~*~ 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.
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~*~ Contemporary Edge off the Rest ~*~
Relaxed and regaining his energy the singer cannot remember the last time his mind was this clear and only focused on his having a good time. It is exactly what he needs to reduce his stress and be himself. He eats dinner and talks to Kobe Bryant about general aspects of their careers as well as ridiculous rumors that have surfaced about them over the years. There have been some crazy ones and the ability to simply look the other way and ignore them is a necessity for the business they both are in. They laugh it off because the media makes outrageous accusations and insinuations on their behalf and sometimes it is just best to step back and laugh at the farfetched concepts conjured up. Bryant is such a funny guy that they are laughing every other second. Justin's head has never felt this relaxed and uninhibited. The food is great and the atmosphere created by the two is even better.
As easily as they enter the restaurant, the former competitors are out and back in the black beast of a car the basketball star owns and are on their way back to the hectic city that knows not how to sleep. Being in the oasis could not last forever and now it is back to their lives. Back to guarded thoughts and flashing photographs and prying into privacy. The night's air is cool and he stares out the window at passing lights and houses, thinking what it would be like to live in one of them, to be a normal guy. He just had a small taste of it over dinner. Timberlake loves entertaining the world but there are certain aspects of the industry that he will never get used to. Going months on end without seeing his parents or friends does get hard and staying in lavish hotels by himself often gets lonely and tiresome. It is a small price to pay however. Kobe reminds him to stop and relax sometimes.
Soon enough, the cozy houses and thin roads are replaced with skyscrapers and highways all around. Further and further away from that evening of pure freedom. It signifies that they are back in the city and Justin informs Kobe of where he is staying. He feels so much calmer and less anxious from the last time he was in this car. But he is tired and has to forcibly keep his eyes open to stop himself from falling asleep. The car rides so smoothly that he may be fighting a losing battle. Timberlake smiles when their eyes make quick contact and knows Bryant is smiling back because of how tired he is. He's teasing me. What a jerk--- The conversation continues on from their meal earlier however and keeps a steady rhythm before he finally notices that the basketballer is parked in the parking lot outside his hotel. A fluttering butterfly returns and torments his once peaceful stomach.
"Wake up sleeping beauty. You're home---"
"Forget you! I'm not sleeping---" the former N*SYNCer defends himself.
"It was a great game---you played great," Bryant says in the following silence with both his hands planted on the steering wheel of his car.
"Thanks. So did you."
"Don't forget your stuff."
"Oh man---I completely forgot."
He looks at him and asks, "You're really tired huh?"
"Yeah. Thanks for dinner---it was great."
"It's a good place. Private---"
"Yeah. Well---I'll see you around sometime---"
"Yeah. Most definitely."
They give each other another awkward look before Justin jumps out of the Lamborghini to fetch his stuff from the trunk. The trunk slams shut after he retrieves the duffel bag and he walks away from the car and into the hotel. It really was a great evening after he got past bad nerves and unwanted anxiety. He notices that Kobe Bryant waits until he enters the hotel's lobby before revving the engine and driving off. And he stays still to watch the car drive off into the night. Timberlake looks back again to see that he is gone before making his way up to his room to take a real shower and catch up on some sleep. His mood is dramatically peaceful but he is not sure if it is because of the food or something else. Lights illuminate the suite as the songster enters and makes his way to the bedroom. He drops the bag from his shoulder and sits on the bed to take off his shoes. That was fun.
A warm and caressing shower allows him to maintain his serenity and he finds a pair of baby blue boxers and white pajama bottoms for which he has to tie the string so it will adhere to his waist. Now he is truly relaxed and his body feels great; it got a great natural workout today and his mind isn't the jumbled mess it usually is. This is always a good thing to have his mind free. Justin relaxes in bed and turns on the large television in his room in the hopes it will help usher him off to sleep. Just as he settles in to watch some late-night cartoons, he hears his phone screaming in the next room. Timberlake left it on the coffee table in the living room before heading off to the shower. Sighing, he gets up from his comfortable position and walks to the living room in slight darkness. His eyes widen at the name his phone's screen display. I guess we're going to do this right now then. Great---
"Hey---JC," he answers as passively as possible.
"Justin man---what's up with you?"
"---Nothing. I'm about to go to bed because I'm tired."
"Oh. It was a tough game?"
Timberlake is starting to become irritated with his friend's seemed cockiness, "---Something like that. Speaking of---where were you?"
"Oh man---I had something to do last minute---"
"---Just like the last time?" he does not want an argument not but Chasez standing him up today is starting to come back to him hard.
"No. I'm sorry man. I didn't know it was going to happen today---"
He snaps with, "What the hell is `it'?"
"Nothing---it's not important. Just know that I'm sorry about today okay? Did you get my text?" JC asks him.
As if a text message is supposed to make up for you standing me up. Lame JC!
"Yeah. I got it."
"Okay---because my phone's been acting stupid lately."
"Oh," Justin uninterestingly answers him back.
JC Chasez picks up on his tone and replies, "Don't be mad at me Justin. My bad for real."
"Whatever JC---I'm not worried about it."
"---Okay. Are you going to tell me about the game then?"
Justin sighs to himself and looks out a nearby window into the darkness, saying nothing. He knows he is upset with JC but he also knows that there is no reason to pursue it any further because it would not be worth it. Getting into an argument now would only prove to be counterproductive and add stress to his body that the dinner tonight with Kobe Bryant managed to take away. He still remains calm and does not let Chasez's nonchalant attitude bother him. His best friend already said that he was sorry about it and that is the best he can get seeing as how neither of them can go back and replay the basketball game or the day. Timberlake crawls back into bed and lowers the volume on the TV to continue on the conversation with his former bandmate. Aside from him not being there, the game was great and he played with some great people. He will not let JC's ditch earlier bother him anymore.
"My team lost---" the pop star responds back after a while.
"What---who did you have? Who was there?"
"Uh---D. Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chad Michael Murray, and T.I. They had Ashton Kutcher, Gilbert Arenas, Bow Wow, Tony Parker, and Kobe Bryant."
"Man! So Kobe's team won huh? You had to know that was coming J---"
"Shut up! You're only saying that because he's your favorite player," the mention of the name takes Justin back to earlier in the evening and their flawless dinner.
"That, and because he's the best. You have to get with it JT---"
He sighs and retorts, "It was a close game. We all played good."
"So what'd you do after?"
"Huh---nothing. I came back here and relaxed. I was too tired to do anything else."
The lie won't hurt anyone. He does not feel like explaining to JC what really happened after the game and doubts he will ever tell him. Justin has truly made up his mind that some things just deserve to stay private. And to guarantee privacy, he cannot say anything to anyone. Not to his best friend. Not to his parents. Not to anyone. It will be better this way. The memory of the evening will not be ruined this way and that is the last thing Justin wants. His perfect memory cannot be ruined. He won't allow it to happen. The mention of the name brings Kobe back into the forefront of his mind where the night vividly replays itself. The spectacular car ride and the quiet restaurant that he wants no one else to know about. It can be their place to go to when they need to fall off the face of the Earth for a few hours. This is why no one should nor will they ever know about the impromptu dinner.
"It was just one game Justin---"
"I was out there for a while practicing. And then T.I. showed up and we played a one-on-one game and then the real game began," Justin explains himself.
"Oh. Did you have fun?"
"Yeah---it was cool."
"I'm really sorry J. I didn't mean to do you like that."
"Are you okay? You've been disappearing a lot---"
"I'm good," Chasez shoots back almost instantly.
"Sorry---I guess I'm tired too. Let me go get some sleep."
"Yeah me too."
"Later JC," Timberlake gets in before the phone conversation is over.
The night ahead is a one of full rest and regeneration for him. Maybe it is from the sense of accomplishment of the charity basketball game. Doing good things for others, especially when they are in need is another great aspect of celebrity that Justin has come to admire. He and his family are fortunate enough to never have to worry about money again so it is only natural that he reach out and help whenever he can. Above, the black sky blankets the city of dreams as most of its residents are soundly sleeping. Timberlake's night's rest comes to an abrupt awakening when his phone starts buzzing and ringing on the nightstand next to the bed. He stirs at first to try and ignore it but eventually reaches over for it to see if he recognizes the number but when he doesn't, he contemplates picking it up. What the hell--- I'm already up anyway.
He clears his throat and flicks open his phone to ask, "Hello."
"Yo Timberkid---what's happenin' with you?" it is producer Timbaland and he sits up on his bed rubbing his eyes open.
"Just woke up---" Justin's naked chest feels cool breezes against it and his light brown nipples beginning to get hard.
"My bad," he apologizes.
"No it's okay. What's up?"
"I'm trying to fit you in---I'm doing all the work while this boy is sleeping. I love this."
Justin Timberlake smiles before saying, "It's what I'm paying you for isn't it---"
"Speaking of---where's that check? It better not be lost in the mail."
"Don't worry about that. What are we doing?" the line remains silent for a while and the singer looks outside to see the beginnings a cloudy day looming.
"Come to New York now---we can meet up tonight. This studio opens late," Timbaland says to him. "I really wanna get on this project."
"Okay---it sounds like a plan to me. I'll call you when I'm out there."
"I'm waiting for you Timberkid. Get your pretty boy ass out here and let's get some work done on this album of yours. Do you got lyrics?"
"Let's try this again---do you got a song?"
"I do but it's not done yet," Timberlake tries to vaguely explain himself.
He has not written lyrics in a few days and it has come back to hurt him now. He was planning on writing yesterday after he got back from the basketball game but that didn't happen because of his unexpected outing with the basketballer Kobe Bryant. Justin does not regret it though; he never will. Being away from his alter ego was much needed and appreciated and he will not lament taking that time for himself. It is already done anyway. Today is meant for him to relax but now he has to work on his lyrics as well as catch a flight across the country. Sometimes it just has to be this hectic and chaotic. It must seem so unprofessional and Timberlake values himself as anything but. His mind's creativity is not flowing as much as he wants it to and he cannot be rushed but, of course, he is on deadline. Deadline from his record company as well as the man he is currently on the phone with.
"What do you mean?" his record producer asks him.
"I have to add and change some things. I'll see what I can do."
"Okay---I gotta head out," Timbaland tells him. "Get at me when you come out here Timberkid."
The star is on the phone with his publicist right away to assure him the next flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. The day of relaxing is gone and in comes work again. It is a small sacrifice this time however because he really wants to start work on this album and is thrilled Timbaland is taking him and his ideas seriously. So there will be no complaining. As quickly as possible, Justin packs all his stuff back into their suitcases and is out of the hotel and being chauffeured to the airport within the next few timely hours. It will always be about work for him. He turns his phone on vibrate and tries to enjoy the ride to the airport and his last day in the state of California. The ride is soothing and he allows his mind to roam free because he needs to start putting words together to form songs. Timberlake will not let his record company be proven right. He must fight against that.
Gray and dreary skies drape over New York's infamous skyline as he notices it upon touchdown of the airplane onto the other side of the country. It is the same as in Los Angeles and is apparent that the cloudy weather is following the former N*SYNCer wherever he chooses to go. Checkout through the airport is simple but he is noticed by some female fans and gives them autographs before they are on their way. A scene is something Justin does not need right now as he continues to be pressed for time. Another marked vehicle picks him up and drives him to yet another hotel. It is almost six in the evening and the singing star knows it is going to rain down upon the city at any time. He remembers jumping and playing around in the rain when he was small, much to the disapproval of his parents. The days before the dream and where his whole family was together. Not broken like it is now.
The hotel is lavishly nice but it is basically the same. They are all the same in his eyes now for he has been living out of them for so long now. The bellhop packs all his suitcases in the master suite and Justin fetches his wallet to tip him before he is alone again. There is just enough time for him to take a quick shower and grab a bite of dinner before he is back to work again. He leaves his lyric book on the edge of the dining table so he will remember to take it with him later and starts stripping off his clothes for a shower he knows his body needs. The songster is not used to, nor does he like taking short showers but sometimes they are forced upon him. The one thing Timberlake likes to be is clean and always smelling good. Dinner hits the spot a short while later and he gathers up his things and readily leaves his suite, not knowing when he will be back to enjoy its grand amenities.
Nightfall brings with it an abundance of artificial light and the streets seem even busier than they are during the day. It is another city that never sleeps after all. Timberlake hands his driver the address to the studio and he studies it momentarily before figuring out where to go. He feels a little nervous and guilty because Timbaland is already working on this album harder than he is. It should be the other way around because he really wants this. Jive, of course, wants him to succeed but Justin also knows that they will be waiting for him to say that he is in over his head or that the project is not turning out the way he thought it would. Everything has to be right. Upon arrival to the studio, Justin Timberlake walks pass a pair of glass doors into the recording studio and almost jumps out of his skin when he feels a hand behind him and turns around to see the super producer smiling at him.
"I was waiting for you---what kept you?" he laughs, noticing Justin's nerves.
"Damn you scared me!"
"My bad. Come on---we have work to do," Timbaland says.
They walk to the elevator together and enter the large metal box that will fly them to the second floor of the building. His heart is still working overtime from being scared. Justin hopes that hearing the beats Timbaland has already produced will inspire him in writing the songs to accompany them. This has been true in the past from back in the days of N*SYNC to his first solo album. Actually hearing the beats somehow makes words known and lyrics seemingly form themselves for the music. This isn't always the case but he is hoping to be that kind of inspired tonight. To Timberlake, this project signifies complete freedom and his departure away from his boyband days so failure or giving up are not options. Their elevator ride is silent and he notices the other man is in a black tank top and long black jeans. His muscular arms and chest bulge out of his tank top and it looks like it is about to rip apart.
"How many beats have you produced?" the eager singer asks when they exit the elevator.
"I'd say I got three solid songs already. I just need you to hear them to make sure they don't sound too pop."
"I don't think they will. That's why I came after you---"
He smiles and comes back with, "And here I thought you came after me for my good looks and charm."
"Hah---keep dreaming man."
It is a little awkward of a comment but he cannot help to laugh at the false insinuation. They are getting more comfortable around one another so these jokes and snipes are part of their rapport. Justin began to feel it that night at the bar when he got his nickname Timberkid. But all the fun and games have to be put aside to get started on melding beats together with lyrics. Lights blink and flash throughout the entire board and this lets Timberlake know that he has been working even before he came. He feels guiltier now but tucks it all away to get his mind ready to work. If it takes all night then so be it. The sooner he can get some songs down and make a demo for Jive then the better it would be for him. At least then some of the pressure will be off and he can better concentrate on finishing up the project. Timbaland takes a seat in front of all the blinking equipment and stares off for a second.
"Listen to this---" the super producer pushes a lever and the sound goes up for them to listen to the new beat.
"Oh man---I love this!"
"Yeah?" he asks over the loud sounds and looks over at him.
"Definitely! It sounds nothing like the past me."
"And that's what we want---"
"I'm loving this---" he says again.
"Okay Timberkid---I showed you mine now you gotta show me yours."
"---I thought hearing the beats would give me some ideas---"
"I need to do a lot of work. Look at this---"
Timbaland first plays him the rest of what he has been working on so far and Justin falls in love with each new beat more than the last. He decides to use these three beats to create the first three songs of the album and submit them to his record company so they can finally have proof of his thoughts and ideas for the album. The direction he wants to take this album into. After hearing the beats, the former N*SYNCer hands his producer the book of lyrics opened to the page he wants him to read. It is a bit nerve-wrecking but he has to believe in himself and what he wants. The room is silent as Timberlake watches him read what he wrote. The lyrics that could potentially marry together with these fresh beats. He knows a lot of it needs fixing but the foundation is there; that cannot be denied. His opinion is really key at this critical point of the developing process.
"It has a definite urban feeling to it---" he concludes. "Very different."
"I was thinking---"
"T.I. was in the basketball game with me yesterday and I wanted to ask him to collaborate with me on a record but I never got a chance to."
"Let me think," Timbaland says as he studies the book of lyrics again. "You got a pen on you?"
Their hands touch when the pen is exchanged and he looks over the producer's shoulder as he scratches out certain words, add words, and replaces words. It is an amazing process that he cannot believe is happening. If Timbaland knows how to write and edit lyrics as well then this entire album could be the defining one of Justin Timberlake's career. He is giddy with excitement and anticipation as to what will happen next. The prospect of rapper T.I. appearing on a song with him would be a delightful surprise. This needs to be a success. Justin looks on quietly while trying to think of more words in his head. Surprisingly, this situation is less stressful then he initially thought. He only does it to a few lines and Justin reads it over in his head and agrees that it already flows better than before. He even begins editing his own words and, a few minutes later after their combined efforts, a song is born.
"You see here," he points to the notebook.
"That's where T.I.'s part will be---when he does it."
"Wait---what? I didn't talk to him about this yet---" Justin says.
"Well---let's talk to him about it now," his producer talks as he starts reaching into his pocket.
Timberlake stops his mind from reeling and responds with, "Do you think he'll do it?"
"I think so."
"Come on JT---you still get nervous around others?"
"I'm not nervous," he responds quietly.
The mega producer's eyes him for a moment to see if he will break and the room becomes quiet again. Now is not the time to feel this way; it is all about work and T.I. will give him an edge no one would think to be possible. The two of them together will catch the music world by surprise and that is a hard feat to accomplish. Both men hear a raindrop splat against a nearby window but neither takes notice of it as Justin is deep in thought. He is trying to work up enough courage to make the call. Why didn't I just ask him when I had the chance? He is kicking himself hard for not talking to the rapper at the basketball game in the golden opportunity. He still feels a pair of eyes on him and there is no way he can back out of it now. Timbaland is making a lot possible for him with the album so the least he can do is to try and meet the other man halfway. This has to get done either way.
"What's it gonna be Timberkid?"
"Let me get your phone. I can really see him on this record," a poised confidence exudes itself.
"Me too. And when you said you wanted to ask him to collaborate I knew it was right. Here---"
The singer takes the phone offered to him and looks for the address book to find the number he needs while simultaneously swallowing all his nerves. No more nerves from now on. They only manage to get it the way and prove to be a great hindrance. Relax yourself. He'll do it. He hopes this will work and psyches himself up positively just to place the call. Timberlake browses through a multitude of numbers at a very slow pace because his nerves still hold him back until he comes upon the two capital letters with two periods after each of them. It is now or possibly never. It should not be this hard. He sucks it all up and presses a button on the device twice to call the rapper who refers to himself as the King of the South. Timbaland's eyes are one him again and it becomes heavier in the room. It rings three times until the lines become connected. Come on. Come on!
"Yo T Man. What's good with you?" T.I. greets when he picks up the phone.
"It's not Timbaland. It's Justin---" he says with interlaced confidence.
"Who's Justin? Timberlake---"
"Oh JT boy what's up? You want to finish that game so bad---" he asks and laughs in his southern accent.
"Man please---I don't want to embarrass you again---"
"Aight JT! What you doing with this phone anyway?"
"We're in the studio right now. He's working on my new album," Justin gets back to the topic at hand and his entire reason for calling. "Listen---I wanted to ask you yesterday---"
"I want you to work on a song with me---collaborate," the line is silent but Timberlake can hear a lot of noise in the background that he cannot make out
"What---hold on. Let me call you back," the line dies on him with no regrets.
"He said he'll call back," the former N*SYNCer recites what was just said to him.
"Okay. While we wait for that---you're feeling the beats right?" the producer extraordinaire asks him.
"It would be nice if we had some more lyrics to go with it---" he teases the singer.
"---Hey! I'm working on it."
They continue talking about what Justin's vision for the album is and begin to sample new beats to see what is working and sounding right. It should also serve as a source of inspiration for him to write more lyrics. He really wants to work with T.I. and wants to believe that he will say yes to his informal proposal. These things usually go through publicists or management companies but Timberlake is more invested in this particular project so a hands-on approach is a must. It is on his mind now and he is somewhat distracted by the abrupt end to the phone call. And his body is also tired and craving some sleep. The guilt of not having more lyrics available is still there so the singer works extra hard to make up for his shortcomings. The phone next to the pair lights up and begins to vibrate first before actually ringing. The southern rapper should be on the other end of the line.
"It's him---yo Tip," Timbaland says the first part to Justin and the second into the phone.
"What's up now?" the Atlanta rapper asks.
"You wanna talk to him?"
"What's up?" Timberlake asks when he comes on the line.
"Sorry about that partner. Things are crazy right now. What's going on?"
"I got this song I want you to be on."
"I can't imagine it being anyone else."
T.I. says, "Oh---so you want me. I'm a commodity now---" he muses.
"Yeah man---you didn't know?" the playfulness continues.
"I always knew. I'm the best there is."
"What do you say---will you do it?" Justin modestly asks.
"Yeah. I can. I'm busy as hell but I can drop a verse or two on a track for you."
"Thanks man! I really appreciate it."
"Ay no problem JT. You're a cool cat so I'm definitely down," T.I. says to him.
"Call me some other time with the details because I'm so busy right now."
"I will. Thanks again man."
"Yeah. Peace shawty."
The phone clicks shut and his insides are glowing and he can only imagine how sick that record with himself and T.I. will sound. Yes! Yes! It will definitely be one of his singles and this song alone should get Jive off his back. That alone is the prize within all of this. Timberlake hands the phone back and a nod assures Timbaland that the southern rapper will do it and they both smile at the ease of the accomplishment. Slowly but surely things are starting to fall into place for him and this album he is trying so hard to be perfect. This motivates Justin to work even harder in terms of his lyrics; they have to come quicker to him and be at a top notch level so that the world will take notice. The pair experiment for a while longer with beats and sounds before both entertainers decide to call it a night. The beats are crazy and the collaboration is in the bag. A successful night of producing music finishes.