Snap Shots Series: In Focus

ELEVEN


"Wait up girl!"

Turning her head at the sound of the request, Willa threw a wide smile back at Spanky. He was lower on the steps than her, watching her from inside the hood of his jacket. She had never really had him mad at her, but this was as close as she wanted to be. He had a scowl on his face, watching her with narrowed eyes as if he was really upset with her.

"Canít keep up old man?" She asked as they merged with the automatic spinning door of the hotel as they walked into the lobby. There had been a few people on the street milling around, which Willa had skillfully rushed passed after the taxi had dropped them off, but sheíd momentarily forgotten that Spanky was with her. It was something she hadnít done in a while, but the thought of seeing Lance that day was making everything else seem insignificant.

Luckily Spanky seemed to understand her rush, or at least he had before theyíd left the apartment that morning. When sheíd practially pushed him out of the door that morning heíd only laughed at her and told her to "Go get your man."

"Iím sorry," she said impatiently, "I just want to get there fast."

"I know, I know," Spanky chuckled. He put a hand out and pushed her so that the door didnít hit them. "Youíre too much."

"Nope," she said leaning towards him with a laugh, "Just wait until you hang out with the guys for more than five minutes. Iím definitely not the most hyper of the group."

"I bet those guys are tired after this morning," Spanky commented as they pushed through into the lobby.

"Yeah," she said looking back again, "Lance was supposed to call me, but I think they got too busy. The rounds at the morning shows are always hard and Iím sure they threw in a million different things for them to do in between shows. You should have seen when the Sports Illistrated Edition I was in came out. A bunch of the models from that did the rounds together. Gotta love six models at four in the morning. Iíve never seen so much make up in my life."

"Iím sure that they were all excited."

"Yeah right. Fun isnít the word to describe it. Wait until you have to go with me to do press stuff. Elena said I have to do some in the next month. Youíll hate it."

Spanky made a face that made him look like heíd eaten something sour. "And like I donít already hate being with you?" Heíd been teasing her a lot in the last few days since the break-in. Sheíd cherished those moments. She and Spanky werenít exactly what someone would consider friends, since he did work for her, but at the same time they got along well enough to be pleasant to each other and entertain each other.

Willa was in the process of slipping out of her black pea-coat while balancing her purse in one hand when she heard his comment. Her free arm snaked out and hit at him playfully before he could get away. She covered up the quick action by smoothing down the fluffy fabric of the red cashmier sweater sheíd chosen to wear that day. Sheíd chosen to dress fairly nicely that day knowing that the press would be around. It wasnít anything fancy, just jeans and a sweater, but she looked nice enough to have her picture taken and put in the magazines or newspapers. Sheíd become more conscious of that since the reporters had started to follow her around more.

"Ok, ok," he said, "Iím sure youíll make it completely enjoyable."

Willa hit at him again when she saw him roll his eyes. "I try," she said with a smile.

Once inside the lobby Willa dug through her backpack-looking purse to find her phone. She flipped two buttons and found Lanceís pre-programmed number then hit the "send" button to call him. She knew that hotel security was tight and even though she knew that she had reservations to stay with him that night, she thought that she should call him and get escorted to their room instead of trying to deal with the hotel staff. It wasnít their fault, but she figured after being bugged for so long by fans trying to sneak up to the guysí floor it would just be easier to get Lance down to the lobby then her up into the upper floors of the hotel.

"Hi honey," he said when he picked up. She could hear noise in the background and wondered what was going on in the background. From the sound of it a WWF wrestling match could have been going on behind Lance, although he didnít seem to be affected by it.

Willa smiled at Spanky who was distracting himself by flipping buttons on his own cell phone while digging in the pocket of his heavy winter overcoat for something. It made her wonder what he did all day long while she was working. Heíd been with her almost twenty four hours a day for the last few days and she hadnít really paid much attention to what he did while she worked. Hopefully he wasnít too bored waiting around for her.

"Gotta love caller ID," she said with a laugh making herslef pay attention to Lance again.

"Where are you?" He asked. She love the way his voice made him sound like he missed her. Sheíd never really heard that from Brennan. Heíd always asked where she was, but Lance had a way of saying it so that she felt like heíd been wondering where she was when she wasnít with him.

"Iím down in the lobby. I tried to call you earlier, but I kept getting your voicemail."

"Oh, yeah," he said, "I had to turn off my phone while I was in an interview. You should be glad you caught me. I was about to turn off my phone again."

"Thatís ok," she looked around for a minute, "I know that Iím allowed to just come up and see you, but can you come and get me or send someone? I donít want to get into a discussion with the staff over me going upstairs. There arenít that many people here, but I still donít want to--"

She tried to make it sound like she wasnít being all girly and helpless, but in a situation like that it was hard not to sound that way.

Lance coughed and turned his head away from the phone. Willa heard him say something into the room he was in then he turned back to the phone. "Iím sending Wes down to get you. Iíve gotta sign some papers and do another interview in about five minutes, but heíll bring you up to the room."

"Ok," she said with a sigh. She looked at Spanky as he wiped his nose with a tissue and suddenly wondered if Lance was getting sick. She knew how traveling around could take its toll on a person and she wondered if heíd caught something on the flight up from Florida.

"Are you ok?"

"Iím fine," he said and coughed again, "I just have a tickle in my throat."

"A tickle?" She asked with a laugh.

"Hold on a sec." He coughed again. She then thought she heard him drinking something. "Yeah. It happens when I get interviewed a lot. My mouth gets all dry and my throat starts to get raw from talking."

Willa looked around the lobby. She thought she recognized a few people from the last time sheíd hung out with the whole group, but she wasnít sure so she didnít make eye contact. "So are you going to be busy all day?"

"Not all day, but most of it. After the interview I have in a minute we can grab lunch in the room, ok? Iíll have to check the schedule for this afternoon, but I made sure that I had lunch completely free. The afternoon line-up has been changing all day and it might have changed again since I last checked."

"Ok," she said with another sigh.

"You ok?" He asked.

"Yeah," she said in a soft voice. "I just hate having press people around. I feel like I have to act differently around you. I mean first it was that I had to pretend to like you and now it seems like I have to pretend not to like you too much."

"Donít worry, a half hour of public time for me then you and I will send Spanky and Wes to get their own lunches and weíll hang out for..." He paused for a moment and she wondered if he was looking at his watch, "Weíll have about an hour or so." He sounded like some spy planning an attack on an unsuspecting theif, not a guy trying to get some free time with his girlfriend.

"That sounds good," she said with a laugh.

"I canít promise you great food, but at least the company will be good," he said.

"I donít care about the food. I just want at you," she said with a smile.

"As dangerous as it might be, I think I might like to be attacked by a fan like you," Lance said.

"Oh really?" She asked sensing the sexual tension that was heating up between them.

She heard someone in the background laughing. She figured that it was one of the guys or Melinda or someone. "Donít get me started," he said, "Iíve gotta go, Melinda is waving for me to get off the phone. Wes is already on his way down to get you."

"Ok," she said with a smile, "Iíll talk to you in a minute then."

"Bye sweetie. I love you."

"I love you too," she said and then stuck out her tongue at Spanky who was rolling his eyes at her.

"This trip is going to make me sick to my stomach," Spanky said sarcastically as she hung up. "You two are way too in love with each other. Who would have known that a few months ago."

"Oh shut up you," Willa teased, "You arenít supposed to be paying attention anyway."

"Itís hard not to notice..." Spanky paused for a moment then began to mock the tone sheíd used with Lance on the phone, "I love you..." Spanky made a kissing face.

Willa laughed and looked around the lobby for Wes. It was a big room. She imagined that this one lower room covered an entire city blockís worth of area and she wondered if heíd be able to find her.

"Thereís Wes," Spanky said a moment later.

Willa watched carefully as Wes aproached them. He was working. She could tell not only because he was wearing his staff polo shirt, but also from the look on his face. His eyes were narrowed and he looked on alert as if he was lying in wait for something to happen. She wondered if Spanky ever had that expression on his face. Sheíd seen him being attentive and cautious of their surroundings, but there was something in Wesís intense gaze that scared her almost as bad as the break-in had. She didnít know if this guy was going to mug her or protect her from the look on his face.

"Hey you two," Wes said. His face broke into a smile for a moment as if he knew he had to reassure them that he wasnít going to bite their heads off. "Ready to go on up?"

Willa nodded.

"Arenít you going to stay with us tonight?" Wes asked Willa. He looked around her then at her hands as if he was looking for bags or something.

Willa avoided making eye contact with him. She wasnít sure how this was all going to work. Being at his house in Orlando had been one thing. Sheíd been visiting him, but this time it was different. She was in her home town, but she wasnít staying at home. She stuck her hand into her pocket and nervously grasped the quarter that she found there. "Yeah."

Unexpectedly Willa saw Wes with a huge smile on his face. "Praise Jesus! Finally, someone in the group who has a woman who packs lightly!"

Spanky laughed along with Wes as they took in the comment.

"Not quite." She stifled a laugh. "Iím probably going to be the worse of all of them. Iím a model rememeber? Clothes are my life." She pointed over her shoulder at her backpack. "This is just my purse. Iím going to go get my bags when you all go to tape TRL this afternoon."

"Just donít expect me to be carrying the bags for you."

"Never," she said with an innocent smile. If she was more of a comedian she would have put her hand over her mouth and let out a giggle to show that she wasnít being serious with him., "Wouldnít want you to strain a muscle or anything."

"Of course not," Spanky said.

As if they knew through ESP, both men curled their arms up and flexed, making a manly grunting noise as they posed for her.

"Fine, fine. Letís get on the road," she said, "Youíre big and strong. I never said you werenít."

"Say it Willa."

"Say what?"

"Say: My what big muscles you have."

Willa looked at them for a moment then thought quickly for her response, "My what big egos you have."

Wes cracked up with that comment. "Girl, are you sure youíre dating Lance? That was a Joey comment if Iíve ever heard one."

"No. I went out with Joey once. It wasnít pretty. Weíre too goofy for each other."

"Too goofy?" Spanky said.

"And like HOLLYWOOD is more grounded?" Wes asked.

"Hollywood?" She asked.

"Lanceís new nickname. Heís kissing babies and shaking hands all over the place. Thatís really a grounded guy youíve got there," Wes joked, letting a laugh out.

"Whatever," she said, "Can we just go?"

"Are you in need Willa?" Wes asked with a smile.

"In need of what?" She asked.

"A little loviní?" Wes asked with a funny accent.

"I think youíre the one in need," she said half agrily-half jokingly, "In need of an ego check."

"Ok, ok," he said, "Iíll stop."

"Can we go now?"

"Yes."

After pointing the way, the two bodyguards escorted Willa to the elevator. She almost laughed aloud when she caught their reflection in the shiny inner walls of the elevator doors. She felt like an oreo cookie between the two men as they guarded her from the left and right.

"So did you guys have a fun morning?" Willa asked Wes. She hated the quiet of the elevator. The two men were definitley intimidating when they just stood and stared straight ahead..

"Fun isnít the word Iíd use. Actually fun isnít ever the word Iíd use," Wes said rolling his eyes, "But yeah, nothing major happened so at least it wasnít too hectic. We had a few hundred people meet us at the airport then there was a huge crowd at the Today show looking through the windows, but since weíve gotten to the hotel all has been quiet."

"Knock on wood," Spanky added.

With smiles on their faces, they both reached and knocked on the wooden siding that lined the elevator walls.

She took a breath. Maybe this trip would be quiet. She and Lance could just enjoy themselves instead of worrying about fans. "Thatís good."

"What about you?" Wes asked, "Lance said that you were doing some huge photo shoot or something a few days ago?"

"Yeah," she said, "I was shooting some print ads for a designer. Modeling is really boring."

"I bet that was a riot," Wes said, "At least the pay is good."

"Thatís definitely not the word Iíd use," she said, "But yeah, it pays the bills."

"And Iím sure the phone company thanks you. It seems like you and Lance have become attacked at the cellphones. Iíve never seen anyone talk on the phone so much."

"Whatever. I tell him to stop calling me, but he keeps on with it," she said trying to act as if the phone calls sheíd gotten from Lance were a bother, even though that was about as far from the truth as it could be.

"Youíre the worst liar," Spanky said. "You should see her face when that damn thing rings. She lights up like a Christmas tree and chats about a million miles a minute before she gets off the phone then calls him back and does the whole thing over."

"Youíre just jealous because Wes is the only one who calls you."

"Hey!" Wes said with a frown, "Thatís no way to make friends and influence people."

"I wasnít trying," she said with a laugh.

"See what I have to put up with? One of these days Iím going to let one of those teeny-bopper chicks have their way with you." Spanky reached out and playfully hit her arm.

"Yeah right, Lance would shoot you if you did that."

"No he wouldnít," Wes said defending Spanky.

When the elevator got to the floor that they wanted Wes stepped out before them then stopped a few feet into the hallway. "Oh," he said turning around. He handed them two laminated passes. "Security passes for you. You lose them and Lance definitely will shoot you."

"Thanks," Willa said and slipped her pass around her neck. She watched as Spanky did the same thing.

"Lance is down in room eleven-fifteen, but he told me to have you wait for him in his room down at the end of the hall. Heís going to be in that interview for a while and figures that you donít want to get involved with the whole thing so staying out of sight is a good thing."

Willa nodded, "That sounds good to me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Iíd have to hide from publicity. That seems so backwards, yet so right at the same time."

They walked down the hotel hallway and Willa noticed how almost every room had itís door open. She caught site of almost all the guys in separate rooms doing interviews. She waved and caught a smile from a few of them, but the others were too busy to notice.

When she passed room eleven-fifteen she paused for a moment. She saw the back of Lanceís head as he faced a reporter and spoke. She watched only for a second afraid that the reporter might see her and draw her into the room. As much as she wanted to see Lance, she didnít want her welcome back to involve some reporter watching them.

"So whatís this trip for?" Willa asked.

"Just the normal press stuff. The guys are going to announce later on in the trip that theyíre going to try to get a movie deal together. They keep hinting about it with the reporters here, but they arenít really going to announce the whole plan until Friday. They have a big press conference planned."

Willa turned and looked at Wes. She didnít really know the guys that well and since Lance hadnít mentioned it to her, this was all a surprise to hear. "A movie?"

"Yeah," Wes explained as he pulled the room key out for her. He unlocked the door. "Justinís already been in a movie for Disney, Joey filmed a bit-part in Toronto a few weeks ago, and Lance is going to start filming a romantic comedy for Miramax in March."

"He didnít tell me that!" Willa said as she followed him into the room.

"He hasnít really told anyone about it. The last time he got a semi-romantic part on a television show the guys ripped on him about it for months afterwards. He told me that he doesnít want that to happen again."

"Oh."

"Iím sure heíll tell you about it," Wes stopped in the middle of the room, "This is it"

The room was humungous, way bigger than anything sheíd ever stayed in. She had good taste when it came to travel arrangements, but this was really more than one person could take advantage of on their own. "This is Lanceís room?"

"Well itís the living room for Justin and Lance. Wes pointed to the open double-doors of the room on the right, "Lanceís room is over there and Justinís is on the far side. The other guys are in the suite next door."

Willa looked around for a minute then took her jacket and the small backpack she was using for her purse and set them down on the couch.

Wesís pager went off and he grabbed it off of his waste-band. "Iíve gotta head out. Have fun."

Willa waved, "Thanks Wes."

"No trouble." He looked at his watch. "Lance should be back in here in about twenty minutes."

Willa smiled and wondered for a moment if she should tip the guy. She hated situations like that. She always felt that she was doing the wrong thing even when she was doing the right thing. "Thanks."

Her phone rang just as Wes was turning the corner back into the hallway.


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