Snap Shots Series: Portrait
"So what else is on the list of crap I have to listen to?" Lance said with a smirk on his face. He busied himself by moving the latest pile of completed paperwork to his outbox so that he could file it later.
"Hey now," his sister said, "This is business Lance. I know that you and your woman are on vacation, but the world still revolves when you go on hiatus."
"I know. I know." He sighed and sat back in his chair after turning up the volume on the speakerphone.
"So where is the little woman?"
Lance glance out the window and saw his girlfriend of two months, Jackie Bowden, lying out in the sun next to the pool reading a book. He guessed that she was studying for her bar exams. She was in the process of becoming a lawyer and was currently on a break before her exams. "She's by the pool...where I should be." He looked down and tugged at his swim trunks and pulled on the collar of his T-shirt.
"What's she up to?" Stacey asked.
"Nothing, studying I guess. Working on her tan. I don't know but I wish I was with her."
"I don't know if you wanting to be with her is a good thing for her or not. You're grumpy."
"I'm not grumpy. I'm tired Stacey. There is a distinct difference." He sighed. "I need to relax, not worry about the business. I thought I could trust that you and mom and dad could take care of things for a few days without me."
"We can, but you're the CEO for God's sakes and a lot of this stuff is important."
"It doesn't matter whether I know about what dates Meredith plays this summer. Mom is in charge of scheduling--"
"Lance quit it. If you're in a bad mood that’s fine. Just don't take it out on me." The sound of shuffling papers came over the line. "I just have a few more things for you."
"Good." Lance was jumpy.
He'd already breezed through his morning status meeting with his sister and had been on the phone with Johnny about the second leg of the tour, which was to start up in a few days. It had only taken him three hours, but he was already ready to call it quits for the day. On tour he worked more hours than that before breakfast, but he wasn't on tour for the moment and he needed the rest. He needed the time away. He needed time without work.
"Oh I almost forgot...Spanky's report came in."
A cold sweat broke out over his whole body at the mention of the man's name. He could kick himself for having that reaction, but there was still so much drama connected to the man that he couldn't help it. "It's early. He never sends in his stuff in the middle of the month. What happened?" he asked then Lance sat up straighter and picked up the phone switching off the speakerphone. "What the hell happened? Is Willa alright?" His tone was forceful and demanding and he knew he really didn't have a right to act that way to his sister or anyone else for that matter. Now that he was dating again he should be focusing on the future and not the past, but he still felt like he needed to be her protector.
A soft chuckle filled the phone line. "For someone who swears that he isn't in love with her anymore its really surprising to hear you so concerned. Does the new love of your life know that you feel this way?"
"Shut up ok?" Lance said. "Jackie knows about Willa, or at least the reason why Spanky still is on my payroll." He sat back in his chair. One hand gripped the phone to his ear and the other ran over his face. He wiped the sweat from his forehead onto the leg of his shorts before his freehand gripped the armrest of his office chair.
It had been almost six months and he'd really hadn't thought about her much, actually he'd tried to avoid her as much as possible, but he'd still had Spanky watching over her. It was something that he couldn't express to anyone, but he wanted her to be safe even if he did hate her at the moment. It was easier that way. They needed to be apart, like she'd told him all those months ago, but he still felt a connection between them. "It's better this way."
"Talking to yourself again Lancey-boy?"
Putting a hand to his head again Lance rocked his chair a little as his nerves began to get the best of him. "Just tell me the details," Lance asked with a sigh and tried to relax.
"She's moving to LA." The voice was as depressing sounding as the news as it delivered. "She's packing up this weekend and Elena is going to rent out her apartment."
"She's going to have her kid soon and she wanted to get out of the city, according to Spanky."
"Three months still I thought. It's only July," he said. "Nothing is wrong with her is it?"
"No, she had offers from her parents to live in Seattle, but Elena got her hooked up with a job that will have her working out of her house for the next few months so she's moving out there."
"Really?" he said. He'd known that New York had been her home for a while now and he didn't think that she'd be leaving it so easily...even if Elena had gotten her a new job. "She's leaving New York?"
"I love it how you don't even really care about her, just that she's moving..."
"Shut it," he said, "I don't care about her and that kid and you know why." He let out a sigh.
It still broke his heart to hear about her. He'd gotten better about things, but the media and the world at large weren't helping the situation. The media had picked up on the story of her pregnancy after Brennan and Amy dropped the charges and hadn't let the story rest. He didn't even know that she was so popular, but it seemed as if there were almost weekly updates of her condition. She'd gained the status of the likes of Madonna or Katherine Zeta-Jones in her pregnancy. He tried to turn the channel when the reports came on Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood, but it was hard not to hear about her these days.
He'd heard pieces of stories about the way that Brennan had come back into her life and how Amy had even helped her pick out some baby things after the court case had been thrown out. He didn't know really if what he'd heard had been true. He'd disappeared out of her life after that day in the hotel when she'd told him about the baby. He knew that he should have stuck around for an explanation, but he couldn't have done it without showing how much it hurt him to know about the pregnancy so he'd left and hadn't looked back. He'd spent that night in the suite that Melinda was staying in and had sent Wes to get his bags in the morning.
According to Wes she and Spanky had disappeared back to her apartment early in the morning and there had been no effort on her part to get in touch with him so he'd left her alone. He'd called Spanky and had gotten assurances that Spanky would stay on the job and would be paid through him. It had been asked about his quick retreat, but Lance just played off the question and had asked Spanky to check in with him monthly to let him know how things were going.
"Hey, watch your mouth! Mom is in the other room and while I don't mind the swearing you know that she's going to come over there and smack you if you talk like that."
"Sorry Stacey," he said.
"It's ok," she said, "I know that you're still upset about all that, but really Lance, don't take it out on me. I wasn't the one who got pregnant by some other man and I sure as hell wasn't the one who walked out on that pregnant woman."
"Great, you think I'm an ass too?"
"I don't want to argue with you about this. Do you want me to give him a call and get more details?"
"No," Lance said with a sigh, "Just get her new address and number when she moves in. I'll try and catch up with them when I'm in LA in November."
"Are you sure you don't want me to--"
"Just keep the address and stuff for me," he snapped.
"Fine," she said with a sigh. "Have fun with Jackie and don't get sun burnt and try to relax. We don't need for you to be having a heart attack or something."
"I'll relax. Tell mom I love her and tell dad I'll call him in a few days."
His sister's voice now sounded concerned and he hated that. He didn't want to worry his family about his personal life, but they had been through the month or so recovery that Lance had gone through after Willa had broken the news to him. He'd come home for a few days before the group had gone on vacation and both his parents and his sister had noticed the quiet change in him. He hadn't meant to sound so depressed, but he couldn't help it. He'd been heartbroken to hear her news.
"Have a good rest of your vacation."
Lance clicked the phone off and leaned his head against the desktop. This was too much for someone so young to be dealing with, he was sure of that. He hadn't been feeling that bad; he'd been dealing with the tour and all the stresses of that, but now, after hearing the news of Willa's move and having that stress brought up again he was feeling way older than he should.
"Are you ok?"
Lance jumped at the sound of her voice behind him.
A feminine hand slid over his shoulder and he soon found himself being hugged from behind. He wove his hand around and rested his palm on her arm and gave her a squeeze to let her know that the hug was appreciated. "I'm fine."
"Bad meetings?" she asked. Her voice was soft in his ear and actually distracted him for a moment. What distracted him more was the kiss she placed on his cheek a moment later.
"You could say that," he said. He tried to keep himself from sighing, but it was nearly impossible after the morning he'd had. "I had some really crazy--well not crazy, but some interesting news--sent my way."
Her head came up a little off where she'd been resting her chin on his shoulder. "They aren't cutting your vacation short are they? I know that you love that manager of yours, but vacation is important."
"No," he said. He moved his chair around and pulled her into his lap. She sat sideways and wound an arm around him as he slipped his arms around her waist and kept her from falling off.
"Then what it is it hon?" she asked. She paused for a moment and leaned and kissed him then played with the tag on the back of his T-shirt, tucking it into his shirt before she smoothed out the material.
"I got a report from Spanky today," he said.
She looked confused for a moment then smiled, "Isn't that the bodyguard guy that is with that Willa friend of yours?"
He loved the way she seemed so calm about things. He'd explained the situation to her and she'd been calm about things. She admitted that she didn't truly understand why he was still protective of his ex-girlfriend, but she also said that she wasn't in the business and didn't understand the need for anyone to have a bodyguard in the first place. It seemed though that one thing was clear between the two of them. Willa's protection was more important than anything else was, especially now that she was six months along in her pregnancy.
"Yeah," he said and leaned his head against where her shoulder was near his face. "She's moving to LA."
"Isn't that dangerous?" she asked, "She's pretty pregnant now isn't she?"
"I'm sure it's fine."
"Then why do you seemed so stressed?" she asked. She leaned and put her forehead against his and smiled at him.
Lance paused for a moment and placed a kiss on her bare shoulder. "I'm planning a trip to visit her when the tour gets to LA next time."
"Oh," Jackie said taking a deep breath. Her tone had completely changed and he knew that even though she said she seemed to understand, it was now down to the wire and she wasn't as receptive to the idea as he thought she'd be.
"Her kid's going to be born by then and I thought that I'd go and check on her." He tried to keep his voice from shaking, but even the thought of standing in the same room with her again was something that was kind of frightening for him. He wasn't at all afraid of her, but he knew he was afraid about how things would go between them. He was mostly to blame for the bad ending and he wasn't sure how things would go once they got to see each other face to face again.
"Lance I know that you and I have talked about this, but are you sure that you should go and visit her?" Jackie asked turning so that she could look him in the eyes. Her stare was firm and cold, like it had been the first time he'd seen her in the club in Boston. She'd been trying to politely get rid of someone who'd been hitting on her at one of the parties he'd attended and it was that determined look in her eyes that had caused him to fall for her. "I mean isn't that just more drama than you need right now?"
Lance smiled. She was always so rational and so practical and she knew that the stress of his job was something he didn't exactly welcome. "I'm only going for a visit--you know? A few hours with her--and it's not going to be until November. What are you worried about?"
"Nothing really, other than my boyfriend is going to visit another woman...it all seems perfectly logical to me." Her sarcastic remark was something that hurt him deeply. He knew that he was crazy for dating her and still being in touch with Willa. At the same time he felt a connection with Willa that he couldn't get over and it seemed as if nothing was going to keep them from being a part of each other's lives.
"You're thinking about her aren't you?" she asked. She pushed away from him and stood up.
"Jackie don't be like this," he said. His arms dropped onto his lap and he almost let out a groan at the action. He was tired and he needed a nap. "Willa is my friend, that's it. I haven't even spoken to her in six months! I told you all about what happened so why are you so surprised that I'd--"
Jackie turned back to him and glared at him. "So is this the deal with all the women who date you? Am I going to need a bodyguard after we break up?"
"No," Lance said.
Jackie turned and started to walk out of the room.
"Jackie!" He called.
She didn't turn around, but she did stop and it seemed as if she was listening to him.
"Jackie." He spoke softly as he stepped towards her and put his arms around her. "You don't have to worry about my past. For the moment I'm finding myself falling for you more and more each day. I know that Willa and I have history, but you're my future and I'm not going to let anything mess that up." He leaned and kissed her shoulder and when she didn't protest against the movement he trailed kisses up her shoulder and to her neck and ear where he knew he'd get at least a giggle out of her for tickling her.
Jackie turned in his arms and hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry I'm being such a girl. I don't mean to add to the stress level you already have."
"Honey," he said and reached to tuck her hair behind her ear. He looked into her eyes for a moment. "Nothing about you stresses me out. Ok?"
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Of." He kissed her lips softly, "Course." He kissed her again.
"You want to go get lunch with me?" she asked.
"Where are you going?"
"I thought I'd go to the grocery store and get some stuff to make sandwiches with. Wanna ride along?"
"Ride along?" he asked, "What car are you taking?"
"Ok," she said with a smile, "Want to drive me?"
"Sure," he said.
"Let me go put on some shorts," she said.
"You can go in that," he immediately protested.
"Sure I can," she smiled and waved a finger at him, "What would your mother think?"
"I'd say she'd give you a ten and tell you not to cover up."
"Well I'll take her advise next time…as for now, I'm going to go get on my shorts and we can head out."
"I guess," he said with a frown.
He watched Jackie walk out of the room then moved over and pressed the button that would send his calls immediately to voicemail. He'd finished business for the day and if anyone needed to get a hold of him they could call his cell phone and he'd cut them off using caller ID if he didn't want to talk to them.
[[New York City, NY]]
"What the hell?" Willa jumped as she heard Spanky's voice echo through the almost empty apartment.
Scooting forward on the couch she touched her bulging stomach as she leaned to grab for another handful of newspaper so that she could wrap more things. She still couldn't believe that she'd let Spanky talk her into sitting while he brought things to her to pack. She was already the size of a house and she knew that it was only going to get worse from there on in if Spanky didn't let her exercise like she should. He'd already made sure that she took a cab everywhere in the city and using the stairs was out of the question. When he'd threatened to cancel her gym club membership so she couldn't work out she'd almost screamed. The only thing that he would let her do was go swimming which she had gotten into and had tended to cherish her moments in the water before she started her day.
"Sorry about that sweetie," he said with a comforting voice. He used the voice that Willa hated the one that was too sickeningly sweet to be coming out of the mouth of someone who was supposed to be big and buff and her protector. "I just was trying to get in touch with someone and I haven't been able to get through for the last few hours and now the stupid phone number is clicking me over to voicemail. I hate that."
"It's ok," Willa said giving him a smile. She'd been doing that a lot lately. He seemed to be more worried about her than she was worried about herself. "Who were you trying to call?"
"No one special," he said with a casual tone. She could tell that he was lying to her, but she didn't have the energy to argue with him. He'd called her parents a few weeks before to tell them how she was when she didn't return their calls and she expected that he'd probably called again and wasn't able to get a hold of them.
Knowing that she hated him to pace, Willa watched Spanky instead held his cell phone in his hand and tap out a rhythm out on the palm of his hand as he watched her. She could tell that he would have been pacing all over the place, but she'd yelled at him a few weeks before about making her dizzy when he did it so now he seemed to try to let out his stresses in other ways.
"Well I'd hate to see you get mad if they were special." She made a face and tried to keep her spirits up as she packed. It really was depressing and although she wanted to stay in the city, she knew it was time to get out of town. The new job that had opened at the Ford office in LA had been a godsend and due to her pregnancy, FORD was very excited to have her on board. It was not only in need of a new booking agent, but the publicity too. The connection of her to the company had been a plus for them. She was so important now that they'd helped finance her new home for her so that she'd have one less thing to worry about after the pregnancy.
"I didn't mean to startle you," he said and cocked his head to the side. He asked about her condition with his eyes then his mouth. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," she said. She smiled widely for him, smoothed her hand over her hair then leaned back on the couch to wrap another few dishes in newspaper. She had only been working a few hours and she already had most of them done which was a feat considering she'd only learned about the move the day before. She only had a few more coffee cups and a few bowls to do until she'd be almost done with the kitchen, which would put her almost a third of the way done.
"Stop babysitting me Spanky and take these dishes and put them in that box over there," she said with a little bit of the spirit that had been fading in and out the last few months. "I don't need you to be treating me like some person that is going to fall apart any minute. I know that my crying and all that have been a hassle, but the doctor said that it's normal for a pregnant woman to be crying all the time. You should know that. Didn't you say that your sister has a few kids?"
"Yes ma'am," he said with a patronizing voice. He came closer to her and grabbed up the dishes to move them.
As Spanky walked past her Willa shivered. She wasn't sure if it was the feeling of the baby moving or if it was a chill, but either way Spanky treated the movement like there had been an earthquake or something.
"Are you sure you're ok?" he asked, "You don't need your sweater do you?"
"I'm fine you big baby," she said and sat up straighter on the couch. "I just shivered. I'm not dying or anything." She thought it was ridiculous that he could be so sensitive to her. She had on long pants and a long sleeved shirt and it was fairly hot outside, but Spanky seemed to think that she needed a blanket on her lap and a sweater on. "You're worse than my mother."
"Willa don't give me shit. You named me to be the godfather of this kid and I'm just trying to protect my little godson or daughter, ok?"
Willa got tears in her eyes and put down the dish that she had in her hands.
"What now honey?" Spanky asked.
Willa wiped her face with the back of her hand then swiped a finger or two under her eyes to get the excess moisture trapped on her cheeks. "Nothing." Her sigh was so loud it would have been heard in a crowded room. "It's nothing."
"Willa you have to tell him that this kid is his."
"I can't Spanky. I tried to tell him before but he wouldn't listen to me."
"Well try again dammit," he said forcefully. He stood in front of her, staring down at her with a very fatherly looking expression on his face. "Willa you're too much of a smart ass to let him get to you. I thought you'd be pulling his hair out by now, not sitting back and waiting for this baby to be born into the world without its father present."
Willa sniffed and stared out the window. "He automatically assumed that it was Brennan's. How could he do that to me? I never thought that he'd chose Brennan's word over mine."
"You didn't tell him any differently honey. It's probably bad to say, but any guy in his place would have done the same thing. I mean with Brennan claiming that you were having his kid, it only seems natural that if you turn up pregnant that he would assume that it wasn't his."
"I know. I know."
The phone chose that moment to ring. "Saved by the bell," Willa mumbled and tried to move to get off the couch.
"You stay put," Spanky warned and walked across the room to grab up the cordless phone that was sitting on the counter.
"Willa's house." Spanky had been answering her phone, her door and any other thing that needed to be answered since Lance had disappeared out of her life. "Oh, hey Elena. Yeah she's here. No… yeah we're packing up…almost…yeah. She's right here hold on."
Spanky gave her a stern look before he handed the phone over to her. "I'm going to the store and get stuff for dinner. You stay put." His tone sounded completely motherly and domestic and she could hear Elena laughing on the phone at the sound of his voice.
"Yes sir," Willa said with a slightly mocking tone then put the phone to her ear and spoke to Elena, "Don't you laugh at my Spanky. He's just doing his job."
"Where in his contract does it say that he has to get groceries for you?"
"No where," Willa said. She brushed her hair out of her face and watched as Spanky left the apartment before she continued, "He does that part cuz he loves me."
Willa still wasn't sure how she'd ended up with Spanky on her case. He'd insisted that he stick with her and had even been happy to move to LA. She'd asked Elena about it a few months back, but she said that it wasn't something that she needed to worry about. Willa just assumed then that the agency was picking up the bill for the security service and she never dared to ask Spanky about it straight to his face. It seemed out of place for her to be asking him about that.
Elena almost snorted she was laughing so hard now. "Yeah right, that big oaf has a heart?"
"Bigger than Texas," Willa put in as she settled back in her chair. When she was skinner she would have curled her legs up under her to talk, but now, with her ever-expanding stomach she had to settle for putting her feet up on the coffee table.
"Anyway," Elena said trying to calm her laughter, "I just wanted to let you know that the house papers went through and the movers will be there tomorrow to bring all your stuff out to California."
"Thank you so much," Willa said.
"Are you sure you don't want me to take a few days off and come and help you?"
"No," she said, "My mother is going to be down the first few days after I move in. She and Spanky should be able to do enough mothering between the two of them to cause me to go crazy. I don't need you there too…at least while my mother is there, but you definitely have to come and visit when this kid comes out."
"His father is the one that needs to be there." The stern tone that Spanky had given her that day was now evident in Elena's voice.
Willa winced. She'd been hearing this for months now, but as her due date got closer and closer the advice people were handing her seemed to get more and more urgent and her need to keep Lance away seemed to get stronger and stronger due to this bombardment.
"I don't want to talk about him." Her voice began to shake and she knew that she needed a break, but she didn't want to hang up with Elena just yet. Instead she tried to ease the tension by taking deep breaths. "I just was arguing with Spanky about him and I can only handle so much of that in one day."
"Fine. I'll leave it alone, but Sweetie you really need to tell him."
"He left me standing there Elena. I'm not going to let that happen to my kid. At least this way my child will never know their father. I'd rather have that then have the pain of them watching him walk out on them." Willa wanted to swear as tears welled up in her eyes. She hated this. She didn't need to be crying over him again. "It was bad enough for me to go through."
Willa moved around and awkwardly found a space to lay out across the couch. She had to move the dishes to the floor, but she found a comfortable spot and sighed into the phone. "I want this kid out of me. I can't move like I'm used to and sleeping is horrible and I have to pee like a racehorse twenty four hours a day."
"Hon, you'll get out to California and have a better time of things. The house is one story and you'll have Spanky and your mother to help out…you'll see that it'll be good for you to be out there."
"Keep reminding me," Willa said.
"Oh…I meant to tell you. The booking job with Ford is going to start a week after you get there so you'll have some time to relax and get to know the neighborhood and stuff. You can even work on your tan."
"Yeah right," Willa said, "If I lay down I won't be able to get up."
"Stop making jokes like that honey, you're not an invalid and you aren't even that big."
"That big. I love the way you say that."
"Willa don't you get all depressed now. You're going to be fine after this baby comes. You're going to love this kid and the new job and LA and all of it."
"Just keep reminding me," she said with a frown. No one was there to see her expression, but she needed to show some kind of emotion since Spanky wasn't in the room. If she frowned in front of him it was like the world was coming to and end.
"You'll be fine."
Willa started to get uncomfortable so she pushed her way up and got herself standing. "I'm starving. Where is that boy with the groceries?"
"I don't know," Elena said, "Where did he go shopping?"
"I haven't a clue."
Willa heard the phone beep saying that there was another call coming in.
"That's my other line, hold on a second."
"Ok," Elena said.
Clicking over Willa held her breath for a moment before speaking. She'd been expecting a call from Brennan knowing that he'd probably heard about her move considering that it was all over the news. "Willa here."
"Hi Willa honey," the voice said.
Willa let out her breath. "Hi Mommy." Tears came to her eyes suddenly. "Elena's on the other line. Let me let her go and we'll chat."
"Ok," her mother said.
Willa quickly clicked over to the other line. "It's my mom. I gotta go."
"Ok Sweetie. Call me back tomorrow ok?"
Willa clicked back over to her mother and wandered into the kitchen to get a drink. She had been feeling a little dehydrated that morning. She hadn't wanted to mention it to Spanky for fear that he would try to make her call the doctors again like he had when she'd had indigestion a few days before. It was ridiculous trying to take care of herself while trying not to alert Spanky to any kind of a problem.
"Hi mom," she said and tried to keep from crying. She thought for a moment and wondered if Spanky had been trying to call her. "Did Spanky call you this morning?"
"No honey," she said, "I got your message yesterday and couldn't remember if I'd called you back or not so I thought I'd give you a call today. It's been busy around here."
"Oh." She was glad that her mother had called, but the thought about who Spanky had been trying to get a hold of was still on her mind. "How's daddy?"
"The same. He still is a little upset about this whole situation, but you know him. He'll get over it in a while I guess. Especially when that kid comes to visit. Your father may be a little strict on you, but with the little ones he's a push over."
"Well let's hope so. I hate the fact that he won't talk to me when I call." She opened up the refrigerator and when she didn't see anything too exciting she closed the door.
"Honey, it's not that he doesn't love you. He does, but he needs some time to get used to this. I mean…you're his little girl and he wants you to stay a little girl."
"I know, I know," she said sadly.
"Honey. I just wanted to tell you my flight information. I called and left a message with William, but I thought you should know."
"Why do you call him William?" Willa asked, "No one calls him that. Spanky's used to it. I think you scare him when you call him by his real name."
"He loves it when I call him William." She loved the way her mother could always be right about something, even if she really didn't have a clue what she was talking about. "He said it reminds him of his mother."
"Whatever mom," Willa said and reached to grab for the water bottle that she'd placed in the freezer about an hour before.
Willa heard the door open and saw Spanky come in the door carrying three plastic grocery bags. He smiled at her and went to the counter and began to pull out his things.
"Anyway tell me your flight info."
Willa's mother rambled off the information and while Willa caught the information, she was paying more attention to the orange popciles that Spanky was putting away than the information.
"Who's there with you?" her mother asked.
"Spanky just got back from going out to get lunch," Willa explained.
"You're a saint," Willa mouthed to him and set her bottled water on the counter and propped the phone on her shoulder to talk while Spanky made them sandwiches.
"Who are you talking with?" he asked softly.
"Hi Mrs. Marviani," he said with a smile.
"Tell William I said hello."
"My mom says hi back, William." She watched Spanky blush at the use of his real name.
"I should go and eat mom. I'll see you in a few days."
"Ok honey," she said.
"I love you," Willa said with a smile then hung up the phone.
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