Snap Shots Series: Portrait
[[ Agora Hills, CA (near Los Angeles)]]
It was almost a month after she moved in her new house in LA that her first visitor came to knock on the door. It was her first welcomed visitor anyway, since reporters had tried to get to her after they'd tracked her to the house after she'd arrived at LAX. Willa was sitting at her computer, talking on the phone booking some dates for the modeling agency, when the knock sounded and although she heard it, she wasn't in a position, partly because of her pregnancy and partly because of her phone call to answer the door. She'd been sitting there for most of the morning, first with tea next to her and now water and a few carrots since it wasn't quite lunchtime yet and hadn't planned on moving until she stopped for lunch. Now that she had her new job she was running full steam ahead with it and she actually liked the job that Elena had been doing for her so many years now.
"No. Yeah, I'm still here. Omaha to Portland…no Portland Oregon. Wait, there is a Portland Maine? Who would have thought? Anyway…I need the flight for three days from now…" she rattled off checking the information she had in front of her with the computer on the screen before she gave it to the woman on the line with her. "Yeah, Monica Welting with a veggie meal."
Coming to the rescue, Spanky, who'd been watching a movie in the sunken living room next to the dining room, got up and walked past where her little office was set up. He threw her a wave then she watched his back as he disappeared around the corner as he went to get the door. She liked the laid back feel of California. That day she wore shorts and a T-shirt and Spanky had on running pants and a T-shirt. Somehow this seemed to be the uniform of the neighborhood she was living in. The only time she saw people outside of their causal clothes was when the commuters headed out to the office in the morning and even then no one wore formal things like in New York.
A few minutes later, when her call was finally over, after haggling with the airlines to get a flight for a model from the Mid-West out to Oregon, she hung up the phone. When she realized that Spanky hadn't returned from the front door she called out, "Are you ready for lunch Big Guy?"
Silence filled the house.
"Spanky?" she called out cautiously when she didn't hear anything.
The wood floor creaked and she broke out into a sweat fearing that something had happened to him. She didn't know why exactly, but the last month or so in the new house had been making her kind of paranoid. When they'd arrived at LAX a few weeks before the reporters were waiting for them and she'd been followed most of the time she'd been out and about in the LA area. Now she wondered if a reporter or someone had come to the door and Spanky had to take care of them. He normally was very gentle with her, actually too gentle with her and most the time that was a comfort to her, but she did know that he had another side to him. She'd seen it with her own eyes in the airport when he'd gotten a little frustrated with the crowd that had gathered and she now had the worry in the back of her mind that he might get into a fight one day over her and she didn't want that.
"Spanky?" she called again.
"Yeah sweetie?" he answered to her finally calming her worst fears.
"Who was at the door?" she asked twisting in her chair she tried to push herself into a standing position.
"Me," a male voice said.
When Willa looked up she found JC standing in the doorway next to Spanky. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt he looked comfortable and looked right at home in her house, something that slightly scared her. It wasn't that she hated HIM really, but the group that he hung out with had a lot of bad memories for her and she didn't want them making their way into her new home.
Spanky already had a worried look on his face as if he was anticipating her to be upset by the visit.
"I wasn't sure if you'd want to see him," Spanky tugged on the hem of his T-shirt nervously.
"It's fine Spanky, it's not like I can turn him away."
"I'd hope not," JC said in a soft voice.
Spanky walked further into the room and stood in the space between JC and her, almost as if he expected some outburst to happen and he was setting himself up to be in the middle of the confrontation. "He said that he needed to talk to you."
"What's wrong?" she asked immediately thinking that something might have happened to Lance or one of the others. She hadn't seen any of them in months but she DID know that they were supposed to be on tour, Elena had told her that much.
"Wow. It's nice to see you too Willa," JC said with a smirk on his face. "Last time I checked I thought that my name wasn't Lance, but maybe I was mistaken."
"I'm sorry," she said with a sigh then went over and hugged him gently then looked at him in the eyes. "Who sent you?"
"No one," he said, "I'm in town for a few days because I just bought a house out here so I thought I'd stop by. I wanted to see if you were ok." He looked down at her. "When's the baby due?"
"November," she said and patted her stomach then stepped a few feet back from him wondering if she should be friendly to him. "I'm as big as a house."
He was watching her too closely. She didn't like the way his eyes seemed to stay right on her. He didn't even blink. Shouldn't he be checking her place out or something? He might be on some kind of a spy mission or something.
"How did you know where I lived?" she asked and motioned for them to go sit in the living room.
Taking the hint that they needed to talk, Spanky flipped off the television and disappeared into the kitchen leaving alone.
"Elena and Lance have been in contact a few times…I thought you knew that since Spanky was," JC said looking around the room finally as he followed her to find a seat, "Never mind--anyway I told him that I'd be out here so he gave me your address."
"The bastard couldn't come himself? Where is he? He sent you didn't he?" she asked as she moved herself into a sitting position on the couch. She hated being so big. If she'd thought that being big a month before had been bad she wondered what her seventh, eighth and ninth months were going to be like.
"No," he said. He didn't look at her for a moment. "Actually he didn't want me to come, but I told him that I thought I should stop by since we're neighbors and all."
"So how have all of you been?"
"How's the tour going?" she asked.
He focused on her after looking around. "Good."
"JC, cut the bullshit and tell me why you're here. If you just wanted to see me then you've seen me and you can go." Willa struggled to push herself up off the couch. She wanted to run away from him but she couldn't because she was too big to get up and move.
JC must have seen her struggling because he suddenly was in front of her pulling her up to her feet.
She pushed his hands off her once she was standing. Trying to remind herself that she needed to keep her bitchiness to a minimum due to her pregnant condition she paused her movements. "Thank you."
"Please don't stress out on me now," JC said with a laugh. He reached over and pushed her hair out of her face and spoke to her with his own soft comforting voice. "I just came to see how you were. I didn't think it would be that big of an issue. You know that just because you and Lance broke up doesn't mean that the rest of us can't worry about you. We just--we meaning myself, Chris, Justin, and Joey--all just are worried about you. You've moved away from New York, got a new job, and you haven't talked to our friend in months now."
"Correction." She didn't want it to be thought that Lance was the victim in this situation. He'd been the one to abandon her before she could tell him the truth so if anyone was supposed to be the victim it was her. "He hasn't talked to me and I wouldn't want to talk to him if he did speak to me. He took his side damn it. He took his word over mine."
"Hey!" Spanky's voice boomed through the room. He had appeared in the doorway to the kitchen wearing the apron she normally that hanging hung on the back of the door. It had been a gift from Elena that she hadn't used yet, but had become a second skin to Spanky. The logo on it said kiss the cook, but Willa could tell that Spanky wasn't at all in the mood to deal with pleasantries. "What the hell is going on?"
Willa wiped her eyes. "I'm fine Spanky." She put a hand out to stop him from interfering, "JC and I were just discussing the father of my baby and how he and I don't get along."
"Father of your baby?" JC asked.
Willa bit her lip and stomped her foot. "You should go now JC." She wanted her voice to come out sounding forceful, but all she sounded like was that she was over emotional at the moment. "I have to get back to work."
"Wait," JC said and reached his arm out and grabbed onto her when she tried to walk past him.
"Hey!" Spanky said and came over and quickly moved himself in between the two of them.
"I'm not going to hurt her Spanky," JC said firmly, "I just wanna know what she meant by that last comment."
"What comment?" Spanky asked.
"Is Lance really this kids dad?" he asked.
Willa bit her lip and closed her eyes.
"Are you ok?" Spanky asked.
She nodded no and sat down.
"Hon, what do you need?" Spanky's voice came to her from a close position. She knew he was probably at her side by now kneeling and wondering what was wrong with her. He'd been like that and usually it was a help, but today, in front of JC, it made her look weak.
"Nothing," she said and opened her eyes and pushed him away when she felt him put his hand on her back and on her leg.
JC looked at her with a worried look. "Are you ok?" he asked then he looked at Spanky, "Is she ok?"
"I'm fine," she said angrily. "I'm fine without him and I don't need you..." she pointed at JC. "I don't need you to run to him and tell him that news. If I get a call from him or anyone even remotely related to him about this I'm going to cut your balls off."
Spanky let out a laugh at that comment and JC stepped back with his wide eyes never leaving her face.
Taking some more deep breaths she sighed, "I'm sorry JC. I don't mean that."
"I think you need to leave," Spanky said to JC then turned to Willa, "You need to rest."
JC walked past her towards the door. "Willa, Elena has my number...and as much as I know that you don't want us involved, if something happens and you need something...someone, you call me...ok?"
She nodded and wiped her eyes. "Tell everyone--" she made eye contact with him. "Tell Justin, Chris, and Joey that I say hi. And send my love to Wes."
"Will do," he said.
When the sound of the door closing met her ears Willa leaned back in her chair and threw her head back against the back of the couch and crossed an arm over her face.
Just when the tension seemed to ebb, the ring of the phone filled the air. Spanky went to go answer it while Willa took a few more deep breaths to try and calm herself.
"Oh...hey...yeah she's here...hold on," Spanky said into the phone.
Willa uncovered her face and looked over at him. "Who is it?"
"Tell her I'll call her back."
"Are you sure?"
"Just do it Spanky!" She said as tears sprung to her eyes, "I'll call her back when I think I can talk without crying."
"Fine," he said, "I'll tell her."
Willa leaned back and rubbed her temples.
"Mrs. Marviani?" Spanky said into the phone behind her, "Yeah, she's resting right now. I'll make sure that she knows you want to talk to her...yeah...I hope we hear from you soon...uh huh, yeah...I'm taking good care of her. She's fine, just tired she's been working all morning."
Letting out a groan Willa moved herself off the couch and returned to her phone and computer in the dining room. She was glad she hadn't given her mother her work number. She loved her mother, but she could be a little overwhelming and with the stress of seeing JC that day she needed a rest for a while before she dealt with whatever her mother was going to bring to the table.
"Ok Mrs. Marviani," Spanky said with a soft voice, "I'll make sure she knows that you love her. Ok. Bye bye."
"Hey Jackie!" Lance called out from his room. His eyes frantically searched the built in spaces where he stored his shoes, a frown forming on his face. He'd come into the walk-in closet about a half hour before and almost felt at this point that he'd never make it out of there alive. The whole thing seemed to be organized, but at the moment he couldn't find anything, maybe it was because he hadn't showered yet that morning.
"Yeah?" she called back, her voice was kind of faint. He knew she was in the kitchen making herself breakfast and although he didn't think she'd know where his shoes were, somehow she always seemed to find all the things that he lost in the house.
"One more reason," he laughed to himself, "To keep her around."
Lance put a hand up and grabbed onto the hanging bar in the closet and leaned to look to see if he'd kicked them out onto the floor instead of putting them away. "Have you seen my running shoes?"
A loud laugh could be heard through the house. "Which pair?"
Lance moved some of the lower rack's shirts out of the way and tried to stay calm. He was having a hard time making decisions on what to bring with him. He'd been packing up for almost a half hour and still hadn't filled his bag up yet, a bad sign on a normal day and even worse sign when his flight was in two hours. "The gray, black and red Nike ones? You know…the ones I brought back from New York!"
"They're in the closet next to your blue and black Adidas ones!" she called, "Remember? You wore them the last time you were home."
Lance stared at the rack of shoes again and sure enough found the shoes where Jackie had said they would be. "Thanks Hon!" he called out and grabbed up the shoes and found another shirt on his way out of the walk-in closet, one that he thought he might wear on his flight back to meet up with the others.
A few moments later Jackie entered the room holding a bagel with cream cheese in her hand. She wore her pajamas still, a pair of cottony shorts and a matching tank top that said angel across it. Her hair was pulled up into a ponytail and she hadn't showered yet that morning, but to Lance she looked great, even better considering that he hadn't seen her in almost a month. "Want a bite?" she asked holding it up for him to see.
Lance shrugged in response and went over to her. He slid his arms around her waist then hugged her to him. Fearing that she might push the thing into his face just to be silly, he grabbed onto her wrist as she lifted the bagel to his mouth.
"What? You don't trust me?" she asked with a sickeningly sweet smile, one that he knew she only used when she was up to something bad but trying to act like she was an angel.
"On most days yes," he said then took a bite and chewed it slowly, "But after yesterday and that whole washing the car thing...I'm not sure if I can ever trust you again."
"I swear I didn't mean to spray you," she said with a laugh.
"Yeah well what happened then?" he asked thinking of how an afternoon of washing their cars had turned into an all out water fight.
When the whole incident had started off innocently enough. He'd decided that since it was a hot day and they needed to cool off that they would wash his car. Actually his plan was for him to wash and for her to rinse letting her play in the water more than really work on the car. He'd been on one side of the Toyota 4Runner and she'd been on the other side, up on a stool, washing off the soap that was on the top. It had all the makings of a nice afternoon out in the sun until she accidentally on purpose sprayed him. He'd given her a stern look and a few words of warning, but it didn't seem to deter her from her intentions. A moment later he'd found himself dripping wet as she decided to spray him on purpose this time. Of course he'd decided to run after her and she soon found herself with a soapy sponge in her face as payback.
"Did you just think that as soon as I was a little wet that you could just soak the rest of me?" he asked with a flirtatious smile.
"No," she said and batted her eyes at him then reached up and wiped the side of his mouth. "I just thought you were getting to be way too serious about washing your damn SUV and needed a little laugh. I got a little wet too yesterday, or don't you remember that well enough."
"Yeah, but you deserved that," he said narrowing his eyes at her. It was a playful anger that brought a smile to her face. He loved her smile. It wasn't as wide or as teethy as Willa's had been, but he could tell that it was genuine and that’s what counted. "I didn't deserve my nice little soaking."
"I don't remember you complaining yesterday when we--" Jackie's voice came out in a low rumbling tone when she spoke again and she looked at him with a shy sexy look in her eyes that she knew drove him wild. She'd used that voice in public once and it had caused more than a little bit of a reaction out of him, too bad that
Lance could feel a blush rush over his face when he thought about how they'd had to clean up afterwards. He'd been the one who'd said that they should get cleaned up, but it had been her suggestion to share the shower and the bed as their little shower session turned into a lovemaking session that lasted most of the afternoon and evening. "Well the shower and everything did kind of make up for it."
"Oh, that reminds me..." She stepped back from him and took a bite of the bagel as she went over to find a seat on the bed. "You really should invest in some tanning time honey."
"What?" he asked with fake shock. He looked down at his arms. They were kind of white compared to the nice tan that Jackie had gotten that summer, but his arms didn't seem any whiter than normal. "You think I need a tan?"
She laughed and nodded, "I think people are going to wonder when I started dating Casper the friendly ghost."
"Oh really?" he said and grabbed up the shirt he'd brought out from the shower and folded it in half before he threw it in the open suitcase next to her.
Jackie shook her head at him. "Lance, you have to fold your clothes better than that," she said. Leaning over she put her bagel on the nightstand, licked her fingers then grabbed up the few shirts that were already in the bag and began to refold them. She folded them the way that clothes are folded.
He let out a laugh. "Work at the Gap anytime lately?" he asked.
"No. Didn't your mom teach you to fold clothes?"
"Yeah," he said, "But I forgot." He picked up the next shirt and handed it to her. "Girls always fold things better than guys anyway."
"Sure, sure." She blew him a kiss as she reorganized the rest of his clothes.
He watched her hands slide over his clothes and got caught in a daze of sorts as he remembered the way her hands had slid over his clothes when they'd been playing around the day before.
"You know you don't have to do that," he said and reached to take the clothes out of her hands.
"Do what?" she asked, "I'm just making it so your shirts aren't wrinkled. I can't let you walk around looking sloppy or people will wonder what's wrong with me."
"Wrong with you?" he asked. He walked around and crawled into the bed then moved so that he was sitting behind her, with his arms around her and his chin on her shoulder.
"Yeah," she said, "People will wonder how I can let my man out of the house like that."
"Your man?" he asked.
Jackie stopped what she was doing and turned and looked at him. "What?" she asked, "Did you forget that we were dating too?"
"No…I'm just…never mind…I just haven't had someone say that about me in a while."
"What? That you're sloppy?" she asked.
"No, that I'm their man." He shook his head thinking about how Willa used to think that men were boys and women were girls.
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing," he said with a smile. He took a deep breath then frowned and pushed away from her, scrambled across the bed and returned to his packing duties.
When he was standing in front of his bag again he noticed that she was sitting still and looking up at him with a dazed expression. "What?" he asked.
He shrugged. "Nothing."
"Stop shrugging and tell me." Her expression changed from one of slight concern into anger. "You just got this look in your eyes like you're all sad all of a sudden and now you won't talk to me…you know how I hate that."
"I am sad," he said. His mind raced. He couldn't tell her that the thoughts of Willa had caused his mood change. She didn't need that kind of information to mess with her head. "I'm leaving on tour and you're not going to visit me for another month or so."
"Oh," she said and seemed to perk up a little at the thought of him missing her. "Well if that's all it is, I can come out earlier than that."
"I don't want you to mess up your studying schedule." He shrugged and tried not to make it seem so important that she come out and visit him. He loved when she got to visit him. She'd been with them in Atlanta before his last vacation and they'd had a blast together. "You have the bar exams and stuff. You know how I feel about you not studying. I dragged you away from the books this weekend."
"No one drags me anywhere Lance. I came over fully knowing that I'd spend two whole days not studying, but as you well know, vacations are good and I needed one probably more than you did. My exams will be over in September though." She smiled. "I can come out at the end of September and visit you for a week or so…how does that sound?"
"Good," he said. He flashed her a smile and disappeared into the closet again.
"Wait, hold up," she said and soon was right behind him in the walk-in closet.
"Jackie. It's nothing. I'm just tired and I don't want to leave again…call it PMS or whatever, but I'm just in a grumpy mood. I'm sorry ok?"
"That’s all you had to tell me."
"Well now you know so can we please drop the subject. I have to leave in a few hours. You want to take a shower with me before I go?" he asked slipping his arms around her.
"So you're going to seduce me into silence?" she asked.
"No, I plan to--well lets put it this way…the average shower only takes about fifteen or twenty minutes, but this one is going to take a lot longer."
"Oh…no minute man for you?"
"Ouch," he said and slapped a hand across his chest, "I'm hurt."
"Don't be," she said and leaned and kissed him, "I know you're better than that. I just thought--"
Lance leaned and kissed her and began to pull her shirt over her head. "Honey, I know you don't like it when I tell you to shut up…" She looked like she was about to protest, but he stopped her by putting a finger over her lips. "…Shut up sweetie and go get in the shower."
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