If I Ain’t Got You – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 — In Need of Rest

Dec 13, 2002 — Orlando, FL — Knight Entertainment – Donnie Knight’s Office

“What do you mean I’m stuck on this damn tour for an extra two months?” Justin Tanner, a member of the band All*Star and a solo performance artist asked as he walked over to the executive manager’s desk with a mean expression on his face.

“I’ll take that as a sign that you overlooked the dates for April and May,” Donnie Knight, the executive manager and head honcho of the company spoke as Justin’s eyes widened as he shook his head and then threw up his hands.

“I didn’t overlook any damn thing!” Justin snapped as he turned to face the man. “I’m tired and I can’t do these extra shows!”

“I’m sorry Justin, but you just can’t stop the tour in March,” Donnie stated as he got up from his chair behind his desk.

“Why? Where in the hell did those extra dates come from?” Justin asked as he looked at Donnie, an expression that showed he was ready to fight. “I need rest damn it! I’m exhausted here. I’ve been pushing myself way too hard for far too long.”

“I’m sorry Justin, but those dates were already in place when everything was signed into place. Didn’t you read your agenda when the contracts were sent over?” Donnie asked as he walked around in front of his desk to stand in front of Justin.

“The agenda I have has my tour slated to end in March, not in damn May!” Justin snapped as he shook his head and then threw his hands up again.

“Then apparently you didn’t read your agenda thoroughly,” Donnie stated as he picked up a file and passed it over to Justin.

“No damn it! I—I can’t do this Donnie! All of this, it’s… No, it’s draining me damn it!” Justin snapped and then sighed as he covered his eyes.

“You’re on break right now for the holidays Justin. I suggest you use this time to rest up as much as you can,” Donnie suggested, watching Justin as he looked through the file. “I don’t care what you have to do, but you’ll make those dates and you’ll follow-through with everything set out in your agenda.”

“Are you fucking serious here? You’re telling me to rest up as much as I can? How in the hell am I supposed to get rest Donnie? Maybe you’ve forgotten what’s on my damn plate right now!” Justin snapped as he pointed his finger in the man’s face. “I have damn rehearsals with Chrissy and the dancers, a few radio interviews and other damn things that you and everyone else around in this fucked up slave-hole has me lined up to do! How am I supposed to get any damn rest?”

“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Donnie asked.

“I’m talking to the slave-driver in front of me!” Justin snapped as he shook his head. “You work me day and night! How am I going to rest with any of that crap going on? Tell me that damn it!”

“Like I always tell you, you’ll get through it, you always do,” Donnie stated as he crossed his arms across his chest. “Is that all Justin?”

“Is that all? Is that all? What is that Donnie? Are you just blowing me and my concerns off? Are you trying to get rid of me now? You have something else important to do, that’s more important than your multi-million-dollar superstar?” Justin asked as he walked around Donnie’s desk and then slammed his fist down on the desk, causing some papers to fly off, landing on the floor.

“Justin, I think you need to calm it down,” Donnie stated as his assistant walked into the room with a concerned expression.

“Man, you must be full of shit right now! I’m not calming down here!” Justin snapped as he shook his head. “Fuck this, I’m outta here! See how well you do without me performing at those so-called dates I missed in my agenda! I’ll be waiting when you want to actually listen to what I have to say!”

“What?! Justin, Justin come back here!” Donnie yelled as Justin displayed the middle finger and then walked past the assistant out of the office.

“Sir, is everything okay?” Donnie’s assistant asked as she walked over to Donnie’s desk. “Should I call security or something?”

“No, that’s just Justin Tanner, acting like the spoiled brat that he is,” Donnie stated as he knelt down, picked up the things that Justin had knocked to the floor and then straightened his tie. “Get me Lynn Hart on the phone.”

“Yes sir,” the assistant spoke. “Is there anything else you’ll need?”

“No Erica,” Donnie replied as he shook his head. “I suspect he’ll go talk to her next and tell her where he’s going. That boy has another thing coming if he thinks he’s going to bail out on those tour dates that are already lined up for him Chrissy.”

“Should I get Chrissy’s tour manager on the phone as well?” The assistant asked as she looked over at Donnie.

“No, just call Perry and tell him to keep an eye out for any possible problems that may arise. All you need to let him know is that Justin is being a bit dramatic, but nothing more than that. We don’t need the media getting wind of any of this just yet,” Donnie stated, shaking his head as he turned around, looking out the window as he covered his eyes.

“Okay sir, I’ll get on that right away. I’ll let you know what has been taken care of,” the assistant stated as she walked out of the room to start on her tasks.

Across Town – The Sheraton World Resort – Justin’s Hotel Room

Justin’s POV

I can’t believe he acted as if my words meant nothing! All he cares about is his damn money and his damn shows! What would he do if I was gone? How would he get his precious money then? As I see things, no one else for his company makes as much money as I do. He might want to rethink things and give me what I want. I need some rest and working me the way he is, isn’t getting me the rest I need. I don’t care what he or anyone says, I’m going to get away from here and get some damn rest. It’s the holiday season and I’m going to do what I can to make the holidays the best.

As I pulled into the hotel’s parking garage, the phone rang just as I was parking the car. With a sigh, I pulled the phone from my pocket and checked the caller id. Like I expected, it’s Donnie, but he’s not going to get my time that easily. He’s going to have to stew for a bit before I even consider talking to his ass. My goal is to get up here, pack my bags and get the hell away from here. Once I feel rested up, that’s when I’ll talk to Donnie. Grabbing my things and walking towards the hotel’s entrance, the phone rang again as I looked at it to see that it was Ma. I bet he called her to get her to convince me to get back to the tour. That’s not going to happen. Opening the door, I answered the phone…

“Hi Ma,” I spoke into the phone.

“Justin, what’s going on?” She asked as I shook my head, waved at the security guy that sat at the desk and then walked on over to the elevator, pressing the button as I waited for it to arrive.

“Nothing’s going on Ma,” I replied as the elevator doors opened as I stepped inside, riding the car up to my floor so I could go pack.

“Don’t lie to me Justin, something’s going on. I’ve gotten multiple phone calls from Donnie and I don’t think he’s a happy camper. So what’s the deal? Why is he calling so much? I haven’t even made it home and he’s back-to-back calling my phone,” she said as I shook my head as the elevator doors opened on my floor as I walked down the hall, passing one of my security guys as I got to my door, opened it and then went inside.

“He’s probably trying to get you to convince me not to leave the tour so I can get some rest,” I said as I opened the closet door, grabbed my suitcase and then threw it on the bed.

“Why are you leaving the tour Justin?” She asked.

“I need to get some rest Ma and I can’t do that while I’m here, working like a dog,” I stated as I opened the drawers and started throwing items into the suitcase. “I have to get away from here.”

“Where are you going?” She asked.

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going to go someplace and be there for a long while, so I can get some rest. Maybe then Donnie will realize how overworked I am,” I said as she sighed.

“Honey, you can’t just up and leave the tour like that. Think about the fans, think about Chrissy,” she said as I shook my head and continued placing items into the suitcase.

“The fans will be fine and so will Chrissy,” I said as she sighed again.

“Are you out of your mind Justin? What in the world has gotten into you? This isn’t like you!” She snapped as I held the phone away from my ear a bit. “Chrissy and the other performers on the tour have put a lot of hard work into making that tour the best and here you are, throwing that hard work down the damn drain!”

“I’m not doing anything, Donnie did that,” I replied, a bit pissed that she was talking to me this way. She’s my Mom, she’s supposed to be on my side, not everyone else’s side.

“Don’t leave Chrissy and the other performers in a jam like that,” she said as I could hear the unsettled anger in her voice.

“Trying to make me feel bad because I need to get some rest isn’t going to work. I’m not going to feel bad because of Donnie’s actions. I need rest and I’m going to get it,” I said, zipping the suitcase up and placing it on the floor. “Donnie seems to think that this one measly week is enough for me to get some rest when it’s not. I don’t seem to feel the same way he does about this matter.”

“Don’t do this Justin. Just stay there and get as much rest as you can and then come home for the holidays,” she said as I shook my head.

“No Ma, no!” I snapped this time. “How am I supposed to get rest when I still have work to do? I have photo shoots, interviews and a few meet and greets. I can’t rest, still having to do those things Ma,” I said with a sigh this time. “How is that resting Ma? How am I going to rest when I still have to work?”

“I know you have a lot on your plate right now honey, but do what you can to get through it all and just think about it like this, once May arrives, you can get all the rest that you want,” she said as I looked at the phone, wanting to hang up on her, but choose not to.

“I need rest right now Ma. If I don’t get some rest, I’m going to go crazy,” I said, pacing in front of the bed.

“Justin please don’t do this right now. Don’t run out on your commitments,” she said. “You’ve done a lot of hard work to make a name for yourself. Don’t let that go down the drain because you don’t have enough self-control to keep yourself on task. “Remember, you were the one that wanted to go and do this.”

“Oh, so now you’re blaming this on me!” I snapped as she sighed again.

“I’m not blaming this on you Justin,” she replied as I shook my head as I felt the tears sliding down my cheeks.

“It seems I’m the only one that cares about my well-being here,” I said, thinking about all the bad things that’s happened to me over the last couple of months. “This is real sweet of how you’re throwing this in my face too.”

“Honey please…” She said as I shook my head again.

“First Josh gives me crap and now you. I know I wanted to do this, but I also wanted a stress free life and I don’t seem to have that right now. It seems like I’m going through the same crap I went through with the guys,” I said as I wiped at my eyes.

“Honey, just stay there and get some rest and…” She said as I interrupted her.

“No Ma, I need to leave here and get some rest,” I said, sniffling now.

“No, you need to stay there and finish what you started,” she said as I looked at the phone again.

“I—I can’t do this now,” I said with a sigh. “I—I’ll call you at a later time.”

“Justin, honey please,” I heard her say as I closed the phone, ending the call.

Someplace in Jamestown, NY – A Private Townhouse – The Home of Nick Canton

Nick’s POV

“Hey sis, what’s going on with you?” I asked, walking into my bedroom and throwing my things down on the bed as I sat down on it.

“Mom’s pissed off,” she said as I looked at the phone strangely as I kicked my shoes off and then crawled backwards on the bed.

“What do you mean she’s pissed off, why?” I asked, leaning up against the headboard of the bed as I reached for the remote to turn on the television.

“You have to come back here. You know Mom wants you to be here for the holidays,” she stated as I shook my head.

“I’m not flying back down to Tampa right now. I just want to stay here, by myself, where I am. I’m in no mood for flying anytime soon,” I said, hoping that would change the subject of things as I got up and walked over to the windows and sat on the cushions there. “The purpose of me coming here was for me to get AWAY for a bit and get some rest away from people. If I was there with you guys, I wouldn’t get any rest.”

“Bro, you can rest here with the rest of us,” she said as I shook my head again and then sighed.

“I would rather stay here and be by myself,” I replied, playing with a few strands of my hair.

“Nick, I… Does this have anything to do with the love interest thing you complain so much about?” She asked as I covered my eyes.

“What are you talking about girl?” I asked as she sighed.

“You know what the hell I’m talking about Nick,” she said as I sighed this time. “Stop playing bro.”

“I’m not in the mood,” I said, looking down at my hands as I felt a few tears drop.

“You don’t have to worry, he’s not coming Nick,” she said as I shook my head.

“Who’s not coming,” I asked, looking up at the stars in the sky.

“You know who I’m talking about Nick. You need to quit playing games with me. You know damn well who I’m talking about here. Brian isn’t coming, he went back to Kentucky to be with his parents,” she informed me as I felt more tears sliding down my cheeks.

“Why—why would I be worried about him coming?” I asked as I rubbed at my eyes.

“You’re so damn transparent Nick. You’ve been avoiding Brian since he got back together with ‘her’,” she said, not mentioning Brian’s wife’s name.

“I haven’t been avoiding him. I’ve just been too busy and I haven’t had the time to see him or anything,” I said, standing up as I leaned against the wall.

“Yeah right Nick,” she said as I frowned. “It’s time for you to move on with your life. He loves her, not you. He might’ve loved you in the past, but now she’s in his life and I don’t think he’s going to ever really leave her to be with you again, now that there’s a possibility that he’s the father of her child.”

“I—I really don’t want to hear any of this right now,” I said as more tears fell.

“The way I see it, you need to hear it Nick. This is the only way you’re going to force yourself to forget about being with him and move on,” she said.

“I—I don’t want to move on, I—I love him. I’ve always loved him,” I said, crying full out.

“I know you have Nick, but he doesn’t love you like that anymore,” she said with a sigh as I sniffled and then wiped at my eyes. “He has her now. Why don’t you follow his lead and move on the way he did?”

“I—I can’t,” I said as I continued to cry as I let the phone fall to the floor.

“Nick? Nick? Nick talk to me, I can still hear you bro. You have to be strong now. You can’t let this continue the way it’s going,” I heard her say as I shook my head, not wanting to hear any more of what she had to say.

Dec 20, 2002 – Orlando, FL – The Spot Nightclub

“What can I get you man?” The bartender asked as Justin took a seat at the bar.

“Let me get a rum and cola on the rocks,” Justin replied, pulling out his wallet.

“Okay, coming right up guy,” the bartender replied as he pulled a glass from below the counter, filled it with the requested alcoholic beverage and then passed it over to Justin. “Here you are, that’ll be nine bucks guy.”

“Here you go, keep the change,” Justin said as he grabbed the drink and knocked it back in one gulp.

“Whoa man, do you want another one?” The bartender asked, watching Justin.

“Yeah I do,” Justin replied as he put the glass down on the counter. “Do you run tabs here?”

“I do, but I need your ID for that,” the bartender answered as Justin reached into his pocket, pulled out his driver’s license, showing it to the bartender. “Oh, I have a celebrity on my hands. My boyfriend listens to your music.”

“Well thanks,” Justin replied with a weak smile as he looked around quickly. “Can you… Can you keep it down? I don’t want anyone recognizing me in here.”

“Guy, you’re in a gay bar. I’m quite sure everyone in here will recognize you,” the bartender stated with a wide smile.

“I’ll take my chances, but I don’t need you broadcasting it to everyone that I’m here. Please don’t bring me any unneeded attention while I’m here,” Justin stated as he handed the guy a one-hundred-dollar bill.

“Okay sir, my lips are sealed,” the bartender said as he fixed another drink for Justin and placed it in front of him.

“Thank you,” Justin replied as he took the glass and knocked it back in one gulp also.

Almost Two Hours Later

“Guy, I think you need to quit for the night. I think you’ve had enough,” the bartender said with a frown.

“I—I think you’re right about that,” Justin replied as he slid off the stool, stumbling a bit as he tried to stand up and walk.

“Guy, just sit back down. I’ll call you a taxi. You can’t drive in your condition,” the bartender stated as he moved over to where Justin was as he helped him over to a booth to sit down. “You just hold tight and I’ll get you a taxi.”

“Naw, I don’t need a taxi man. I just need to get back to my hotel and sleep it off. I can drive myself back there,” Justin slurred as he waved his hand dismissingly at the bartender and then hiccupped.

“You can’t drive in your current condition,” the bartender said with a frown. “You’re really drunk. You’re in no condition to drive like this. If you were to drive, you’d kill yourself or someone else.”

“I… (<burp>) … can’t go back… (<burp>) … to my hotel and be seen getting out of a taxi,” Justin said as he shook his head. “What if… (<burp>) …the tabloids found out?”

“Well is there someone you can call to come and get you?” The bartender asked as he looked at Justin closely.

“No, I’m in this town all by my lonesome,” Justin replied as he hiccupped again and then vomited on the table. “Oops, look what I just fucking did.”

“Don’t worry about that man, you just sit right there. Wait a few minutes and I’ll take you to your hotel, that’s if you want me to,” the bartender suggested with a frown.

“You can’t do that. I can’t let you do something like that for me. I—I’ll just drive myself back there,” Justin said as he tried to get up again, but fell down to the floor and then passed out.

“Oh shit,” the bartender said under his breath, shaking his head. “Justin? Justin? Damn it, he’s out cold.”

“What’s going on over there Jackson?” Another bartender asked.

“Nothing, it’s nothing man,” the first bartender replied as he looked down at Justin. “Come on Justin, you have to wake up for me.”

“What’s going on?” Justin slurred as he opened his eyes. “What’re you doing to me?”

“I’m picking you up off the floor,” Jackson, the bartender said with a frown. “You need to get home and sleep this off or you’re going to have one big hangover.”

“I—I don’t get hangovers,” Justin said with a giggle as he burped loudly and then grabbed Jackson’s thigh. “I get layovers, if you get my drift.”

“What are you doing Justin?” Jackson asked as he pushed Justin’s hand away from his crotch.

“I thought I was holding onto the baby maker,” Justin replied with a smirk as he licked his lips.

“I’m trying to help you out man. Under different circumstances, this would be nice, but you’re drunk and you don’t know what you’re really doing,” Jackson said with a frown.

“I know what I’m doing. I’m trying to get you into my bed,” Justin responded as he felt between Jackson’s legs again.

“Stop that man!” Jackson snapped as he pushed Justin’s hand away again. “Is there someone that can come get you, to take you back to your hotel?”

“Either I drive myself back there or you can take me,” Justin answered as he pulled out his car keys and dangled them in front of Jackson’s face. “Come with me; come back to my hotel with me. You’re really cute and you know I would be a very fun ride.”

“I’m trying to be your friend here. I’m not going to indulge you right now,” Jackson said, popping Justin’s hand to stop him from grabbing at his crotch. “Come on man, I’m trying to get you to your place, so you won’t hurt yourself or someone else.”

“Take me back to my place so I won’t hurt myself,” Justin said as he smiled goofily at Jackson.

“Just sit tight for a few more minutes. I have some more things to do and then I’ll let the others know that I’m leaving,” Jackson said as Justin sat there in the booth, acting goofy and continued trying to touch him.

“I’ll wait right here with bells on,” Justin said as he waved as Jackson shook his head and then walked off.

Jamestown, NY – The Private Townhouse of Nick Canton

Nick’s POV

“Hello,” I spoke into the phone as I leaned over the side of the bed.

“Nick! Why aren’t you home?” Laura asked as I slid back up on the bed and then laid down.

“You do realize what time it is, don’t you?” I asked, yawning as I rubbed at my eyes.

“We’re in the same damn time zone, it’s still early. Mom and Dad want you here for the holidays,” she said as I shook my head.

“I remember telling you the other night that I wasn’t coming,” I said as she sighed.

“Nickolas Canton!” She screamed as I moved the phone away from my ear. “Get over it already!”

“I already told you,” I said, remembering the conversation from the other night.

“Oh fuck you,” she said as I shook my head.

“Don’t talk to me that way,” I said, pissed off with her.

“I need to talk in a far worse fashion than this Nick. If I were there with you right now, I would be kicking your ass all the way back here,” she said as I could hear the sound of something being hit on.

“Well you’re not here, so just leave me the hell alone and let me be. I don’t want to be bothered by you or anyone else for that matter,” I said.

“You need to get your ass to the airport right now Nick,” she whined. “I called and booked you a flight back here. Get on your flight and you should be here in the morning. Christmas is just a few days away. You don’t want to really be alone then, do you?”

“Yes Laura, I would rather be alone,” I declared, sighing as I looked around. Hell, I’m already alone.

“Well tough fucking luck Nick. You’re going to be home with the rest of us,” she said as I shook my head and then sighed. “Answer the door Nick.”

“What?” I said, looking at the phone strangely.

“I said answer the door,” she said again just as there was a knock at the front door.

“What? How in… What in the hell is going on?” I asked as I got up out of bed, placed the phone on the bed and then walked out of the room and down the hall to the door. “Who’s there?”

“Open the door Nick,” I heard a familiar voice as I looked at the phone. No she didn’t send him!

“Kevin? What’re you doing here?” I asked as I opened the door to see my band mate, Kevin Richards standing there.

“I’ll be your escort,” Kevin replied as he looked at me. “I’ll be escorting you back home.”

“I’m already home Kevin and I’m not going anywhere,” I told him as I got ready to close the door in his face as he stopped me.

“Hmmm, Laura said you would say that. That’s why I’m going to drag you back to your family home, kicking and screaming, whether you like it or not,” Kevin stated as I shook my head.

“No Kevin, I’m not going anywhere. Don’t make me call the police and have you arrested,” I said as he watched me as I picked up the phone again.

“You would actually call the police on me Nick?” Kevin asked, looking at me like he was heartbroken.

“Damn skippy,” I replied, moving away from him as I turned my attention back to the evil sister on the phone. “So you sent Kevin here to kidnap me, is that right?”

“Just come back here with him Nick,” she said as I shook my head again. “Mom and Dad are really sad and upset that you’re not here with the rest of us.”

“I don’t care,” I said as the tears flowed down my face. “If I were there, I would only bring everyone’s holiday down.”

“No you wouldn’t,” she said as I shook my head.

“Yes I would,” I said, dropping the phone as my tears overtook me.

Kevin’s POV

Oh man, this doesn’t look so good. He’s breaking down all over again. When Laura told me that he was cracking up, I never imagined it would be like this. I thought she was just exaggerating, but now that I’m here, seeing him like this, maybe she wasn’t far off in her words. Damn Brian for what he did. All of this happening is his fault. I told him what he was doing was going to cause some problems, but did he listen to me? I told him not to play both sides, but no, he wanted to have his cake and ice cream too. Damn him!

“Nick, Nick are you there?” I heard Laura ask as I grabbed the phone as Nick just leaned against the wall, crying for all he was worth.

“Hey Laura, it’s me. I’ll take care of him, just give us a bit of time,” I said, looking at the condition he was in and thinking about how I was going to actually get him back with his family.

“Please bring him home Kevin. We’re all worried about him,” Laura stated.

“I know you are, just let me do what I can,” I spoke. “I’ll call you back later on.”

“Okay, take care Kevin,” she said as I turned the phone off.

Sighing, I placed the phone on the counter and turned around to see him sitting on the floor, crying as he rocked himself back and forth. Walking over to him, I sat down next to him and wrapped my arms around him as he cried.

“Everything’s going to be okay Nicky,” I softly said with a frown. “I know he hurt you very badly.”

“What?” He said, looking up at me as he sniffled.

“I know everything Nick. I knew all about your relationship with Brian,” I told him as he looked down.

“How—how did you know about us?” He asked as I looked down this time.

“One, I walked into you guys’ room one night last year and saw you two having sex,” I replied as I rubbed his back. It was more like Brian fucking him senseless, but oh well. “Two, he told me about you two.”

“I—I love him Kevin. I love him more than anything. How—how could he just up and leave me like that?” He asked, crying on my shoulder.

“Because he felt he needed to do the right thing,” I replied, pulling him closer.

“He felt he needed to do the right thing. What right thing?” He asked, pushing me away from him. “So the right thing for him was to leave me here, heartbroken like this?”

“No Nicky, that’s not what I meant,” I said, mentally kicking myself for saying it that way. “In Brian’s mind, he thinks that the right thing for him to do is to be with Layna and his child, not being with a man. He couldn’t see himself living in a gay relationship.”

“He should’ve said that a long time ago Kevin. He should’ve said that before I fell in love with him,” he said, lying down on the floor, crying out more.

“I know Nicky, I know. I wish there was something I could’ve done to change that. I wish there was something I could do now to take your pain away, but I can’t,” I told him as I pulled him back to me, rubbing his back as I smoothed his hair away from his face.

“Why doesn’t anyone love me Kevin? Why am I the one that always get the short end of the fucking stick?” He asked as he held onto my waist.

“I don’t know Nicky, I really don’t,” I replied, hugging him. “I don’t know why all of this happened to you. I wish it hadn’t.”

“What’s wrong with me Kevin? Am I doomed to be lonely forever?” He asked, shaking his head. “First I was used and abused by James, then Jacob had his fun with me and my emotions and now Brian. Will I ever find someone to love me and not leave or use me?”

“I don’t really know Nicky,” I replied, shaking my head, pissed off with what I just heard.

“Am I that ugly and fat?” He asked.

“You’re not ugly and you’re definitely not fat,” I told him.

“Then why doesn’t anyone want me?” He asked, crying more in my arms as he laid his head on my chest.

“I told you that James was a jerk in the first place and well Jacob wasn’t good enough for you, because he was pining after his best friend. As for Brian, Brian is just… well he just wants to be right with God,” I told him as he sniffled and then gasped. “None of them were good enough for you anyway.”

“Well who is good enough for me?” He asked as he looked into my eyes as all I could see was his hurt.

“I don’t know Nicky, but he’ll come along one day,” I said, rubbing the top of his head as he continued crying and sniffling.

To Be Continued…