© Kat Morgan 1999/2000
In Name Only
Chapter 48: Working up a sweat
Nick was playing Nintendo when Kevin stalked out of his room. He paced back and forth like a caged animal, cell phone clutched in his hand.
After about five minutes of this Nick finally snapped. "What is your problem?"
"I can’t find Kat," Kevin mumbled.
"Maybe she came to her senses," Nick said snidely.
"Shut the fuck up, Nick," Kevin growled.
Nick turned and stared at him dumbfounded. Other than his constant attempts to get Nick to open up, Kevin had been calm and cool. He’d been wonderful to the fans, effusive with the media and charming to everyone. Now, after not talking to Kat for two days he was climbing the walls.
Nick took a breath. He was determined not to let this go. He had a right to be angry, didn’t he? No, he was not going to feel sorry for Kevin. The big jerk had taken what Nick had wanted. So he could suffer.
So why was his conscience continually telling him he was being childish? And why did he creep out every night to listen to Kevin’s conversations with Kat?
Nick could hear the love in Kevin’s voice when he talked to her. He never went out clubbing any more, of course he didn’t have anyone to go with, but still. He was always in the hotel, in his room, talking to her half the night. And if he saw a child or the limo passed a toy store, he broke into this huge grin…
Two days without a conversation and he was swearing and pacing.
"Kevin…" Nick stood up and turned off his game, clicking the television back to its normal setting. He was about to say more when the entertainment show, that was in progress, came up with a loud fanfare and, "…In music news, Backstreet Boys Brian Littrell and Howie Dorough got a pleasant surprise yesterday when their wives showed up at a New York city press conference…"
Footage of Brian’s dash to Leighanne showed, followed by that of Howie and Kat sharing a passionate kiss.
Nick turned to Kevin as the other man gave a short gasp, his eyes riveted on the screen. His face went pale and he took a deep breath and let it out with a shudder. "Looks like you were right, Nick," he said softly.
"Kev…." Nick tried again.
"I’m going to work out. I’ll see you later," Kevin turned on his heel and walked back into his room. Nick could hear the sound of his cell phone being thrown against the wall. Then Kevin emerged, hefting a gym bag, and strode quickly from the suite.
Nick sat back down. "Oh boy. This is not good."
Kat sighed and rubbed her neck then her lower back. This was so damn annoying. All those stupid meetings and what had been accomplished? She had managed to get an extra percentage point on her advance, and to postpone promotional tours until the baby was six months old. Woohoo. So why the hell did the publishers insist on fixing these things now? And why did she have to be there? Lauren had taken care of most of the negotiating. Kat had spent most of the day sitting in stiff-backed chairs, a firm smile on her face, deferring to Lauren on most of the major points.
She felt strong hands massaging her shoulders. "Gods, that feels good," she sighed.
"Just trying to help," Howie said, leaning forward and giving her a kiss on her cheek.
"Then don’t stop."
He chuckled. "How’s this then?"
He moved his hands further down her aching back and adopted a deeper voice, "how’s this then?"
"Ha ha. Howie D, International Man of Mystery."
"Just call me Double Oh Behave."
She chuckled. "I’d rather call you Double Oh rub my back some more."
"Your wish is my command," he smiled and massaged her aching muscles.
They sat in companionable silence. "Are you still up for the play tonight? If you are feeling bad, you don’t have to go," he asked after a few minutes.
"No, I want to go. Besides it wouldn’t be fair: it’s B-rok and Leigh’s night. I just hope the seats are more comfortable that the ones I sat in all day."
"Still leaving in the morning?"
"Yep. 11 a.m."
"I wish you wouldn’t. Can’t you stay with me?"
"Oh yeah, drag me along. I’m in agony with one day of a work schedule and you expect me to keep up with you?" She shook her head. "Nope. I want to go home and snuggle up in my own bed, and swim in the pool and generally enjoy, as much as I can, this pregnancy thing."
"But it’s so cute having you waddle along beside me."
"Waddle! I waddle! Oh, you are so dead," she grinned as she turned around and started poking and pinching him until he fell over in a fit of laughter. He managed to grab her hands, pulling them to his mouth were he gave her fingertips a quick kiss.
"I was just kidding."
"No, I’m just kidding," she smiled pointed to her belly.
"Ba dum dum," he replied, miming a drum roll. "I’m going to check on the car, and see if I can roost AJ and Tina out of their love nest."
"I’ll be right there, I just have to make a quick call first."
The play was wonderful, and the seats fortunately cushy. So comfortable in fact that Kat fell asleep, her head resting on Howie’s shoulder. Tina was going to wake her, but Howie shook his head. She had had a long day, and had been disappointed when she couldn’t get through to Kevin on his cell. If a short nap at the theatre helped he wasn’t going to disturb it. She woke up as the applause started and grimaced.
"You should have woken me," she complained to Howie when they got back to the hotel.
"You needed the rest."
"Hello? That is what night is for? Now I’m going to be grumpy and unable to sleep tonight."
"Starting on the grumpy early?"
Kat sighed. "I’m sorry, D. I just…"
"Haven’t spoken to Kevin."
"Look, he and Nick have probably worked it all out and are out somewhere doing guy things. Try him again, and then come here and I’ll give you another back rub."
"Now that is an offer I can’t refuse." She kissed him on the cheek and grabbed the phone, quickly dialing a number.
It rang. And rang. And rang. And rang. And… just when she was about to hang up a voice answered.
"Hi Kat. How’s New York?"
"It was on ET."
"Oh. It’s okay. How are you? Where’s Kevin?"
"He’s at the gym. Umm. Kat? Why are you in New York?"
"Contract negotiations with Random House. I suppose they could have picked a worse time; I could have been in labor or something." She sighed, "still, I got a few concessions. When do you think he’ll be back?"
"I don’t know. He wasn’t in a good mood."
"Are you two still…?"
"Kind of. Look, I gotta go…"
"Nick, please don’t be angry with him. He never meant to hurt you. We never meant to. Hate me, not him."
"And please tell him I love him and I’ll call him again tomorrow, once I’m back in Orlando?"
"Its good to talk to you again. I miss you, too."
She hung up the phone and yelled out an all clear to Howie.
"In the gym. I can’t seem to catch a break. It’ll be better once I get home. My schedule’s a lot freer than his is."
"Hmm. Okay Mrs. D, you get out of this fancy duds and into bed. I’m going to get a warm towel and start trying to get those kinks out of your shoulders."
Kat dipped her carrot stick into the peanut butter jar one more time, and gazed out at the rippling water on the pool. Damn, why doesn’t he pick up the phone?
"Sorry Kat, he’s not here again."
"Dammit, where is he? Did you tell him I called?"
"Yes. He… How was the theatre?"
"Does Entertainment Tonight cover my every move?" she lamented.
"No. It was in the papers that Kevin picked up this morning. Kat? Why didn’t you tell him?"
"That I was going to be here? I didn’t know myself until the day before the day before yesterday. I got the call late that night and had to be on the first plane out. Leighanne and Tina came too. To see… Nick! Is Kevin okay? Oh gods, he doesn’t think…"
"Nick, please! That’s not why. I didn’t even remember that Howie was here until I mentioned to Leigh that I had to go."
"You were kissing… And then you were all cuddled up together at the play…"
"Oh shit, oh shit," Kat was getting really worried now. "Nick, you know Howie and I. We always kiss. We always have. Kevin knows… Oh shit…. And at the theatre, I fell asleep…"
He could hear her start to cry on the other end of the phone, and swore under his breath. "Kat, don’t worry. I’ll talk to him."
"But he thinks…" she sobbed.
"I’ll talk to him. Its time I did anyway. Don’t worry."
He replaced Kevin’s cell on his desk and headed down to the gym. Kevin was using freeweights, working on his biceps. First one arm, then the other. And judging from the sweat that stained his t-shirt he’d been doing this for a while. Nick steeled his shoulders and walked in. Kevin glanced his way, then replaced the weights on the stand and moved over to one of the Nautilus machines.
"Hi," Nick said timidly.
"Talking to me now? What do you want, Nick?"
"I just talked to Kat."
"And how are she and Howie?" Kevin said tersely, turning away to adjust the weight higher.
"She’s in Orlando. It was a quick business trip."
"What? She wasn’t there for the opera?" Kevin said snidely.
"It was a play." Nick moved over to the machine and grabbed Kevin’s arm, trying to get him to look at him. "Kevin, stop this. I told you she called last night. She’s upset."
"She has Howie…"
"Newsflash! Howie’s gay! Kat’s in love with you!" Nick said an exasperated tone.
"So why was she there? Why didn’t she tell me?"
Nick was stunned by the sound of Kevin’s voice. He sounded like a lost little boy who had just been told that there was no Santa Claus. Nick shook himself. What was he thinking? No Santa Claus? Yeah right. Next he’d stop believing in the Tooth Fairy.
"She tried. She just had to leave for New York quickly and couldn’t reach you. She’s tried since."
Kevin got up from the machine and moved back to the weight rack. He picked up another pair of weights and started flexing. "You’re being awfully understanding all of a sudden. What did she tell you? That she’d gone to New York because she’d chosen her husband over me? It would make sense. And make you feel a whole lot better."
Great. Stubborn Kevin. Just what Nick needed. "Look, I admit I have been acting badly. But I am not an idiot. I’ve watched you be happy-go-lucky Kevin every night you do talk to her, and jealous freak every night you don’t. You’ve convinced me. You are nuts about her. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. And she is nuts about you. Not me. Never me. So congrats, you win. Now will you please go call her?"
"If she loves me so much why wasn’t she here with me? Why was she in New York?"
Nick sighed. Then moved in front of Kevin. "This is going to hurt me more than its going to hurt you," he said.
"What are you talking about…" Kevin started then rocked back as Nick’s fist hit him hard in the jaw, then another in the eye. Kevin stared at him, stunned, then Nick pounded his jaw with another right hook and then a quick jab to his stomach. Kevin went down.
"Thank God," Nick muttered as he rubbed his aching wrist. It had looked so much easier on television.
Kevin shook his head, rubbing his throbbing jaw. "You want to tell me what that was for?"
"The first time I get to knock some sense into you instead of the other way around," Nick replied, helping him to his feet.
Kevin looked at him warily.
"And if we are really lucky, you’ll have a nice shiner in the morning." Nick grinned, "and that jaw is probably dislocated. It’s a shame. You can’t continue the promo tour like that. Oh well, I guess you’ll have to go home to Orlando."
Kevin slowly started to smile. "You did this for me?"
Nick shook his hand and stretched out his fingers. "My pleasure."Chapter 49