© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 16: More Truths
Kat enjoyed getting away from the hotel and having a chance to wander the city by herself. It was a freedom she only just understood that she had given up.
She had long recovered from her anger at Howie. She knew he would tell them – well Nick and AJ at least. Brian all ready knew and Kevin had his own reasons for his knowledge. It just hurt. She’d put her whole life on the line to protect this secret and she felt that she should have been in on the announcement. Maybe it made sense Howie telling them on his own. She’d only been involved with him for almost a year now. The others had been his closest friends for at least eight times that. Gods, even longer than that for AJ! How had he kept it from him? No wonder the man was so angry.
And Nick – he’d seemed so hurt. He’d finally started to relax around her and now to find out she’d been lying to him since the start.
If only Howie had eased them in… Well, it was too late now.
The heavy meal she eaten was starting to make her tired and she headed back tot he hotel. Still, she didn’t feel up to returning to the suite – she wanted more time alone. She headed to the bar and found the darkest corner. The waiter came and took her order and she sat back, lost in thought.
"You still mad at me?" Howie asked timidly.
"Howie? I didn’t see you."
"AJ and I are over there." He pointed to the other, equally dark, corner table where AJ sat. He waved quickly at them. "He saw you come in. Are you? Still mad at me?"
"No," she sighed. "I just wish you’d warned me."
"I should have," he agreed. "Do you want to join us?"
"Should I? You and AJ have a lot to talk about."
"It was his idea."
"Fine," she said and walked to the other table with him.
"Congratulations on the book deal."
"Well this conversation is stilted," Howie observed.
"What do you expect, D? You dropped a bombshell on us. We were expecting baby announcements not this. The two of you have been lying to us for months," AJ retorted.
"AJ, I’m sorry. This whole situation has been off kilter from the start," Kat said. "We wanted to tell you, to tell everyone, at the start, but we were also afraid that it would throw off the way you accepted me. And we needed a clean performance for the media. I’m sorry."
"So you were just using us," he responded bitterly.
"In a way," Howie said honestly.
"Look, Bone, in most of the ways that matter this marriage is real," Kat explained. "There’s just this one aspect…."
"It’s a pretty big aspect," AJ sighed.
"Yes, it is. And I am sorry if you were hurt by it. But Howie and I needed time. Time to get to know each other. He knew that when it really came down to things he could turn to you, to you all, and you’d support him. He was putting his trust in a wildcard – me. We need time to work things out. Time that wouldn’t be interrupted by me constantly having to prove myself t you."
"Is this why Kevin’s been so dead set against you? Has he known from the start?"
"Unfortunately," Howie said. "Also, he and Kat didn’t have a great first meeting. You know how stubborn he can be. I’m hoping that now things are out in the open he’ll calm down." He smiled," or I’ll have Kat slap him around some more."
Kat groaned. "Please don’t remind me."
"He deserved it," AJ said decisively. "As pissed as I am with the two of you, he did cross the line. A couple of times. I’m surprised you didn’t deck him earlier."
"Can we please not talk about Kevin?" Kat pleaded.
"Then let’s talk about Brian," AJ responded. "How long has he known?"
Howie looked at Kat, wanting an answer to that question too.
"He told me he knew the day I met him at the mall in Orlando. Before the engagement announcement."
"The day that…" Howie stopped, but Kat knew what the rest of the sentence was. "Yes."
"That was pretty early on," AJ observed.
"I didn’t confirm or deny, but he told me what he thought, and even gave me a pre-blessing for the engagement."
"And you never told me?" Howie asked.
Kat laughed humorlessly. "Keeping secrets seems to be my job around here. Brian asked me not to let you know what he thought he had figured out, and so I didn’t."
"Damn, girl! How many BSB secrets do you have rattling around in your head of yours," AJ chuckled.
"Let’s see there’s the one about… and the other one that…" Kat smiled. "Sorry, AJ, Howie. Not getting any more out of me. If there are more, I’m not saying. If not, also not saying."
"None about Nick? So he and I were the only ones who didn’t know?" AJ realized.
"I’m afraid so. Well, Brian needed confirmation, obviously," Howie replied.
"He’s not going to like this. I don’t like this, but Nick has always taken things very personally," AJ observed.
"I’ll talk to him," both Howie and Kat said at the same time.
AJ laughed. "Okay, you have sold me on the ‘it’s a real marriage in most ways’ bit. I’m going to go up and cuddle with my Tina. Can I tell her?"
Howie and Kat looked at each other. "I have no problem with it," Howie said.
"I think Tina can be trusted," Kat agreed.
"Mindy on the other hand…" AJ pointed out.
"I have all ready told Kevin that if she finds out he’s dead," Kat replied, then blushed. "I think after this afternoon he realizes how serious I am about it."
"My little Muhammad Ali, " Howie teased.
"’Float like an elephant, sting like a gnat,’" Kat gave her own version of Ali’s famous quote.
"I see that Howie and Nick went off for lunch together," Brian observed.
"Yeah, we are taking turns talking to him about this. Did Howie talk to you?"
"We had breakfast. Things are okay."
"He says things are fine, but I think it will take a little while. That’s for Howie. He’s the one who hid the most from AJ."
"So, it’s now back to Kevin."
Kat sighed. "That one is never going to work itself out."
"It will. Give it time. He’s had a rough ride of things for the past while."
"Howie never told you about Suzanne and what happened?" Brian was surprised. He had noticed that Howie and Kat seemed to share everything. Well, except for the things they had each been sworn to secrecy on. That was one, two, of the reasons why Brian was so supportive of the relationship.
"He offered to, but I told him no. Kevin hates me for the secret I do know about him; I don’t want to compound it."
"I’ll tell you then."
"B-rok, no. Please don’t"
"You have to know. I’m sorry, it’s better this way," Brian settled back in the sofa. "Kevin’s not had a good time of things since the start. He was engaged to one woman, and once the group started that fell to pieces. Of all of us, he has had the roughest emotional ride from the start."
"I think I read about this somewhere…" Kat mused.
"Right, I forgot. You were a fan first." He chuckled, "probably not any more."
"Even more now than before, thank you very much," Kat smiled.
Brian returned to the story. "After that, Kevin dated a string of girls who were more interested in the Backstreet Boy than him. We all went through that, but it hurt Kevin more because of what he had all ready gone through. Which is why, when he met Suzanne he fell so hard."
Kat was getting interested despite herself.
"Suzanne claimed she didn’t know who he was; that she only listened to classical music. She sucked him in deeper and deeper, till he could hardly think straight."
"Then what happened?"
"She overplayed her hand. She propositioned AJ, thinking that he wouldn’t tell Kevin because of, well, AJ’s somewhat sexual reputation. AJ went straight to Kevin, only to discover that Nick was all ready there relaying a similar experience. When Kevin confronted her, she lost all her pretence. She’d scammed thousands of dollars from him over the months, and had even sold information about the group to the tabloids. But the kicker was what she did next."
Kat was furious that anyone would treat someone this way. And could now well understand Kevin’s anger at her. Kat may not have lied outright, bent the truth a little to cover some of the promises she’d made, still not been totally honest. And she knew his other deep secret. No wonder Kevin was so angry all the time.
"What did she do?"
"Threatened him. She had a tape of them having sex, and was going to sell it to the highest bidder. She offered him an opportunity to be that bidder."
"Oh my gods! That’s horrible!"
"Yeah. And the worst part is that he needed to turn to others for help. The rest he could handle himself, but this…. He had to go to the record company for legal help. They wound her so tight with legal mumbo jumbo and restraining orders; I don’t think she is allowed to breath without Jive’s permission."
"That wouldn’t have put his mind at ease," Kat observed.
"No. Howie had to physically hold him back; Kevin was ready to kill her. I think you’ve figured out how intensely private Kevin is. This hurt him really bad. And to have others know… I think that is why he turned to Howie. I am sure of it. He needed to spend time with someone who loved him unconditionally and who also had something to hide."
"My gods," Kat was stunned.
"Yeah. So having you find out about him and Howie… No matter what Howie said, there was no way Kevin was going to trust you."
"I think I understand that now. I knew how damaging it could be for the group if I spilled the beans, but not how damaging it would have been for him personally. Gods! How can someone do something like that?"
"Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who see the success and want to take you down for it," Brian sighed.
Kat’s mind was still reeling. "Thank you for telling me, B. I’ll add that to the long list of secrets I am supposed to keep." She laughed. "At least that list is shorter by two."
"Yeah. I’m glad some of it is out in the open at last."
"And I think you have given me an idea about how to try an fix things with Kevin." Kat jumped up from the chair. "Thanks Brian," she said as she gave him a peck on the cheek and then headed out of the room.