© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 23: On the Road again.

Kat smiled and waved goodbye as Kevin drove down the drive. They had wandered the beach, talking for hours. He had let down all of his guards, and she could finally see why Howie adored him so much, had been totally in love with him through their brief affair. She had seen him with the other Boys, but never like this. So relaxed and open. If the Kevin heís shown her today was the real one, she was impressed. Could he really be telling the truth? Was he really trying to be her friend? She shook her head. "You better be for real, Kevin Richardson."

The others were surprised but supportive when they saw how hard Kevin was trying to make amends with Kat. Brian gave her a hug and reminded her that heís said it was only a matter of time, though he hadnít expected it to take this long. AJ said something about it taking old dogs a long time to learn new tricks, and was rewarded by her smacking him upside the head. His cheeky grin showed heíd been joking. Howie was ecstatic, seeing this as the final hurdle.

Nick didnít really care all that much; though he did realize that if Kevin caught him with Kat that it would be him that the other man would yell at, not her. He was still stunned by Katís Ďno babiesí announcement, and the implications of her continued dedication to Howie. Kevinís newfound support for her went largely unnoticed as Nick wrestled with his conscience and his continued attraction to Howieís wife.

Over time, Kat and Kevin became close friends. Both were serious in demeanor, though given to occasional bouts of wacky behaviour. The secrets, which had formerly driven them apart, now brought them together. They didnít talk about his affair with Howie much; it was painful for both of them for different reasons, though she did get a better understanding of some of the things that had motivated him to turn to Howie for love and support. He was more interested in discussing why she had gotten the affidavit; something she thought was self-evident, but he was still surprised that she had done. He realized that while at the time he had rejected it as a ploy, deep down it had had resonance, and was a major point in her favour -- part of what had finally made him come around. That and what she had done to protect Howie after he got arrested. Kevin had never really believed that she was committed to Howieís protection; had expected her to crumble when the chips were down. Now he regretted not accepting her earlier.

Katís first book had done well. It hadnít made the bestsellerís list as Lauren had predicted. It did do modest but brisk sales though, and Kat was very proud of it. Kevin had bought a copy as soon as it came out, after his photo debacle but before Howieís incident. He had read it immediately; skimming it for any mention, and clue, about the Backstreet Boys, which he could use against her. Instead, he found it insightful and compelling. Something he found difficult to put down. He never said anything about it to her, and when he did finally ask her to sign it he had let her believe that heíd just gotten it.

He could see why Howie was so proud of her writing, and offered several comments on the book. She was all ready hard at work on a second, and Kevin was the second person, after Howie, of course, to see her words. Between his and Howieís comments she felt that her fiction had become more well-rounded. And her agent and publisher obviously agreed, based on her larger advances and the increase in book signing and speaking engagement tours. For the first time it was Kat who was away on promo tours more than Howie.

And she had to admit, she was enjoying it. Other than one incident when an interviewer, despite warnings to the contrary, mentioned her marriage to Howie, it was fun being out on the road, pushing a product that was herís alone. It was also exhausting. She had found touring with Howie grueling, but she could always disappear on her own if she needed to. Now she was the focus of the tour and there was no escape.

 

After being married to Howie for over a year, Kat was wrestling with something that sheíd never had to deal with before. Her growing attraction to Kevin.

Heíd been her favourite Backstreet Boy back when she was a fan (Howie was her second favourite, something she had never told him). She had been attracted by his green eyes, strong square jaw and the perfectly straight line of his nose. His deep raspy voice, with that Southern accent, had made her knees weak, and his beautiful muscular body -- that had been the fodder for many a fantasy trip.

But that had died a quick death after their first meeting. Sure, he had still been beautiful, but he had also been a jerk and she had ignored him as best she could.

Now it was back full force.

Since they had become friends she had found him to be intelligent and witty, something that had attracted her to Howie. She had a weakness for men who challenged her intellectually. Also Kevin was always giving her hugs. They were the same as he did to the others, though she doubted that they noticed his clean soap smell and had it send their pulses racing. Well, maybe Howie did. Even the occasional brush of his whiskers against her cheek made her mouth go dry. She told herself that it wasnít him; that it was seeing Howie with his lovers and after all this time she was feeling left out. That was all.

She didnít believe it for a minute.

 

They were on tour. Another album released and an intense concert schedule on tap. Kat came with them. She was writing again; something that could be done anywhere, and was glad to be somewhere that focussed on Howie and not on her. Besides the Boys had practically begged her. If Kevin was the father figure of the group, she had become the den mother.

She noticed him first and swore under her breath.

"What?" Kevin asked, having heard her as he stood next to her at the hotel check in.

"Get an extra room."

"What?" he repeated, then followed her gaze.

"Paulís here," she said, referring to Howieís current flame. "I am not sleeping in the hallway tonight."

"Do you think..."

She shook her head. "Paulís discreet -- that wonít be a problem. But he is as blond as his dye job. Even if he did think ahead enough to get a room it wouldnít be on our restricted floor. And I doubt anyone wants to explain why I am sleeping elsewhere. Just get the room, Kevin."

Kevin went up to the desk and spoke rapidly with the desk clerk. Kat glanced at Howie, who had noticed the man and was trying hard to contain his joy.

"Paul!" she cried happily. "You came!" She pulled him into a big hug, whispering "play along" in his ear.

"Kat," he returned. "Yes, you said you were having trouble with the book and so I came down to help." He too had noticed the small cluster of media, and fans, and was determined not to do anything that would embarrass his lover.

"Join us," she said, leading him over to the group. "Look, Howie. Paulís come to help me with the book. You remember meeting him, donít you?" Howie flashed her a grateful smile and shook Paulís hand cordially.

Kevin tapped her on the shoulder, and gestured her away from the group. "Problem. No more rooms on that floor."

"Shit."

"Youíll share mine."

"What?!"

"It has two beds, and Iíll be keeping less regular hours than you. Itíll just be for tonight. Things will be better at the next stop. Maybe Paul will have left by them," he assured her.

Kat was not thrilled by the arrangement, especially feeling the way she did about him, but had no choice. AJ had brought Tina, and now that Brian and Leighanne were engaged they were inseparable. The only other place to stay was with Nick and she wasnít doing that. He had almost stopped making passes at her - being more discreet - but still making his interest known.

"Couldnít you..."

Kevin shook his head. "Nick and I would kill each other. Besides, I doubt heíll be alone tonight." He gestured with his chin over to where Nick was chatting with a buxom fan, who was waving all of her assets in his face.

"And I wonít be interfering with your extra-curricular activities?"

"I just broke up with Mindy a few months ago." He shuddered dramatically and she repressed a giggle. It had not been the most, shall we say, quiet, of break-ups. Mindy had a strident voice and was not afraid to use it.

Katís arguments were defeated. "Okay," she sighed. "Thanks, Kev." She shouldered her bag and walked back to her husband and his lover, making small talk with them, pretending nothing was out of the ordinary.

Kevin watched her go with a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. Sheíd be in his room tonight. Right there, next to him. He had been fighting his attraction for her. He could see why they all loved her -- heíd always been somewhat fascinated to her despite everything. Probably why he had fought her so hard. He even remembered their first meeting; the rosy blush of her lips and the defiant way she had ripped up his picture. She was becoming his obsession. He wanted to crush her lips beneath his, taste her sweetness. The barest whiff of her perfume was tantalizing and he wanted to drown in her scent.

But as much as he wanted to give her all the love that Howie couldnít, he wasnít going to act like Nick. He knew the younger man was still propositioning her and it made him angry, though he could certainly understood why Nick wanted her. If she was to brush off him the way she did Nick, Kevin wasnít sure what he would do. He couldnít risk it. But at the same time he couldnít stay away from her; the desire was starting to get too strong.

He was silent in the elevator, watching her put both Howie and Paul at ease, letting them know it was okay. Kevin still didnít know how she did it -- let Howie have a full life, including a sex life, without having one herself. He had thought, once, that she was just not interested in sex at all, but she had betrayed her sexual thoughts and desires to him on occasion, though she repressed them skillfully.

Maybe that is why she fascinated him so -- he longed to open that part of her that she kept hidden. To be the one to hold her, to touch her secret spots, to...

"Kevin?" Her voice shook him out of his reverie. "You coming?"

The elevator had stopped and the others had all ready exited.

"Sorry," he said sheepishly, holding his bag in front of him, hiding his reaction to her voice.

Fortunately, Howieís room was right next to Kevinís and the fiction was easy cover. Kat decided to cover the nervousness she felt about being alone with Kevin by throwing herself into her work. She stowed her things and pulled her laptop and a stuffed animal from her bag. The toy she threw on the bed that she had claimed and the laptop went on the desk.

"Whatís this?" Kevin asked looking curiously at the dark gray lump on the bed.

She smiled. "Thatís right, youíve never met Gary. Heís my stuffed gargoyle. I like to sleep with him."

Kevin picked up the toy, looking at the comical face and wings. "Whereíd you get him?"

"I like stuffed animals that are out of the ordinary. I won him at a Carnival back home a few years ago. Been sleeping with him ever since. Heís sort of a security blanket."

"Why Gary? Ex-boyfriend?" Kevin inquired, swallowing back his jealousy.

She laughed. "No. Gary, short for gar-goyle. I know it doesnít work perfectly, but it was the best I could come up with at the time and it stuck."

He nodded and replaced the toy on her bed. "So what are you doing?"

"Working on the next chapter. I have to do something -- you guys are going to go down to the stadium for a sound check, arenít you?" He nodded. "Sorry, but those are boring for a non-participant. I might even be able to get this chapter finished if my damn modem will work," she pulled a wad of cables from her bag and tried to make sense of them all.

"Have fun," he said as he headed for the door, but Kat was all ready deeply ensconced in figuring out her computer and just waved him goodbye.

Chapter 24