© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name only

Chapter 15: Coming out

"Guys? Can we have a private meeting for a few minutes? Just us?" Howie asked as the group entered the hotel. They had a week to go until the end of the tour. Kat and Tina had gone ahead to the rooms. Mindy had returned to the States, something that caused a sigh of relief for many. Even Kevin seems relieved.

"Sure, just let me stow my stuff," AJ replied.

This time they had two suites. Nick and Brian in one, Kevin, AJ and Tina in another. Kat and Howie were the fortunate ones with their own room. Because he wanted privacy, Howie chose Nick and Brianís suite. There would be no risk of anyone else coming in unannounced.

When the four other men were settled, Howie stood and took a deep breath. "There is something I have to tell you all. This isnít easy."

Brian, who had a strong inkling what it was, smiled his support.

"Iím gay."

"What? You canít be, youíre married," AJ said, stunned.

"Kat knows."

"But..." Nick started.

Kevin just sat there; surprised at the approach Howie was taking. Did this mean that he had finally seen the error of his ways and would get rid of Kat? Maybe that wouldnít be a good idea, though. What was that saying? ĎKeep your friends close, and your enemies closer.í She could still tell...

"I am gay, and have been for a while. Kat knows. Has known since before we got married."

"The marriage is a sham, too?" Nickís mind reeled.

"She agreed to marry me to help me, help us, keep it quiet."

"So what does she get out of it?" AJ demanded. Kevin smiled slyly at him. "Thank you, Bone," he thought. "Bye bye Kat fan club."

"Bone, that is nasty," Brian said, leaping to her defense. "Kat doesnít get anything out of it. She is doing it to help Howie." Brian turned to Howie. "Yes, I knew, and no, she didnít tell me."

"Then how..." Howie was surprised, not only by Brianís admission, but also his tacit show of support.

"I mentioned my suspicions to her once. If anything she has been fighting harder to make it look like you arenít because of that."

"I donít get this. You too seem like a real couple. You even sleep together," AJ put in.

"Sometimes people use the bed to just sleep," Howie replied. "Look, I am gay. I prefer to have sex with men, but that doesnít mean I donít care for Kat. We were friends long before we met, and she knew then." Howie didnít glance at Kevin. He had a feeling he knew what his facial expression would be. "Its because we are such good friends that I asked her for this favour. It took some convincing, and I know I am getting the better end of the bargain, but she agreed. Despite everything we have a real marriage in everything else but sex. I do love her."

"But you two, umm, consummated the marriage, right?" Brian asked. The question he had always been afraid to ask Kat. She deliberately shied away from every discussion of the wedding night and honeymoon.

"No. I have never had sex with Kat," Howie admitted.

"I donít believe this," AJ exploded out of his chair. "Dammit D, I thought we were best friends, why the hell didnít you tell me?"

"Come on guys, you had to have some notion. You have covered for me in the past. All I have done is get someone else to do it for you. Katís done a good job of it, so far. I just didnít think it was fair to continue without telling you the truth."

"So far? You have sex on this trip?" Kevin was suddenly alert.

"Yes. Twice, I mean on two different occasions."

Even Brian was shocked. He had known about the one, but another?

"I donít get this. You can do whatever you want and Kat does what? Sits around and plays dumb?" Nick asked.

"No. The deal is that I do what I want to do and Kat is free to do the same. Just as long as we are discreet."

"So sheís..." Kevin queried, trying hard to look for an extra point to use against her.

Howie looked at him, anger coming through. "No, Kevin, she hasnít," he bit back at the other man.

"But she could?" Kevin was going to flog this dead horse.

"That is the deal." Howie turned back to the others. "Come on fellas, this is Kat. Has she done anything at all to make you think she would do anything to hurt me? To hurt us? She takes this protecting the Backstreet Boys integrity very seriously."

"More so than you do, obviously," AJ responded bitterly.

"Bone..."

Howie was interrupted by a loud knock on the door, then Kat came bounding in. "Howie, I got it! You wonít believe it!" she said excitedly. Then stopped as she felt the stares of the others and the heavy atmosphere in the room. "Whatís going on?"

"I told them," Howie replied.

"You what?!" Kat was shocked and angry. "You promised me that you would warn me first."

"It just seemed right to do it now," he shrugged.

"Right? Right for whom? Damn you, Howie, you promised. You said we would do this together" Kat was furious.

"Kat, please..."

"No! This is unfair. I have covered for you for the last few months and this is how you repay it?"

"Maybe you should leave," Kevin suggested snidely.

Kat swung around to face him. "Shut the fuck up, Kevin. I have had enough of you and your walking blow-up doll for the past while. Why donít you put a sock in it?"

"Here, here," Brian muttered, looking away from his cousin in disgust.

"Listen here, you little bitch," Kevin shouted.

"Iím sorry, did the hypocrite say something?" Kat shot back, silencing him effectively.

She turned back to Howie. "I am really disappointed in you. I guess this marriage is a fake in more ways that one. So much for the partnership aspect," she said bitterly.

"Kat, Iím sorry, I just..."

"Why did you do it, Kat?" Nick asked quietly.

She took a deep breath. "I had to. Howie is," she glanced at him angrily, "was, my friend. He needed help I could give. And in return I got to work on something that was important to me, my writing."

"Heís still your friend, Kat," Brian said. "He had to tell us sometime. You canít babysit him forever."

"I know B-rok, but a little warning would have been nice."

Howie came over and gave her a hug. "Iím sorry. I should have told you. I just had an opportunity to and I took it."

"See, this?" AJ pointed at them. "This is what I donít understand. You two really look like you are in love."

"Who says we arenít, Bone?" Kat asked. "Look, what Howie and I have is what most couples have after years of marriage. Once the sex isnít an integral part of the relationship anymore. We care about each other. Thatís what really matters."

"But no sex?" AJ insisted.

"I donít know what Howie said, but our agreement is that we can both have, umm, affairs," Kat was blushing now. "Heís free to have his, and I could have them too, if I wanted to." She rushed the last part out, feeling very uncomfortable.

She sighed, "look the point is, Howieís gay. Iím not. The marriage works, especially in public. End of story."

"What did you get?" Brian asked.

"Hunh?"

"When you came in you said you got something." Brian had the leisure of sitting back and watching the flow of the conversation.

"Yeah, Kat? What was it? Your turn to get laid?" Kevin taunted.

Kat threw off Howieís restraining hands and slapped Kevin hard across the face. "Fuck you, Kevin."

She turned, and glared at Howie. "I got a three book deal with Random House. Now if you will excuse me, seeing as you have decided to make this your coming out party, and not invited me along, I am going to have my own celebration, and you are not invited," she said, storming out of the room.

 

Nick couldnít believe it. Well, he could believe the Howie being gay part, but he would never have thought that Kat was just a cover. And that Howie had never slept with her. Maybe...

He didnít remember exactly when he had started falling for her. Maybe it was on the flight over, no, earlier than that. He remembered looking at the way she and Howie were together and wishing that he had something like that. Then that he had someone like that. Then, finally, that he had her and Howie didnít. He wanted to be the one who got to kiss those lips. To taste her soft skin. To have her in his bed every night....

And it had all been a sham.

Still. They had both said that she was free to be with a man if she chose to.

Nick was determined to be that man.

Chapter 16