By Patricia Brown
He could feel his heartbeat pulsing in his temple as he watched her and waited
for an answer. He reached up and rubbed his temple and looked at her trying
not to look upset that she wasn’t answering quickly. Her lips moved, opened,
closed, then twitched, first once then twice, but there wasn't a response
that came from her, just a silence between them that was starting to become
more and more annoying.
It wasn’t really that hard of a question. She could make the choice to have
him be in their lives or not be in their lives. He figured that if he had
been some kind of a bum it would hard to make the decision, but really he
didn’t see many drawbacks from them being in each other’s lives. It was up
to her. Sure he would be there for them even if she refused his help, but
at least she would have the option to tell him how involved or not involved
he needed to be in the whole thing.
"Well isn’t that the question of the hour," she said softly turning away
from his gaze. He could hear the anger in her voice. The emotion there was
thick and for an instant Lance thought that she might cry. Her eyes had watered
when she'd spoken to him, but she didn't let on that there would be emotion
shown. In one instant he was glad that Willa seemed to be fighting him all
the way on this. For so long he'd thought that everything with Brennan and
Amy would destroy some of her spirit, but he was glad to see that it hadn't.
The only trouble now was that she was turning that spirit on him as she glared
at him coldly then continued down the hall when JW started to whimper.
Lance followed closely behind her and watched her every move as she lay JW
down on the changing table. He didn’t know what it was but he had the urge
to reach out and make sure that she didn’t drop JW when she leaned over to
put him down. When his hands reached out for JW he caught himself and put
his hands at his sides. He knew that he wanted to help out, but he didn't
need her to get angry with him over it.
"Don’t roll off the table pumpkin," she said with a soft voice as she leaned
over and kissed his stomach. JW giggled up at his mother.
Lance loved the way that she was so openly loving of their son. It reminded
him of a time when they'd been that way with each other. It was something
that he desperately wanted back and hoped that would return.
Lance was caught off guard when Willa grabbed up his hand and put his hand
on JW’s stomach. Not daring to go against Willa’s instructions to hold his
hand there on JW he turned his head and watched her walk across the room.
She pulled open the closet doors and stood there for a moment looking at
the miniature clothes handing on the railing.
He didn’t know how that young of a kid could have that many clothes. He wanted
to laugh. He imagined that Justin’s kids or JC’s kids would have that many
outfits, but he never thought that his kids would be fashionable like that.
"What do you say Fred?" Willa said with a sing-songy voice, "How about the
blue jumper Spanky got you?"
JW's reaction to the one sided conversation was just to make happy gurgling
noises as she spoke. Lance didn't know if he really could understand at all
what she was saying, but he seemed to like the sound of her voice. He wondered
for a moment if JW would recognize his own voice soon.
While Lance felt important standing there doing his part, he almost felt
as if he didn't need to be there. JW didn't move really, not that he would
have with Lance's hand across his stomach. He just lay there and smacked
his little gums together happily and Willa seemed to know how to do everything
that needed to be done to take care of their son. It was a strange feeling
to have, but he finally realized that maybe she really didn't need him around.
She'd done fine for the nine months she'd been pregnant and it seemed as
if he only seemed to stress her out. He didn't want that at all. He wanted
things to be back the way that they were.
Silence filled the space between them. It was one of those moments where
Lance thought he literally would have been able hear a pin drop. Willa moved
around the room comfortably and then returned to the changing table.
"Huh Fred?" she said looking down at JW. "What do you think about this one?"
Finally when he'd had enough of the silent treatment, when he saw that she
wasn’t going to talk to him, he cleared his throat and asked, "What’d you
"I called him Fred," she spoke softly. Her back was slightly turned and she
seemed to be acting perfectly normal about all of this as she pulled the
outfit off the hanger and went to put the hanger back, "Someone I once was
in love with used to call me that." She glanced over her shoulder and he
thought that he saw her roll her eyes, "Too bad he doesn’t call me that anymore."
"Willa." Her name came out in a tired sigh. Lance let his gaze drop to the
floor. He was tired of this. He didn’t need this kind of stress from her.
She needed to just let it go.
"See," she said and came back over to the changing table, "JW loves the blue
ones. He always hates anything else I put him in." She set to work, removing
Lance’s hand from JW before she bumped him with her hip, moving him out of
the way. She began to unsnap the buttons down the front of the outfit he
had on and was soon pulling JW out of the clothes.
Lying there in just a diaper JW began to cry a little. His
"I know Fred, I know," she said softly. She kissed the tip of her finger
put her finger out and tapped his nose lightly with it. It distracted him
a moment and he settled down. "We'll be done soon."
"Willa?" He started to say. Willa shoved a toy into Lance’s hand.
"Entertain him for a minute. He may not be forty thousand screaming girls,
but that squeaker thing seems to keep him entertained."
Lance moved the toy and began to squeak the thing while Willa quickly changed
JW's diaper. It had been a long while since Lance had been around a baby.
The last time he remembered diaper changes was way back when he'd go to Tennessee
with Justin to visit Justin's little brothers.
"That's really gross," Lance said turning his nose up as she pulled the diaper
away and cleaned JW up.
"It's nothing," Willa commented and reached to tickle JW's stomach when she
was done putting him into a new diaper. "Right Fred?"
"Can you stop saying that?" Lance asked with an annoyed tone. He picked up
the box of baby wipes and began to read the label, or at least he looked
at the words, but none of the information seeped into his brain.
Willa began to slide JW into the new outfit. Lance never realized how tough
it would be to dress someone until she saw her struggle to put JW in his
outfit. Somehow his arms and legs just didn’t want to go the way that Willa
wanted them to go.
"Stop calling him Fred," he said firmly.
"Why?" she asked as she quickly snapped JW into the new outfit and picked
him up. The baby clung to her and immediately began to stick his fist in
his mouth. "It's just a pet name for him I have."
"Willa," Lance sighed. On the one hand it hurt him that she would use that
nickname in front of him like that, but on the other hand he liked the idea
of JW having that nickname. It meant that she loved their son and he thought
that she loved him too. Why else would she chose THAT name for him? "Are
you trying to rub it in forever?"
She stared at him with a cold expression. "Rub what in?" she asked.
Lance glared at her finding it hard not to just grab her and shake some sense
into her. She was acting as stubborn as she’d been when they first met. This
attitude was just to punish him for the months he’d been away. He knew that
much but he felt that she shouldn’t blame him now for things he couldn’t
go back and change. "Stop being so damned innocent and just come out with
"Come out with what?" she said, "Really Lance, you should get some more sleep.
You don't sound very coherent today."
"Willa just spit it out. Are you going to be mad at me forever?" he asked.
She blinked at him a few times. "Mad about what?"
"Will you please stop answering my questions with questions!" Lance slammed
his hand down on the changing table, knocking over the box of diapers and
the baby wipes with his motion.
JW began to whimper and was soon crying desperately.
"Great Lance," she said with an annoyed tone, "Scare him a little more why
"I didn’t mean to scare him."
"Well you did," she said.
"What the hell Willa? Do you really think I want to make him cry?" He asked.
"I don’t know what to believe with you anymore," she said.
Finally having enough of the strange behavior Willa was throwing his way,
Lance dropped his hands heavily to his sides and left the room. "I can't
stand you when you're like this!"
"When I'm like what Lance?" she asked.
He turned around and stared at her. "I'm trying Willa. I'm trying my hardest
to be around for you. Don't push me away."
"I'm not pushing you away," she said with a sigh, "I was the one who invited
you down here in the first place."
Lance sighed again as they made their way down to the living room again.
Willa slid easily into a seat on the couch and held JW against her. She grabbed
for the remote and turned on the television and began to hum along with the
commercial as she rocked JW.
"Can we talk after he goes to sleep?" Lance asked coming around to sit on
the far end of the couch.
"I don't know what you want to talk about," she said.
"We need to make a decision about us. And now before this blows up into something
more than it is."
"Well what is this?" she asked.
"I don't know Willa," he said. "I just don't want this tension between us."
"Tension?" she asked.
"Let's not start down that road again, ok?" he said. "I just want us to be
like we were. I want to spend time with you again and have fun with you and
enjoy being with my son with you."
"Well you have a funny way of showing that," she said angrily clutching JW
to her as she glared at Lance. JW had almost had his eyes closed, but came
awake with a start when she opened her mouth.
"Can I hold him?" He asked, "He fell asleep with me yesterday."
Willa didn’t look to confident about her decision to give him JW, but she
did it anyway and fussed over him for a long time before she sat back and
"So you want to be in his life?" She asked with a mean tone to her voice
as she ran her hands through her hair. "I just hope that you don’t run out
on him the way you did when you found out about him."
Lance glared at her over the top of where JW was laying against his shoulder.
"Willa. I’m sorry. Am I going to have to apologize for that forever?" He
"Maybe," she said. Her eyes met his and he could see the tears in them. "I
can’t trust you Lance. I don’t want to be mad at you, but I can’t trust that
you’re going to be there for me or for him."
"I’m not some deadbeat dad," Lance argued as she looked back at the television.
He grabbed up the remote and turned off the TV. "I’m going to be there for
"What if I don’t want you to be there for him?" She asked, "It’s easier sometimes
if you have a dad that just isn’t there instead of someone who is there only
part of the time."
Lance ran his hand over his face and sighed. "I’m not going to disappear
on you," he said, "You have to know that. Do you think that I would have
been gone if I’d known that JW was mine? I mean do you really think I’m that
big of an ass?"
Willa looked at him again. "I can’t do this," she said, "I can’t go through
that again. I was in love with you..." She paused and put a hand out to him.
"I am in love with you, but I know that I can’t go through that again. You
broke my heart and that can’t happen again."
"I’m not going to let that happen," he said, "What do I have to do to prove
that to you?"
"I can’t just take things back," she said, "I--"
"I didn’t think that you would," he said, "I just want a chance. Give me
until New Years to prove myself to you that I’m going to be here. I know
it’s only a few weeks, but I need that chance."
Willa stared at him.
"If things don’t work out between now and then I’ll leave you alone."
"Really?" She asked.
"I’ll put money away into an account for JW and I’ll pay child support and
all that, but if you really want me to be gone then I will be."
She wondered for a moment if this was just his way to keep this out of the
press or not. She knew if she put up a fuss about it he would get bad press
and the whole roller coaster ride that she’d gone through with Brennan and
Amy would resurface.
Seattle was a horrible mess that Christmas Eve day.
Not only did curious relatives who wanted explanations for Willa's unmarried
status surround her, but the weather wasn't making it a great holiday season
for anyone. A storm had blown in a few hours after her plane had landed the
day before and she'd been sitting in the window since she'd arrived at the
house watching the weather get worse and worse instead of better.
Willa hadn't expected sunny weather, like the southern California weather
she was now used to, but she'd forgotten just how awful the weather could
get in the winter months. She'd hadn't regretted refusing the ticket that
Lance had offered her to come down to Florida to spend Christmas with him
until it started to rain down slushy snow in the early evening hours.
"I should be in Florida right now," she mumbled glancing from the snowy scene
outside to where JW sleeping peacefully in her arms, "Where you and I belong."
"What honey?" her mother asked from across the room.
"Nothing Mom," she said softly as she looked around the crowded living room.
Every relative she'd ever met had shown up to her parents' house and now
the fifteen of them were sitting around the television watching old black
and white Christmas movies.
"Are you ok Willa?" her mother asked.
Willa smiled and leaned to place a kiss on her son's head. "I was just thinking
"Ok," her mother replied.
"Willa honey, maybe you should go to sleep," her grandmother suggested from
her seat next to her, "You look pretty tired and it looks like little James
is ready for bed."
It wasn't at all late, just after eight in the evening, but Willa could have
sworn it was around midnight from the way she felt. She'd been early that
morning not only taking care of JW, but also making sure that her mother
didn't show him off too much. He had become the trophy of the family and
it seemed as if they couldn't get over passing him around and around to show
him to everyone.
"That sounds like a good idea," Willa said and carefully pushed herself off
the couch and made her way out of the living room.
"Night honey," her mother called to her.
"Night everyone," she said, "Merry Christmas."
Everyone said their good-nights as Willa headed up to her room. She would
have turned back to say a more personal goodnight to them, but she was tired
and really needed to get away from them.
JW was just getting back to sleep after being jostled around a little when
her cell phone rang. She grabbed it up from her purse and hurriedly answered
so that the ringing wouldn't keep her son up. "Hello?" she said in a soft
"Why are you whispering?"
"Hi Lance," she said and moved across the room to where her pajamas were.
She looked at the clock and saw the time then did the conversion in her head,
"What are you doing calling me this late?"
"It's not late," he said with a laugh, "Unless you've turned into a little
old lady now that you're a mom."
Slowly she stripped out of her clothes to put on her pajamas as she moved
the phone to her other ear. "It's only eight your time, right? I thought
it was eight."
"Yeah it's eight, but that means it's midnight where you are," she said softly
looking over at JW once again. He was starting to look like Lance. His eyes
had turned a little greener in the last few days and his hair was a light
brownish blonde color like his. "I thought you were going to be with your
"I was," he said with a sigh, "Don't you just love the holidays? I love my
parents to death, but there is only so much bonding that a person can take
before they go crazy. All they kept asking about was JW and they wanted to
call you, but I told them to do it tomorrow. I thought you would want to
handle your own parents before you tried to handle mine."
"Don't say that too loud or they might hear you," she said.
"No they won't."
A car horn could be heard in the background.
"What's that background noise?" she asked, "Where are you?"
"Uh," he said quickly, "I'm on the freeway. I just cut over and didn't signal
"Freeway?" she asked she checked the clock again, "At midnight?"
"Yeah," he said, "I went over to Justin's for a minute tonight to leave him
his Christmas present since he's spending a few days in Tennessee with his
"Oh," she said.
"What are you up to?" he asked, "And how's my boy Fred?"
Willa's breath caught in her throat when she heard him call JW his boy Fred.
"He's fine," she whispered, "I just put him to bed though so I'm trying to
be quiet, that’s why I'm talking so softly."
"The phone didn't wake him up did it?"
"No," she said quickly and walked over to the crib where she'd put him for
the night. "He's still asleep."
"Shit, I'm sorry. I forgot about that. I'll try and remember not to call
so late," he said.
It was surprising to hear him be so concerned about something so little like
that. He had been trying hard the last few weeks to be more involved in their
lives and she loved the attention he gave JW, especially when he'd insisted
upon singing to him over the phone to put him to bed one night.
"Anyway I wanted to call you and tell you that there is a package on it's
way to you."
Willa let out a sigh. They'd discussed Christmas and she thought that they'd
been clear when they'd decided not to go crazy on gifts. She knew that Lance
had the money to buy JW anything in the world that he could ever want, but
she didn't want to start off her son getting used to the idea that he would
be spoiled. JW wasn't going to be a Hollywood/Rockstar kid. He needed to
learn about the real worth of a dollar and that hard work went into the money
that Lance and she earned. "Lance, I told you that you didn't have to get
"It's not for him really, I mean it is, but it isn't. It's for the both of
you I guess."
"What did you buy?" she asked.
"Why do you automatically assume that I bought something?" he asked.
"Well you're sending a present--"
At that moment the background noise behind him stopped.
"Are you home?" he asked.
"Not exactly," he said.
"Where are you going now?" she asked.
"You'll see," he said.
"You mean hear?" she asked with a smile.
"No," he said.
The doorbell rang downstairs.
"I said you'll see."
"What did you do?" she asked.
"You'll see," he said.
"I'm sure I will."
"Are you going to get the door?" he asked.
"I'm standing out here on the front porch freezing my butt off. Go get the
door Willa," Lance finally said.
"You're here?" she asked and looked out the window just in time to see a
cab pull away from the front of the house.
"Yeah," he said, "Don't make me freeze my fingers off."
"I'm coming, I'm coming." She quickly jumped across the bed, grabbed the
baby monitor and made her way down to the first floor again.
"I got the door mom," she said hanging up the phone she pulled open the door
to reveal Lance standing on the front porch, as he'd said he would be.
Lance had been nervous when he'd decided to jump on a flight up to Seattle,
but the surprised and pleasantly pleased look on her face when she opened
the door reassured him that it was the right thing for him to do. He needed
to spend Christmas with Willa and JW. He had missed out on so much already
that he didn't want to get any more behind.
"That was quick," he said with a smile readjusting the bag on his shoulder.
He tucked his phone into the front pocket of his jacket and looked past her.
"Can I come in?"
"Willa let Lance in and close the door!" her mother yelled from the living
"She knew?" Willa asked.
"I didn't want to crash at the house without a warning so I called her and
told her that I thought that her grandson needed to see his daddy on Christmas."
"He's only a few weeks old," she said, "He won't even remember this Christmas."
"Yeah well you and I will and I thought I'd feel a lot better if I was here
with the two of you instead of in Florida."
"What about your parents?" she asked.
"I spent this morning with them and we did Christmas together. My parents
understand and actually I think my mother was going to kick me out if I didn't
come up here to see you."
"Willa!" her mother yelled.
"Sorry mom," she called back and pulled him into the room, closing the door
Knowing that her mother would want to see Lance and that her other relatives
would want to meet the father of her son she reached for his bag. She took
it away from him and set it near the wall out of the walkway. "Give the relatives
a few minutes then we'll go upstairs and check on JW," she said.
"Sounds fine to me. I haven't made any plans for the time that I'm here.
I just have to be back in Orlando by December thirtieth."
"You have plans for new years?" she asked.
Shifting his eyes away from where they might make eye contact with her he
shifted his weight from one foot to another then slid out of his jacket.
He folded it in half long ways then lay it over his bag. He pushed up the
sleeves of his long turtleneck and looked around for a moment. "Yeah. MTV
wanted me up in New York, but I've planned something else," he said.
"Party down in Orlando?" she asked, "Like last year?"
"Whoa," he said with a puzzled look on his face, "It's already been a year
since that whole Brennan and Amy fight. I didn't realize it had been that
"Yeah," she said, "Hopefully this year will be a little less stressful than
Thinking about the plans he made Lance found a smile forming on his face.
It would definitely be less stressful than last year. For one he wasn't going
to be anywhere near Amy and Brennan if he could help it.
After spending twenty or so minutes meeting the relatives Lance began to
fake yawn. He did it more for her benefit than his. She seemed so uncomfortable
with him talking to her relatives that he felt he needed to save her, so
soon they found their way up the stairs.
They entered her room quietly and she immediately snuck over to JW's crib
to check on him.
"Is he still asleep?" Lance asked as he put his bag down and kicked off his
shoes and put them near his bag in the corner.
"Nope," she said after a moment.
"Freddy boy," Lance said coming over to where Willa had picked him up and
was holding him. He put a hand on JW's back and leaned and kissed his head.
"Santa isn't going to bring you anything if you stay up all night."
When he looked up he thought he saw tears in Willa's eyes.
"I think he needs to be fed and changed before we put him back to sleep,"
she said with a cough and turned away from Lance to take JW over to the bed.
"Why don't you get his bottle, since I feel strange about going into your
mother's kitchen, and I'll change him?" he suggested.
"You'll change him?" she asked.
"Yeah. Don't leave your mouth open like that or flies might fly in there,"
She immediately shut her mouth from where it had been hanging open a little.
"What? You don't trust me?" he asked.
"No," she said, "I just didn't think you knew how."
"I practiced," he said.
"When?" she asked, "On who?"
"Don't let this get out, but Wes and I practiced on a doll."
"Wes?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "I have a feeling that he's going to be helping baby-sit
for a while so I thought he needed to learn too."
"Well who taught you?" she asked.
"My mom," he said, "Over the phone. It was kinda funny trying to describe
how to do this without seeing what was in front of her."
"Are you sure you've got it?" she asked.
"Hand him over," he said and held out his arms.
Willa handed JW over and paused for a moment to put a spit rag on Lance's
shoulder. "Well I guess I'll leave you two boys alone. All the stuff is in
the diaper bag at the end of the crib," she said, "Don't worry if you mess
up. I can fix it when I get back."
"Just go," he said.
Willa smiled at him and left the room.
"Oky-dokey little Fred," he said. He carried the baby over the bed and lay
him down on his back so that he could look up. Lance wasn't sure how well
the little guy could see, but at least he'd be able to see something while
he waited for Lance.
Grabbing up the pillows from the head of the bed he put them on each side
of JW to make a little barrier so the little kid couldn't get hurt rolling
off the bed then he reached for the diaper bag.
"What do we have here kiddo?" Lance said pulling out a toy he handed it to
JW who immediately put it to his mouth. "Not the choice I would make, but
Lance moved quickly and pulled JW out of his sleeper, put him into a new
diaper then was putting him back into his jumper when Willa came back in
"Wow," she said, "I'm impressed."
"Yep," he said, "Good as new."
Willa smiled and held out the bottle to him. "Wanna feed him too?"
"Sure," he said.
Willa set the bottle down on the nightstand and moved the pillows so that
Lance could lean back against the headboard. "Lean back a little and hold
JW and then I'll give you the bottle."
Lance did as he was instructed and soon he had JW, half-asleep and sucking
on his bottle.
"You're a natural."
"This doesn't feel natural," he said.
Willa moved to his side and held onto the bottle for him. "Stretch your arm
a little. Once he gets a little older he'll be able to hold the bottle himself,
but for now we're stuck doing it for him."
"Stuck huh?" he asked. Her head was close to his and he wanted to lean over
and kiss her but he knew he couldn’t. He might be back in her good graces
again, but he wasn't about to push the line that still was between them.
He needed to take his time and see where things went before he tried to make
a move back into her life.
"You know what I mean," she said. She nervously pushed hair behind her ear
with one hand.
With his free hand Lance pushed her hair further out of her face.
"No trouble," he said.
"So where are you going to sleep tonight?" she asked.
"I don't know." He wanted to tell her that he wanted to sleep there with
her. He had spent the last few weeks talking to her before he went to sleep
at night and he wanted to be able to talk to her again tonight before he
went to sleep. He knew though that this would be impossible. "Wherever you
want to put me."
JW stopped slurping on his bottle and the two of them looked to find him
asleep again. He had a little milk drooling down the side of his face, but
soon Lance wiped it away. "Wouldn't want people to think that my little guy
is a drooler."
Feeling the tension build between them Lance moved to put him back in his
crib, but Willa reached out a hand to stop him. "Don't," she said, "He'll
wake up again if you move him."
"What do you want me to do?" he asked, "Stay here all night?"
"Yeah," she said.
"I can't do that," he said, "You need to get some sleep too and I'd feel
bad about kicking you out of your bed."
"We can both fit," she said.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
He watched her nod carefully. "Yeah."
"So I guess I just get to stay in my clothes?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Can you do me a favor though?" he asked as he settled back a little into
"Sure," she said.
"Well first can you make sure that my phone is off?" he asked. "It's in my
She got up from her place and found the phone, turned it off then put it
back into the pocket of the jacket.
"Can you take off my belt?" he asked. "I'll undo it, but I can't pull it
off without moving too much."
Willa stared at him.
"It's not like you haven't done worse," he said with a laugh. He moved his
hand and undid the belt buckle while staring at JW to make sure that he didn't
Soon the belt was off and Willa was back sitting on the bed next to him.
When she went to go put the belt on his bag she grabbed out a blanket from
the closet and lay it over Lance.
"Snuggle up," he said softly after she reached and turned the lights off.
Willa must have thought he was talking to JW because he didn't feel her anywhere
on the bed next to him for a long time.
"Willa," he said, "I'm going to freeze to death if you don't get over here
and snuggle up with me. I've been in Florida for the last week. I'm not used
to this weather."
Willa hesitated, but soon he had her snuggled up to his one side and JW snuggled
to the open side of his body.
"Comfy?" he asked Willa.
She nodded and whispered, "Yes."
"Relax sweetie. We're just going to sleep."
"I know," she said, "I know."
He heard the emotion in her voice. "Are you ok Willa?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she said softly. "I'll be fine."
"We need to talk tomorrow," he said.
"Hmm," was her only reply and soon Lance felt her breathing slow and she
snuggled up to him more in her sleep as she fully relaxed for the first time
since he'd gotten there.
It was early the next morning when Lance heard a small cry in his ear. It
wasn’t exactly the way he would have liked to be woken up after a slightly
sleepless night, but when he saw his son’s face looking up at him he smiled.
"Morning JW," he said softly as his son blinked and gurgled at him, "I know
big guy. I'm up."
Leaning over Lance found the clock in the room and noticed that it was way
too early to be up. Normal people usually got up at this time, but he was
on vacation and didn't need to be getting up just when the sun was.
Trying not to move he slowly woke up. His back ached and his shoulder and
part of his arm were asleep, but other than that he didn't have much to complain
about considering all things.
"It’s way too early to be up," Lance said softly. His voice was thick with
sleep and his body protested his conscious status due to the fatigue from
the flight the day before, but seeing his son there with him put him at ease.
He was in Seattle; with them; where he belonged; and that made his day start
out way better than it would have been if he’d been stuck in Orlando that
JW yawned and whimpered a little. "I know Fred," he said, "It’s way too early
to be up. We’re going to have to work on that one. Rule one in life: Never
get up early unless you seriously have to."
JW gurgled happily at him again sticking out his tongue a little.
"Great. A comedian," he said with a nod as he patted his back. JW let out
another yawn and gurgled at him.
"Lance who are you talking to?" Willa asked groggily from next to him.
Lance turned his head and readjusted JW on his chest so that he could see
Willa. Her eyes were slightly open and she was watching them with a pinched
expression on her face as if she were trying hard to stay asleep.
"JW and I were having a bonding moment," he said, "We were learning that
sleep is a good thing and that we should never wake up early unless we really
"Can you keep it down?" She asked through her squinted eyes and snuggled
into his shoulder more.
Somehow in the middle of the night she'd draped herself over his body and
was now practically lying half on top of him with her head tucked to the
side of his neck and her arm curled around his chest. Her hand was now tucked
just under the edge of his T-shirt and when she moved to get closer to him
she grabbed onto his side a little. He had to keep himself from laughing,
not because it was at all funny, but because he was a little ticklish in
In her still sleepy state she didn’t seem to notice how they were lying together
and he wasn’t about to inform her of where she was. He liked the idea of
the two of them there together and wanted the warm feeling of her against
him to last just a little longer that morning.
"Sorry Fred," he said softly. He turned his head and pressed his lips lightly
to her forehead. The kiss he placed there lasted only seconds, but he was
grateful that she didn’t pull away or make a comment about it. I she had
she would have ruined the whole moment.
Finally it seemed that Willa had woken up enough to know where she was and
he thought that she’d been shocked by him using her nickname again. She lifted
her head up to look at him and was about to open her mouth to say something
when Lance leaned and kissed her, cutting off any comment she could have
Her lips reacted to his, matching the kiss he gave, but when she pulled back
she had a very confused expression on her face.
Feeling the tension between them return Lance coughed a little. "Merry Christmas,"
he said softly and reached to push her hair back from her face.
"Merry Christmas," she mumbled then looked at JW instead of him.
Seeing that the subject was going to be ignored Lance moved to sit up a little.
"JW woke me up. I think he needs to be changed."
"You want me to do it?" she asked and leaned her head against his shoulder.
Lance smiled. It wasn’t a definite answer about how things would go between
them, but at least she hadn’t gotten up and run away. He didn’t know if he
could have handled that.
"No," He said, "I’ll do it."
Willa reached out and took JW’s little hand in hers. "Morning Mr. JW," she
said, "Merry Christmas."
JW gurgled a little then began to start to look like he might cry.
"I should get up," Lance said.
"I love the fact that you’re going to change him, but does that mean you
really have to move?" She asked and moved to press her cheek against his
"As much as I’d love to stay like this for the rest of the day, I think that
JW would get a little...well a little fussy," he said.
A giggle escaped her mouth and she smiled at him. "You said fussy."
He nodded. "So?" He said with a mock defensive tone.
"I guess we should get up and change him then," she said.
"Yeah," Lance said, "And you have to open your presents."
"I told you that I didn’t think we should go overboard with gifts," she said.
As Willa untangled herself from him to push herself into a sitting position
Lance felt a chill go through him. He hadn’t noticed how much he liked the
way she was lying with him until the heat of her body disappeared.
"Did you see me bring a moving van with me last night?" He said.
"No," she said.
"Well I only brought one gift a piece," he said.
"Only one?" She asked.
"Did I stutter?" He asked with a laugh. "I love the way you get all sad looking
when you aren’t getting spoiled."
"Whatever Lance," she said.
Lance moved to get up and went through the motions of changing JW while Willa
sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed her eyes as she watched him.
"Done," Lance said holding his hands up when he was done.
"What are you doing?" She asked, "Calf roping? You look like those rodeo
guys on TNN when they tie the little cows up then put their hands in the
"They’re called cowboys," he said with a smile and picked up his son and
held him against his shoulder for a moment.
Willa pushed herself to a standing position. "Why don’t I take him to get
breakfast and you get a shower then we’ll see what my parents are up to today?"
"Sounds good to me," he said. He kissed his son’s forehead then handed him
over to Willa.
"Grab up your stuff and I’ll get you a towel and you can shower."
Lance nodded and the two of them went to work. It was almost like old times.
He remembered them way back when they would work together instead of against
each other. He actually remembered that Willa usually the one helping him
get out the door or get done, but he still liked the idea of them being a
Willa was just putting JW into his carrier after she'd changed him and fed
him when Lance strolled into the kitchen wearing jeans, a T-shirt and socks.
"Your mom's up," he said as he pulled out a chair and sat down next to her.
She put her foot up on the edge of his chair from where she was sitting in
the other chair. He patted the top of her foot, "I saw her in the hallway."
Willa could see the sarcastic look on his face as if their meeting had been
the highlight of his morning. It was that reaction that had kept her from
inviting him to Seattle in the first place. She knew her parents were proper
people and wouldn't say anything to Lance about their unmarried status, but
somehow she knew that there would be tension between them always.
"She didn't attack you or anything did she?" Willa asked.
"No," he laughed. His hand moved to her ankle and encircled it. "You're getting
skinny again," Lance said.
"Thanks a lot," she said and rolled her eyes.
"I meant that you're losing the baby weight fast. It wasn't supposed to be
"I didn't take it that way," she said.
Silence filled the room.
"SO what did my mom have to say to you this morning?" she said softly, "I
didn't hear any yelling so it sounds like you survived."
"Yeah well she yelled the other day," he said, "She got all that out the
other day on the phone."
Willa's eyes went wide. She knew that her parents weren't thrilled with the
whole situation seeing that her father still couldn't get used to the idea
that first his daughter had lost her virginity, and second that it was to--in
his words--a rockstar. "She did what?"
Lance smiled, "I'm kidding Willa. Your mother loves you and gave me a good
lecture, but I don't think she'd actually yell at me."
"Don't get too comfortable Mr. Bass," her mother said coming into the kitchen.
She wore a long robe, tied tightly around her as she went over to the coffeemaker
and began to prepare coffee for the morning.
When she was done Willa's mother came to her side and gave her a half hug
then leaned over and pressed a kiss to her grandson's forehead. "Merry Christmas
"Merry Christmas Grandma." Willa spoke in a tiny voice as if JW was answering
her then looked over and smiled at Lance.
"Grandma?" her mother said and looked over at Lance and pointed a finger.
"I should really kick you out for that one."
"Me?" he asked with a smile, "I didn't call you Gran--I didn't call you that."
"Yeah, but it's your fault I'm a grandma," she said with a laugh.
"Mother are you drunk?" Willa finally asked when her mother laughed her way
across the room and began to pull out things to make breakfast with. Willa
turned to Lance, "What is she smoking? She's never this laid back."
"Willa honey, I am in the room," her mother said.
"Well I want to know what's going on because you're never this informal and
you told me the last few times that I saw you that you hated Lance!"
"No reason," her mother said and winked at Lance.
"Mrs. Marviani," he said with a warning tone.
"I'm sorry sweetie, but I can't help to be glad that you to are back together."
"We're not--" Willa looked at Lance, "We're not officially back together."
"You aren't?" her mother asked looking at the two of them with a critical
"No!" Willa said and looked at Lance. "No offense Lance."
He just gave her a look and stood up from where he was sitting. He reached
over and picked up JW and without a word left the room. She couldn't tell
if he was just not making a comment on the situation or if he had been hurt
by her comment so instead of sticking around to argue with her mother Willa
went in search of Lance and her son.
She found the two of them on the couch. Lance had stretched out in front
of the television and was holding JW on his stomach patting his back.
"Lance?" she asked.
"Hmm?" he said lazily.
"Why'd you leave?" she asked.
"I didn't want to hear you bash me so I thought I'd leave before it got ugly."
"I wasn't bashing you," she said, "Were you really offended when I got defensive
about us being together?"
"A little," he said keeping his eyes on his son and not her.
"What Willa?" he said with a sharp tone. "I thought that we were moving forward,
but it seems like I've gotten no where with you the last few weeks. You still
don't trust me."
"It's ok Willa," he said, "Really it is. I didn't expect to come her and
have you fall back into my life, but I thought at least we can come back
to being friends again…for JW's sake if nothing else."
Willa stood and watched him. His expression was very serious and his tone
had been scary. He seemed to have made up his mind about things. She'd thought
that they would eventually get back together, but discussing that in front
of her mother definitely wasn't that place to be talking about such things.
"It's not that I don't want to be friends or--" She took a deep breath. "My
mother likes to blow things out of proportion and I knew that if I told her
that we were talking again that she'd tell all the relatives that we were
back together. My relatives would have assumed that meant that we were going
to get married or something."
"Really Willa," he said and finally looked up at her, "You don't have to
Willa flopped down into the seat across from him. "But I do have to explain,"
she said, "You and I need to be honest with each other, especially now that
we have a child involved. I want JW to grow up in an environment where he
doesn't have to be too critical of people and in a setting where lying isn't
"That's fine Willa," he said, "I don't have a problem with that," he said.
He got up and handed her JW.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"To get your present and JW's present," he said.
He smiled at her and cocked his head to the side a little and smirked at
her. "I'll be right back."
Willa watched him leave and could tell that the good mood he'd been in that
morning was now gone. She didn't know what to do to restore that nice little
feeling that had been between them when they'd woken up that morning and
it scared her that this "fight" they were in was going to last forever.
"What do you say Fred?" she asked her son smiling at him, "Do you think Daddy
needs to stay or go?"
JW gurgled and smiled at her.
"That doesn't help," Willa groaned out.
"Talking to yourself?" Lance asked coming back into the room. He carried
two small boxes in his hand as he sat down next to her.
"No," she said, "He and I were just discussing some issues we're having."
"He doesn't need a shrink already does he?" Lance asked.
"No," she said, "We just needed to make a decision, but since he can't really
state his opinion, it's been a bit of a struggle."
Lance held up the two boxes, "I'll trade you JW for these."
"You sound like you're playing a card game."
"Give me a break Willa," he said, "I want you to open them and I thought
I could hold JW."
Willa's eyes shut as she blushed. She hadn't meant for it to sound like she
was upset at him about it. It had been a joke, but he hadn't taken it that
way. She never would have really accused him of trying to buy JW's love or
her love. She might think it every once in a while, but she never would say
it aloud to Lance.
"Fine," she said. She moved JW over into Lance's arms and picked up the first
She held the box up so JW could see it. "This one's for you JW," she said
and pulled the box open slowly to reveal a CD inside.
She held it up. "He's a little young to start a CD collection."
"Just read the titles," Lance said.
Willa looked at the song titles and smiled, "Puff (The Magic Dragon), This
Old Man, Skip To My Lou, House At Pooh Corner, Baby Beluga, The Banana Boat
Song--What'd you do? Go on napster and get all these?"
"No," he said, "I sang them for JW."
"You spent studio time singing these for him?"
"Yeah," he said, "It was kinda funny to have JC producing children's songs."
"You guys did that for him?"
"I won't tell you how much it cost to do it, but really I think that at least
if I can't see him every day of his life, that he should at least be able
to hear my voice."
"You won't see him every day?" she asked in a daze.
"Yeah," he said, "Because I have to be on tour and stuff."
"Oh," she said.
Lance smiled. "Go on and open the other one."
Willa opened the other box and found another CD in it. "What's this one?"
"Just read the titles."
Willa looked at the cover for a moment. It was a picture of New York City.
The titles on the back didn't seem to have any connection to anything and
she looked at him with a confused look.
"You don't get it do you?" he asked.
"Not really," she said.
"Well, the first song was the song I wanted to dance with you the first time
I met you. The second is the one that was on in the car when we went to the
photo shoot for the video. The third is the song from the video, and it goes
on and on through up until the last time I saw you before I found out about
JW being mine."
Willa was shocked that he would remember all those dates and all those songs.
When she read through the titles again she began to remember those songs
being a part of their lives.
"I thought you needed a reminder of what we used to be like and I figured
that the songs would help since I really don't have much of a scrap book
or whatever to give you."
"I thought she knew?" she asked.
"I called you that one night and the guys and I sang it to you," he said.
"I know." She wiped a tear away that had formed in the corner of her eye.
"You told me not to spend money on a huge gift so I put my head into it,"
Willa put her chin to her chest and wiped her eyes. "How long did this take
you to do?" she asked.
"I had to search a while, but it was worth it," he said. He leaned a little
and said, "There will be another CD on the way, but it's not quite done yet."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "I'm going to play it for you on New Years."
"Yes really," he said, "You'll have to wait to hear that one."
New Years itself was supposed to be a time for celebration, but when he pushed
through the front door of his house he felt like screaming for joy. He normally
loved coming home, but after the last week, dealing with his son's grandparents
and other relatives, he was truly due for a little rest and relaxation. They
really weren't THAT bad, but he needed to be on his own turf to deal with
the events that would take place in the next few days. He'd never really
believed in home-court-advantage, but that week he was searching for anything
that would help him out since it seemed as if he was already behind when
he started anything that dealt with Willa.
His phone bill that month was going to be enormous. When he'd gotten the
chance he'd been calling back and forth to plan the party that they would
go to that New Year's Eve. It was going to be held at Justin's house and
it seemed as if all the guys had been excited to help out with the plans.
They hadn't all spent the New Years together in a few years and he wanted
them all to be present for this year's celebration.
"Are you gonna move out of the way or are you going to stand in the doorway
forever?" The sarcastic tone of the man behind him broke him from his daze.
He looked back to see the three of them watching him. Wes and Spanky who
were both carrying luggage and Willa who was trying not to laugh at him from
where she stood holding JW.
The sun was just beginning to rise when they'd landed at the Orlando International
Airport and he'd been surprised to see Wes waiting for him there. He hadn't
expected the guy to get up to meet their red-eye flight. He'd been there
though and had even been excited to see them--well excited to see JW anyway,
seeing that he grabbed the little guy from Willa immediately and hugged him
so tightly that Lance though his son's eyes might pop out of his head.
That had been one luxury of being in Seattle that Lance was going to miss.
He hadn't had a shadow for the time he'd spent at Willa's parents' house,
but now Wes was back on his tail and with Willa being with him, Spanky had
joined the circus.
Lance pushed the door open the rest of the way and stepped back to pick up
the bag that he'd taken out of the trunk after they'd parked the car in the
driveway. "Oh, right. Sorry."
"You'd think you were never home or something," Spanky teased as he passed
him and disappeared into the house. "You're getting too used to this jet-setting
stuff. You're a dad now LB, you need to stay home more."
Wes entered and Lance found himself watching Willa standing on the front
porch. "What's wrong?" he asked when she didn't move to come in.
"Nothing," she said peaking into the house before she actually went through
the door. "It's just been a long time since I've been here."
"Oh," he said, "Yeah, I forgot about that."
In the living room the fake plastic Christmas Tree that his mother had gotten
him was still up, a reminder of the Christmas he'd missed with his family
and the one he'd spent with Willa and JW.
His mother had been a saint the last few weeks with all his drama. She and
his dad weren't at all pleased with the way that things had worked out with
him and Willa, but by their actions no one ever would have known. Having
a kid out of wedlock was a big no-no, but they seemed to realize that it
was going to be harder on him to deal with things if they didn't support
him than if they did.
"Nice tree," she said pulling JW from her shoulder so that he could see the
tree. "DO you like Daddy's Christmas tree Fred?"
JW yawned and closed his eyes. After he let out a sigh he went back to sleep.
"Gotta love that," Lance said with a chuckle. "He's only a few months old
and he's already a critic."
"Yeah well he's got good taste most of the time," she said, "Other than when
he's listening to someone sing in the shower."
"I told you that wasn't funny!" he said defensively. "I didn't really know
that I was singing that loud."
"Did you know that you were singing that off-key?" she asked, "I thought
you were a professional. I never expected you to completely butcher a song
as easy as--"
"I don't usually sing country," he said.
"That Garth Brooks--excuse me--Chris Gaines song isn't at all country," she
said with a laugh.
"Whatever," he said and turned around to find both Wes and Spanky watching
"We're going to head out for the day," Wes said, "You two have fun. We'll
see you tonight."
"Night guys," Willa said.
"Night?" Wes asked.
"You don't think I'm going to stay up all day now do you?" she asked, "If
I'm going to party down like a rockstar at this new years thing tonight I've
gotta get my beauty sleep."
"You don't need it sweetie," Spanky said.
"Thank you Spanky," she said with a smile, "You're going to be ok hanging
out with Wes today aren't you?"
"Yes mom," he said with a sarcastic tone.
"You guys be good," she said and went into the living room.
When the guys left a few minutes later Lance told Willa that he'd carry stuff
upstairs while she changed JW.
She nodded and followed up to the second floor.
"Where are you going with my bags?" she asked.
"I'm putting them in my room."
"Why?" she asked.
"I thought I'd put you in there and I'd sleep in the guest room," he said
motioning toward his room.
"Why?" she asked, "I can sleep in the guestroom just fine."
"I was going to let you have it since you might need the bathroom for JW,"
"I don't want to put you out or anything," she said.
"Willa, I'm not at all put out by sleeping in the guest room."
"Why don't you just share the room with me?" she asked, "We've done it before."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes," she said.
"Ok," he said.
Packing and unpacking was never fun for Lance, but as he put away the things
he'd taken with him to Seattle and the other things that had been delivered
from the bus he chatted with Willa.
"So did you have a good Christmas?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said, "I hadn't expected you to be on my doorstep."
Lance didn't look at her when he spoke next. He just kept his eyes on his
packing, not sure if he wanted to see her reaction to his question. She could
say one thing, but her eyes would tell the truth. "So was that a good thing
or a bad thing?"
"Definitely a good thing."
"Really?" he asked and paused to look at her. She was leaned up against the
pillows at the head of the bed feeding JW with a blanket thrown over her
"Why wouldn't it be?" she asked. "You saved me from my relatives."
"Oh." It was the only response he could think of. He didn't know what else
to say. He had hoped she was glad to see him for other reasons, but she didn't
seem like she was going to give him what he was waiting to hear.
"What do you want me to say Lance?" she asked rocking JW in her arms.
"Nothing," he said, "I'm going to go downstairs and make some last minute
calls about the party. You should take a nap or something."
"Lance are you ok?" she asked.
"Uh, yeah," he said and scooted quickly out of the room. He wanted to avoid
that conversation if he could. He didn't need to be sobbing to her about
the time they'd spent apart and the way that all he wanted to do was to be
with her again. If she had that attitude about it he wasn't sure that he
wanted to be with her again.
When she felt the tap on her shoulder she turned around expecting it to be
someone else. When she found Justin's mom standing there with a very worried
look on her face she got very worried. "What's up Lynn?"
"Honey, I don't mean to bother you, but JW won't go to sleep. He's really
fussy and I think he may have a fever," Lynn Harless said into her ear, "He's
probably teething or something like that--
"Really?" Her heart beat out of her chest and she looked around for Lance.
If something was wrong with JW he should know about it.
"I hate to pull you away from the party, but I think he wants his mommy,"
she said with a smile.
Willa wasn't sure that she wanted to leave the party just yet. She had heard
horror stories about mothers who were too protective when their kids were
little and then the kids turned out of be killers or something like that.
"Did he take a bottle?" she asked trying to think of any excuse for him not
to be going to sleep on time.
"Nope," she said, "I've tried all my tricks, but he's just not cooperating."
"Ok," Willa said with a sigh, "Let me just tell everyone that I'm leaving
and I'll come up and check on him. Thanks for coming to find me."
"No trouble," Lynn said and turned and walked towards the house stopping
only a moment to socialize before she disappeared into the house.
Willa returned to the group that she'd been talking with and immediately
"What's wrong?" Joey's girlfriend Kelly asked.
"Nothing really," she said trying to convince herself of that, "JW is just
being fussy and I thought I'd go help him get to sleep. I'll be back though…it's
She pushed her way through the crowd on the porch and waved to people as
she searched for a way to the back door.
"Where are you going?" he asked grabbing her arm from where he was standing
with a group of people talking. They hadn't spoken much since the incident
earlier that day and when the party had started it had seemed like Lance
wanted nothing to do with her so it was hard for her to see why he was so
Willa sighed and tried to stay calm. "Lynn said that JW isn't feeling good
so I'm going to check on him."
He looked at his watch then at her with a worried look on his face. "But
it's almost midnight."
"I don't care," she said and looked back towards the house.
"Just wait a minute," Lance said pulling on her arm.
Willa was getting frustrated now. This was so immature of him to act that
way. Hadn't he just heard what Mrs. Harless had just said? JW wasn't feeling
well and she needed to go find him. She didn't need to stay to count down
the new years with Lance.
"I'm going to go see JW," she said heading towards the main house where Lynn
supposedly had been trying to get JW to sleep, not that anyone could sleep
with that kind of noise going on in the backyard.
"Please Willa," he said, "Just five more minutes."
Willa looked back at the pathetic look on his face. "Why is this so damn
important?" she asked angrily yelling a little over the sound of the music,
"Our son might be sick and you want to go party?"
Lance frowned pulling her close to his body he trapped her against him with
his arms leaning his head so that it was next to hers. "That's not what I
want…I just want you to stay here for another few minutes."
He seemed antsy about the whole situation. She'd seen him drink a few beers
that night and she was worried that maybe he was a little too drunk for his
own good. His hands were all over her now and while she normally would have
cherished that feeling, her son was not feeling good and she needed to go
and find him.
"Fred what's wrong?" he asked.
With groaned out her frustration and stomped her foot. "I'm trying to go
figure out what is wrong with our son and you want to party." She took a
deep breath and stepped back from him, pushing his hands off of her so that
she could get away. "I knew this wasn't going to work. I knew it. I never
should have come here!" She tried to pull away but Lance caught a good grip
on her hand.
She didn't want to cry in front of him and she surely didn't want to cause
a scene in front of everyone else at the party, but she couldn't help it.
"Willa wait a minute."
"Wait?" she asked, "Wait for what?" She turned and looked at the yard full
of people dancing around and partying. "What the hell is so important that
I can't leave here right now?"
Suddenly it seemed as if everyone had turned and was watching them. She felt
completely embarrassed about making the scene that she was making, but she
couldn't understand why he was making such a big fuss over the party.
She jerked her hand away and Lance unsteadily fell to one knee.
"Are you ok?" she asked seeing that he wasn't getting up right away.
"No," he said firmly.
"Now what's wrong with you?"
"Come here," he said and reached out for her hand. She looked around again
and everyone now was really watching them.
"What?" she asked, "Everyone is staring at you right now."
"No," he said looking around, "They're staring at you."
"Do you like embarrassing me?" she asked angrily.
"No," he said.
"Well then get up."
"I have to ask you something first," he said.
"Ask me what?" she grabbed onto his hand and tried to pull him up, but he
"I have to ask you something first," he repeated.
"How many drinks did you have?" she asked, "You're repeating yourself now."
Lance's face suddenly turned completely serious. "Will you shut up for a
second Willa? I'm trying to propose to you and well I'm not doing a very
good job of it."
Willa immediately dropped his hand and backed away.
"Propose?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. He scooted towards her, took her hand then looked up at her.
"Marry me Willa."
"What?" she said looking around. She thought for a moment that she'd heard
him wrong. Everyone was still watching them and she figured that they'd all
think he'd just had too much to drink.
She would have thought that she'd become a little tipsy, but she hadn't had
anything to drink that night. Why does it sound like he's asking me to marry
him? I've gotta get a grip here.
"Marry me and I'll do anything to make you the happiest woman in the world."
His voice came out sounding desparate, but he was at that point now.
Willa stared at the small box that he lifted up to her. It was open and inside
was a ring that seemed to sparkle somehow in the light from the pool. It
would be just like him to propose in a public place since nothing in their
relationship seemed to happen off the television screens. They were the perfect
little couple to everyone.
A portrait of perfection.
END OF PART THREE
© 2000-2001 Pit Pat Productions