in front of him to try it again. Blue eyes do everything but lie to him and that is exactly what Justin needs them to do for him. Lie to him.

He is too tired and strung out to change into anything so he finishes drying himself off in his room and tosses the towel in the hamper before crawling into bed. The singing star sits up with his back pressed against the extravagant headboard of his bed so his hair can finish off drying. Fingers comb through the wet slickness as he thinks and thinks about the same things over and over. After about ten minutes Justin detaches his back from the headboard and sinks lower into bed. His head presses into fluffy pillows and he glances up at the ceiling momentarily until he turns to his side and turns off the lamp next to him to get some sleep. No more thinking. No more feeling. No more anything for today. Timberlake forces his eyes closed and demands a clear head to drift away. It has never that easy when his mind is so full but darkness eventually overcomes all. Sleep will happen.