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SIX:



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When their bus pulled away from Orlando Willa was on the phone. She'd gotten a call earlier that morning and had been on the line with Elena for almost two hours, going over schedules and the pain that the agency was going to go through since Willa was again off the modeling circuit. She'd only paused to say her good-byes to everyone they were leaving behind.

Checking to make sure that everyone was settled in she went to look for her family since she hadn't seen them in a while as she'd been unpacking their stuff into the cabinets in the back master bedroom. She found JW easily, wearing almost the same exact outfit as his father--jeans, a sleeveless shirt and running shoes--sitting in the front with Lance and Joey on the little fold down bench that made up a temporary passenger seat next to the driver. He sat in between the two boys happily pointing out the front and side windows.

"Toot the horn!" he called out as they passed another truck and made the motion for the truck driver to honk back.

"Is he always this way?" Joey asked with a laugh.

Lance laughed. "He's a trucker at heart."

"Hey JW," James, the driver said from next to them, getting into the conversation, "Maybe you wanna drive for me one of these days."

"No," JW said and shook his head hard.

"Why not?" Lance said as he lay his hand down so JW could slap it. He'd been drumming on things the last few days and found it especially great to slap hands with his father.

"Is too big," he said.

"Well you'll grow into it," James said.

As they passed another one of the buses JW leaned over and pointed, "UNCA JUSTIN!!!"

"JW you're gonna lose your voice if you keep screaming like that," Lance said.

It wasn't at all surprising to look over and find Justin mooning everyone. Willa was about to say something about his behavior, but she knew that it was just the guys joking around and she'd promised herself that while she was on the road she wasn't going to impead too much on everyone's fun.

Of course this discussion had entered into a new one when JW got scared about literally misplacing his voice and all three of them seemed to be laughing it up.

"He's not doing that for you," Elena argued.

Willa snapped back into her conversation and moved away from the guys back into the back room, taking a seat on the bed. She kicked off her shoes, made herself comfortable on the double bed and stared out the tinted window at the cars going by. The air conditioning was on in the bus and sitting still was making her a little cold so she grabbed up the blanket on the end of the bed and covered herself with it.

"I know," she said, "He can't do that. You know how crazy that schedule is. It's easier for me to pick up and be with my husband than for him to try to reschedule. "Can't you just be happy for me?" She'd been trying to explain for days now why she needed to be on the road and why her schedule needed to be shifted to accommodate her family and she was getting tired of Elena not listening.

"Because you're one of my top models and your career is going no where. But you don't care because you are in love with this great guy who sweeps you off your feet, gives you this great son, this great life..." she stopped and laughed, "I'm so jealous I think I'm going to cry."

"Oh you poor thing," Willa joked. "You get to at least stay home and not be stuck on a bus with a million other guys. It's like a locker room in here already and we haven't even been gone that long. With a son who is at an impressionable age and likes to mimick the speech of his father so badly I think the boy isn't going to know anything else but swear words after this trip."

"Yeah...the tough life of a rockstar."

"Sure, you think it's great to travel. I'm going to be stuck in a bus or in hotels for the next year or so."

"You'll love it. You get to be with him all the time," she said, "I know how you miss that."

"Right now I just pray that we don't get on each other's nerves. Sometimes, like last year when I went out on the road with him for those two weeks just before Christmas I was contimplating divorcing him because he got so crabby at me."

"Men have PMS too ya know," Elena said.

"I know and Lance totally gets the case of it after about a week of me being here..." she sat down and put a hand to her head. "Maybe I shouldn't have come."

"Willa stop doubting your decisions. Your son needs to see his father and you need your husband--actually you need him a little too much, but that's another issue all together--and you know that you'd miss him too much if he traveled this year without you."

"I know," she said, "I'm just feeling down today because we're leaving town. I love the fact that Lance is going back to work, but I just got home from Europe and I didn't want to travel again right away."

"Sweetie...do me a favor," Elena said, "Take some big breaths, take a nap, and be glad that you're a stay at home mom."

"Stay at home mom," she laughed, "That's a good one Elena."

"Now get off this damn phone and go kiss your husband or something."

She heard a yell from the front of the bus and figured that they had gotten tired of looking out the window considering that it sounded like JW was being tickled to death in the front of the bus.



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It had seemed like they'd been on the road for hours, but actually they were still basically within the Orlando Metro area when Lance moved from his perch at the front of the bus to go find his wife. He'd seen her a moment ago, still with the phone attached to her ear and he was about to go pull her away from her conversation. He didn't care if it was business, she didn't need to be spending that day trying to wheel and deal for shoots that weren't going to happen until they got to New York or Los Angeles anyway.

Moving past the kitchen towards the back bedroom he nodded at Loni and Mike who were sitting playing a game of cards. He turned back and yelled to Mike to play his Ace then ducked behind the door when Mike turned to throw a pillow at him.

He hadn't meant to, but he ended up slamming the door to the bedroom trying to get away from Mike's pillow. The action startled Willa so badly that she dropped the phone onto the bed for a moment then quickly reached to retrieve it.

"I'm not going to do that," Willa was saying. Lance could tell that it wasn't business that the two women were discussing. Willa never would have been blushing that hard if it had been the true subject of conversation.

Taking her comment as a clue Lance crawled across the bed and stretched out over Willa were she was half lying talking on the phone. He moved her leg to the side and ended up laying on his side using her thigh for a pillow.

Her normally reaction to him coming so close to her would have been to immediately stop what she was doing. Instead she moved her hand to his head and began to play with his hair. Lance reciprocated her action by running his hand on the inside of her thigh. She was covered with a blanket, but the action got to her so badly that she had to push him away from her.

"I've gotta go Elena," she finally said, "Lance just came in here and we have to--" She paused and laughed, "Elena, I may be a horny woman, but I'm not going to make love to my husband in the middle of the afternoon--" Lance settled onto the pillow next to where she was lying and he watched her expression change. "No I'm not saying that I wouldn't EVER do that, but at the moment I'm not going to be getting freaky with him."

Lance smiled at his wife and reached over and tugged on her hand. He was selfish at the moment and he wanted her off the phone. If he was going to get through this trip with her there they needed to have some alone time and it seemed an opportune time to take advantage of the situation considering that Joey had practically volunteered to watch JW so they could hang out.

Finally she hung up the phone and reached to put it on the shelf above her head.

"How's Elena today?" he asked.

"She's a nut case," Willa said with a frown, "Unless you consider her thinking that this bus is a big rolling orgy normal."

"Hey, that's something we haven't tried," he said knowing that it would piss her off. It was a horrible thing to do, but at least it would get her mind off of Elena's conversation.

Her chin dropped a little as she stared at him. "What?"

"Multiples," he said then broke his serious expression when she started to get up to leave.

"Wait. Wait," he said and pulled her against him. He curled her into his arms and pressed a kiss to her lips, "You know that you're all I need so don't start going crazy on me now."

"I still don't like the idea of you all having back up dancers," she said.

"Honey, they dance, that's it," he said, repeating a conversation they'd had that morning on the way to the bus. She wasn't necessarily jealous of the situation, but she didn't like the idea of the provocative dancing that he did with the back up dancers that they were bringing on tour this year. "You're the only one I do the horizontal lombada with."

"I better be the only one," she said.

"You're the only one on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays anyway," he joked.

"Shut up you," she said and hit him playfully.

Moments later, after a short wrestling match Lance had perched himself lying on top of her. Her legs were curled around his middle and he was kissing the life out of her. He would have continued the attack on her, but someone knocked on the door disturbing the moment for them.

"Daddy!"

Willa uncurled herself from him as JW came walking into the room. He normally wasn't too steady on his little legs and with the bus moving he seemed even more drunk looking as he came over to the side of the bed and put his arms up to be picked up.

Lance grabbed him up and plopped him on the bed. "Is it nap time?" he asked.

"No." JW started to move down to the end of the bed as if he knew if he stayed on the bed that he would have to take a nap.

"No Lance," Willa said with a laugh looking at her watch, "It's hug time."

IT was just about the corniest thing he'd ever thought he'd heard come out of her mouth, but moments later when his son and she were curled into his arms hugging him he couldn't think of anything else in the world that he would have wanted to be doing at that moment.



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SEVEN:



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"Lance."

"What?" He didn't remove his eyes from small two-way pager was perched carefully in both hands as if his fingers were playing a game, not typing messages.

"Lance."

She repeated the call because she knew she wouldn't get his full attention unless he was looking at her. Lately she felt as if she needed eye contact with him to even know that he was paying attention to her.

"What?" he asked again without looking up.

"Lance!"

This time he didn't move a muscle when the sound of his name reverberated around the bus's small living room. They were on the way to the next stop and they'd been quiet for most of the afternoon. The sound of the wheels on the pavement and the hum of the engine were the only sounds that could be heard.

Finally, getting sick of him sitting there playing with the stupid contraption she picked up a pillow from the couch and threw to where he was sitting in their kitchenette. The pillow hit his arm knocking it into the side of the table where he hit his forearm against the edge.

"Owe!" he said and glared at her, "What do you want Willa?" His tone was harsh and she didn't appreciate being spoken to as if she was a pesky little sister. She was his wife, but at the moment she felt as if she was bothering him but just sitting there.

"I called you more than a few times because I wanted to know when you're going to go and kiss your son goodnight. He's been waiting for you for almost a half hour now!"

Lance looked at the door then looked back at his two-way pager. "Well he's probably asleep by now," his lazy drawl--the one that she used to think was so endearing--came out the wrong way and made her want to scream at him. It was definitely a visible change in him to act so lazy towards family issues. She guessed that he normally would act like that if they weren't on tour then find the time to call them when he had a minute, but seeing the attitude in person was something else.

"Ugh! Never mind," she huffed and went into the backroom to lay down.

Willa's patience was running thin. She hadn't slept well the night before due to some stormy weather as they were driving to the venue and now that it was almost eight and they were still on the road she wasn't at all pleased that Lance had been so distracted. He'd slept most of the morning, which was understandable since they'd just finished a show, but then he'd done paperwork, read a book, and had taken a nap. Now he was on his two-way pager to someone about something. Granted he did get points for falling asleep on the bed with JW, but it still wasn't quality time with his son. He hadn't spent more than a half-hour with them since the week before.

"Willa what is your problem?" he asked after he followed her through the hallway where the bunks were and where their sleeping son was before he closed the door trapping them both in the smallish back bedroom.

She was getting tired of the bus and they'd only been on tour for about two weeks. It hadn't seemed like it would be a bad thing, but having only so much space and only so many things to keep you busy was making her insane and JW seemed to be getting cranky more often because they couldn't stop and go play when he wanted to.

"My problem?" she asked with a laugh as if she couldn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. "My problem is that I have a husband who I've seen only two hours a day at most in the last week and a half, that my son has been living on this damn bus and his new best friends are Barney and the Teletubbies and two huge bodyguards who look more like killers than normal people and that....that..."

"Fred calm down," Lance said. He sat down on the bed and pulled her into his lap holding her there while she began to cry.

"I can't calm down," she said, "I'm not safe at home and I hate it here."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," he said and turned her face to look at him. They played a little cat and mouse game for a moment until they locked eyes with each other and he asked, "You hate it?"

"How can I not?" she asked, "I never see you and JW is cranky all the time. I feel like I'm being pulled in too many directions."

"Too many directions?" he asked.

"Elena's on the phone with me every chance she gets trying to get me to come back to work. JW needs me around all the time because I'm so paranoid about him getting into the pyro and stuff, and then there is--" She stopped abruptly and stared at him.

"What is it?"

"Lance I don't want you to be mad," she instantly said and moved herself away from him. She stood next to the dresser for a moment looking out into the almost dark night.

"What would I have to be mad about?" he asked.

"I didn't plan on this happening--"

"Plan on what happening?" he asked and gave her a frightened look. She knew most of the possibilities that could be running through his head, but she was sure that he'd be still caught off guard with her news.

She sighed, every ounce of breath in her escaping into the room. "I'm pregnant again."

"What?" he asked sounding more in shock than disappointed.

She turned to him and suddenly found herself wishing that she could have said it in a better way. "We're having a baby in February."

"Are you serious?" he asked again.

"I know it's the worst time and place for this to happen, but it did and I don't--"

"Sweetie your hormones are going wild," he said and stood up and took her in his arms. He hugged her then placed a hand on her stomach, "I love you Fred. You have to know that and I love the fact that we're going to be parents all over again."

"Well I don't love it," she said.

He leaned to put his pager down, but the little tiny plastic contraption hit the counter a little hard than it had meant to be thrown. The engine noise from outside even hadn't been able to mask the sound of the drop. "What?"

"You barely see JW as it is, how are you ever going to be able to see two kids?" she said, "I'm now going to have to be a single parent--"

"Single parent my ass!" Lance said.

"You know what I mean," she said, "You barely see him and when you do you're always on your way somewhere. He needs you to be on the way to him one of these days." It sounded overly dramatic, but it seemed lately that he wasn't noticing the small stuff so she had to exaggerate things until he finally did see what was going on around him.

"It'll get better," he said, "The first few weeks are always the worst."

"Lance, your son has been within 50 feet of you for the last week and a half and you haven't spent time with him. He needs you around more. I know I can't force him on you, but today you were watching television and working and doing all that...you need to set some time aside in the day for him...and for me."

"Fine," he talked out of the room for a moment and she thought he was leaving her there, but realized a moment later that he actually was going to sit down and have a conversation with her about it. He'd picked up his palm pilot and clicked it on then looked at the schedule. "I have two afternoons from now off. I have an interview in the morning then nothing until the next morning. Why don't the three of us spend that day together? We don't even have to leave the hotel. We'll take JW to the pool or something or have some of his toys brought up and we'll play around for a while."

She sighed. "Really?"

"Yes," he said, "You and me and him at the hotel. Let me put the info in right now so I don't forget. OK?"

She nodded and moved the blanket back on the bed and slid under the covers. "I'm go to sleep for the night."

"Are you feeling alright?" he said, "It's only eight thirty."

"I'm fine," she said, "It happened this way last time. I just need more sleep."

"I'll take a nap too," he said.

"You don't have to get all protective of me now that you know."

"Honey, I'm tired too and since JW is asleep I think it's be best if we went to sleep too."

"Oh."

"Oh," he said mocking her, "I love the way you love me honey."

She stuck her tongue out at him as they both got up, got into their pajamas and got into bed.



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"I know that we promised you time off, but Spanky I need you on the road with us."

"Is she killing you that much?" Spanky asked.

"No," he said, "She's pregnant again and I only trust her with you."

"Pregnant?" Spanky said with a laugh, "You guys are just baby machines aren't you?"

"It's been almost two years Spanky..." Lance pushed a hand through his hair. The thought really made him stop and think. It had been a long time since JW had been born and when he thought about how much time he'd spent with his son he could almost count the days. When JW had been too small to travel with them they'd been away a long time, but now that JW was older and could travel it seemed like so much trouble to do it. Either way there didn't seem to be a comfortable place on the road for the three of them. In that instant he got scared that someone else might figure that out and that he'd lose his family due to it. "Why am I arguing about this with you? I'm married to the woman and we're having a family."

"Chill out daddy," Spanky joked, "I'm just kidding. I know how sensitive you are about it all."

"So you'll come?" he asked.

"Can I have until Monday to get there?" he asked, "I haven't seen my family since last year."

"Sure," Lance said with a smile. Lance could imagine that Spanky's mother and father probably would want to see him.

"So where are you guys going to be?" Spanky asked.

Lance pushed the button on his palm pilot and drew up their schedule. "We'll be in Dallas for two days. We're booked at the Hotel Inter-Continental Dallas."

"I'll be there Monday night," he said, "You guys have a show that night?"

"No," he said, "We get there early on the first day, do interviews and stuff, film something for MTV then perform the next night."

Lance looked up and saw that Willa was coming into the back room. She had a frown on her face when she saw that he was on the phone. To reassure her he thought that he should clue her into who he was talking to. "Spanky says hi."

"Thanks," Spanky said in his ear.

"He's on the phone?" she said with a smile.

"Want to talk?" Lance said.

"Yes."

Lance turned back to the phone for a moment. "So we'll see you then. Remember to get your receipts and stuff and I'll pay you back for the travel and stuff."

"Will do Boss," Spanky said.

"Don't start that now," he said.

"Whatever Lance," Spanky said.

Lance handed the phone over to Willa who launched into a full on discussion. While he was watching him he noticed JW standing in the doorway.

"He kiddo," he said with a smile, "Are you ready to go to the pool?"

"I don't wanna go," JW said.

Willa heard his comment and the adults in the room looked at each other.

"You don't want to go?" he asked and moved across the room and picked his son up to hug him.

JW shook his head and leaned against his shoulder.

"Are you feeling alright JW?" Lance asked.

"I'm tired," JW whined, "I wanna go to Gramma's House."

Lance put a hand to his forehead to check for a fever then kissed his forehead. "Well Gramma and Grampa's house is kinda far away. It's too far to go to right now."

"But I wanna go there," he said, "I wanna play with Grampa and ride the mower."

"Grampa let you ride the tractor again?" Lance asked with a smile. His father had recently gotten a riding mower and it was JW's newest favorite toy.

JW nodded, "I don't like the bus."

"Well we're not going to the bus today," Lance said, "Not until late tomorrow night."

"I wanna go to Gramma's."

"Hey JW, do you want to talk to Uncle Spanky?" Willa asked.

JW nodded no and hugged Lance's neck, "Do you gotta work?"

"Nope sweetie," Lance said, "I have a meeting with you and mommy. We're going to go in the pool so you can show me how you can blow bubbles in the water. Mommy said that you're really good at it now."

"I don't wanna blow bubbles."

"No bubbles?" he asked.

"Are you sure?" Lance asked.

"I wanna go play with Unca Justin and Chris."

"You don't want to play with me today?"

"No," JW said and finally began to wiggle out of his arms.

Lance couldn't help the tears that formed in his eyes as JW got out of his arms and ran over to Willa. He hung onto her leg a little then settled himself into her lap a moment later. His own son didn't even want to hang out with him.

When he looked up Willa was giving him a sympathic look, but at the same time he got upset because it just reinforced what she'd said to him the day before. He hadn't spent enough time with his son and now it seemed that the rift between them was getting even larger.

"You ok honey?" Willa asked.

"Yeah," Lance said, "I'm going to grab up Wes and go down to the pool."

"Are you going to take JW?" she asked.

"He told me he doesn't want to go."

"Oh," she said and looked at their son. "You don't want to go with Daddy to the pool."

"When's SPanky coming?" JW asked.

Lance had gotten his fill of his son's behavior and instead of showing his reaction to him he got up and walked into the bathroom stopping only to get his swim trunks. He change quickly, grabbed a hat, a towel, his phone and t-shirt and walked out of the room without a word to either of them.

"Where are you going?" Wes asked in the hallway.

"To cool off," Lance said and stalked past him.

"Well wait up idiot boy or you're gonna get mobbed."

"I don't care," Lance said with a pout. He didn't want to sound like a baby, but he didn't know how else to react to the situation.

"What's up your butt?" Wes asked hurrying along with him.

"Nothing."

"Well warn me if there ever is something up there."

"Shut up Wes," Lance said and rolled his shoulders a little as he pressed the elevator button and waited.

"Whoa there turbo," Wes said coming up next to him. "You'd best tell me what's going on or I'll have to pull out your mother's number."

"I'm not sixteen anymore, Wes," he said, "You can't play the parent card anymore."

"Well I know that Willa can," Wes said with an arrogance that frustrated Lance to no end. "Maybe I should go have her call your number."

The elevator opened up and Lance stepped inside.

"Should I go find her?" Wes asked.

"No," Lance said and reached out and tugged on his arm pulling him into the elevator. The door closed and they stood there for a moment.

"Spill the beans," Wes demanded.

"My own son would rather hang out with his Uncles than me and my wife didn't really say this, but she's bragging at me about saying I told you so."

"Oh shit," Wes said leaning against the wall. "She's pissed isn't she?"

"And," he said, "She's pregnant again so she's worried that this is going to happen to our next kid too."

"Well no offense, but she might be right," Wes said.

Lance glared at him.

"Don't kill me," he said, "But she's right. You know she is. This business isn't something that helps families out. I mean most of us out there sacrifice our lives for all of you, for this big plan. We do it knowingly, but there are sacrifices we make. You should make sacrifices that you are going to regret later."

"I haven't regretted anything," he said.

"Yet," Wes said, "You haven't lost anything yet, but you're going to if you don't look at your priorities. You have a wife and child that love you very much, but you have to love them back--"

Lance glared at him. "Don't you ever say that I don't love my wife and son!"

As he yelled the last words the elevator opened and a few people in the lobby turned to stare at him a little. Lance didn't know what he wanted to do more, sneer at them or apologize.

Instead of doing either he decided to ignore them and he ducked his head and moved towards the door that led to the pool. He was now in a foul mood. He knew that he had the rest of the afternoon off and he prayed that he wouldn't have any run-ins with anyone until he calmed down enough to not snap at anyone. Snapping a Wes could be fixed, but snapping at anyone else would take more than a little planning to remedy.



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NINE:


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Lance was walking quickly when they got to the hotel lobby. The adrenaline of his anger still pumping through his veins. "Wes I don't want to be bothered for a little while. I know that people or whatever are going to--"

"I got it covered boss. Want me to tell them no or just later?" Wes asked seemly reading his mind.

"Just later," he said, "I want to just sit down for about forty minutes or so with no one bothering me."

"Sounds good," Wes said.

They made their way over to the pool and Lance pulled his hat on and found an open lounge chair and an open chair for Wes and made himself comfortable. He'd been sitting there for almost ten minutes before his phone rang. He wouldn't normally have even noticed the time of the silence but that day, being pulled away from his quiet moment, was a pain.

"Hello?"

"Honey?"

"Willa?" he asked.

"No sweetie, it's your mother," she said, "Didn't you check your caller ID?"

"Sorry mom," he said with a soft voice as he heard her voice smooth over him. He wished he could see her, but it was too busy now to go and visit and he wasn't sure if she was going to be coming out soon to visit.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," he said trying not to let his voice get the best of him. He needed to make sure that she knew he was ok. He knew that she worried too much about him. "I've just got a lot on my mind right now. What did you need?"

"I just called to remind you that your father's birthday is coming up. Stacey and I thought that we'd have a party for him, but we wanted you and WIlla and JW to come too so we were thinking of visiting you all to do it."

"Actually mom I think it'd be good if we came home."

"Came home?"

"Yeah," he took a breath and sat up from his seat and leaned so that no one could see his face as tears welled up in his eyes. "I wanna come home mom. I need a break and I wanna come home."

"Come home?" she asked, "Honey, what's going on?"

"Nothing," he said, sniffed, grabbed his towel up and held it to his face then put the phone back to his face. "Nothing really. I mean it's just the ususal. I'm not used to being on the road yet and I just miss being home with Willa and JW."

"Aren't they on the road with you?"

"Yeah," he said taking a shaky breath. He looked up and saw that people were watching him. Most times he could get by just ignoring it all, but this time he couldn't. He took off his hat and hung his towel over his head and leaned over so no one could see him. He looked out from under the towel and saw Wes's foot where it had been when he'd been sitting in the chair next to him and knew that he would be ok if he was sitting there.

"Honey, you're crying, I can tell. What's going on with you?"

"I don't know mom," he said, "I just don't know if I can do this anymore."

"Are you sure honey?" she asked.

"I want to go home, be in my house, with my wife and son and my baby that's on the way."

"New baby?" his mother asked.

"SHit," he sighed out, "I was going to tell you. I meant to, but it's been hectic around here. Willa is pregnant again."

His mother normally would have gotten on him about his language, but the news of their second child being on the way seemed to out shine his language. "Honey, that's wonderful news," she said.

"Yeah well it would be if things weren't so messed up right now. It's all so twisted and tense and JW..." He moved his hand up under his towel and put his hand to his forehead. He had a headache forming and his eyes were raw from crying.

"HOney what happened to JW?" she asked now sounding very concerned.

"He's fine," he said slowly, "I mean he's fine, but at the moment I feel like I've already missed too much of his life. I mean I don't even know how to take care of him. Willa's always having to tell me how to do things...I mean I don't even know what my son likes and doesn't like due to the fact that I haven't spent more than a few weeks with him at a time. I need more time."

"Maybe you should have taken more time off this time?" she suggested.

"I feel like I'm being pulled in too may directions. I know that I have responsibilities to a lot of people, but I'm not sure how to fit everything into my schedule."

"Honey I've always told you that you have to make those choices on your own. I know that your father and I have our opinions on the subject, but it's ultimately up to you to make those decisions. We'll always support you in anything you do, but you have to say the yeses and the nos that effect your life and your family's lives."

"I think we need to have a staff meeting in Mississippi in a few weeks," he said, "I'm going to talk to Wendy some about Happy Place and I want to talk to you about FreeLance and I'm going to try and meet with Johnny too about the group."

"That sounds like a good idea honey," she said.



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Willa grabbed up JW when they got to the pool and moved her bag on her shoulder a little. "Where's daddy big guy?" she asked as JW looked around.

"There!" he pointed using his outside voice.

"Where?" WIlla asked. She saw Wes sitting at a table next to someone, but she couldn't see the person's face. The shirtless man had a towel over his face.

When she finally made eye contact with Wes he waved them over and she walked carefully through the people to where he was sitting.

"Where's Lance?" she asked.

Wes pointed to the towel and she heard him speak. "Yeah mom," he said, "I'll tell her you said so...yeah...a few weeks...I'll make sure that he's good...no...you don't have to do that...JW should be fine without that..."

JW wiggled in her arms and she let him down. He walked over and put a hand on Wes's knee. "Where's my daddy?"

Wes pointed to the towel and JW took an edge of the towel and removed it from his head and broke into laughter. Lance put his hand to his eyes. "Yeah Ma, I love you too, I'll talk to you later."

When he hung up JW jumped into his lap. He grabbed him in his arms, barely keeping his phone from falling to the pavement then moved a little in his chair. "I thought you two were going to hang out with your uncles."

"Mommy said you misseded me," JW said.

"Of course I did," Lance said, "I always miss you."

When he looked over at Willa she stopped unpacking JW's tiny life preserver and stared at him for a moment then mouthed Are you ok?

Lance nodded and held JW for a minute. "You want to go swimming kiddo?" he asked JW.

JW nodded.

Willa handed over his little life preserver to Lance and then reached and took JW's t-shirt and took off his shoes and the two men in her life walked towards the pool.

Smiling at Wes she watched them get into the water, Lance first dropping in the waist high water before he reached for JW who jumped into his arms. He stood there and held onto JW for a moment then bent his knees and lowered them both into the water. JW held onto his arms tightly and Lance let him float a little.

"Willa?"

"Yeah Wes?" she asked looking over.

"I don't ususally get all up in your business," he said, "But I overheard Lance talking to his mother and I think you need to talk to him."

WIlla sighed, "What did he say?"

"I told his mom he wanted to go home."

She looked back over to her husband for a moment then looked back at Wes. "Go home? We were just home."

"No," he said, "Like I mean go home, like FOR GOOD go home."

Although WIlla had been secretly wishing that for years now, the actual reality of the situation made her breath catch in her throat. "Like quit?"

"Exactly," he said, "He told his mom that he wanted to have a meeting with her about FreeLance and that he's going to talk to Wendy about Happy Place and meet with Johnny about the group."

"Are you kidding me?"

"You guys need to talk," he said, "I think when Spanky gets here we should take JW for the night or something. I'm really worried about him. I mean normally he'll just sit there and talk on the phone, but you saw him...he was totally trying to hide. He never does that."

"He said he was ok," she said.

"Yeah well I don't think that he's not a good liar."

Willa nodded then looked over at JW and Lance again then said, "What would I do without you?"

"I don't know sweetie," Wes said, "You probably would have killed him years ago."

She let out a laugh and pushed herself up and stripped off her clothes and wearing her new one piece suit walked towards the edge of the pool, lowered herself in and went to find her husband.

When she got to them she came up behind Lance and leaned her arms over his shoulders, pressing her front to his back and rested her chin on his shoulder so that she could look at their son.

"Hi mommy," JW said.

"Hi sweetie," she said then leaned and kissed Lance's cheek. "Did you show daddy how you blow bubbles?" she asked.

JW nodded no. "Watch daddy," he said then proceeded to stick his face a little ways into the water so that his mouth was underneath the water and blew bubbles for a moment before pulling his mouth up. He inhaled a little water and coughed a bit them smiled at them.

"That was good kiddo," Lance said.

"What do you say JW?" WIlla asked.

"Thank you," JW said then blew some more bubbles before telling Lance that he needed to do it too.

When the three of them got tired of blowing bubbles JW jumped out and Wes said that he's watch him for a minute so they stayed by the edge of the pool, Willa sitting on the edge with Lance standing in between her legs with his hands on her hips. "Tonight honey I want Wes to babysit so we can have some time together," Willa said.

"Really?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I'm gonna have him babysit for the night..." she leaned and placed a kiss on his cheek. "and you and I..." she placed a kiss on his other cheek. "You and I are going to have the night together," she said finally kissing his lips.

"What brought this on?" he asked, "Are you sure that you should since you're..."

"Honey, being pregnant and having sex with you isn't going to cause any problems," she said in a low voice as his arms slipped around her and she curled her legs around his middle, "That is, unless you refuse me...then you and I might have to have some words."

"Have I told you lately that I love it when you're tough?" he asked squeezing her.

Willa laughed and hugged him close before kissing him again.



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TEN:


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"Night sweetie," Willa said to her son who was hugged against Wes holding his videotape of The Lion King in his arms. They were sending him next door for the evening to watch movies and have a sleep over with Wes while the two of them had the night alone together, but she was having a hard time letting him go.

"Night mommy," JW said with a yawn.

"Did you say goodnight to daddy?" she asked.

JW leaned over to here Lance was standing next to him and kissed his father's cheek. Lance had gotten a phone call right when Wes came to collect up their son and paused for a moment to lean and kiss JW back before finishing his call. "Night kiddo. Have fun with Wes."

JW and Wes left the room and Willa went and found a seat on the couch, curling her feet under her as she waited for Lance to finish his call. He said that it would only take a few more minutes and as promised he was off the phone in about ten and came to sit next to her.

"What are we going to do with all this adult time?" he asked with a lazy smile leaning against her.

"Is your phone turned off?" she asked.

Lance held it up, pressed the power button then put it on the coffee table. "It is now."

Willa let out a sigh, "I wanna take a bath."

"Bubbles or Jacuzzi?" he asked lazily.

"Bubbles," she said with a smile, "And you."

They made their way into the big bathroom of their suite and while Lance started the water in the huge tub Willa went and found the bubble bath that she carried with her for JW. "Mr. Bubbles isn't very sexy or anything, but at least it'll be relaxing," she said as she poured the right amount into the warm water.

"Note to self, by non kiddy bubble bath for wife," Lance said and pulled off his shirt.

Only the sound of the water running could be heard as she stood up, placed the bottle of soap on the counter then came over to her husband. "I almost have forgotten how to do this," she said with a whisper placing a hand on his chest.

"It's easy," he said bending his knees a little so that he could lean and kiss her, "Like riding a bike. You never forget how."

Willa nodded at his action and slid her arms around him as he slid his around her. They held each other for a moment, then leaned and kissed and started a dance that ten minutes later left them panting and naked. They'd only stopped kissing once, when they noticed the water getting high in the tub, but even then Willa hung onto him as if even letting him out of her grasp would make him disappear.

In the course of their dance they'd managed to remove their clothes and were now standing naked in the middle of the room. It had definitely been a while, and their dance hadn't been as choreographed as

"Water, bubbles," Willa said, lips swollen from her husband's kisses.

"You and your bubbles," he said holding onto her hand while she stepped into the tub.

He stepped in behind her and soon they settled themselves in so that he was holding her in his lap and her arms were around his neck so that they could relax together.

"Better?" Lance asked.

"Yeah," she sighed and leaned against him more.

"How's your stomach so far?" he asked softly, "No morning sickness yet?"

She nodded no and took his hand and placed it on her stomach, "So far I think this one is a keeper."

Silence filled the room.

"We need to talk," they said in unison.

Smiling at each other for a moment Lance rubbed a hand along her arm, "You first honey."

"Are you ok?" she asked, "I mean I know today I asked you if you were and you said that you were, but I'm not sure that you are."

"I was actually going to tell you something about that tonight," he said.

"Please don't quit honey," she said quickly, "I know that you'll hate it and I'll hate it too, giving up your career isn't something that I see making the world any better."

"Honey, where did you get that idea from?" he asked.

"Wes overheard you talking to your mom today and he said that you were talking about going home for good and well I thought--"



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Lance didn't want to really talk about this. He really didn't want to revisit the strange emotions that had washed over him that afternoon. When they'd gotten back from the pool the three of them had played with some of JW's toys and had watched a movie and Lance had made a few phone calls while JW was taking a nap. It had been nice to spend that time with them. He didn't know how much he'd missed being called daddy and the way he liked hearing Willa call him "husband" instead of his name.

His shoulders tensed and he made a note in his mind to punch Wes for interfering. He knew that he had only the best intentions in mind when he'd overheard the conversation and relayed it to her, but at the same time he didn't think that Wes needed to be scaring his wife like that.He could kick himself for being so stupid sometimes. He had his naked wife sitting in his lap, literally skin to skin with him hanging on him. He should have been taking advantage of that moment. Any other man his age would be doing just that without a second thought about it, but somehow he knew that this was more important for them to be doing than to be making love.

"Honey, I'm not going to give up NSYNC or any of it," he said, "I'm going to restructure some things--"

"You're not?" she asked sounding more shocked than she should have. He wondered if his behavior earlier had really been that bad. He hadn't meant to worry her, but sitting there by the pool wasn't the place for him to break into tears and hearing his mother's voice on the end of the phone really had caused some automatic reaction to happen.

He shook his head side to side and pulled her closer. "No."

"Then why were you crying?" she asked, "And don't deny that because I saw your face today and you can't lie your way out of that."

"Fred," he said lazily and looked away from her trying not to let her know that he felt like bursting into tears right then. "I was crying because I was tired and frustrated and I feel really bad about doing it, but I think I'm going to have to cut back my hours."

When she started to protest he put a finger to her lips, "My mother reminded me today that I have to say the yes's and the no's in my life. I really think it's time to be saying more yes's when it comes to you and our family and more no's when it comes to my work. I know that my career is going to be coming to an end one of these days, but I would hate--"

Emotion welled up in him at the thought that he was about to say to her. He took a deep breath and squeezed her, "I don't want it to end and be left with nothing. I mean, no one really. I need to make sure that while I'm watching all my business endeavors that I'm also watching my personal ones. I want to be there with you while you're pregnant and I wanna be there when JW--" He took another deep breath, "I wanna be there when our baby is born and be the first one to tell my son that he's a big brother."

Willa hugged him to her, "I want that too Lance, but I don't want you to have to chose between the two sides of your life."

"But I have to Fred, there isn't any way around it. I have to make choices for not only myself, but for our family so that when I'm older and our kids are older that I don't look back and think that I've missed out on too much. I mean Fred, this is a good thing. It'll mean more time with you and JW and the baby," he paused, "That's a good thing...right?"

"Definitely," she breathed out as she hugged him then lifted her lips to kiss him.

"Good," he said, "I'm gonna set up meetings with FreeLance and with Happy Place and we're going to work things out. I am also going to talk to Johnny about having at least one day a week where I have an afternoon or something off so that we can all spend time together. I mean make it a permanent part of my schedule so that I don't have to worry about having time."

"I love you," she said with a lazy tone.

"I love you too," he said softly and leaned to kiss her lips.

"Does this mean our little talk is over?" he asked with a smile.

She nodded.

"Does this mean that I can do this?" he asked and began to nibble on her neck while moving his hands over her body.

"Definitely," she said moving her neck a little while brushing her hands down over his arms, bringing his free hand to rest on her breast as he explored the skin of her neck with his tongue.

"I think I like this adult time stuff," he said with a smile leaning back for a moment to look at her, "We should do this more often."

"Definitely." She agreed.



NEXT

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