Snap Shots Series: In Focus

NINE


The sun was nowhere in the sky when Willa's plane touched down in the middle of a blizzard at JFK airport. The storm that had blanketed most of the Northeast with snow over the New Years weekend was still hanging on causing delays. For a while, as they circled the runway for the fourth time, Willa began to worry about making her shoot on time. Up until then it had been the last thing on her mind.

"Willa!"

She turned to the sound of her name being called out and found Spanky. It was only three am and she was surprised that she had to look through a crowd to try to find him. She wouldn't have thought that so many people would be out in the middle of the night, but it was New York after all. She wanted to get into the car and get to Conneticut before she decided that she needed to be home in bed rather than earning a pay check. The shoot was for a new line of athletic clothing, which Willa had thought was stupid to shoot in the winter, but they were looking to release the line in early spring meaning that the shoot would be done in a studio. She wondered why the shoot had been taken out of the city, but Elena had just said that the photographer wanted it that way. She couldn't argue with the whole set up so she was prepared for her car ride out of the city.

"Willa!"

She turned at the sound of her name and saw Spanky standing off to the side of the waiting area. He had on a huge black winter coat and a scarf, and a wool hat another harsh reminder of the blizzard outside and the sunny weather that she'd left behind in Florida.

"Hey you," she said trying to force a smile on her face. She gave him a half hug while she gripped the handle of her suitcase for dear life. "How was your New Years?"

"Good," he said with a nodded and reached to take her bag from her. "I don't want to rush you or anything, but we need to hit the road. I'll tell you about New Years in the car."

Willa nodded and followed him out to the parking garage, pulling her heavy jacket tightly around her when they met with the frigid air just outside the doors. With the windchill it must have been in the low teens outside, a far cry from the semi-summery weather that they'd been blessed with in Florida. For a moment Willa regreted not getting out to the beach while she'd been down south. Lance had suggested, but she'd prefered to stay around the house. At the time, venturing out to the backyard seemed like a big enough adventure. Her breath caught in her throat for a moment when the icey air hit her lungs, but Spanky didn't leave her time to really recover or react to the weather. He seemed to be on a mission, marching across the crosswalk to the parking garage and Willa had to practically run to keep up with him.

A few moments later Spanky quickly got Willa settled in the front seat and her luggage settled in the back of the Ford Excursion then came around and got in the driver's side. Once inside he slammed the door shut and shivered. "I'll have the heater on in a minute."

"No trouble," she said. Her smile only faded when her teeth began to chatter. She figured that the car had gotten colder than he'd thought it would because he'd had to wait around longer than he'd thought for her flight to come in.

"Poor girl, I let you out of the city limits for a few days and you got all soft on me," Spanky said with a smile reaching to take her hands in his. He rubbed them together for a moment then let her go and started the engine.

"I'm not soft," she said continuing to rub her hands together to get them warm. "Its freezing outside if you handn't noticed."

His low rumble of a laugh filled the small area of the car. "So how was Lance's house?"

"Good," she said with a smile, "The partying was great, but I could have done without some of the people there."

There was a silence for a moment as Spanky pulled the car out of the parking spot and they made their way out to the road. "Lance called me and warned me about that."

She turned and stared at him with her eyes wide. "Warned you about what?"

Spanky flipped a few switches in the car and moved the vents so that the heat was pointed towards her. "He said that you two ran into Brennan and Amy at the party."

"I wish he wouldn't do that," she said with a sigh.

"Do what?"

"Be so over-protective." She rubbed her forehead and ran a hand through her hair, tucking it behind her ear. "I mean I was upset about seeing them, but really, I feel like a baby as it is with you hanging around." She looked out the window for a moment then realized that her comment must have sounded rude. "No offense or anything."

"No, don't worry about it. I know what you mean. You're old enough to take care of yourself Willa, but believe me, the first time someone harrasses you, I mean really harrasses you, you'll be glad to have me around."

"I don't doubt that at all," she said, "Let's just hope it doesn't happen though. I'd rather not test that theory."

"Me neither."

"So how was your New Years?" She asked. She made a face. "Did you miss me?"

"Of course," she said with a sarcastic tone. "It was ok."

"Just ok? It was New Years in New York City, how can that be just ok?"

"I worked."

"Oh. Where?" Her face began to burn a little from the hot air being blown on it, but she didn't dare turn the vents away just yet.

"At Viacom Studios for two days."

"MTV?" She asked.

"Yeah, I had to guard some actress girl or something," he said with a sigh. "I hate Hollywood types. Dealing with music people is bad enough."

"Wasn't a good job?" She asked.

"The job was fine, I mean I got to hang out at the studios and see the ball drop in Times Square, but running around after this drunk girl wasn't something that I would consider enjoyable. She went to this huge party and kept disappearing on me."

Willa patted him on the shoulder. "Poor guy."

"At least I don't have to worry about you running away from me. You may not want me here, but at least you're not rebelling against the fact that I'm around."

Willa knew that she'd done it now. She hadn't meant to be rude in her comments concerning the security detail that was assigned to her. She just didn't think that she could ever get used to having someone assigned to follow her around. She was too independent for that. "I didn't mean to sound--"

"Don't worry about it Willa, really, I'm used to it," he said. He gave her a sympathetic look, as if he really knew how uncomfortable she was with having him being there to follow her around.

"Well I'm sorry that you had such a bad time for New Years."

"Thanks," he said. He steered them out of the maze of airport roads. "You'd better get a nap in before we get to your shoot or Elena is going to kill me."

A sigh escaped her lips as Willa tried to make herself more comfortable in her seat. The heater had already made the small space of the car bearable, but all she needed now was to recline a little and kick off her shoes so she could relax. "She called you too?"

Spanky nodded as he concentrated on the road.

Willa looked out of the window for a moment and thought about what her parents would say about this. They knew that her life had been thrown into overdrive now that she was connected to Lance, but she wasn't sure if they knew how complicated her life was becoming. One thing was sure. They would definitely approve of hacing someone look after her. She wouldn't think because of the safety issues that would come up, but just because she wasn't alone. That seemed to be their biggest fear for her when she moved away from Seattle.

"You know one of the reasons I decided to model was so that I could get away from my parents, but it looks like all I've gotten is more parents to look after me."

Spanky threw her a smile as he payed a toll, letting in cold air as he rolled the window down.

When Willa's phone began to ring a smile formed on her face. It had only been a few hours and she was surprised to find that she was already missing Lance. She hadn't thought that they would get so close so quickly, but now that she was there without him she missed every little thing about the way that they acted together. A happy little laugh escaped her lips when saw that it was Lance's number before she picked up. She didn't even say hello when she finally did click the "call" button. "Calling to check up on me?" Her tone was accusing. She wanted him to know that he was in trouble for meddling in her business. She didn't mind him being concerned about her, but at the same time she wasn't used to someone being so involved like that. Brennan had been the long-distance type of worried boyfriend. If she didn't show up some place or didn't call he'd call her, but he never seemed to make an effort to check up on her if he figured that she was just running late or that her cell phone battery had run down.

Lance let out a laugh. "How'd you know?"

"Just a guess," she said looking at Spanky.

Spanky made a face at her, warning her that she was in trouble for letting Lance know that he'd talked to her about the whole thing.

"You with Spanky?" He asked.

Willa shivered as she watched the snow coming down against the window. "Yeah. Thank you very much for telling him to be worried about me."

Spanky turned a little and reached into the back seat and pulled a blanket out for her, dropping it into her lap before he returned both hands to the steering wheel.

"Thanks," she said softly as she balanced her phone on her shoulder and unfolded the blanket, tucking the blanket up to her neck as if she couldn't get warm.

"I WAS worried," he said. There was a pause for a moment as if he was thinking. "Shouldn't I be rewarded for that instead of punished?"

"Sure." Her sarcasm was hard to hide.

"I'm hurt," he said in a shocked voice.

"Sure you are," she said in a playful manner.

"I am," he said softly and faked a sniff to show that he was crying.

"Whatever," she said and rolled her eyes.

"Ok, enough joking..." He let out a sigh. "Hows the weather up there?"

"Horrible," she said, "It's dark and snowy and gross. It looks like something out of a Stephen King novel. My paycheck for this damn shoot better be big."

A laugh filled the phone line. "Well I'm glad to know that you're just in it for the money."

"I'd rather be in Florida. The visibility on the road is like two feet."

"Well that makes me feel better," he said with a laugh.

Willa watched the snow again. "What?"

"Well, I was worried about your flight not being able to land and now I'll be worrying that some accident is going to happen on the way to Conneticut."

"Bite your tongue Lance!" Willa said with a laugh. "I'll show you an accident when you reach the city limits."

"Whatever Fred."

"You better go knock on some wood or something. God forbid we get in an accident."

"Ok, ok," he said, "I'm on my way to church right now."

"Sure you are," she laughed.

Spanky looked over at her and she smiled at him.

"So when are you going to come up to visit?"

"The countdown is on. Only forty-eight hours," he said, "I'll call you and tell you the flight time."

"Ok," she said and listened to him. "I'll try to come with Spanky to the airport."

"You'd better."

There was a short pause.

"So what are you up to?" She asked, "Going to sleep soon?" She pictured him pacing the house with the phone balanced between his ear and neck. She figured he had the lights off in most of the house, maybe he had on the Christmas Tree lights on his room.

As if on cue, Willa could hear him yawn. "I have some paperwork to look over. I'm trying to get one of my artists signed with Mercury-Nashville and the contract got Fed-Ex-ed to me so I have to look it over and talk to the lawyers about the deal."

"Now?" She asked.

"Well I would have done it the other day, but I got..." Another yawn escaped his mouth. "...distracted."

Willa felt guilty for keeping him away from his work. She wanted to spend time with him, but didn't want to impose on his work. She hadn't expected him to drop everything because she was visiting, but it seemed, at the time, that he didn't have any other activities going on so she hadn't really left his side for most of the days that they spent together.

"Well I'll let you go," he said letting a yawn escape.

Willa yawned in reaction to his yawn. "Bored of me already?"

"Never," he said, "You sound tired yourself."

"I'm not," she said stubbornly. "Everyone yawns when someone else yawns in front of them."

"Oh," he said softly. "I should go though."

"Why are you running off?"

Lance let another yawn escape. "I'm tired," he said with a playful whine to his voice, "Someone kept me up late the last few nights. I think maybe I'll try and catch a few hours of sleep then try and get my homework done."

She blushed and looked over at Spanky. She was glad that he hadn't heard that. She wasn't exactly sure how close she should be getting to her assigned security, but talking about her sexlife with him sitting there didn't seem to be the appropriate conversation to be having. "That distraction wasn't all my fault."

"Sure it wasn't," he said, "You just happened to fall into your Christmas present, no planning or anything."

Willa laughed at that comment. He'd been the one who'd insisted that she wear the new garment, then he was trying to blame her for what happened in reaction to her wearing it, as if she should have a caution sign on her when she wore the stupid thing. "You were the one who bought it for me," she countered.

"Well next time we should pace ourselves."

Willa smiled and looked out the window rolling her eyes at his comment. "Sure honey, I'll remind you of that the next time we see each other."

"Shouldn't you be taking a nap or something?"

"Nice transition," she commented.

"Thank you," he said, "So are you going to take your nap?"

"I promised Elena that I would," she said.

"I'll let you go then." He yawned again. "Give me a call when you get home tonight, k?"

"Sure thing." She yawned again in reaction to his yawn.

"Love you," he said.

"Love you too," she said.

They hung up their phones and Willa snuggled down into the covers that Spanky had provided her with. She spent the next few miles of stop and go traffic watching the lights of the other cars thinking of Lance and didn't realize that she'd fallen asleep until she heard Spanky telling her to wake up.

*****

"What an ass!"

"Language Willa," Spanky laughed. "Does your boyfriend know that you swear like a trucker?"

Willa nodded. "I haven't been that bad."

"That's the third ass in the last half hour and you've used the word fuck as a noun, verb, and an adjective."

"Thank you for the fucking grammar lesson." Her eyes rolled automatically with her sarcasm.

"Anytime time," he gave her a salute with his free hand and pulled her bag up the steps with his other hand. "Why does everyone always have to live upstairs."

"For the view." She smiled sweetly. "You really don't have to walk me up here."

He nodded. "Yeah I do."

"Let me guess...Lance?"

"He's the boss."

"Fuck!"

"Fuck what?" He said.

"I could kick myself for not remembering the WHO'S THE BOSS theme song."

"Whatever girl."

"You have to admit though. That photographer was on something."

Spanky let out a laugh. "Yeah. Look at me Willa. Show me sweaty!" He puckered his lips and tried to look stuck up like the photographer she'd been working with all day.

Willa made a face and turned a little playfully in the hallway as they left the staircase to reach her door.

"Beautiful!"

"Thank you," she said and did a little curtsy when they reached the door.

"Come on you." He knocked into her a little playfully. "I'm sure your man has left you a million messages by now."

"It's not my fault that my cell phone battery ran down."

"I told you that I had a charger in the car, but as if I remember correctly you didn't want to use it."

"Ok DAD!"

"No offense to your father," his voice was fairly low, "but I'm glad I'm not him."

"Sure you don't," she said and began to search for her keys.

When she finally got them out Spanky laughed at her trying to unlock the door. She missed three times before she got the key in, half from tiredness and half from laughing as he hurried her with little comments like "come on Willa" and "hurry up I gotta pee."

Pushing the door open Willa looked back at Spanky and made a grand gesture of presenting her home to him. "Home Sweet Home!"

The shock that registered on Spanky's face when he looked in the door caused her to turn around to stare at what he was looking at.

"Kinda messy don't you think?" He asked.

Willa held her hand to her forehead as she let her eyes move from his face and return to the living room, carefully recording the scene in front of them. She scanned carefully from one end of the room to the other, taking it all in, the couch on its side, the table tipped over, and the strange paperwork, paperwork she didn't even know she owned, that littered the floor, while trying not to let out the scream that was building in her throat.

"Stay here." Spanky left her by the door with the luggage. She watched him check the place out, slowly moving around and checking behind all the different corners to see if anyone was there. It was kind of ridiculous, him sleuthing around the place like some 007 character.

"The door was locked Spanky. No one is in here." Her blunt remark echoed in the quiet room.

"So they unlocked the door, trashed the place, then locked up the door again?" He matched her sarcasm with some of his own and added some eye rolling for effect.

Willa looked around and helplessly sighed. "I don't know."

"I'm calling the cops," Spanky said finally. Willa wasn't sure what kind of experience he had with this kind of thing, but from his reaction she got a little more scared. She had always hoped that in a situation like this, well not like this, but something serious like this, that he would be her rock and keep her safe. She didn't doubt that he could save her in a crowd or keep some of the nagging reports away, but this incident hit home, literally, and even he seemed to be upset by the event.

He reached for his phone and began to dial.

"NO!" She grabbed the phone out of his hands with both of hers. Despite his size he seemed to let her take the phone because it was clear that with his size that he could have kept her hands away from him.

"Willa, this place is...this place is trashed." He looked around with the same wide eyes that Willa knew were gracing her own face. "Give me the phone." He waved his hand at her trying to get her to hand it over. She'd never heard him sound so serious about anything and she wasn't sure if it was that or the actual trashing of her place that got to her more.

"No," she said. She slid his phone into her pocket, patting it through the material just to make sure that it was secure. "Just...just help me clean up, please."

"Willa," he said in a very slow stream of words. "You need to call the cops. Its one thing to keep things from Lance, but you need to file a police report."

"No." She moved across the room and began to restack a pile of magazines that she'd had on the coffee table. When they fell again after she'd stacked them tears came to her eyes. "It'll get in the newspaper and I don't want that."

Spanky sighed. "Its good to get things like this in the paper."

"NO!" Her tone was firm and she prayed that he would just obey her wishes and not cause her to cry. She hated crying and didn't want to start crying at the drop of a hat. She was a tough girl, or had been before she started dating Lance and she wanted to keep it that way.

"This is crazy," Spanky said walking towards where her phone was laying off the hook. "I'm calling Lance." He kept an eye on her as he reached to dial the number. "Maybe he can talk some sense into you. This is too serious for you to handle on your own. You need the cops involved."

"NO!" She grabbed the phone away from him before he could pick it up. "You ARE NOT, and I mean YOU ARE NOT going to tell Lance about this."

Her hands began to shake as she turned to put the phone back into its cradle. The tears that had been at the back of her eyes a few moments later began to collect at the edges of her eyes and when she blink they blinded her for a moment. "Spanky I'm tired and I need a nap and right now I don't want to hear Lance lecturing me about how he thinks I need to get another one of you goons to follow me around." She stopped and stared at him. Her comment had been more than rude, but he seemed to not have noticed.

"Well if you don't call the police and you don't call Lance, you're gonna let me stay here tonight." He went over and set the table upright. "I'm not letting you stay here alone. Lance would kill me if he found out that I did that."

Willa put a hand to her forehead. "I don't need this drama right now Spanky. I can take care of myself."

"In normal cases I'm sure that you can, but at the moment you need someone here." His tone was firm in its instructions, but at the same time sympathetic. "Why don't you go and take a nap. I'll start getting this cleaned up and I'll make some calls."

She stared at him for a moment, with a half angry look crossing her face. "Calls?"

"No police. No Lance. I promise," he said crossing a hand over his heart as he swore his word to her. "All I'm going to do is call about getting a security system put in. You may not be taking this seriously, but I'm not going to stand by and watch something more than this happen to you."

Willa nodded finally. "Fine."

Her head was swimming and the fatigue of the last few weeks was definitely catching up with her now that she had a moment to stop and think about what really was going on in her life.

Her bed was calling her name and as soon as she got to her room she flopped onto the bed, fully clothed, and curled up with a pillow pressed to her chest. It was a poor substitute for a sleeping partner, after being with Lance for the last few nights, but she would have to settle for the pillow for a while.


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