© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 20: Damage control
Kat walked into the house, and could feel instantly that it was empty. Howie must still be at Kevin's.
She stowed her bags in her room, pulling one envelope from her small briefcase and putting it in her purse. She walked down to the music room and picked up the phone there, hitting the speed dial code for Kevin's house. Busy signal. They probably had the phone off the hook. She disconnected then called Howie's cell.
"Hello?" he said warily after three rings.
"Hi, sweetie. It's me," she replied.
He sighed, relieved, "Kat. Are you here, yet?"
"I'm at the house. Want me to come over?"
"Does Kevin want me to?"
Howie hesitated. "I don't know. Come anyway. I need you."
"I'll be right there," she replied.
She grabbed her purse, checking to make sure of its contents and jumped into the car. TV crews from all the major tabloid shows were lined up outside Kevin's house, and she was forced to do as Howie had suggested and park the car down the street and try on foot. Even that was hard and she rushed through the group quickly, shouting "no comment" repeatedly. Fortunately, the bodyguards working at the front gate recognized her and helped her through. She turned to Mark, one of the Boys' regular security guards. "Has it been this bad all day?"
"Worse. The early editions came out last night. They were here before we even knew about it. Kevin had to fight the first wave off himself."
"Tell me about it. He called me at home and we got a team down here. I wish I'd strangled that bitch's neck when I had a chance."
Kat patted him on the shoulder. She liked Mark; he had been one of the first of the "outer" Backstreet team to accept her. He had been with them since things really started to take off for them in the States, and was devoted to the Boys. She had a sneaking suspicion he knew about Howie, and even about Kevin and Howie's affair, but he had never said anything. And she knew he never would. He treated the Boys like they were his sons, and supported them no matter what. He was also determined to protect them from any pain. And she knew he was upset with himself for not seeing through Suzanne earlier. As if anyone had. If the story that Brian had told her was true, and she had no reason to doubt him, no one had clued into what the woman had been up to until it was too late.
"We'll make it better. Somehow," she assured him.
"Yeah. I hear you all ready tried," he said cryptically and she was about to ask him what he meant when he was called away to deal with another news crew arrival. She shook her head and headed to the main house.
She walked down the hallway, following the sound of discussion and was surprised to hear her own voice. She entered the living room, as the others went silent, to see herself on the big screen TV. One of the tabloid shows that had been in New York was airing the "exclusive interview" they had with the Backstreet Wife, as they called her.
"Kat Dorough claimed to have no knowledge of the photos and went so far as to deny they were of Kevin Richardson..." the announcer said in voice over.
"It doesn't even look like him. A good graphics program and you can put his head on anyone's body...."
The announcer cut in again, "but what is more surprising is what else she had to say..."
"If it really is Kevin, more power to him. I have no problem with Kevin being a practicing heterosexual. He's almost thirty; he had to have sex at some point. He's even admitted to it on several occasions. Big deal."
"Her final word on the subject?" the announcer said, and the footage of Kat broke in again
"Why can't you leave them all alone? The only thing that the Backstreet Boys have ever done is be good at their job. It is more than I can say about whoever faked those photos."
Kat glanced around the room at the dumbfounded looks on people's faces. "I suppose it's not too bad, though they did cut out most of the stuff I said about irresponsible journalism."
Howie jumped up from the sofa and gave her a hug, only to be interrupted by Kevin's shout, "what the fuck do you think you were doing?"
"What you should have been doing, Kevin. Denying the pictures were true."
AJ cleared his throat, "Umm. They are true, Kat."
"I know that, AJ. I just said deny they are."
"How do you..." Kevin shot Howie a malicious look, then spun on his heels when Brian broke in quietly, "I told her."
"Brian, what the..."
"Kevin. Sit down," Kat commanded. And naturally he ignored her, continuing to stand, now in a defiant pose. "Listen, the issue isn't whether the photos are true or not, it is whether people believe them to be true. What has the Firm been doing? I though they were supposed to crisis management this stuff. Why am I the only one who has come out and denied anything?"
"They have been busy trying to shut Suzanne down," Nick sighed.
"Well, they failed on that," she replied. "Next move is yours." She turned to Kevin. "Do something. You are the leader; take charge."
"You all ready did it for us, Ms. Centre of Attention," he sneered.
"Fine. I am out of the picture now. You, however, are still there. In black and white. Maybe even colour. What are you going to do?"
"I don't know," he responded softly, and sat down heavily on the sofa.
Kat glanced worriedly at Howie. Kevin was NOT taking this well. She thought she could rely on his determination to fight her at every turn. She had thought that now, finally, she would be able to use their animosity for each other for, well, as the saying goes, for good and not for evil.
"You have to do something, Kevin."
"What am I supposed to do? Tell them the photos are fake? That's a lie. Tell them they are real? That would destroy me. And make you a liar," he replied.
"Please, Kevin. As if you wouldn't get a kick out of that," she said sarcastically.
"That's about the only reason I have for telling the truth right now," he bit back.
"As if. All I have to do is go out there and say," she adopted an innocent voice. "I just found out the photos aren't fake. My bad. Silly me for not checking first. And, look at the expression on his face in that picture. My, he does like to get his cock sucked, doesn't he?"
"You bitch," he erupted out of his seat, only stopping when Howie stood in front of her, protecting her.
"Good. You have some fight left in you. Now use it, Kevin. Show that whore that you aren't going to be embarrassed by her," Kat replied, stepping away from Howie.
"She's right, cuz," Brian said.
There was silence in the room as they all waited for Kevin to make some decision.
"We'll wait for the Firm's advice," Kevin finally said.
Kat shook her head, then turned to the others. "Get out."
"What?!" AJ asked, surprised.
"You heard me, Bone. Get out. All of you. Howie, make sure they leave."
"Who do you think you are to order..." Kevin started.
"I have some things to say to you Kevin, and I don't think you want everyone to hear them," she warned. The look on his face showed that he had picked up on her message right away, as did Howie who hustled everyone out of the house quickly.
"You too, Howie," Kat said when she heard him return to the room. She and Kevin had continued to stand staring at each other.
"Out, Howie," Kevin ordered.
They stood there, not moving until they heard the click of the door shutting.
"Now what? You are in the position to blackmail me and now is when you're finally going to do it?" he sneered.
"Listen to me, and listen to me good, Kevin Richardson. I don't like you. The way you took advantage of Howie is disgusting and...."
"You are one to talk. You just..."
"Shut the fuck up! Suzanne screwed you over. Big deal. Grow up; it happens. That is no reason to take advantage of a friend who has strong feelings for you. She fucked you so you fucked him. And then walked out on him when it wasn't convenient for you anymore," she accused.
"That's not what..."
"That is exactly what happened. I had to put the pieces back together, remember?"
"You made it worse!"
"How, Kevin? By knowing about it? So one little chick knows about you having a homosexual affair and that means you have to hurt Howie the way you did? Get over yourself!"
"Oh sure. It's all about Howie. You aren't fooling me, Kat."
"I don't need to fool you. You are a fool all ready." She walked over to the window and drew back the curtains so he could see the media scrum outside. "I didn't get you into this mess, Kevin, but I seem to be the only one trying to get you out. I gave you a good cover story. The photos were faked. And if they say they came from an ex-girlfriend, laugh it off as some one who has an axe to grind. Just say it once, say it clearly, then never say it again. Don't dignify it. If anyone asks, you all ready made your statement.""Why should I do what you say? What is in it for you?"Kat sighed. "You wanna know? Nothing. Think about it, Kevin. I know you had sex with a woman who screwed you over. I know you had sex with Howie, and screwed him over. I have seen you do a million and one things on this last tour, which would get me set me up for life if I took it to the right magazine. And I've known about it all for a year now."
"You are going to..."
Kat reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope she had been carrying with care for over a week now. She handed it to Kevin.
"You make up your own mind."
He opened it and read the contents. "I don't understand."
"It is an affidavit, Kevin. Remember? I promised I would give you one when we first met. You have a legally binding document, from me to you, stating that I will never reveal any information that I have about you personally. Nor any information I may learn about you during the rest of the time I have to spend around you. My promise to you that your privacy is safe."
"Haven't you seen the papers? Fat lot of good this will do," he scoffed, though not as vehemently as he had before.
"Maybe. But I am doing this of my own volition. And check the date: I did it last week. Before any of this photo stuff came out," she replied. "I am not doing it for you, Kevin. I am doing this because we all need the peace. The others trust me; you don't. Admittedly you, and Howie, have the most to lose if I turn coat. But he has our prenuptial agreement to protect him. Now you have this. Maybe now you can stop acting like an ass around me, and give it a rest."
"What am I supposed to do with it?"
"Keep it. Smoke it. I don't care. But Kevin," she waited until he looked at her. She locked her eyes with his. "If you ever hurt Howie again, affidavit or not, I'll make sure you get what is coming to you. One way or another." Then she walked out of the house.
Kevin stood there looking at the paper in his hand. Then at the papers on the table. For once he wished that Kat was telling the truth, but with the evidence of what Suzanne had done sitting there staring at him. No. He couldn't risk putting his guard down. She was right: he would deny the photos were fake. And the issue would go away, slowly. But he had been in this business too long and had had his trust broken too many times to trust her because of some little piece of paper.