Snap Shots Series: Portrait
"Lance! Justin! Joey!"
Feeling somehow overwhelmed by the attention that morning, the screams and waving arms and flashes from cameras, Lance pushed his sunglasses higher on his face. He’d gotten dressed that morning quickly, putting on jeans and a T-shirt that he wasn’t sure was clean, but he knew he’d be able to change soon.
"Lance!" Someone screamed next to him and he flinched.
He didn’t normally like to ignore the fans, but he had things on his mind and he didn’t need to deal with the teenagers that lined the route from the bus to the door of the hotel. He probably looked ridiculous going into the hotel wearing the glasses in the morning when the sun wasn't even up, but he needed the barrier between the girls waiting outside and himself. He needed some time away from all of it, even if it was just for a few minutes. He'd been thinking about it and he knew that after the tour was over he needed a long vacation. He knew it would be impossible, but he hatched a plan as he walked along and tried to think of someplace he could escape to where he wouldn't have to deal with anyone for a while.
At one point an arm came out and grabbed at his jacket. He felt like decking the little girl who’d reached out to him, but instead plastered a smile on his face and paused a second so that she could push the button and capture him on her camera.
He wondered why a person would want a picture of him looking horrible and out of sorts. He wouldn’t have ever wanted to take a picture of anyone he admired looking like he looked at that moment.
Once inside the pressure of the moment subsided a little just like the noise that was held back by the glass doors that led outside. The few members of the hotel staff stared at the group as they walked over to the elevators. He had a feeling that all the younger members of the staff had traded shifts with the older staff members because he didn’t see anyone over the age of thirty anywhere in the lobby.
He hated the way that people stared at him. It was LA for God's sakes and he thought that they would be used to big groups like theirs coming in, but apparently they still were in awe of the entourage that followed him and the other guys around. There were about fifteen of them, not a fairly big group, but everyone seemed to stop and stare at him.
They stepped into the elevator and a key was shoved into his hand. He stared at it then looked up to see Melinda watching him. "Room 1215," she said with a smile.
"Thanks," he mumbled and shoved the key into his pants pockets.
"Are you ok?" Melinda asked.
"Yeah," he sighed.
"You’ve only got about forty-five minutes until you need to be back in the lobby to meet up with everyone for the morning round of interviews. Are you going to be ok?"
"I’m fine," he grumbled. He removed his sunglasses and hooked them into his shirt then let his mind wander.
First he thought about how he didn’t want to do the interviews that morning, then thought about how many hours it would be until Jackie would arrive in the city then finally his mind wandered to Willa. He wondered if she was awake yet. He knew that she didn’t like to get up early, but he wondered if her habits had changed. Stacey had told him a little about her being a booking agent, but he really hadn’t been paying too much attention. Once she’d mentioned Willa’s name his mind went back to the last time he’d seen her.
"Willa?" he asked coming back into the room.
Willa turned and looked at him with sad eyes.
"Fred, what's wrong?" he asked. He crossed the room and pulled her into his arms. "Brennan and Amy didn't bother you again today did they?"
"No," she said and leaned her head against his shoulder as he hugged her. "I'm..." She took a breath and pressed herself against him. She needed those last few moments with him before she prepared to let him go. "I got some news today...it could be good or it could be bad."
"What?" he asked, "Some new job in Europe that's going to keep you away for a few months."
"Well its a new job," she said and pressed her cheek against him.
"Fred, honey, don't hide your face," he said, "Just tell me what's going on."
Willa leaned back, took a quick breath and spit out her news. "I'm pregnant."
The elevator reached the floor they were headed to with a bit of a jerk. Lance had been lost in thought and the jolt of the floor somehow got him so off balance that he had to grab for a hold on the wall to keep himself standing.
"You ok?" Wes asked.
"Yeah." He blinked a few times and readjusted his bag on his shoulder and switched the handle of his rolling bag to his other hand. He didn't make eye contact with him. "I just need some more sleep."
"How'd you end up asleep on the couch up front anyway?" Justin asked from where he was leaning against the wall in the back of the group.
"I woke up early and was going to talk to JC, but he got on the phone so I closed my eyes and woke up when the bus pulled up here."
"Worried about the LA shows?" Justin asked, "You know LA loves us."
"No," Lance said and scratched his face. He needed to shave, but he knew he'd get a chance to in a minute. He'd have a whole half-hour to take a shower and get breakfast before they had to get to some interviews. He couldn't believe that it was only six am. He needed more sleep.
The hallway on the floor that they were on went out to the left and the right. Lance paused once outside, knowing that most of the floor was probably reserved for their group. "Where am I?" He asked Wes.
"Hopefully you know where you are, or you’re in bigger trouble than I thought," Wes said with a laugh.
"Come on," Lance said, "I’m not in the mood to play games. Where the hell is my room?"
"At the end of the hallway," Wes said.
"Thanks," Lance mumbled and started down the hallway with the others.
An elbow in his ribs got his attention as they walked off the elevator and down the hall. "Lance, you have a visitor," JC's voice said from next to him.
At the end of the hallway, next to a room door sat Jackie, Indian-style on the floor listening to a Walkman. She didn't see him and it gave him a perfect opportunity to watch her. Her head bopped along to the music as she sat sprawled out in jeans and a T-shirt. Her bag was next to her on the floor, an arm thrown over it and her hand was tapping out the beat to the song on it.
She looked so relaxed and happy and he wondered if he could keep up the act for her. He needed her to know that he was glad that she was there, although part of him truly wished that he could run away from there.
When she finally saw him she looked up and smiled at him. He pushed herself off the floor, taking the headphones from her ears and stepped towards him, waving to Wes over Lance’s shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
She bit on her lip nervously and if he didn’t know better he thought he saw tears form in her eyes. She didn’t usually get emotional and he wondered why she would look so sad all of a sudden. He realized it then. His voice had come out all wrong. He hadn’t meant to sound like he was dreading the fact that she was there early, although he really was worried about her being there.
"I thought that our plan was still on for me to come out here and visit you for a few days." Her voice shook and he wanted to grab her up and hug her, but he knew that that kind of outburst wasn’t going to work well for him.
"No, no," he said. His hands left his bag and the other bag slid to the ground. He approached her and slid his arms around her easily not wanting to make a bigger deal of things. He hugged her, but it almost felt unnatural to do so. He felt tears come to his eyes, not because he was glad to see her, but because he felt horrible, like he was cheating on her. He had tried to be faithful to her, but he felt that even thinking about someone else constituted cheating in his eyes. "I mean what are you doing here so soon? I thought you weren't coming until lunch time?"
"Well I couldn't wait so I came out on the flight last night." She seemed really happy to see him and he felt horrible for not being so excited to see her. "I got to the hotel about two hours ago."
"Why didn't you go in?" he asked looking at the door.
She laughed. "Next time I’ll know to show up when you do."
"What happened?" He asked, "Was someone rude to you or something?"
"No, but I actually had to sneak up here. They wouldn't let me up on the elevator since your security crew hadn’t arrived yet so I had to bribe some hotel staff member to let me sit up here and wait for you."
Lance looked down the hall and saw that everyone was already in their rooms, where he should have been. He looked at his watch then up at her. "That's not a good start to your career Miss Lawyer."
"Whatever Lance," she said and hugged him tightly.
"Ready to go in?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said and grabbed up her bag.
"I hate to run out on you," Lance said as he stuck the key in the door. "But I have an interview and only have a half hour so why don't you take a nap or something and we can meet up later. I think Bobbee is going to come by later so you can wait around here and catch a ride with her over to the venue this afternoon. I told you the schedule for the show didn’t I?"
"Yeah, it should be the same as the last show I went to right?"
"Uh, yeah." He remembered back to the last show she’d been to. It had been a while, but the schedule during show days was always basically the same. They did interviews in the morning, a sound check, a meet and greet then the show then back to the hotel or a party afterwards.
"I’ll call up Bobbee a little later and make plans with her and I’ll jump in the shower after you leave."
"Sounds good to me," he said, "Are you sure you’re ok with this?"
"Yeah. Of course. I know that your schedule is crazy and I don’t want you to change up your day just for me. I’ll see you tonight after the show I’m sure."
They went into the hotel room and Lance immediately threw his bag on the bed and unzipped the bag and pulled out his shaving kit and his shampoo and stuff. He watched her throw her bag onto the bed next to his then she sat down on the queen-sized bed and slid out of her shoes.
"Have fun, I'll be back in a minute."
"Don't worry about me. I know that I'm early and I came prepared," she said and pulled a book out of her bag.
"What are you reading now?" he asked.
She looked at the cover of the book then looked at him, showing him the book like she was Vanna White or someone like that. "It's the history of Ruppik, Miller, and Vincent's firm."
"What?" His eyes went wide and tried to remember if those names sounded familiar. He'd heard her talk so much about firm names that she'd applied with that it was hard to keep them all straight.
"I got the job I applied for," she said.
"Really? The one in Connecticut?" he asked and dropped his things onto the bed. "When did you get your results back?"
The firm did a rush order on the results. They called me last night and that's why I got on the plane earlier. I couldn't wait to come out here and tell you."
Lance scooped her up into a hug. "I'm so proud of you sweetie."
"Thank you," she said and kissed him. "This does mean though that I'm going to be a little busy. You're not going to be the only business one in this family. I told them that I needed some time off to be with you, but I'm going to start work at the end of the month."
"So you're going to be in Connecticut?" he asked with a sigh. Somehow he didn't like the way she used the word family. He knew that she was joking around with her comment, but he didn't feel like she should be using that word that far into their relationship. It wasn't right.
"Well yeah," she said then frowned. "Go take a shower and get going. We can talk about this later."
"You sure?" he asked.
"Yeah. You need to go," she said.
"I'll be out in a minute and we can make plans for tonight."
"Sounds good to me."
"See you in a minute."
"Where is your jacket young lady? Did you even bring a jacket?" Spanky asked as they were heading out the door.
"No," she said. She wore long pants, running shoes and a T-shirt over her bulging stomach. She wanted to look good for her reemergence into Lance’s life, but she felt ugly no matter what she did or how she dressed and wearing a jacket just would make her look frumpier.
"Willa." His tone was accusing as if she knew better, but wasn't following up to the orders she'd been given earlier about wearing warm clothes.
He’d given her a lecture that morning about minding him that afternoon. He’d told her that if he thought that things were getting out of hand that he was going to pack her up and take her home. He said he didn’t want any protest if it came to that and she promised that she would follow his orders and take care of herself the way he wanted her to.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked. She waved her hands up and down along her body. "None of my jackets fit me anymore. I mean look at me. I’m as big as a house. Besides, it's not that cold."
A laugh filled the air, "Honey, you’re pregnant, not fat."
"I’ve never been this big before," she said looking down at her stomach. "I shouldn’t have ever let myself get pregnant."
"That’s horrible to say Willa."
"No it’s not," she said, "Look what it’s gotten me. I’m alone with no chance of modeling again."
"You’ve always got me," he said.
Willa blinked. "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I know you’ve been a big help to me, but I wish lance was here."
She began to break down and to crazy and Spanky tried to change the subject by sliding a hand down her bare arm. "You already have goose bumps. I'll get you one of my jackets...and I expect that you will wear it," he said. He handed her the keys to the car and said, "Wait for me out there ok?"
"Yeah," she rolled her eyes, "Like I'd dream of driving away without you."
Spanky seemed to humor her strange mood and didn’t make a comment back to her, although she could see him itching to do it. When she hadn’t been pregnant he would come back at her with comments, but in her condition he seemed to think that he couldn’t talk or joke with her the way he previously had. "Can you get in the front seat by yourself?"
"Yes Spanky." She patted him on the shoulder and shoved him back into the house. "I’ll be fine out here for a few minutes on my own. My belly and I can get in the car alone."
"Yes," she said and started down the pathway to the driveway. The car was already out of the garage and waiting in the driveway since Willa couldn’t get into the thing when it was in the tight fitting space where the car was kept at night.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" a voice said.
"Jesus!" Willa said covering her heart with her hand. She hadn’t expected anyone to be there. Most of the neighbors kept to themselves and no one usually bothered her when she went out of the house in the mornings.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you like that."
"What are you doing here Brennan?" she asked pushing her sunglasses up further on her nose as she walked down towards the car. She saw his car on the street and couldn't believe that he had the nerve to come over and talk to her. The last time they'd seen each other she'd made it clear to him that she didn't want him around her, but he didn't seem to get the message.
She glanced over her shoulder to see where Spanky was. It had become an action that was normal for her. Whenever she was outside of the house she looked for him and made sure that he was in earshot if not at arm's length. She knew he was coming out right after her so she didn't worry about facing Brennan alone, but he still made her nervous.
He tried to look calm, but she could see him looking over her shoulder as he approached her. "I thought I'd come over and say hello to you and my future child." His smile could curdle milk it was so sour looking. She cringed and thanked god that the kid really wasn't his. She didn't need that kind of torture in her life.
His hand reached out for her stomach and she pushed it away angrily. "Don't do that!" she yelled, "Brennan you know full well that this kid isn't yours. I've told you time and again that I don't like you coming around here."
"What's going on out here?" Spanky said walking up. He puffed out his chest a little and she watched him trying to look meaner than he usually was.
"Nothing," Brennan said. She'd never seen him look as scared as he was right then. He even backed away from her a few feet when Spanky walked up.
"Then if nothing is going on I suggest you leave."
"You'll be sorry for this," he said and backed away when Spanky took a step towards him. "I mean it Willa. Lance isn't going to come and save you this time. I know that he hasn't talked to you since you told him you were pregnant. He's not going to swing in like a prince charming and save you."
"I don't need to be saved!" she screamed at him as her arm came around and protectively held her stomach. Tears welled up in her eyes as she prayed that what he'd said wouldn't come true. She needed Lance and she needed him to save her a little. Even if he didn't take full care of her she needed to know that he would be there if she called. "I don't need anyone's saving!"
"Come on sweetie, get in the car and let's get out of here." He put an arm around her and led her towards the door.
She nodded and wiped her face as he led her there.
Spanky helped her into her seat, making sure she was buckled up then slid his black jacket that he’d gotten for her over her lap. "Calm down hon. It's not good for you."
"Leave me alone," she said sadly.
"Hey now," Spanky said with a firm tone, "Just because that asshole showed up doesn't mean you can talk to my like that."
"Screw you Spanky," she said angrily. "I need to be angry about this. I need him to know that it upsets me when he comes around and I don’t need you acting like a parent to me all the time. I have two and that’s all I need right now."
"Jesus," he sighed and shut her into the car.
Willa watched him walk around the front of the car then waited as he crawled in beside her before he started the SUV and put it in reverse. His silence was killing her.
"I'm sorry," she finally said as they got onto the freeway and got stuck in traffic heading south towards the city.
"Willa, it's ok," he said and patted her leg. "I know that this is all really stressful for you, but you have to remember, I'm not here to try to trick you or hurt you. I was hired to protect you and now I'm sticking around because you've become my friend. I don't expect us to be buddy-buddy, but I do care about you a lot and I worry about you so humor me a little when I try to take care of you. Ok?"
"I'm just tired of being babied," she said. "When I first met Lance I was this tough girl who didn't let anything bother me and now it seems like I can't go through anything without bursting into tears or needing someone to lean on. It's a horrible feeling and I hate it."
"Willa it's ok to lean on people some times."
Spanky's voice really had been a comforting thing for her in the past few months, but now he seemed annoying. She wanted to believe that what he said was true, but she also knew that she was tired of leaning on people so much. She needed to have a tough attitude if she was going to get through all this, especially today and dealing with Lance.
"You have to know that no one gets through the day without needing someone else."
"Yeah well I'd love to say that I don't need anyone," she sighed, "but the truth is that I do. I just hate to be too over dependent on just one person."
"I think once you settle this stuff with Lance you'll feel a lot better. You need to get that off your mind so you can deal with everything else."
"I need to not only get that off my mind, but get him out of my life."
"If you tell him that this kid is his, I don't think that he's going to walk away from you. Lance may be stupid when it comes to certain things, but family isn't something he takes lightly."
"Well I don't want to be his family. I just want him to know." She stared out the window at the slow traffic and bounced her leg a little trying to get the tension out of her system. She didn't need this stress right now. It was hard enough just to get through the day.
One thing was for sure that day for Willa. Lance Bass was causing more trouble than she thought he might be worth.
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