© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 56: Whoís the child around here?

"I hate New York," Nick groaned.

"Ah, Frack, I donít think thatís how the saying goes," Brian grinned as he looked up from amusing Bryleigh.

"Yeah, but look at it. Grimy and raining andÖ"

"Happening! Whatís your problem, Nick? Missing the beach babes all ready," AJ joked. He was eager to get going again. Even the few Johnny Suede concerts heíd done recently werenít enough. He HAD to get out there Ė he was going stir crazy.

"Itís cold," Nick muttered.

"Werenít you born near here?" Howie pointed out.

"Yeah," Kevin smiled.

"Yeah," CJ echoed from his seat on his lap.

"No comments from you, squirt," Nick said, reaching over and tickling the small boy. As predicted CJ had slept through the whole ride to the airport, only coming to when the flight was in the air. Then he was the terror of the skyways, and it had taken Kat, Kevin, Howie, Nick, and AJ all to keep him amused. Brian and Leighanne had focussed all their attention on their child, who, like the angel she appeared to be, had stayed asleep the whole trip.

Nick and CJ attacked each other in a massive tickle fight that ranged across the floor of the large limo. It was hilarious to see this blond behemoth being wrestled by a dark, tousle-haired child, and Bryleigh, for one, was fascinated, staring at them with her huge blue eyes.

"If your beach babies could see you now," AJ said wryly.

"If they had any sense theyíd be down here helping me," Nick laughed. "He doesnít play fair." CJ took that as a request and promptly wiggled a wet finger in Nickís ear. "Oh gross, CJ! Who taught you that?"

"You did," CJ replied seriously.

"Oh yeah? Well, what about thisÖ" Nick flipped the child onto the floor, pulled up his shirt and made burping noises on CJís tummy. CJ promptly broke into squeals of laughter, his little feet flailing around.

"Never a camera around when you need one, hunh?" Kevin leaned over to Kat, his deep voice whispering in her ear. Her mouth went dry. Did the man have no understanding of the effect he had on her? She smiled and nodded, looking away quickly, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart.

"You okay?" he asked, taking her hand.

"Fine," she replied quickly. God, didnít he know? This was the first time heíd touched her in so longÖ "Just nervous about tomorrow. I havenít heard from the agency about a sitter for CJ yet. And I hate editorial sessions."

Kevin chuckled. "I donít know why. You always win them. I canít remember the last time they changed anything more than a comma or two."

"Well, Lauren says there are a lot of problems this time. Iím not surprised. I havenít been keeping a very good eye on what Iíve been writing."

Kevin squeezed her hand. "Things have been difficult recently. Iím sorry about my part in it. I justÖ." He looked down at the giggling child who was now sitting on Nick tickling him. "Iíve waited so long for this to be put right, and it justÖ."

"I know," she replied softly. Then shivered as he raised her hand to his mouth and kissed it.

"Iíll try and be calmer about this."

"That is an awfully big thing, Kev. Why the sudden about face?"

He grinned. "You know things are getting bad when they send AJ over to talk some sense into me."

"Hunh?"

"When CJ was with Bri and Nick this morning, they apparently asked him how things are. And he told them. So they called AJ and told him to come over and talk me down. I think they are going to gang up on Howie later. Apparently CJ doesnít like how mean weíve been to his Mommy and he wants us to stop making her cry." He pulled her close. "Have you been crying, Kat?"

"IÖ"

"Kat, can you get this monster off me?" Nick whined.

She took a deep breath, tearing her eyes away from Kevinís. "You started it, Nick."

"Yeah," CJ crowed.

"Yeah," Bryleigh chimed in.

"Not you too," Nick groaned. "Brian, get your daughter to stop making fun of me."

"Sorry Nick, CJís her hero."

"Mine too. Come here, CJ," Kat called and he climbed off of Nick and jumped into her arms. "That was a good trick with the wedgie, sweety-pie." CJ grinned mischievously, his little nose crinkling. "You know, you are awfully alert, Mister. I thought the plane ride would tire you out."

"Nope. Like planes," he started to play with the necklace that Kat always wore. It had been a gift from Kevin just after CJís birth. A sapphire, her birthstone, an opal, his birthstone, and a diamond, CJís birthstone, in a small cluster. Understated, as she preferred, but loaded with significance. She never took it off.

"Where have I heard that before?" Howie smiled wistfully. "Would telling you about Poodle Dog help?"

"Maybe." CJ snuggled in between Kat and Howie, his face turned towards the man, rapt with attention to the tale that Howie was spinning.

"Kat?" Kevin leaned in and turned her face back to his. "You didnít answer me. Have you?"

"Letís talk about it later, Kev," Kat replied as the car pulled up in front of the hotel, which was all ready surrounded by hundreds of fans. "Show time, Boys."

Terry, Mark and a couple of the other bodyguards formed a shield and opened the car doors. Leighanne climbed out first, Brian close behind. He gave her Bryleigh, knowing that he would be called upon for autographs. Kat emerged with CJ, who was complaining about the postponement of his story, and slipped off to the side with Leighanne, leaving the five men to do what they did so well: wow their fans.

It was almost an hour and half later before they managed to get up to their rooms to join the women and children. CJ had had his bath and watched his favourite Winnie the Pooh movie and was finally starting to drop off. He looked up sleepily when Howie entered, then curled up, his head on Katís lap.

"Sorry it took so long, baby," Howie said kissing Katís cheek. "He looks tuckered out."

Kat slid gingerly off the bed, pulling the covers up around the sleeping boy. "I think that tussle with Nick wore him out. He could bearly keep his eyes open once the movie started."

"Bear-ly?" Howie grinned, holding up the video case. Kat groaned, and continued picking up CJís clothes and things from the floor. Not even there a few hours and it looked like his suitcase had exploded or something.

She leaned over to pick up CJís sweatshirt, and Howieís hand grasped hers. He pulled her up and into his arms, kissing her deeply.

"What was that for?" Kat gasped when he broke off.

"Iíve wanted to do that since we left Orlando."

"IÖ. HowieÖ."

"Tell me you didnít feel something when we kissed earlier."

"I always feel something when we kiss. You know that, D."

He shook his head. "Not like that."

Kat sighed. "Remember our first kiss?"

He nodded.

"That was incredible. We realized that we could do it and still remain friends. And we kissed all the time. No matter what, we always managed to be able to kiss and hold each other. We drew strength from it. But when was the last time you kissed me?"

He frowned. "It wasÖ"

"Months ago, Howie. It has been over four months. Weíve never gone without each other for so long. Thatís what we felt. Just because it had been a while and weíd forgotten how good it was to be close. Donít read a lot into it, D. It was just comfort to be back in each otherís arms."

"Are you so sure?"

There was a knock on the door and Kevin popped his head in. "Is he asleep?"

Kat stepped back a little further from Howie. "Yeah. Heís out like a light. Sorry, Kev."

"Itís okay. I had a feeling heíd crash as soon as he got up here." He walked across the room, smiling as he looked down at CJ. "Dead to the world. And only a few minutes ago he was a bundle of energy."

Kat chuckled. "You might not want to see what he did to the bathroom. I hope it hasnít leaked through the floor."

Howie peeked in. "Damn. I think we are going to need extra towels." He went into the room, wiping up some of the major puddles. Kat could hear him wringing out towels and sopping up more water.

"Are you going to stay here tonight?" Kevin asked. Kat nodded, surprised at the question. "I was hoping that we could talk some. We havenít done that in a long time."

Was he really asking her to be with him? Could he really still love her? "Iíd like that, Kevin."

He smiled. "Iíll go settle in, and come back. We can go get a drinkÖ"

She nodded her head, hope shining in her eyes.

Howie emerged once Kevin left. "So you are going to be with him tonight?" There was a jealous tinge in his voice.

"We are going to talk for a while," she replied carefully.

His chin jutted angrily, and then he shook himself. "Iím going down to the bar. Maybe Iíll find something to play with too."

He slammed the door as he left, waking CJ.

"Mommy?"

"Itís okay sweetie. Just Howie going downstairs, and the doorís just a little heavy. Go back to sleep."

"Cuddle me?" he asked sleepily.

"Love to," Kat smiled, crawling back into the bed beside him.

Which is where Kevin found her when he returned: snuggled around CJ, his head on her chest, fast asleep. "In the morning then," he murmured as he pulled the blanket over her, and kissed her forehead. She stirred a little, but didnít wake. He looked at her slumbering face. "I miss you, Kat. I havenít said that recently, have I? I do miss you. And as much as I love that little guy, I am jealous as all hell that he gets to hold you when I canít. Please, letís figure this out soon, so we can be a family. Together."

He kissed her again and slipped from the room, letting them sleep.

Chapter 57