© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 10: Oscar performance
They pulled up in front of the house.
"Heís still here," Brian said glancing at Kevinís car.
Kat tried hard to restrain a groan, but failed.
"Okay, this is were Ďnot supposed to knowí comes in handy. Letís go." Brian led her up the path to the front door, then opened it, practically kicking it aside and bellowing loudly, "Howie, come and get Kat before she makes me spend all my money!"
They walked into the living room where Howie and Kevin sat. The tension was thick. Howie was surprised to see Brian and her together and it showed on his face.
"Hey, Kevin. Youíre back. You came over to meet Kat? Thatís great. Sorry, she promised to help with some shopping so I absconded with her."
Kat was amazed at Brianís performance, and almost cracked up when he winked at her discreetly.
"AhÖ Hi, B-rok. Yes, I came over to meet the lady who seems to be spending a lot time with Howie." Kevin stood and walked over to her, a smile plastered on his face, "hello. Iím Kevin. Nice to meet you." Anyone looking at the scene would think it was perfectly normal. But Kat could see the anger in his eyes, and the way he squeezed her hand tightly made it clear that she was in for big trouble when Brian left.
"So, cuz. When did you get back?" Brian was off and running, keeping the patter going. Kat wasnít sure who deserved to win an Oscar more. Brian for his fake obliviousness or Kevin for his Ďnope, nothing going on hereí demeanour. Kat walked over and sat down next to Howie.
"You okay?" she whispered.
"Not really. He is not pleased," Howie admitted. "Where were you? I was worried."
"Sorry to leave you alone, Howie, but I figured my presence here would just make it worse." His sigh confirmed it.
"How did you and BrianÖ"
"Bumped into him at the mall. AJ was there too. No escaping Backstreet Boys. I donít understand it. Girls come from all over the world to see you guys and donít. I canít go five feet without stumbling over one," she joked, trying to erase the anxiety lines on his face.
"What did..." he whispered.
"I told him Kevin and I met and that he didnít like me. He said something about kicking Kevís butt."
Howie laughed, and the other two men turned to them. "Something funny, Howie?" the big man asked bitingly.
Howie looked at him innocently, "no Kev. Just talking to Kat."
"Yeah, Kev, canít you see they want to be alone? Come on, I want to hear all about stuff back home," Brian said as he lead the other man away.
Kevin knew he couldnít protest or refuse without letting something slip so he just nodded and followed Brian. He did catch the wink Brian flashed at Howie and Kat and clenched his fists in fury. Damn that girl. What the hell was Howie thinking? Sheíd ruin them. And now Brian liked her. He had to get rid of her somehow.
"Oh boy. Thought heíd never leave," Howie sighed.
"Sorry, D. What he really bad?"
"I told him everything and he was furious. The last thing he wants is you around."
"But itís for him too. I mean Iíll provide cover for him too. You two canÖ He didnít dump you, did he?" she looked concerned at him.
"No. Came close. Did drop the Ďyou or meí line." He sighed, "I didnít fall for it. Iím not stupid, Kat. I know this is going to be over soon, and, damn, but the idea hurts like hell." His eyes were starting to get shiny with tears and Kat wrapped her arms around him, hugging him.
"Shh, its okay Howie. Hey, look at it this way. If he is busy trying to get rid of me, heíll have to spend more time with you." She could hear his muffled laugh on her shoulder.
"Howie, if you want to forget this, letís do it now, okay?"
He lifted his head and stared at her. "No way. I love being with you. It just feels right," he said, echoing her earlier thoughts. "You are the best house mate I could ever hope for, and believe me, Iíve had to share digs with AJ. I do know how bad it can get," he smiled.
He got down on his knee in front of her. "Kat, will you marry me?"
"Howie, you donít have to do this."
"No. I want to do this as right as I can. Will you be my wife?" he produced a small jewel case from his pocket. It contained a diamond ring with small opals, her favourite stone.
So youíd think that announcing the engagement would make life easier? Ha. Kevin was not taking it lying down, and he used every opportunity he had to taunt and ridicule her. Kat had patience, but he was quickly getting on her last nerve.
Kevin walked into the room, looking askance at the lit candles and the smell on incense. Kat ignored him, concentrating on the computer screen in front of her.
"Are you some sort of witch?" he said, wrinkling his nose at the fragrance of sandalwood.
"I've been called that. Though some people pronounce it with a 'B'."
Kevin just looked her.
"Come on, Kevin. You know you want to," she taunted him.
He wouldn't give her the satisfaction. "What are you getting out of this?"
She picked up a stapled document and threw it at him. "Don't believe me? Read the prenuptial agreement. I get little or nothing. No more than what I bring into this. I made sure of that."
"You'll find a way around that though, won't you?" he accused. "You may fool Howie, but you don't fool me."
"Fuck you, Kevin."
"You'd like that wouldn't you?"
She looked at him with scorn. "Not even if you paid me."
"Sorry, no can do," he said throwing the sheaf of papers back at her. "I'd have to add a clause to the prenup." Then he stalked from the room.
When Howie came back she was almost finished packing. He looked at the suitcases and asked, "what's going on?"
"Sorry D, it's not going to work," Kat said as she dropped a couple of books into a box.
"Come on, Kat, don't walk out on me now. I need you."
"No, you need a COVER. Leave me out of this."
"If I just needed a cover, I'd find someone. I need you. You understand me."
She laughed harshly. "No, Howie, I don't. Explain it to me. Explain to me how you could be in love with thatÖ thatÖ"
"Ah. Kevin stopped by."
"I don't need this shit."
"Look, this is upsetting for him. He always thought he'd be the first one to get married. Or Brian. But certainly not the person who is his current lover." Howie took her hand and squeezed it supportively. "Please don't leave me, Kat."
Kat couldn't look at him. She knew he was looking at her with his patented puppy-dog eyes. She'd never been able to resist them. She sighed. "Fine, Howie. I'll stay. I'll marry you and I'll keep your secret. But you keep your little fuck buddy away from me or I swear I'll beat the shit out him."
Howie was right: the affair between Kevin and he was on the wane. But Kat was right also: Kevin came over each and every night, determined to break her resolve, and using Howie to do it. She could hear them next door. Kevin was even more vocal than ever, and caused the same response in Howie. She wasnít stupid, she did have some idea what was going on behind the shut door, and the loud moans and gasps of pleasure were only reminding her of how this marriage would be.
Sure, she and Howie had agreed that they could both take lovers. As long as they were discreet about it. But she knew that it would be easier for him. She had never been good at sleeping with anyone other than someone she cared deeply about. There could be no one like that for the next while. She could only give herself to someone she was free to love. And she was giving up that freedom.
Another loud moan sounded, a deep one. Kevinís. Damn him. He was doing this on purpose. And what would happen when he finally gave up? When he finally told Howie it was over? For Kevin it may just be sex, but not for Howie. He was going to be devastated when it finally happened.
Howie let out a shout of ecstasy that echoed through the walls.
She couldnít take it anymore. She gathered her blanket and pillow and headed down the hall to the study.