© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 13: Away we goÖ

"Note to self: it is hard to concentrate when the room is filled with gorgeous, half-clothed, sexy men who are doing moves that accentuate every muscle, every bulge," Kat muttered to herself as she tried, again, to concentrate on the screen in front of her, rather than the scene in front of her.

It was hard to ignore the pounding music. She loved the new album and would secretly listen to it on her computerís cd, earphones on. It was weird listening to them on the player and then having the Boys walk around in front of her, singing the same songs. She supposed sheíd get used to it in time.

"Your foot keeps tapping. Itís throwing me off." Brian grinned as he stood over her, trying to read the screen upside down.

"Pu-leeze! You have the music at one thousand decibels and a troupe of people wiggling all around you. I doubt my foot is enough to break your concentration. And stop trying to read my book!" Kat laughed.

"B-rok, leave my Pulitzer Prize winner alone," Howie said as he dropped down beside her, trying to kiss her cheek.

"Stop, youíre all sweaty," Kat said as she pushed him away.

"I donít think she loves you anymore," AJ teased.

Howie grunted and stole the laptop from her grasp and started to read what she had written.

"Me next," Brian piped in.

Kat pulled it back, saving and shutting it down quickly. "What is this? Story time?"

"Yep," Brian said as he sat down on the floor in front of her and batted his eyelashes. "Please, Mrs. Dorough, read me a story," he said in a baby-ish voice, then started sucking his thumb.

"Brian," she laughed. "You are such a child. How does Leighanne put up with you?"

"Oh oh. Big mistake," AJ said as Brianís face fell.

"What?"

"Leighanneís not coming with us and Brianís a little upset."

"B, Iím sorry. Howie didnít tell me," Kat said sympathetically as she swatted Howieís arm, then wiped the sweat off her hand on his t-shirt.

"Ow! I didnít know!" Howie protested.

"Itís okay," Brian said sadly. "I just hoped..."

"Maybe, I could let him read one or two chapters..." Kat mused, then laughed as Brian sat up and begged like a dog.

AJ shook his head, "Frick - cats donít like dogs." Then he laughed as Brian brushed his head against Katís leg just like a cat would.

"You guys are nuts," Kat gasped when she stopped chuckling.

 

"What is that? The Kat fan club?" Kevin said acidly to Nick as each pulled a bottle of water from the cooler.

"Theyíre trying to get her to show them her book."

"Book?"

"Yeah, didnít you know? Katís working on a book. Howieís read most of it and raves about it. Brian got to see some of it on the ride over and wants to see the rest." Nick looked over and saw Brianís dog impression and laughed. "See? It must be really good."

"Whatís it about?" Kevin asked, curious despite himself.

"Dunno. Ask Howie or Brian." Nick turned to the other man. "Why donít you like her? Youíve been pretty nasty."

"I...I just think they rushed into it. They hardly know each other," he tried to cover.

"Yeah, maybe. But Howieís happy and I like Kat," Nick summed it up quickly.

"Maybe. But I get the feeling sheís using him," Kevin said.

"I doubt it," Nick shrugged. "You should see the fuss she made when he gave her that laptop. And I heard about the prenup - every time he tried to slip something in for her, she yanked it right out. If they break up all she gets is the clothes on her back and anything she makes from her books, if she sells them. I donít think she even gets to keep the Backstreet t-shirts Howieís given her," he chuckled.

"What do you know about prenups?" Kevin said sarcastically.

Nick looked at him. "Iím not stupid, Kevin. I do know a thing or two about legal documents. Besides, while youíve been off bitching about her, she and Howie have been open about things with the rest of us. Now if you will excuse me, I want to see if sheíll let me read some of the story."


"Not open about everything," Kevin muttered, then realized that if they had been he could be in a lot of trouble. He shook off the thought and went over to Mindy.

"So Frick, she gonna let you read it?" Nick asked as he joined the group.

"He played the Leighanne card," AJ replied. "I think heís gonna get to see a few chapters."

Kat sighed, "please tell me this break is over soon."

"I donít think we are wanted," Brian said turning to Nick.

"Not wanted at all," Nick agreed.

"D, I think you should have called them Tweedledee and Tweedledum, not Frick and Frack," Kat said, leaning against her husband.

"Tried that - they both wanted to be Dee," he whispered back.

"I heard that," Brian said.

"Come on, Kat," AJ said, pulling her up.

"What?"

"If you are coming on tour with us you need to do more than just write. Iím going to teach you some of our routines."

"Gods, no! I get enough embarrassment from you guys without that," Kat tried to pull away.

"Tough, come on."

He pulled her onto the floor, protesting. Behind her, Brian, Howie and Nick tried to open the laptop only to be brought up short by her call, "its password protected and encrypted. Sorry guys."

Howie came over and assisted AJ in teaching her the moves. She didnít do too badly. Not a total flop, but not ready to join the troupe by a long shot. Even Fatima said she had some potential and offered some lessons, but Kat made it clear that she was not going to be a dancer, though she had enjoyed it. She did ask Fatima to give her a routine that she could use to keep in shape.

 

"Europe, here we come," Howie said as the plane taxied away from the terminal.

Kat smiled, but was unable to take her eyes off Nickís white knuckles as he clenched the seatbelt.

"Howie? Do you mind?" she asked and his eyes followed her gaze.

"No problem."

She slipped out of her seat and moved over next to Nick. "I hate takeoffs."

"I hate the whole thing," he replied through clenched teeth.

"So what can I do to distract you?"

Nick grinned evilly.

"Not that," she laughed. "Think what would happen if there was sudden turbulence."

Nick blanched, then paled even whiter as the plane went over a small bump, which shook the cabin.

"I know," Kat said. "You can help me with my book. I have this character who plays video games and you are apparently the expert."

"It would be better if I showed you," he replied, clutching at the turn of conversation like a lifeline.

"Maybe later. Iím a writer, remember? Spoken word is better. Tell me, what is the best system and best game?"

She continued to ply him with questions, listening him discuss techniques for getting more points and analyzing the tips that are posted on the internet. She even took out her notebook and scribbled notes copiously.

About half an hour later Nick stopped, noticing that they had not only taken off but the plane was leveling off after the climb.

"Do you really have a video game playing character?" he asked.

"Hmmm?" Kat looked up to her notes, then smiled. "Not originally, but I do now. This stuff is great," she replied as she waved her notebook. "Can I ask you more questions if I have them?í

"Sure." Then he sat silently for a moment. "Thanks, Kat. The others usually see me through, but I think theyíve gotten tired of trying to distract me."

"Nick, Iíve flown all over the world; not as much as you have, but as much as I love to fly, I always find it scary." She smiled, "probably why I love rollercoasters," Nick groaned. "Oops, forgot, you donít like them, either. Okay, how about scuba diving? There is that element of fear, that challenge, but you do it anyway. Others are scared to death just to put their face in the water." She nodded to the others; "theyíve all got their own fears. This is yours."

"They seem so strong all the time. Iím the baby who hates planes. I mean look at Kevin. Heíd be in the cockpit if he could. I doubt thereís much that scares him."

Kat looked at the man in question. "He has his own fears," Kat replied, knowing what at least one of them was.

Nick looked at her curiously. "Like what?"

Kat smirked, "bad hair days - like today. Whiskers growing out in the wrong direction. Getting Mindyís makeup off his Armani."

Nick chortled. "The amount she wears he have to throw it out and start again."

"Whoa. Sheís being mean to you? I thought she reserved her contempt for me."

"No, she always Ďniceí to me. Sort of like a maiden aunt who doesnít want messy kids in her pristine house." He shivered dramatically. "Makes my flesh crawl."

Kat laughed, then ducked her head as the offending woman walked up the aisle. Kat and Nick looked at each other as she past by and burst into giggles.

"Whatís so funny?" Howie asked as he leaned over the chair.

"Nothing," Kat replied innocently.

"Mindy," Nick said quietly, looking around to make sure no one else heard.

"No comment," Howie said, pulling a face. "Can I get my wife back now?" he whined.

"Yes and no," Kat smiled as she rose from the seat. "Iíll move back next to you, but I want to write up these notes Nick gave me."

"What? Nick gets to be in the book?" Brian exclaimed. "No fair!"

"Hello! News flash! There are no, I repeat no, Backstreet Boys making any appearances in the book," Kat said as all heads in their little group turned their way at Brianís outburst.

"Better not be," Kevin growled.

"Thank you, Kevin. My thoughts exactly," Kat replied. "Nick did give me some pointers on how to flesh out one of the characters, though. Thatís all."

"I can flesh out a character, too," Brian pouted.

"I donít need another petulant character," Kat shot back. "Got one of those all ready."

Howie started to snigger as Kevin flushed. "I think Petulant Boy is getting nervous," Howie whispered in her ear.

Kat remembered what she had called Kevin when they first met. "Shit! Thatís not what I meant, Howie. You know thereís nothing in here thatís..."

"Donít worry. Iíll let him know when he asks. And he will ask."

"Okay. Though, D - if you want to make him squirm a little first, go ahead."

"I just might do that."

Chapter 14