© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 14: First cover
They set an exhausting pace. Kat was starting to get used to the limos, screaming fans and tasteful but bland hotel rooms. She and Howie often snuck off to sample the local cuisine, which helped break the monotony. Nick made good his promise to teach her how to play on his N64. She was getting pretty proficient, though she stood no chance of ever beating him.
AJ continued to teach her dance routines and while her balance and stamina was improving (and her waistline decreasing ~ hooray!), sheíd never make the chorus line. She ran into Kevin from time to time in the hotelsí rec centre, but they ignored each other.
She spent her days writing, occasionally being drawn into photo shoots and interviews as the first and only Backstreet wife. The number of demands for one-on-one interviews stunned her.
"Famous for doing nothing," she noted to Howie one night as they lay in bed.
"Not nothing. You married me, saving me from untold scandal and misfortune. And youíve made everyday since then a happy one," he replied as he continued to read through the chapters she had printed out for him.
"Stop spouting drivel," she smiled. "Iíll think youíve been reading cheap romance novels in your spare time."
"Howie, can you please tell the Firm that I wonít do any individual interviews. I donít mind the occasional one with you, but I am not interested in becoming a public figure. Not for being your wife."
"Fine. But, you are going to have to get used to them. Youíll need to promote your book, books, once they get published."
"That I can handle. Thatíll be for something Iíve done, not someone I married."
"I love this...when are you finishing the next chapter?" he said, finally putting the papers aside.
Kat laughed. "Thatís what you always say."
He snuggled up next her. "When do we ship it of the a publisher?"
"Two days ago."
He sat up quickly. "What?"
"I sent it to an agent that I had been talking to a couple of days ago. She has everything, except that chapter, but Iím emailing that first thing in the morning."
"You have an agent? And you didnít tell me any of this?"
She shrugged, "you are always on stage."
"I am not! Okay, so I am, but you could have told me!"
He got up and jumped around the bed.
"Hey, stop that!" Kat laughed.
"Iím just really happy. So what did she say? Did she love it as much as I do?" he asked as he finally fell back on the bed.
"She said she did. Weíll have to see."
He grabbed her in a big hug. "This is great."
"Yeah. Now will you settle down so I can get some sleep?"
Kat noticed the sideways glances that Howie shot at the man in the bar. She wasnít even sure if he had realized the implication. It had been almost three months since the wedding and Kat knew that Howie had not had a sexual relationship with anyone. He had been determined to be a good husband and to make up for the wedding night. But maybe it was time he moved on... Kevin certainly had.
"If you donít go over and chat him up, I will," Kat whispered to him.
"I...I..." Howie stuttered.
"This is part of the package, Howie. Be discreet. Weíll sort it out later."
"But, I canít..."
"Would you like me to do it for you?" she warned, a smile on her face. "Look, Iíll tell the others that you arenít feeling well and we are going to the club without you. Now go!" she shoved him off the stool, then gestured the bartender over for the bill.
"Kat, we need to figure this out before anything happens," Howie stood beside her as she signed the cheque. "What if..."
"Iíll see you later, Howie," Kat said, ignoring his protestations, and giving him a kiss on the cheek before walking out of the room. Nick and Brian were just coming out of the elevator. She smiled and waved, walking towards them. Then she stopped and peeked back into the bar. Howie had moved over to the man and striking up a conversation. She smiled, ignoring the tinge of jealousy. She had known this day would come. Had hoped that some stroke of magic would suddenly make their marriage a real one, but this was reality. And as much as it hurt, she was glad that she had had the strength to send him on his way.
She walked over to the group, which had expanded to AJ and his girlfriend Tina, as well as Kevin and Mindy.
"Whereís D?" AJ asked.
"Not feeling so well. I figured Iíd let him rest."
"Woohoo, stepping out on the husband," Brian teased.
"Want to be my chaperone, cutey-pie?" Kat flirted.
"Oh baby," he replied holding out his arm.
"Nick? You too? I may be more than Brian can handle."
"This definitely looks like a job for Frick and Frack," he smiled, taking her other arm.
They had a lot of fun at the club. Mindy spent the times when Kevin was away being her usual snide self, but Kat batted her comments off easily. Kat danced with both Nick and Brian, before sending them off to flirt with others. She was a little distracted anyway, wondering about Howie.
It was late when they returned to the hotel, and Kat took special care to make sure the others had gone to their rooms before she moved towards the room she shared with Howie. She knocked lightly, then peeked inside. Howie was asleep. Alone. Sighing, she snuck in quietly, got changed in the bathroom, before slipping into the bed.
"I thought you were asleep!"
"Nope," he chuckled.
"His name is Russell. We had dinner together, and yes, we are going to see each other tomorrow. That gives you and me time to figure things out."
"Like I said earlier. Nothing to figure. You go out with him and if anything happens, it does. Iíll be here to cover for you."
The following night both Kat and Howie begged off. Kat to stay behind establish the cover, and Howie to go out on his date. She focused on the book, writing another two chapters before a timid knock sounded on the door to the suite. Howie peeked his head around the door. "Hi."
ĎHi," she smiled back. "They are all still out."
"Okay, Umm..." he entered the room, with the other man, Russell, behind him.
"Iíll just get my stuff," Kat said, then walked into the their room and grabbed her sweat suit and a book. "Iíll be in the gym. Donít do anything I wouldnít do," she smirked and Howie blushed. She brushed past him and headed to the weight room.
A long workout helped. Kat wasnít sure what hurt more. The fact that Howie was getting on with his life. Or the fact that he was having sex and she wasnít.
Kat sighed. Yep, great marriage. I have the right to have sex with anyone I want, and I canít do it. Howie had adjusted to a life where he took what pleasure he could; tried to have a decent relationship, but realized that it wasnít always possible. Kat had never lead the kind of life he had, constantly on the move. The few times she had tried the one night stand route she had felt horrible afterwards. So had Howie, as he had admitted to her one night. "Probably why he hadnít done anything until the second date," she thought.
"My principles suck," she moaned as she collected her gear and headed back to the suite. Fortunately, this suite had a small living room, in addition to having several bedrooms that led off it. She could curl up on the large comfy sofa, even sleep on it if need be.
She curled up and started reading the novel she had picked up a few days before. The others came in a few hours later, surprised to see her there.
"Howieís not feeling better?" Nick asked.
"A bit. I wanted to read for a while so I thought Iíd stay out here and give him a chance to fall asleep undisturbed."
"I guess we should keep it down then?" AJ asked.
"Ha, thatíd be the day, Bone," Brian laughed. "Why donít we switch rooms?" The suite had three rooms off of it. Kevin and Brian had won the coin toss and gotten separate rooms across the hall. The two men, and Tina, switched their gear from one room to another, being as quiet as possible. Kat felt really bad about lying to them, but it couldnít be helped.
"You are not going to go to bed?" Nick said, sitting down beside her.
"Not yet. Iím almost finished this chapter. You go ahead, Iíll be fine."
"Sure? Okay, Night, Kat." Nick gave her hand a squeeze then headed to his room. Kat was surprised by the gesture. Nick had never been very affectionate towards her. Brian had said that Nick took a while to get to know, and though she and he had had several long talks, this was the first time he had ever shown an actual physical gesture. She was surprised at how good it made her feel. And also how miserable. He had given her a show of support, as she had lied to him.
She shook her head, trying to get all the thoughts that roiled about in her head and directed her attention back to her book.
When Brian came out of his room a few hours later she was asleep on the sofa. He sighed, then turned down all the lights in the room, then went and got the spare blanket from his room and put it over her. She roused at the touch.
"You fell asleep out here."
Kat looked around, realizing where she was, and why she was there. "Oh, must have nodded off while reading," she said, trying to cover.
"Howieís not sick. Heís got a date, hasnít he?" Brian said.
"What? How..." Kat was surprised at the accuracy of the guess.
"His room is next to mine. They seem to still be a little active," he grinned.
"Damn. I thought he would have left by now. Iím sorry, B. I didnít want anyone to know," she sighed.
"They met yesterday. When we were at the club. Thatís why he didnít come with."
"You could have said something to me. I thought we were friends," he complained.
"Brian, this is the first time since... well, you know. I had to let it happen. I just thought we could get through this, and then Howie and I could come up with a better game plan," she explained.
"I suppose. You do realize that he is going to have to tell us the truth sooner or later?" Kat nodded. "So when, Kat?"
"I donít know. Brian please just let him have this, and like I said, we can figure it out. Give us a couple of days. The tour is almost over. Maybe it wonít be an issue again."
"Do you think that will really happen?" he asked.
"No," Kat replied sadly. "But it is the best I can come up with for now."
"Come on. Thereís a spare bed in my room. You can sleep in there."
Kat shook her head. "That would be difficult to explain. And Howie would think I told you without checking with him first. No. Iíll be fine out here. Itís not the first time Iíve fallen asleep while reading I doubt itíll be the last. Itís a good excuse. Let me stick to it."