Snap Shots Series: Portrait

SIXTEEN


New Years itself was supposed to be a time for celebration, but when he pushed through the front door of his house he felt like screaming for joy. He normally loved coming home, but after the last week, dealing with his son's grandparents and other relatives, he was truly due for a little rest and relaxation. They really weren't THAT bad, but he needed to be on his own turf to deal with the events that would take place in the next few days. He'd never really believed in home-court-advantage, but that week he was searching for anything that would help him out since it seemed as if he was already behind when he started anything that dealt with Willa.

His phone bill that month was going to be enormous. When he'd gotten the chance he'd been calling back and forth to plan the party that they would go to that New Year's Eve. It was going to be held at Justin's house and it seemed as if all the guys had been excited to help out with the plans. They hadn't all spent the New Years together in a few years and he wanted them all to be present for this year's celebration.

"Are you gonna move out of the way or are you going to stand in the doorway forever?" The sarcastic tone of the man behind him broke him from his daze. He looked back to see the three of them watching him. Wes and Spanky who were both carrying luggage and Willa who was trying not to laugh at him from where she stood holding JW.

The sun was just beginning to rise when they'd landed at the Orlando International Airport and he'd been surprised to see Wes waiting for him there. He hadn't expected the guy to get up to meet their red-eye flight. He'd been there though and had even been excited to see them--well excited to see JW anyway, seeing that he grabbed the little guy from Willa immediately and hugged him so tightly that Lance though his son's eyes might pop out of his head.

That had been one luxury of being in Seattle that Lance was going to miss. He hadn't had a shadow for the time he'd spent at Willa's parents' house, but now Wes was back on his tail and with Willa being with him, Spanky had joined the circus.

Lance pushed the door open the rest of the way and stepped back to pick up the bag that he'd taken out of the trunk after they'd parked the car in the driveway. "Oh, right. Sorry."

"You'd think you were never home or something," Spanky teased as he passed him and disappeared into the house. "You're getting too used to this jet-setting stuff. You're a dad now LB, you need to stay home more."

Wes entered and Lance found himself watching Willa standing on the front porch. "What's wrong?" he asked when she didn't move to come in.

"Nothing," she said peaking into the house before she actually went through the door. "It's just been a long time since I've been here."

"Oh," he said, "Yeah, I forgot about that."

In the living room the fake plastic Christmas Tree that his mother had gotten him was still up, a reminder of the Christmas he'd missed with his family and the one he'd spent with Willa and JW.

His mother had been a saint the last few weeks with all his drama. She and his dad weren't at all pleased with the way that things had worked out with him and Willa, but by their actions no one ever would have known. Having a kid out of wedlock was a big no-no, but they seemed to realize that it was going to be harder on him to deal with things if they didn't support him than if they did.

"Nice tree," she said pulling JW from her shoulder so that he could see the tree. "DO you like Daddy's Christmas tree Fred?"

JW yawned and closed his eyes. After he let out a sigh he went back to sleep.

"Gotta love that," Lance said with a chuckle. "He's only a few months old and he's already a critic."

"Yeah well he's got good taste most of the time," she said, "Other than when he's listening to someone sing in the shower."

"I told you that wasn't funny!" he said defensively. "I didn't really know that I was singing that loud."

"Did you know that you were singing that off-key?" she asked, "I thought you were a professional. I never expected you to completely butcher a song as easy as--"

"I don't usually sing country," he said.

"That Garth Brooks--excuse me--Chris Gaines song isn't at all country," she said with a laugh.

"Whatever," he said and turned around to find both Wes and Spanky watching them.

"We're going to head out for the day," Wes said, "You two have fun. We'll see you tonight."

"Night guys," Willa said.

"Night?" Wes asked.

"You don't think I'm going to stay up all day now do you?" she asked, "If I'm going to party down like a rockstar at this new years thing tonight I've gotta get my beauty sleep."

"You don't need it sweetie," Spanky said.

"Thank you Spanky," she said with a smile, "You're going to be ok hanging out with Wes today aren't you?"

"Yes mom," he said with a sarcastic tone.

"You guys be good," she said and went into the living room.

When the guys left a few minutes later Lance told Willa that he'd carry stuff upstairs while she changed JW.

She nodded and followed up to the second floor.

"Where are you going with my bags?" she asked.

"I'm putting them in my room."

"Why?" she asked.

"I thought I'd put you in there and I'd sleep in the guest room," he said motioning toward his room.

"Why?" she asked, "I can sleep in the guestroom just fine."

"I was going to let you have it since you might need the bathroom for JW," he explained.

"I don't want to put you out or anything," she said.

"Willa, I'm not at all put out by sleeping in the guest room."

"Why don't you just share the room with me?" she asked, "We've done it before."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," she said.

"Ok," he said.

Packing and unpacking was never fun for Lance, but as he put away the things he'd taken with him to Seattle and the other things that had been delivered from the bus he chatted with Willa.

"So did you have a good Christmas?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I hadn't expected you to be on my doorstep."

Lance didn't look at her when he spoke next. He just kept his eyes on his packing, not sure if he wanted to see her reaction to his question. She could say one thing, but her eyes would tell the truth. "So was that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"Definitely a good thing."

"Really?" he asked and paused to look at her. She was leaned up against the pillows at the head of the bed feeding JW with a blanket thrown over her shoulder.

"Why wouldn't it be?" she asked. "You saved me from my relatives."

"Oh." It was the only response he could think of. He didn't know what else to say. He had hoped she was glad to see him for other reasons, but she didn't seem like she was going to give him what he was waiting to hear.

"What do you want me to say Lance?" she asked rocking JW in her arms.

"Nothing," he said, "I'm going to go downstairs and make some last minute calls about the party. You should take a nap or something."

"Lance are you ok?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah," he said and scooted quickly out of the room. He wanted to avoid that conversation if he could. He didn't need to be sobbing to her about the time they'd spent apart and the way that all he wanted to do was to be with her again. If she had that attitude about it he wasn't sure that he wanted to be with her again.


When she felt the tap on her shoulder she turned around expecting it to be someone else. When she found Justin's mom standing there with a very worried look on her face she got very worried. "What's up Lynn?"

"Honey, I don't mean to bother you, but JW won't go to sleep. He's really fussy and I think he may have a fever," Lynn Harless said into her ear, "He's probably teething or something like that--

"Really?" Her heart beat out of her chest and she looked around for Lance. If something was wrong with JW he should know about it.

"I hate to pull you away from the party, but I think he wants his mommy," she said with a smile.

Willa wasn't sure that she wanted to leave the party just yet. She had heard horror stories about mothers who were too protective when their kids were little and then the kids turned out of be killers or something like that. "Did he take a bottle?" she asked trying to think of any excuse for him not to be going to sleep on time.

"Nope," she said, "I've tried all my tricks, but he's just not cooperating."

"Ok," Willa said with a sigh, "Let me just tell everyone that I'm leaving and I'll come up and check on him. Thanks for coming to find me."

"No trouble," Lynn said and turned and walked towards the house stopping only a moment to socialize before she disappeared into the house.

Willa returned to the group that she'd been talking with and immediately excused herself.

"What's wrong?" Joey's girlfriend Kelly asked.

"Nothing really," she said trying to convince herself of that, "JW is just being fussy and I thought I'd go help him get to sleep. I'll be back though…it's pretty early."

She pushed her way through the crowd on the porch and waved to people as she searched for a way to the back door.

"Where are you going?" he asked grabbing her arm from where he was standing with a group of people talking. They hadn't spoken much since the incident earlier that day and when the party had started it had seemed like Lance wanted nothing to do with her so it was hard for her to see why he was so concerned now.

Willa sighed and tried to stay calm. "Lynn said that JW isn't feeling good so I'm going to check on him."

He looked at his watch then at her with a worried look on his face. "But it's almost midnight."

"I don't care," she said and looked back towards the house.

"Just wait a minute," Lance said pulling on her arm.

Willa was getting frustrated now. This was so immature of him to act that way. Hadn't he just heard what Mrs. Harless had just said? JW wasn't feeling well and she needed to go find him. She didn't need to stay to count down the new years with Lance.

"I'm going to go see JW," she said heading towards the main house where Lynn supposedly had been trying to get JW to sleep, not that anyone could sleep with that kind of noise going on in the backyard.

"Please Willa," he said, "Just five more minutes."

Willa looked back at the pathetic look on his face. "Why is this so damn important?" she asked angrily yelling a little over the sound of the music, "Our son might be sick and you want to go party?"

Lance frowned pulling her close to his body he trapped her against him with his arms leaning his head so that it was next to hers. "That's not what I want…I just want you to stay here for another few minutes."

He seemed antsy about the whole situation. She'd seen him drink a few beers that night and she was worried that maybe he was a little too drunk for his own good. His hands were all over her now and while she normally would have cherished that feeling, her son was not feeling good and she needed to go and find him.

"Fred what's wrong?" he asked.

With groaned out her frustration and stomped her foot. "I'm trying to go figure out what is wrong with our son and you want to party." She took a deep breath and stepped back from him, pushing his hands off of her so that she could get away. "I knew this wasn't going to work. I knew it. I never should have come here!" She tried to pull away but Lance caught a good grip on her hand.

She didn't want to cry in front of him and she surely didn't want to cause a scene in front of everyone else at the party, but she couldn't help it.

"Willa wait a minute."

"Wait?" she asked, "Wait for what?" She turned and looked at the yard full of people dancing around and partying. "What the hell is so important that I can't leave here right now?"

Suddenly it seemed as if everyone had turned and was watching them. She felt completely embarrassed about making the scene that she was making, but she couldn't understand why he was making such a big fuss over the party.

She jerked her hand away and Lance unsteadily fell to one knee.

"Are you ok?" she asked seeing that he wasn't getting up right away.

"No," he said firmly.

"Now what's wrong with you?"

"Come here," he said and reached out for her hand. She looked around again and everyone now was really watching them.

"What?" she asked, "Everyone is staring at you right now."

"No," he said looking around, "They're staring at you."

"Do you like embarrassing me?" she asked angrily.

"No," he said.

"Well then get up."

"I have to ask you something first," he said.

"Ask me what?" she grabbed onto his hand and tried to pull him up, but he wouldn't budge.

"I have to ask you something first," he repeated.

"How many drinks did you have?" she asked, "You're repeating yourself now."

Lance's face suddenly turned completely serious. "Will you shut up for a second Willa? I'm trying to propose to you and well I'm not doing a very good job of it."

Willa immediately dropped his hand and backed away.

"Propose?" she asked.

"Yes," he said. He scooted towards her, took her hand then looked up at her. "Marry me Willa."

"What?" she said looking around. She thought for a moment that she'd heard him wrong. Everyone was still watching them and she figured that they'd all think he'd just had too much to drink.

She would have thought that she'd become a little tipsy, but she hadn't had anything to drink that night. Why does it sound like he's asking me to marry him? I've gotta get a grip here.

"Marry me and I'll do anything to make you the happiest woman in the world." His voice came out sounding desparate, but he was at that point now.

Willa stared at the small box that he lifted up to her. It was open and inside was a ring that seemed to sparkle somehow in the light from the pool. It would be just like him to propose in a public place since nothing in their relationship seemed to happen off the television screens. They were the perfect little couple to everyone.

A portrait of perfection.


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