ALBUM


ONE:



He'd first stared at his watch.

Then he had paced.

Now Lance was pacing and checking his watch at the same time.

"Why do we have to sit in here?" Lance asked as he leaned his back against the wall for a moment of rest. He'd been at the pacing now for a good twenty minutes and he was starting to get a little tired of it.

"Hello?" Wes said, "Remember last time when she left town. You almost got mobbed back then so I'm not taking any chances this time. Besides, you remember how crazy--"

"Yes I remember."

Of course he'd remembered that day. He hadn't seen JW ever have a reaction to a crowd like that. The kid had been around tons of people since he had been born and usually handled it with the composure of someone well past his age, but that day something had been different. He'd screamed bloody murder when Lance had handed him over to Willa when they were about to leave. Lance had grabbed him back and had tried to explain everything to him, but talking to a two-year-old wasn't a conversation that he thought he would remember. If the outburst hadn't made him nervous, the idea of sending him off to Europe with Willa hadn't settled Lance's nerves one bit after they'd gotten him calmed down enough to know that the crowd wasn't going to get him.

The VIP lounge in the Orlando Airport had never seemed so small. Lance had been there a million times before, but that day the walls seemed to close on him a little faster than normal as he waited. "Ugh," Lance pushed away from the wall and began his pacing again, this time staring out the window onto the busy tarmac instead of at the bar and bartender and the few men in business suits that were sitting there having early afternoon drinks.

"Will you stop that?" Wes said from where he sat watching him with magazine open in his lap. "You're being a head case right now man. They'll get here when they get here."

"Easy for you to say Wes. I love you to death, but shut the hell up ok? I haven't seen them in almost a month now," Lance said rolling his eyes at him. He took a deep breath and removed his baseball hat and held it in his hands. He hadn't thought much about it, but looking down at himself he thought that he should have dressed up a little for the occasion. He knew that Willa wouldn't care that he'd come to the airport in jeans and a T-shirt, but it was a special occasion and he should have treated it that way. "I'm sure you'd be nervous too if you hadn't seen your wife in that long."

"What wife?" he joked, "I'm always following your nervous butt around."

Lance's nervousness couldn't be hidden as he turned back the other way then turned again and came back towards Wes. He and Willa had been together as a couple for almost three years now and in that time they'd spent only a few nights apart each month from each other and from their son. That had been the first thing they'd negotiated after she'd said that she'd marry him that New Years Eve. He'd left the party with her after she'd said yes and they'd been taking care of JW trying to get him to sleep when they began talking about it. They made a pack that they wouldn't spend more than a weeks time apart and had stuck to it pretty well. She'd only taken the job in Europe because of the exposure it would get her.

She'd gotten her figure back nicely after the pregnancy and had begun to do local things in LA and then in Orlando after she relocated and had married him but when the chance came to go overseas she'd jumped at it.

He'd known from the start of their trip that he would miss them, but he hadn't realized just how much until he finally realized that the house was completely empty every night when he came home. It wasn't just that he missed them, but it seemed like it was worse because he couldn't just hop on a plane and get to them. Willa's trip had been a work trip and he'd been working which had meant that his trip to see her at the two-week point had been canceled leaving them without each other's company for four weeks.

"Will you stop please?" Wes got up and threw the magazine on the chair next to where Lance had put the flowers that he'd gotten for Willa. He'd been really patient with Lance the last few weeks, but Lance knew that he was getting tired of his strange behavior. "You're making me dizzy and I'm getting a headache."

Lance was just about to say something back to him when the door of the room opened. Lance immediately turned to the sound.

"Mr. Bass, your wife and son have landed if you would like to go and meet them," the woman said with a smile.

"Finally!" Lance said and rushed past the woman almost knocking her over as he pulled his baseball hat on again. He hadn't meant to be rude, but the anticipation of the moment was causing him to be a little crazy.

"Sorry about that," Wes could be heard apologizing to the woman behind him. "He and his family have been apart for a while."

Lance continued down the hallway and out to where he knew the gate would be. They practically lived in the airport and he didn't think twice about the direction he ran in when he went in search of them. It was dangerous for him to be out there alone in the airport, but the urge to see JW and Willa had overtaken any kind of sense of consciousness about his own personal safety. He had one goal in mind and nothing, not even Wes, was going to stop him.

When he finally found the gate he could see people coming off the plane. He spotted and tried to look past people without making too big of a deal out of him being there.

"Hey, genius boy," Wes said from next to him. He held up the flowers and stared at him. "Your wife must really love you, because if you and I were married I'd have to hit you over the head on a daily basis."

Lance grabbed the flowers and turned away from Wes without a word to him. "Spare the lecture and just help me look for them."

"Please tell me you haven't lost your sight already," Wes said with a laugh. "Not that it's not hard to lose a three hundred pound black man in an orange jacket...but stranger things have happened."

Lance turned and stared at him. "What?"

"They're right there," Wes said pointing.

Sure enough Lance found Willa and Spanky coming off the plane. Spanky had two bags in his hands and Willa was carrying a very sleepy looking little boy wearing a tiny Pokemon backpack. Willa's hair was thrown up into a ponytail and he could tell that she'd colored it. Usually it was just a straight chocolate brown color, but now it had reddish highlights in it.

"Fred!" he called and found himself practically running towards them, pushing past people like they weren't standing there.

When he got close to them JW turned from where he'd been rubbing his eyes and looked at him. "Mine!" he yelled and almost wiggled his way out of Willa's arms.

"JW stop it!" Willa said firmly. She looked dead tired. The make up helped, but she really seemed to be at her wits end. JW must have been acting up for a while because she never usually snapped at him that way. "Mommy is going to drop you if you don't hold still then you'll get an owie on your knee like when you ran to fast and fell down."

"Ugh!" JW whined and kept wiggling.

Lance caught him just as Willa was about to drop him. Luckily JW just wanted to crawl up his shoulder and hug him so the whole thing seemed to work out without a disaster.

Once Lance had JW under control he balanced him with one arm and scooped his free arm around Willa to pull her in for a kiss. Their lips met for only a few seconds, but the impact of that moment was as if he'd kissed the breath out of her. "Hi Fred," he said kissing her again. He pulled her close into another hug, said hello to Spanky over her shoulder then turned to look at JW who was now looking at them both.

"Hi," she said leaning her forehead tiredly against his neck, "How are you?"

"I'm fine." He smiled at her then handed her the flowers. "You look exhausted though."

Her eyelids drooped as she watched him. "I am."

She moved the bag that had been over her shoulder from one arm to another then pushed her hair out of her face before she took a hold of Lance's hand. "That's the last time I take him on a shoot with me. Spanky was babysitting and all, but the little guy was a terror. The shoot got delayed because of the rain and basically the whole thing was a mess and I think he's getting some new teeth in because the whole way down from New York he's been sucking on his thumb and chewing on the edge of his baby blanket."

"Are you hungry big guy?" Lance asked, "Did you skip breakfast? Is that guy you're chewing on your blanket?

Willa touched JW's reddened cheeks "Either that or he's getting an ear infection or something."

"Well get you guys home and get you both naps."

"No Nap!" JW said.

"JW please don't use your outside voice in here," Willa said with a tired sigh.

Lane pressed a kiss to her temple. "Are you ok?"

"I need sleep," she said with a sigh stopping to smell her flowers, "These are great honey."

"Your wish is my command," he said as they started to walk towards the exit. He was planning to take them both home and just hang out for the rest of the day since he knew that her month off in Europe had been rough on her. He would have loved to have kept JW with him or have him at his parents' house while he was working on the album, but Willa had insisted that she take him with her so that had been the plan. It looked like the plan had backfired.



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"No Daddy! No! No tickle!"

Willa sat straight up in bed when she heard the screaming. It wasn't a terror kind of a scream, but it startled her none the less. Lance was in the living room playing with JW, but the screaming was reverberating all through the house due to the toddler's "outside voice."

"JW keep it down. Mommy is taking a nap," she heard Lance say.

"No Nap!" JW screamed.

"No honey," Lance said, "No nap for you. Mommy is taking her nap so you need to use your inside voice."

The last month had been hard on all of them, JW especially sine Willa had been working such long hours in Europe, but she was glad when she opened her eyes to see a familiar ceiling over her head. She knew she was home the instant she saw the way the light shown through the window onto the plaster ceiling above her.

Pushing herself out of bed, Willa retied the pajama pants Lance had made her change into when they'd gotten home and padded barefoot downstairs as she pulled her ponytail holder out and put her hair back up out of her face.

"Mama!" JW said when she got to the bottom of the stairs and ran and threw himself into her arms. She pulled him up into a hug and kissed his cheek before she smiled at him, "How are you pumpkin?"

"I not a punkin," he said, "I a big boy."

"I know. One of these days you're going to be too big to carry," she said as she adjusted him on her hip so that she could hold onto him.

"How are you feeling?" Lance said coming over to where they were standing. He grabbed JW back from her and threw him lightly over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Holding onto his feet as he kicked into his chest wasn't the most enjoyable way to hold onto his son, but it gave Willa a chance to relax.

"Can we rent him out to the guys for a few days?" she asked, "Give him to Justin and have him playing basketball or something all day long? I thought the terrible two's were going to be over, but I think he's going to make it to eighteen acting this way."

"Unca Justin is silly," JW yelled.

Willa had always been the one who couldn't deal with their son's extra energy. When he'd started to crawl early she'd been the first to think of all the things he might get into. When he'd begun to walk she'd almost had an heart attack trying to safe guard him from all the things he could fall on or pull over or hit his head into.

"JC and Bobbie said that they would baby-sit tomorrow night," Lance offered. "I thought we could go out to dinner."

"That sounds heavenly," she said and moved away from him going towards the kitchen. She had gone straight to bed when they'd gotten home and she was starving. It was getting dark already and although it was early evening her body was on London time. She had been surprised to see that JW was awake, but he'd slept all the way on the plane so it hadn't been that big of an ordeal for him to come back to Florida.

Willa was looking in the refrigerator for something to drink when JW came around her to stand in front of her. "Juice!" he yelled.

"What's the magic word?" she asked.

"Juice!" he repeated.

"Yes I know that it's juice JW, but what's the magic word JW?" she asked.

"Peas?" he said looking up at her with puppy dog eyes.

She grabbed down the green and gold apple juice box and punched the straw in the place for him. She leaned over holding onto the juice box when he went to grab it, "Thank you JW."

He took a huge drink of it before he looked up at her and panting he smiled, "Tank you mama."

"Your welcome. Why don't you go sit down and drink that honey."

"K," he said with a smile and walked away.

"You feel better?" Lance asked coming over to where she was standing.

She nodded and grabbed out a bottle of wine she saw on the rack. "You still have this?"

"I don't drink alone," he said with a smirk and pushed himself up so that he was sitting on the counter.

"Really?" she said. She went over to where he was sitting next to the sink and poured the wine out then washed the bottle and put it on the counter to be taken out to the recycling bin.

"Come here Fred," he said with a low voice.

She stood between his legs and he pulled her into a hug. "I'm glad you're back in town."

"Too bad it's only going to be like this for another week or so," she said.

"What?" he asked, "You're leaving again?"

"No," she said, "You and the guys are."

"Oh." He frowned. "I totally forgot about that."

Willa looked up at him from where she'd had her cheek pressed to his chest. "You've forgotten about the tour?" She reached up and felt his forehead, "You aren't sick are you?"

"No," he said pushing her hand away. "I just don't want to go so I was putting off thinking about it for a while...like until I have to pack to leave."

"You guys haven't rehearsed yet?"

"The guys are out there today starting, but they all knew that I hadn't seen you in a month so they let me have the day off."

"I'll have to thank them," she said.

"Well don't get too excited. I have to be out of the house at four tomorrow morning because we're going down to Lakeland to practice," he said.

"You're going to commute everyday?" she asked, "I know that isn't very far to drive, but if you have to be down there early its going to get old pretty fast."

"Yeah well it's about two weeks, but it'll be over soon enough."

"You're never going to be able to see us," she frowned.

"It's going to be hard, but that's why I made plans for tomorrow."

"What plans?" she asked.

"Dinner for us. I'm going to come home and grab a shower, take JW over to JC's house then come back and get you to go out."

"We won't get out of the house until like nine PM if you do that," she said.

"I know, but I wanted to take you out."

"What time do you have to be at practice the next day?" she asked.

Lance didn't look at her when he answered which meant that she wasn't going to like the answer. "Same time as tomorrow morning."

"No way Lance," she said, "I'm not having you stay out until crazy hours then get up at crazy hours to practice. You're going to make yourself sick. I know you remember? You're the little work a holic and I know that with you starting your tour that means that Ryan and Meredith and everyone else at FreeLance needs your time too. You're not taking me out tomorrow night."

Lance looked at her for a minute then folded his arms over his chest an pouted. "Well don't tell me that I didn't try to take you out though. Ok?"

"I'm not going to bug you about this. I know you're good husband even though we don't go out anymore. I understand. Remember?" she asked.

He nodded and jumped off the couch, "Fine then...at least you JW and I have to watch a movie together tonight then."

"Fine. We can do that, but you better be going to sleep early," she said.

"Yes MOM," he said and leaned and kissed her.

"Have you eaten dinner yet?" she asked.

"JW and I had peanut butter sandwiches."

"Ah...the great cooking skills," she said with a smirk.

"Hey...I would have made one for you too, but I didn't think you'd want to be woken up," he said, "There should be stuff around to make something if you want or you can order a pizza or something."

"No," she said, "I'll make a sandwich for myself."

"Good. I'm going to grab the little guy and get him ready for bed and we'll watch movies in our room?"

"God has sent me an angel. Someone who can get JW to brush his own teeth and actually take a bath."

"I didn't say bath," he teased, "but the teeth will be brushed and the prayers said."

"Fine," she said, "You've done your diaper duty, but can you at least make sure he gets a new pull up on before he goes to sleep?"

Lance nodded and disappeared leaving Willa a few minutes to be by herself to make dinner.



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Lance held JW so that he wouldn't fall off the counter and the two of them brushed their teeth. He couldn't believe that brushing his teeth could be such an event, but it seemed as if everything he did with JW was something special these days. He'd been working harder than ever on the group, the business and everything else, but when he was with his son and Willa it seemed as if everything disappeared and he didn't care about any of it.

"Brush don't chew JW," Lance said making his brushing motions more deliberate, "See how daddy does it?"

JW was chewing on his toothbrush more than anything, but he tried to mimic the way that Lance was brushing his teeth.

"That's better," he encouraged him and made a goofy face at his son.

When Lance leaned over and spit out his toothpaste JW leaned to the side and spit into the sink too. "Not good."

"I know it doesn't taste good buddy, but mommy likes it when we brush our teeth because then we smile bigger." He leaned over and pressed a kiss to his son's forehead and took his toothbrush and put it with his and Willa's then grabbed him up and carried him into the bedroom.

JW had already gotten into his pajamas and although it was still early was giving the early warning signs that he was going to crash soon, which meant that Lance and Willa could have some time alone.

Plopping him down on the big bed JW giggled then crawled up to where the pillows were and grabbed a hold of the Tasmanian Devil stuffed animal that Willa eft there for him.

"What movie should we watch?" Lance asked holding up two movies that were interesting enough for Willa and he to watch without being too crazy for JW to see. "We can watch Annie, since it's your mom's favorite," he said, "Or we can watch my personal favorite, The Lion King Two."

"King King," JW said excitedly.

Willa appeared in the doorway a moment later, "JW please ask daddy nicely to play the one you want. You know better than to yell inside."

Lance knew that it was important to dicipline JW and make sure that he acted the right way, but it was bed time and he didn't really care if JW screamed that he wanted the Lion King...maybe it would tire him out enough so he'd go to sleep.

JW put down the stuffed animal in his hand and crawled across the bed and stood up with his arms out towards Lance. "Daddy, come."

After putting the videos down, Lance went over to him and looked at him strangely. JW grabbed onto his arm and made him sit down then threw his arms around Lance's neck and hugged him then kissed his cheek. "I sorry owe-sye voice daddy. King one daddy peas?"

Lance just looked at Willa and thought that he was about to cry. He had always hoped that JW would grow up to be a polite little kid, but his actions there showed more caring than Lance thought he could handle all at once.

"Thank you JW for being so polite," Willa said, "I'll put in the movie and you and daddy get the pillows ready to watch."

"K," he said and pulled away from Lance and found his spot in the middle of the bed to watch.



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TWO:



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When Willa woke up the next morning it wasn't her alarm that was getting her out of the comfort of the blankets. She opened her eyes and looked around a little confused by her surroundings, first because she still wasn't used to being home from Europe and secondly because she distinctly remembered falling asleep on top on the blankets. It took her a second to realize that earlier that morning when Lance had made her get under the covers when he got up to leave for practice hadn't been a dream.

"What the hell?" She said angrily in the empty room. Rolling over she realized that it was the sound of the phone ringing now annoying her to no end. She moved across the bed to where the phone was and grabbed it up. "Hello?"

"Good afternoon Fred," Lance's voice said on the line. He was his usual chipper self and she wanted to yell at him for calling her and waking her up so happily.

"Afternoon? What time is it?" She asked searching around to find the clock. She had to hit at the covers so she could see the clock face on her side of the bed.

There was a small pause then he spoke softly almost as if he was wincing on the other end of the phone, afraid to reveal the time to her, "About one in the afternoon."

"Oh my God." Her eyes darted around the room as she remembered that JW had been in bed with them last night. When she'd fallen asleep she'd been lying with the two of them. JW had been on one side of him and she'd been on the other side as they watched movies.

She didn't see him and it immediately scared her. He could have gotten into a million different things while she'd been asleep. When they'd been in the hotel it had been easy for him to get up and play a little without her worrying too much about him, but with him having access to the whole house it would be easier for him to get into more trouble.

Not seeing him right away she took the cordless phone with her out into the hallway looking around quickly for him. "JW!" She yelled.

"Calm down Fred," he said, "JW is down here in Lakeland with me."

"He is?" she asked as her blood pressure began to calm down. She wasn't that excited about him being down there, but then again it was better than him being out in the house somewhere doing God knows what.

"When I got up this morning you were dead to the world and he was a little bit awake so I packed him up and brought him with me. I thought you could use a mini vacation so I--"

"What?" She said and held her head as the bright light of the day met her eyes. She was confused. JW had been asleep with her in bed when she'd moved under the covers that morning. Lance had gotten up and had taken a shower, she remembered the noise of it, but had been too tired to do anything about it. JW had been there too and had cuddled up to her like he had during their trip when Lance left the two of them alone. She remembered that much.

"It's ok," he said, "He slept all the way down here in his car seat and he's taking a nap right now actually because Dani and Bobbie and just about everyone else has been running him around in circles."

"You make sure he's careful!" She said knowing that the guys that worked on the tour were a little more active than Willa usually with JW. It wasn't that they were that rough with him, but compared to the games that she and JW played, he was now hanging out with people who could have been the next WWF characters. She loved that he was getting all that attention and that he was getting to see his "uncles" and "aunts", but at the same time she knew that she feared a little bit for his safety even if Lance was there with him.

Lance wasn't as careful with him as she was. It wasn't that he didn't care about his son's safety. He tried to be more like her, but she'd faced the fact a long time ago that guys just weren't as concerned about things like that. They seemed to have that if-it's-not-bleeding-or-broken-then-you're-ok attitude.

"He's fine," he reassured her with a calm tone, "He wore earplugs while we rehearsed and babysat Busta and Korea with Dani and spent some time learning how to drive a semi-truck. He had lunch and he ate all the veggies and only two or three bites of my ice cream cone for desert."

"He did what?"

"He had ice cream for desert," he said, "I know you don't like him to eat tons of junk but it's hot down here. You should have seen that boy. I don't know how little kids get anything in their mouths. It all seems to end up on their faces. We cleaned him up though--"

"No, not that part," she said.

"Jimmy took him for a quick ride around the parking lot?" Lance said, "He just sat him in his lap and let him put his hands on the steering wheel."

"Oh," she said.

"Anyway I was wondering if you wanted to come down and meet up with everyone for dinner." She could hear people in the background talking and Lance must have been half in that conversation and half in their conversation, "The guys miss you and Dani and Bobbie are dying to hear about your trip."

Willa walked over to the bed again and flopped down on her back and looked up at the ceiling. "You don't have to try to convince me of anything. What time are you going to stop for dinner?" She asked knowing that usually meals were catered due to the amount of people that worked with them. Normally people just grabbed their own meals or had different times to eat, but during rehearsals they all seemed to manage to eat at the same time. It was usually good food and a good time since when they were on the road everyone traveled together, but had different schedules.

"It's going to be around seven," he said.

"Ok. I'm going to get up in a minute here and do some laundry and clean up a little then drive down there," she said.

A side conversation started between someone and Lance and she coughed to get his attention. "Sorry Fred," he said, "Johnny just handed me a stack of papers to look over."

"I'll give you a call and leave you a message when I'm on my way. Make sure that Ibraham doesn't give JW those pixie sticks and keep Chris away from him too. I'm not going to be patching up skinned knees again and keep him off those scooters. I don't care if you do have a helmet on him. He's not big enough to--"

"I got it Willa," he said, "He's asleep right now in the back of Jimmy's truck and the girls are in there watching TV and I have a feeling he'll be there for a while. He'll be fine until you get here."

"Ok," she said with a sigh and made a kissing noise, "Love you."

"I love you too Fred," he said.

Willa hung up the phone and lay in bed for a moment thinking. It took her a minute, but she soon was pushing herself up and getting ready to take a shower. It had been a while since she'd been without JW around and although she loved her son she was glad to get a minute alone. It was funny how similar her life with JW could be compared to Lance's life dealing with his fans. They were always around, like shadows, and while neither of them would want their little shadows to disappear it took a lot of patience to deal with the two opposing forces.



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When seven o'clock rolled around everyone went out to where catering had set up and everyone got in line. Dani and Bobbie helped Lance pile up a plate for himself and one for JW and find a seat for the two of them and one for Willa.

Although he knew he should wait for her, Lance had been trying to get JW to eat some of his mashed potatoes since everyone else had started dinner when Willa leaned over his shoulder and pressed a kiss to his temple. "You have to give him barbecue sauce or he won't eat them," she said.

She smelled of that perfume she always wore. He never seemed to remember it, but whenever he smelled it he thought of her. There was something about that scent, that fresh scent of her that reminded him of why he'd married her in the first place. She was perfect.

"Barbecue sauce?" he asked.

"I know it's strange, but I guess the last time we had a barbecue and we made mashed potatoes some sauce got in his potatoes and now he won't eat them without it."

"So my little man is a picky eater?" Lance asked his son.

"I eater," JW said as he took another bite of a carrot that was on his plate. He was eating with his hands, which wasn't something that he should be doing, but Lance wasn't about to scold him for that.

A smile was plastered on his face, but he wasn't at all happy. It wasn't a big thing, but he felt like he was missing out on so much. Jealousy was rearing it's ugly head. Lance hated that feeling, knowing that his song would have a better relationship with his mother than with him. He wanted JW and he to like like Lance and his dad were together, but with Lance's career and Willa's career they'd had to reinvent the whole concept of being a family. There wasn't many times when they were at home. During the last summer tour Willa had toured along with them, dragging JW along with her. It had been an experience, but they weren't sure if they were going to repeat that lifestyle during the upcoming tour.

"Honey don't worry," she said, "It took me a minute to figure it out last time. He wouldn't eat them and wouldn't tell me why so I let him go search around for whatever he wanted and he kept saying sauce so I went and figured it out."

Lance nodded, but it still bothered him.

"Choo Choo Mama," JW repeated breaking into the conversation.

"A train?" she asked him kissing his forehead, "Where did you see a train?"

"A choo choo," he repeated.

"He means the semi truck," Lance said and turned away from the two of them for a second to take a deep breath and try to calm down.

"He can't say truck yet and well it sounded like a swear word so I told him it was a choo choo instead," Chris said from across the table.

Willa looked up and said her hellos to everyone. She moved around the table and hugged everyone hello and talked to Dani and Bobbie for a minute before she returned to Lance and JW and sat down next to them.

"Are you going to eat?" he asked, "There should be stuff left."

"I'll just pick off your plate," she said and grabbed up his fork and stole a piece of chicken from the corner of his plate.

A moment later JW crawled up into her lap and the three of them finished dinner in piece. Lance tried to act as normal as possible, during the relaxed dinner hour but something between them wasn't right. He'd felt it the night before, but it seemed more pronounced that evening. He couldn't put a finger on what it was, but there was definitely a tension between them.

"Can I borrow my nephew?" Joey asked coming over carrying a basketball as everyone seemed to head outside to hang out a little while before they went back to work.

"Jojo!" JW yelled.

Willa smiled and handed JW over to Joey. Joey grabbed up JW and balanced him on one hip while holding the ball against his other hip. Lance loved the idea that his son got along with his friends, but that day he wished that they would leave him along. Taking JW out of the equation left Lance to deal with the slightly uncomfortable silence that hung between them. He didn't mind that JW was going off to play, but at the same time he'd been a reason for Willa and he to interact and now that interaction point was gone and he didn't know what to say to her.

"Want to go outside and watch. I think Chris and Justin were going to try to play some football or something," Willa suggested.

Lance nodded, helped her up and was surprised when Willa curled herself into his arms as they walked. She hadn't been that cuddly in a long time. He didn't feel comfortable with her draped against him, but he didn't say a word. If he had an excuse to give her for his feeling it would seem logical to tell her, but he didn't know why so he kept his mouth shut. He'd been waiting for a month for her to be back and now it seemed like everything was going to pieces on him. He needed to be calm and relaxed with her, but he couldn't help but want to ask if there was something wrong between them.

"So much for our date," she said with a smile.

Lance scratched his forehead and stared at her. He didn't remember anything about a date. He felt bad instantly knowing that he shouldn't be forgetting things like that. "Date?"

"We were going to have JC and Bobbie baby-sit so we could go out?" she asked giving him a silly look. "You've been working too hard."

Lance immediately remembered their conversation the night before. "Well we can still do that if you want to," he said, "Bobbie said that they'd take him for the night even if we don't end up going out."

Willa stopped and turned and looked at him. She curled her arms around him and hugged him then looked at him with a worried expression, "What's wrong?"

The look on her face made him want to cry. He tried to hide the fact that he saw that look on her face, but he couldn't. He'd been smiling or at least pretending to be smiling, but now he just let his face muscles relax. He hated the look in her eyes as she looked at him.

Willa just watched him closely then put a hand to his cheek. "Lance you're scaring me with that look. What's wrong?"

Pushing her hand away with a movement of his head Lance looked away from her. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears and his mouth went dry and for the first time in a long time he thought that he'd cry if he had to have this conversation with her. Finding no voice to speak to her with he backed up and took her hand and moved in the opposite direction from where everyone was moving.

"Lance where are you taking me?" she asked following after him. The worry in her words was evident and they pierced at him as he searched for a semi-private place to sit and talk to her.

Lance got to the other side of the area and they went up the stairs and went to sit on a row of bleachers that was far away from where anyone would be able to hear them. He pulled her to sit down with him then he looked at her again when he saw that they were away from where anyone could hear them.

"Lance what's going on?" she asked.

He took a breath, cleared his throat then stopped and looked at her. Her head was cocked to the side and she had fear in her eyes. He didn't want that at all and he hadn't meant to put it there, but at the same time he couldn't deny that something was different between them.

"Please," she said and tears formed in her eyes. "Tell me what's going on. You're really scaring me."



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THREE:



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"I..." His voice faltered and he couldn't say a word after his beginning. All of this was going to come out sooner or later, but he wanted to be the one to tell her. He didn't need her to hear it from someone or end up reading about it on the Internet. They'd always made promises to each other that when something happened they would tell each other about it and normally it wasn't a chore to keep that promise, that was, until now. "I..."

"Sweetie, what is it?" she asked. She took a light hold of his hand; her slim fingers pressing into his palm with a comfort that he'd forgotten had been there. They hadn't held hands in a long time and he didn't know how much he'd missed it. She looked him in the eyes. Her hands shook in his a little, but squeezing his hands helped stop the motion. "Please sweetie. I'm really starting to worry here."

Lance lowered his eyes from her face. He closed his eyes for a moment then opened them again and stared at her hands. The wedding ring he'd given her sparkled up at him, mocking the feelings that he was having. He couldn't look her in the eyes. What he'd done had been unthinkable. It had broken vows, or at least in his eyes had broken the vows that he'd made to her on their wedding day. How was he supposed to tell her that?

Taking a shaky breath, he cleared his throat and mumbled, "I did something that I'm not sure you'll forgive me for...It didn't mean anything at the time and I've been worried about it for days. It's not an excuse...but I hope that makes at least a little difference."

He felt the sting of tears in his eyes and tried to blink them away but it wasn't working. After a long week of rehearsals and a week with barely any sleep he knew he shouldn't be having that conversation with her now. She was just as tired from her trip as he was from his week of work and the combination o the two of them having their emotions close to the surface might prove to be fatal.

"What a face," she said with sympathy and put her hand to his cheek. "Didn't mean what honey?"

All of it came rushing back to him and he felt like there was a hundred-pound weight on his chest. He knew technically it wasn't that horrible, but the whole idea that he'd actually go through with what had happened caused him more drama and stress than he thought he'd be able to handle.

"I drank too much..." He tried to block out the thoughts of that blurry night, but was having a hard time doing it. Joey had been telling him that he needed to get out since he'd basically been hermit like since her departure to Europe and he'd taken his advice, but that advice had gotten him in more trouble than it had been worth. "I didn't think things would get out of hand."

He could see the immediate change in the expression on her face. Her eyes clouded over and she looked angry now instead of worried. "What happened?" she asked with a flat tone of voice. Her face was somber as if someone had just died.

Lance swallowed, "I was with the guys and we were hanging out like always. We went to the Ale House and then Joey talked me into going to this strip club..."

"You had sex with a stripper?" she asked immediately.

As she shifted as if she was uncomfortable in her seat Lance could hear the blood rushing through the veins in his head. A ringing sound began to form in one of his ears and the thought for a moment that he would either have a heart attack, throw up, or pass out, or maybe all three. "NO!" he said shaking his head. "It was nothing like that..." He stopped and stared at her. "I just feel so guilty for what I did do, but I'd never do that."

"For what?" she asked, "Don't think I'm going to be mad at you about something until you tell me what I need to be mad about."

"I kissed her," he said. He knew that technically it wasn't THAT big of a deal, but at the same time the principle of the thing really got to him. He felt like he'd let down not only her, but also JW and his whole family.

"You kissed her?" she asked. She looked shocked, but not the kind of shock that he'd expected to see on her face. She leaned and smiled at him, "Honey, is that it?"

"What do you mean is that it?" he asked, now angry that he was looking like a fool getting so upset over this.

"Lance, honey, I know that you love me..." She reached out and put a hand to his cheek, "And you're in love with me..." She looked into his eyes. "I know that there are times where you're going to be kissing other women due to your stardom whether you want to do it or not."

"You're not pissed?" he asked.

"I'm not jumping for joy, but I know that it was nothing," she said, "Have you been worrying about this for long?"

"It happened last Friday and its been on my mind every since," he said, "I just thought that everything was going to be ruined. I mean I kissed her and then instantly I thought to myself...what the hell? I'm married, and someone's dad...what am I doing? You should have seen me when I got home. I brushed my teeth and rinsed my mouth out with Listerine about seventy times. There was this sick taste in my mouth that I couldn't get rid of."

She laughed a little and leaned and kissed him on the mouth, "If that's what you felt then I have nothing to worry about."

"You don't Fred?" he asked. Now he was confused. He'd never been in a relationship like this. She actually trusted him more than he thought she would.

"Lance. I love you and you love me and it's just more than the rings on our fingers that tell me that," she said tapping the ring on his finger, "I mean if you didn't love me you would look so sick to your stomach right now. I know that you're upset about this and believe me, I'm not pleased with the whole incident, but you're sincerely upset about it and well I have to take that to mean that you really do feel bad about what you did and that it's not going to happen again."

"Never," he mumbled, "It shouldn't have happened in the first place."

"Well then it's settled," she said.



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Willa hadn't intended to, but she'd ended up watching him closely the rest of the evening and wondered if it had been the right thing to tell him that it didn't matter. Of course there wasn't much she could do about the incident now, but the fact that it happened in the first place killed her inside. She knew that he felt bad about it, he'd never looked so sick with worry before, but at the same time it had happened and in her eyes it had changed everything in one instant.

"You ready for bed hon?" Lance asked. He'd changed into his pajama bottoms after taking a shower when they'd gotten home and after lying down with JW for a while he'd put him to bed then had gone to work.

Willa put her book down and nodded at him. After putting JW down to sleep she'd curled up on the couch to read a book that she'd started on the plane ride home while Lance returned some phone calls that he needed to return.

They'd taken JW home with them that night despite the plan not to. She hadn't felt right about pawning him off on Bobbie and JC even though they'd been happy to take him. She needed both her boys close to home that night and figured that by the time they got to the house JW would be asleep anyway. He'd been dozing by the end of his playtime with the guys and they knew that if they drove him home in the car that he'd be asleep before they reached the freeway.

Lance waited for her in the hallway when she checked on JW one last time. Their son had run around so much that evening with the guys that when they'd taken him from the car to bed he hadn't woken up and it seemed as if he'd sleep through the night without worry.

Lance had seemed a little more attentive to her since he'd told her about the kissing incident and while that was good, it made her feel a little strange. He usually was fairly attentive, but tonight he had rushed through his business as if he were running a race, just to come and sit with her on the couch while she read.

"You ok?" she asked looking at him.

"Tired," he said, "And I'm not happy that I have to go back tomorrow morning."

"Poor baby," she said putting an arm around him to rub his back as he hugged her to him. "How's your back doing?"

"It's ok," he said with a shrug.

"I was going to give you a back rub, but if it's ok, then I guess I won't have to," she said with a smile teasing him a little.

"Well...I could use a little back rub," he said, "Just a little one."

"That's what I thought," she said as they entered their bedroom.

Lance reached back over his shoulders and pulled his shirt off and threw it towards the hamper. "Look what you've done to me," he said, "I'm so domestic."

"I know," she said, "What are your fans going to think of you? You're actually a good guy."

Lance laughed and went into the bathroom with her. They brushed their teeth together, laughing at each other when the toothpaste froth in their mouths started to escape. It hadn't been like that between them for a long time and Willa finally felt like she was at home.

When they were both done Lance and Willa returned to the bedroom. While Willa went to her dresser to get into her nightclothes Lance went over to the bedspread and lay on his stomach.



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FOUR:



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The first time he heard it he just ignored the noise, but when he heard it a second time Lance turned over then sat up in bed when he heard it again. He'd gotten used to sleeping in the house alone so it was strange for him to wake up in the middle of the night to sounds coming from the other room. When he finally realized that it might be JW he pushed himself from bed. Willa had curled up to him as they'd slept that night and when he pulled away she shivered a bit so he tucked her in then went to JW's room to see what was going on with his son since it was now almost four in the morning.

JW was in his bed when Lance flipped on the light, but he didn't find him sleeping when he walked into the room. JW had gotten up and was now playing with some of his toys in his bed. The light had been off so the sudden bright light startled his son, but only for a moment.

"JW?" Lance said softly as he entered the room, "What are you doing kiddo?"

"P'aying," he said moving a stuff animal towards another one while making a crashing noise.

"Sweetie its not time to play," Lance said with a frown. He was amazed that the kid had any energy at all considering that he'd spent most of his evening running around after the guys.

"I not tired," he said with a smile and continued playing as if every toddler got up in the middle of the night to play with his toys.

"But the sun isn't up yet JW," Lance said then shook his head remembering that Logic and toddlers didn't go together. Trying to reason with him wasn't going to get him very far. "You know that it's been time when it's dark."

Finding that he wasn't going to get anywhere with words Lance moved to the bed and lay down so that he could watch his son. He was too tired himself to stand up to watch him. He slowly took the animals away from JW then had him lay down next to him and he began to talk to him hoping that it might make him sleepy.

"Did you miss me when you were in Europe with Mommy?" he asked.

JW frowned and threw the last animal down to the foot of the bed then lay back and turned so that he was looking at Lance. The little boy curled up his arms and looked at his dad as if they were telling secrets or somthing. Lance thought he looked like he was planning some huge thing.

"I not like it when you go away," he said with wide eyes. He was trying to be serious, but Lance couldn't see JW being the serious type at all. He was too much like Justin and Chris to be serious for long.

Lance took a deep breath, "I know kiddo, I don't like it either."

"Why do you go away all the time?"

The question shocked him. He'd never really explained what was going to happen when he'd leave on tour. The last time they'd gone away JW had been too tiny to realize that he was even gone for that long, but this time when he left to go on tour JW would understand that he wasn't going to see his father for a few weeks at a time.

"Well," Lance sighed. How could he explain to him that the world basically wanted Lance to be gone and that even knowing that his own son and wife wanted him home had to be ignored? "Daddy has a very important job and a lot of people want me to go places so I go."

"Why?" JW asked.

Lance curled JW up to him. "You know how Daddy made those songs for you? The ones on the CD that you sing to?

JW nodded and yawned a little then began to pick at the button on his pajama top. "I know the songs now Daddy...Mommy helpted me and 'lena said that I could go on the road, but mommy says I can't go in the road..."


Lance laughed a little. "Well a lot of people like to hear Daddy sing so I go to sing to all of them, but this time I think that I'm going to have you come and visit me when I go to work."

"Can I sing too?" JW asked.

"I don't think Mommy would want you to sing with Justin and Chris since they are so silly when they sing," Lance said trying to avoid most of what he probably should have been explaining to JW. "But that doesn't mean that you can't come and visit. I missed you while you were gone and I don't think that you and I should go anywhere without each other."

When he didn't hear his son reply to his comment he looked over and found that somehow in those few moments that his son had fallen back to sleep. His little mouth hung open and he'd snuggled up to Lance in such a way that it would be hard to get away without JW knowing about it.

Moving a little he thought that he'd get up and go back to bed, but before he could move there was a crashing noise on the first floor of the house then the security alarm went off. JW jolted awake and began to instantly cry and WIlla called out from the other room.

Lance grabbed up JW in his arms and ran for the bedroom instictively knowing that JW needed to be with WIlla. He shut and locked the door then dropped JW into Willa's arms and picked up the phone.



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It was hours later when Willa finally got JW back into bed or at least he was asleep. She was afraid to leave him alone so she'd put him on the couch to sleep while they'd filled out the reports.

Lance had planned to get up and get on the road by seven, but had made the decision to be late after they found that a few of the windows in the house had been broken. He said that he'd done it for her sake, but she figured that he was just as scared as she was. Willa had to admit that even after living in New York City for years on her own, she was really and truly scared. The fact that someone had gotten through the gate of the house and had broken a few of the windows was more disturbing than having to deal with the broken glass and the police.

"I want you to pack up JW and come with me today," Lance said as soon as the police had left, "The buses will be down there and you and JW can hang out. I don't want you here alone."

"I have things that I have to get done today," Willa said. She knew that she needed to be strong and not let this ruin the rest of her summer, but she couldn't see herself following through with it in reality. "I have like a million pounds of laundry and I can't keep JW in the bus all day."

"Willa, please just do this for me," Lance said, "I was thinking of packing up a few hours ago and taking you to Justin's for the rest of the night, but I figured it would scare JW more to be gone."

Willa had been keeping it together so far, but when she looked at JW who was sleeping on the couch in the living room then back at Lance she felt tears in her eyes. If something had happened to them she didn't know what she'd do. The worst thing for her was that she'd been so happy the day before when JW had been with Lance for the day and she felt terrible for feeling like she didn't want him around.

Lance, who'd before had been overly protective of her through their whole time talking to the security team, the police, and then talking to Spanky and Wes, now pulled her close and held her when she started to cry. She shook a little bit and he held her up and tried to comfort her.

"Sweetie, it's ok," he said and held her. Willa hugged him to her like she'd never hugged him before. If she'd been any stronger he wouldn't have been able to breath with the death grip she had on him. "We're all fine."

Willa backed up after a moment and looked him in the eyes. "I can't do this anymore," Willa said, "I can't live like this!"

Wes and Spanky, who'd arrived before the police had arrived, came into the room and watched the two of them as if they were afraid they might attack each other or something silly like that.

"What?" Lance stopped breathing for a moment. She thought he looked like he'd gotten the air punched out o his lungs due to the way he was holding the air in his lungs.

"I've always complained about security and everything, but I can't be here alone with you on the road. I can't."

Lance took a deep breath and coughed, "What are you saying?" He asked.

Willa immediately realized what she'd done and she hugged Lance. "No honey," she said, "I can see it in your eyes already. I didn't meant THAT, I'm not leaving or anything. I know that I said that I was going to work this tour and fly back and forth, but I think I'm going to take some time off again and come out on the road with you instead of being here. I don't feel safe."

Lance's breath came out in a rush. "Thank God."

"I know it's late in the game to be doing this, but is there any way that we can come with you?" She asked.

"There is definitely a way," he said, "I'd thought about asking you to come with me for the whole time but I thought Elena would kill me if I demanded it."

"Elena?" She asked.

"Yeah," Lance said, "She almost killed me the last time you gave up your career for me...what is she going to do with me now?"

"It's not giving up," she said, "I can always schedule things in LA or NYC, but mostly I don't want to be without you or JW for more than a few nights in a row."

"Then we'll do it honey," he said, "If I have to hire a private jet or your own limo, I'm going to make this work."

"Are you sure?" She asked.

He nodded and hugged her again, "We'll make this work. Family is number one, ok?"

Willa leaned against him and nodded.



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FIVE:



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"Easier said than done. Isn't that what they always say?" Willa asked as she moved more of folded laundry into her suitcase. She stopped and redid her ponytail and looked at Lance with a tired smile. She'd come home from being gone all day with Lance and JW at Lakeland and had tried to conquer most of the laundry that had been left over from her trip. She had a few good loads done and was now trying to lay out everything for both her an JW to take with them. Lance had assured her that he would do his own packing, but so far he'd just played with JW and had lounged around the house.

Lance looked up at her from where he was lying on the bed in just a pair of shorts watching television and smiled. She hated the fact that he took all this in as if it was nothing. Packing up his life for a few months didn't even seem to phase him anymore. She was so rattled that she hadn't even had time to take in the fact that he was looking really good laying on the bed half naked. She'd been too busy running around in circles all evening to care.

"Fred, if you forget something we can always have my mother come down here and send it to us." His voice seemed way too calm. She didn't like that. She thought at least he'd be a little worried about taking them on the road. It didn't even seem to phase him.

She picked up a shirt she'd just folded and threw it at him, hitting him in the chest. "Why aren't you even a little stressed out about this?" she asked moving around the side of the bed to put another of her t-shirts into the open suitcase in front of her. "Do I need to bring anything dressy? I can't remember when you said those award shows are."

"You don't need anything crazy," he said, "We'll go shopping if you need something."

"You're way too laid back about all this," she said hitting at his leg a little. Her fingernails ran over the skin on his shin and he brushed the tease away with his other foot. She reached and squeezed his leg before she removed her hand.

"It's nothing big anymore honey." He shrugged, "I've lived like this for almost six years now. It's nothing to be stressed out about. We pack up, we put the stuff in the buses and we go."

"You know it's going to be different this time with JW permanently on the road with us," she said, "We're going to have no free time and you with your late night schedule...it's going to completely mess up JW's sleeping habits." She stopped her ranting and began to pace across the room. "I shouldn't do this. A good mother wouldn't take her son on the road when he's two!"

Lance got up and went over and pulled her into his arms. "Everything is going to be fine. All you have to do is to take a breath, ok?" He held her close for a moment, "You're gonna wake JW up and then what are we going to do with him? He'll be up 'til morning at this rate."

She leaned into him and sighed a heavy sigh. "Are you sure this is the right thing to do?" she asked.

"Honey, you and I both know that we need to be together. It's perfect timing for JW to be with us on the road. If he stayed home with a nanny or if you were gone for too long I'd miss you both too much."

"But how are we going to work this out so we get to see each other?" she said, "Last time we went on the road with you JW only saw you maybe an hour a day and you were all tired when you did see him."

Lance put his hands on her shoulders and tried to massage her neck a little. "Fred, I want you to stop this. Stop packing for a minute and go run a bath or something. I'll go check on JW and then we can talk...ok?"

She looked at him once more then nodded when she saw the determined look in his eyes.

"Now go," he said turning her so that she was facing the bathroom. He hugged her back against his chest and kissed the side of her face before pushing her away.

Leaving her to take her bath, Lance went out into the hallway then went into JW's room. He was asleep, butt in the air and thumb in his mouth clutching onto his pillow, so Lance grabbed up the baby monitor and carried it back into their room, closing the door behind him. He knew that JW would be fine there alone. He was still sleeping in a crib so it wasn't like he could walk in on them. He was still a little worried about the break in, but the police were stationed at the front gate of the house and there was a patrol car in the neighborhood. Nothing was going to keep them safer.

He found her already neck deep in the tub with the jacuzzi jets on low. Her head was leaned back against the tub and her eyes were closed. The water was making just enough noise so that she didn't hear him enter the room and she didn't hear the baby monitor being set down on the step that led to the sunken tub. She only moved when he slid out of his shorts and touched her shoulder, encouraging her to move forward a bit so he could join her in the water, sitting behind her and pulling her back against him.

"Feel better Fred?" he asked as he curled his arms around her. She shivered for a moment then let her arms fall down into the water, placing her hands on his thighs where his legs curled a little around her body.

"Hmmm," she said with closed eyes. She nodded slowly as his hands ran up and down her arms a few times as the bubbles tickled his skin. "Much better."

"Did you take a nap sometime today?" he asked.

"I slept for an hour or so with JW, but nothing to major. He was too excited about being down in Lakeland to sleep much which leaves me tired as hell," she said.

"Fred, you're tensing up again," he said softly and moved his hands to massage her shoulders.

"I'm sorry. I know I'm supposed to relax, but--"

"Shhh," he breathed out. Lance's hands slid over her shoulders and down around to her chest and stomach, massaging her skin until she forgot what she was doing and saying. Her neck dipped and she leaned to one side then another.

"Honey I need to pack," she finally said.

"Later," he mumbled as he placed a kiss on her neck. He knew exactly where to place the kiss that would make her moan with pleasure. He'd had enough experience with her to know her likes and dislikes and he knew that even though she would protest to the kiss that tickled her and sent shivers down her arms, she wouldn't push him away.

"Honey," she said.

Lance lifted his head a little, "I thought you were going to relax."

"I would, but your son is calling your name," she said with a grin turning to kiss his lips.

"Damn," he said leaning back against the tub he could hear JW calling for him.

"Go get your son honey," she said.

Lance pushed himself out of the shower and still fully aroused walked across the bathroom, pulled a towel around his waist and walked out of the room. He swore under his breath the entire time, but when he finally got to JW and saw that he had been crying he relaxed and went to comfort his son. He couldn't at all forget about what was awaiting him in the other room, but knowing that his son needed him and he was there for him was a comfort in a way.



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Willa pulled herself from the tub when she started to prune and slid into her robe. She was feeling phsyically a lot better but mentally her mind was still rrunning in circles.

When she emerged from the bathroom she found Lance lying half asleep with JW in his arms. He was dressed only in a towel still and was holding a hand to JW's forehead.

"What's wrong?"

"He's got a little bit of a fever," he said and leaned and kissed his forehead.

Willa instantly crawled across the bed and curled up with him. "Pookie do you not feel good?"

"I got a headache in my tummy mommy," JW said sadly.

"Let me go get the thermometer," she said.

"No!" He said.

"JW this is the good kind. It goes in your ear," she said.

Lance just sat and watched as Willa retrieved the thermometer and took JW's temperature. He was a bit crabby but managed to sit still long enough for Willa to see that he did have a little bit of a temperature.

If Willa thought that her night was going to be a relaxing one it seemed as if it only got worse from there. She gave JW tylonol and had him strip down to just a diaper and they set up a bed with them. It wasn't the best of arrangements for the two of them, but knowing that JW was sick put other thoughts out of their minds.

"I'm going to go grab a shower Fred," Lance said moving from the bed once JW was settled.

She nodded and watched him leave the room, closing the door most of the way so that the sound of the shower wouldn't wake up JW.

When she was sure that he was asleep Willa slid away from their son and slid into the bathroom, dropped her robe and slid into the stand up shower with Lance.

He turned around and didn't even ask her why she was there or what she was doing. His arms opened to her and as if on cue they began a slow dance under the stream of water.

"We're going to have to get a baby-sitter," he said as she slid against him.

"Hmmm?" She said as his hands slid over her wet skin.

Lance stopped his train of thought to plant a deep kiss on her. When he pulled apart he panted a little from the way that they'd been so into their kiss.

"A baby-sitter for on tour," he said then planted kisses along her neck and down to her breasts, "Because I plan on making love to you as much as possible and I'm not going to let my son get all his mommy's attention."

"Really?" She said pulling his head up so that she could see his face, "You feel neglected?"

Lance groaned, "I stepped away from you tonight harder than I've been in a while. I don't know about you, but the old sex drive has kicked in. I wanted my wife in a bubble bath and all I got was a sick son to deal with."

Seeing that Lance was feeling a little out of it Willa let her hand sweep down to his stomach then lower, "I'll make it up to you."

"I wasn't going to demand it, but I would have been hurt if you didn't come in here after me."

"I'd never let you suffer honey," she said.

Their lovemaking was fast and furious and Willa didn't know how they'd gotten through it without falling down, but afterwards they hadn't spoken to each other. They'd washed off, rinsed off, then dried off and went and got into bed without another word, finding that their little rendevous hadn't woken up their son.


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