Snap Shots Series: In Focus

SEVEN


"You did good with them," Lance commented as they left the Harless house a few hours later and headed for the car arm in arm. They stepped down the steps in unison and began to do a crooked walk like the Monkees did, stepping in front of each other for no apparent reason.

They'd spent the morning hanging around in the large basement entertainment room with the others, watching movies and playing with Justin's two younger brothers, but as it neared eight o'clock everyone started to get tired and Lance announced that they were going to head out. His announcement got a few catcalls from the others and had made Willa blush furiously at the thought that they'd realized what had gone on after they'd left the party last night, but she knew that they deserved a little bit of razzing about their early departure.

After the morning of bonding with the other girlfriends and the guys Willa was sad to leave them. She'd been stalled a little by saying all her good-byes and thank you's to Justin's parents, but knew that she couldn't pass up leaving considering that she would be able to spend almost the next two days alone with Lance before she flew back home. She was completely scared of what was going to happen in the next few hours, but the treat of being in the same room as Lance overpowered a little of her fear.

"I did?" She asked squinting at the sun that now seemed high in the sky compared to when they'd arrived that morning in the dark. "I should have brought my sunglasses."

Lance laughed a little.

She made a face at him knowing that he was laughing at the way she was pouting in the bright light. She couldn't help it. A few days before she'd been in the rainy weather of Seattle and before that she'd been in the snow of New York City. The sun of Florida was a shock to the system after spending most of the last month or two in bad weather.

"Lynn liked you and you and I didn't fight for an entire morning. Now if that isn't a miracle then I don't know what is." He smiled at her, taking her hand to lead her down to the curb.

"What? The part about Lynn liking me?" Willa joked as he opened the car door for her. They'd been joking all morning and wanted to keep that comedic tone as they left.

He held the door open for her, not saying a word.

For a moment she thought he might be mad about her comment, but then he just smiled at her with a toothy grin. "Whatever you say honey." His voice came out rough as if he was trying to show that it was hard for him to get the message out. He kissed her before shutting her in the car so that he could go around the driver's side. She watched his forced smile as he walked around the front of the SUV and came to the driver's side door.

As Willa sat in the car she nervously remembered the night before. They'd had a great time together both at the party and alone at his house, but she wasn't sure how the rest of the day would go. Her sexual relationships with previous boyfriends had never been too romantic, sure when the person was in the moment they were all hearts and flowers, but she'd never had, other than Brennan, anyone who'd stuck around to long. She now was facing one of her worst fears: the day after.

Her morning with him had been pleasant, funny and even relaxed, but only because they had been with other people. She wasn't at all against being alone with him, but she feared that things would be strange between them now. Sex always seemed to complicate things for her.

The companionship of the others had given her a safety net to fall back on by providing an audience for all their conversations. The gathered group, especially the audience of Justin's younger brothers, left it impossible for them to mention the events of the night before, although she was sure it wasn't far from either of their thoughts. She'd caught him staring at her a few times with the look of lust in his eyes, but the situation made it impossible for them or for anyone else to mention the subject of their sleepover, but now as they left to go and be alone with each other she wasn't sure how calm she was going to be able being alone with Lance.

"Fred are you ok?" He asked looking at her. He squinted his eyes a little examining her face much like she'd seen doctors do when giving a person an eye examination. He studied her almost too closely, almost looking through her instead of at her.

Willa forced a smile onto her face. She didn't want to alarm him too much. She had seen the way he'd over reacted about the whole security issue and she guessed that he'd fly in some counselor or psychiatrist if he thought she was even a bit mentally stressed out. Not that a little voluntary counseling wouldn't help her or anyone who had to deal with getting criticism on a daily basis from the associated press, but she really didn't think that it should be a mandatory thing, the way she thought Lance would want it to be. "Ah, yeah, just thinking..." She shook her head and tried to clear her thoughts. "...plus I'm tired."

"Well I don't know about you, but I'm ready to go back to bed."

Willa tensed at that thought, gripping the door handle so hard that her knuckles began to turn while. Her hands hurt from the force of her grip, but it was the only thing that she could do to keep herself in her seat. When she thought about it she wanted to run away, not away from Lance really, but from the tension that came along with sharing a sexual relationship with someone.

"Are you sure you're ok?" He started the engine and looked at her for a moment before he made the move to put it into gear so that they could pull away from the curb.

"I'm fine." She tried to repeat that to herself silently to keep her nerves in check, but it wasn't working too well.

Lance pulled the car away from the curb and drove across town, back to the house, without another word to her. The silence was strangely nice. It gave her a chance to try to plan out how she was going to keep herself calm for the next two days.

When they got to the house Lance parked the car in the garage and they went into the house through the kitchen door. It was a quite a homey little scene, them coming home to the huge house. She'd imagined living like that, coming home to him at night, while she'd been in Europe, but the real thing seemed a lot more nerve wreaking than her day dreams.

Once inside Lance slid out of his jacket. The nylon rustling against itself made a noise that in the quiet house, sounded twenty times louder than it probably was. He shook it a little, getting it to fall a certain way then he hung it over a chair then went to check the answering machine for messages. "Home sweet home," he mumbled, "I don't usually get this sentimental about things, but God I love this kitchen."

Willa watched him stare at the machine for a minute from where she'd been standing after they'd entered the room. He didn't notice her nervousness. He was staring at the message machine with his finger poised just over what she thought would be the play button looking as if he was debating whether to listen to the waiting messages.

He finally seemed to notice her stuck in her position and walked over to her. "Fred, you can take off your jacket and stay a while. You're flight doesn't leave for about thirty-six hours."

"I know," she said softly suddenly feeling stupid for standing in the middle of the kitchen like she was. She slowly slid out of her jacket. She hung it over the back of the chair where Lance's jacket was, pausing to grip the chair-back for a moment, turning her knuckles white again. When she felt her fingers starting to go numb she let go of the chair to slide into the seat at the small breakfast table.

"Are you going to be like this for the rest of your visit?" He asked in a half sarcastic tone. He put his hands on his hips in an accusing manner, as if she was choosing to be difficult with him.

"Like what?" She looked up at him startled at his observation of her behavior. She hated to be difficult, but she was feeling completely out of place. She usually could bullshit her way through uncomfortable positions, but not in this case. Lance knew her too well and she knew he'd call her on it if she tried to pull her attitude with him.

She watched Lance looking at her with frustration showing on his face. She knew that she was being a little difficult, not telling him everything that was on her mind, but she couldn't help it, she couldn't express for the moment what was scaring her. There were so many things that seemed to be putting pressure on her, half of them being invented in her own mind by her past experiences.

He rubbed his forehead and sighed. "You're all quiet and it's freaking me out. I don't like--"

"Sorry." She cut him off with her apology, something she thought he wanted to hear. She lowered her eyes from his direction.

He studied her for a moment. She couldn't see him really, she was staring at his shoes, but he wasn't moving and she could tell that he didn't plan to.

"Are you tired or something?" He asked. He then turned and mocked the questions she would always ask him when he was being difficult over the phone. "You aren't getting sick or something are you?"

She nodded that she wasn't getting sick, but didn't look up to meet his gaze. She had a feeling that he already knew that she was lying. He knew that she wasn't good at making things up like that.

"Willa, look at me for a second."

"What?" She asked and didn't look at him.

"Willa look at me."His commanding tone on his second request made her comply to his request.

"What?" She asked again. She looked back in his direction, but didn't make eye contact with him. She didn't know how she was going to get through the next two days with him and she didn't want him to see that she was scared to be there with him alone.

"Fred, what's wrong?" He kicked out of his shoes, throwing them towards the back sliding glass door then came over and put an arm around her and hugged her to him as she still sat in the chair. Her face was buried into his stomach near his belly button. She pressed her cheek against him, holding him close, and breathed deeply trying to take her mind of everything.

Somehow in his arms things didn't seem to be as bad. The night before, when they'd been in bed, she hadn't thought about all the drama that would be waiting for her when she woke up in the morning. He'd taken away all her worries and her few hours of sleep with him had been the most restful she'd had in weeks.

"Nothing," she said.

"Willa you're a terrible liar." He pushed her away from his body so that he could look down at her to show her some sympathy with a crooked smile. "Tell me what's wrong."

"Nothing," she said weakly.

"Are you having regrets?" His tone was the most serious she'd ever heard it be. She'd seen him act serious before, but his tone was a bit scary. She hated serious conversations like that. She just wished that things could be simple for them, but she knew that simple would never be a word that would describe their relationship.

"No."

He sighed heavily and squeezed her close to him. "Then what is it?"

She moved back again to look up at him. The fear wasn't hidden from her eyes. She didn't even try to mask her feelings. How could she hide now that he knew something was wrong? "I'm just unsure--"

"Willa if its regrets just tell me." He leaned down to place a kiss on her forehead. "I'm not going to get pissed or anything, even if you do have them."

"No, no." She shook her head to show him as well as tell him her feelings. "Last night was great and I wouldn't take back any of it." She quickly tried to mend whatever she'd broken with her initial remark.

He let out a breath. "Good, my ego can stay in tack."

She smiled then let her smile fade. "What worries me is how we're going to be together now."

Lance sucked in deep breath of air and let it out almost as if he'd been waiting for this topic to come up in conversation. He pulled her up from her chair and led her into the living room. He sat her down on the couch like a child then sat across from her on the edge of the coffee table. He looked down at the ground for a moment, as if to gather his thoughts then looked up and made eye contact with her, his serious expression setting the tone for what he was about to say.

"Willa you and I..." His voice was soft as he began. He paused for a moment and watched her. "Well you and I are never going to have a quote normal relationship. I mean we've seen that in the last weeks trying to get together isn't easy, but we're trying to spend time together, which for the moment is all we can do. Whatever we do make of this relationship has to be done together. Only you and I really knows what goes on between us and that's something we need to protect, but we also need to rely in that bond. You need to trust enough in me so that you can come to me and tell me what's on your mind and I hope that I can do the same with you."

She nodded. "The stuff between you and me is the easy part."

"So what is worrying you?" He asked, "Specifically."

"Last night...at the party..." She wrung her hands together and tried to breathe deeply. "...Amy and Brennan and a lot of the stuff they had to say about us was true. I mean the reason we got together in the first place was fake." She paused. "I never should have agreed to that...I never should have...People are going to keep bringing that up."

"Who cares?"

"I do," she said and tears came suddenly to her eyes. She didn't want to, but she felt as if she needed to defend herself and her relationship with Lance twenty-four hours a day. "I know that the beginning was rough for us and I want to get past that. I don't want that to stand between us or cheapen anything that we might have together. I don't think I could handle the press picking up on that story. They'll rip me apart in the press if they found out the real story."

"Fred you need to ignore them." He took her hand and held it, rubbing the back of her hand gently with his thumb. "Honey, if you and I know why we're together then it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks. In the beginning it was a little strange, and I'll admit that was my fault, but you and I are together... at least I think... because we love each other. It just happens to be that our relationship is going to keep our names in the news, but that really isn't the reason that I'm dating you. If that was the reason, I'm sure I would have dumped you a long time ago..." He let out a bit of a laugh and rubbed his cheek with his hand. "...probably when you smacked me that one time." Willa let out a small laugh and wiped her eyes with her free hand. "It just worries me that Brennan and Amy seemed so hostile towards us, which is completely unwarranted. They both know the real reason that we got together and some how in the pit of my stomach I feel that they aren't going to let that go."

Willa's hand shook in his.

"You don't need to be paranoid," he said in a soft voice.

"I'm not paranoid!" She snapped at him then closed her mouth and watched him. Tears came to her eyes again, but this time she let them fall as the real pain of the insults of last night finally sunk in. "I just don't understand why Amy could side with Brennan like that. She is-" She choked as the thought hit her. Back stabbing in the modeling industry wasn't at all uncommon, but it had never happened directly to her before and she never would have guessed that Amy would be the one to do it. They'd formed a bond, a friendship, in the midst of all that drama and had always been the dynamic duo when dealing with the industry and all that came with it. "She was my friend."

"With friends like that..." Lance commented with a sarcastic tone, "...who needs enemies?"

Willa put her hand up and let it fall into her lap in a frustrated manner. She was tired of all the drama that had found its way into her life. It had weighed on her before, but now that things had gotten complicated with Amy and Brennan, it was taking a more personal toll on her.

Before, when rumors had circulated about her, she'd been able to defend herself, but now she wasn't sure how she was going to handle the attacks from the outside world on the two of them. With Brennan and Amy teamed up they could destroy her in ways she didn't want to even think about.

"I understand why Brennan is upset." She stopped and took a breath as the emotions hit her full on. "He thought I cheated on him, but Amy...Amy has no reason to be upset and no reason to say what they said."

She took a deep breath as she remembered the remarks. The night before they'd slid off her protective armor, but today they had sunk in. "They practically yelled out that I'm a prostitute!"

Lance pulled her closer, across the space between them and settled her sideways in his lap then held her in his arms, rubbing her back and petting her hair trying to calm her as she cried into his shoulder.


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