© Kat Morgan 1999/2000

In Name Only

Chapter 58: Long day

© Kat Morgan


Kat was exhausted, both mentally and physically, by the time she got back to the hotel.

She’d been put through the ringer all day and the "business" dinner that had followed the meetings had been an experience in torture. Todd had been very apologetic about it, but the publisher had insisted. And Kat felt guilty enough to agree.

The purpose of the dinner had come down to one thing: this book wasn’t as strong as the last one and the best way to make money on it was to capitalize on the relationship between Kat and Howie. With the Boys about to go into the studio and work on a new album there was an opportunity to arrange for the release of Kat’s book as the same time as the new cd. It would be a way to make the book a financial success, as the publishers were not expecting it to be a critical success.

Even Todd had been furious at the implications. He had been unaware of the underlying reasons for the meeting – had thought that they were just going to try and beat down Kat’s price for the book. This new tactic was unforgivable and he threatened to pull the entire project – and to pull all of Kat’s contracts from that publisher. He knew that he had a case and that it wouldn’t be considered breach of contract. Any use of her connections with the Backstreet Boys to push any of her books had been forbidden since the first contract and the wording in subsequent contracts had been strengthened. Kat even had the right to walk out of any book signing tours or interviews if it was brought up without her permission.

Aside from her initial protest, Kat had just sat back and let Todd do his job. Watching him jump to her defense just reinforced her approval of him as her principal agent. When Lauren decided to take some time off and become more of a figurehead at the agency Kat had had the opportunity to look elsewhere, but had wholeheartedly agreed with Lauren’s recommendation that Todd take over. Kat had always respected Todd’s abilities, and the way he had helped her way back in the beginning, when those pictures of Kevin had come to light… Besides, someone who was a fan of the Boys’ music, and for whom Howie was a favorite, couldn’t be all bad.

So she had stepped back and let him work his magic. She’d all ready told him what her priorities were for the next while: time off to concentrate on her son. Also on his father. And if Todd interpreted that as time with Howie she wasn’t ready to change his perception.

She pushed her way past the fans at the front door of the hotel, nodding to the concierge and retreating to the elevator before anyone recognized her. She knew that it was more because she looked so haggard and drained after the day. People were used to seeing the picture perfect version of a Backstreet wife, not a downtrodden author with a not-so-good product. "Not that I ever look perfect," she muttered to herself.

She got off the elevator and trudged down the hallway.

"Thank god you’re back," Mark sighed with relief as he opened the door to the main suite.

Kat looked at him curiously. "Why? What’s wrong?"

He was about to answer when AJ sprinted towards her. "Kat! Damn girl, where have you been?"

She frowned. "In meetings then at a dinner. You all knew that. What is going on?"

"We couldn’t reach you. You turned your cell off," he accused.

"I know. I told Leighanne I was going to. She was turning hers off for me too. She was getting tired of my calls and I really needed to concentrate. Todd’s office knew to interrupt me if there was any emergency." She started to look worried. "Where is CJ? Is he okay?"

AJ ignored the question. "Did you see the show today?"

"No AJ," she replied sarcastically. "I was kind of busy trying to save my career." She turned to Brian and Leighanne, who had come up behind AJ. "Could someone please tell me what is… Where is CJ?"

Leighanne smiled. "He’s fine. Asleep in our room with Bryleigh."

"Kat, you better see something before you…" Brian’s voice trailed off.

"Where is Kevin? Howie?"

"My room is all set up," Nick interrupted. "Come on." He grabbed her hand and AJ took her briefcase and purse away from her.

Nick’s hotel room was, for once, neat and he walked briskly to the television, turning it on. He pushed the tape that was dangling out of the vcr in, and a picture showed up on the screen.

"This is TRL," Kat frowned.

"Yeah it is. Its a recording of our session this afternoon."

"Look, enough games. Tell me what the hell is going on!" Kat demanded.

"I’m sorry, Kat." Leighanne said quietly. "This can tell you the story easier than we could."

Kat was really starting to get confused. But she turned her attention back to the screen. Tara was being her usual sugary self, and Nick looked like she was giving him a cavity. The other men were trying to take the pressure off Tara’s desired victim, with moderate success. She noticed that Brian, who was looking off to the side, gave a little start, and turned to ask, but Nick hopped in.

"Bryleigh wasn’t feeling well and threw up."

"Is she okay?" Kat asked worriedly.

"Fine. Please keep watching."

It only took a few moments. One minute Tara was about to introduce the next video and the Boys were starting to relax, the next a small boy ran into the picture, shouting "Daddy!" and hopped onto Howie’s lap.

There was a look of surprise, then fear, on Howie’s face, which he quickly hid as he gave CJ a hug and tried to get him to go backstage. Unfortunately Tara had decided that the children had upstaged her enough for one day and was going to use it to her advantage now. After all, no one had had an opportunity to interview either of the Backstreet children. This was a coup and she wasn’t about to lose it.

She made some innocuous conversation with CJ, who was happily wriggling on Howie’s lap and trying to pull Nick’s ear piece apart. It only lasted for a few questions before AJ reminded her that the new video was queued and ready. Tara gave her one of her polite smiles, with venomous eyes, and moved on.

But the damage was done.

The look on Kevin’s face…

Kat couldn’t tear her eyes away from it. For anyone looking at him it was just his usual serious face. But they all knew him too well.

"Where is he?" Kat whispered brokenly.

AJ and Brian looked at each other. "He walked out of the rest of the interview. Just left. He was gone for hours," AJ replied.

"It’s all my fault," Nick said, and Kat glanced at him surprised. "Before we went on… we were doing the "who’s your daddy" dance…"

It was that wacky dance that Nick and AJ had picked up on one of their frequent trips to the nightclubs at Universal Studios Citywalk that always made CJ and Bryleigh laugh the hardest.

AJ snorted. "I was doing it too. It’s as much my fault as yours, Nick."

"No. It’s my fault." Howie’s voice sounded from the door. Kat turned to him. He looked white and shaky. Howie was never pale. Not like that.

"Howie?" she started, but broke off when he crouched down in front of her, clutching at her hands.

"I didn’t! Honestly, I didn’t. I promised you I wouldn’t and I didn’t. I never broke my promise…" he sobbed.

She shook his hands away and turned back to Brian. "Where is he, Bri?"

"In his room. He got back about half an hour ago. He won’t see anyone."

Kat got up, brushing past the others and taking a card key out of her purse. She walked down the hallway to Kevin’s room, using the key to enter.

He was there all right. Collapsed in a chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him. There was a half finished mickey of Jack Daniels on the table beside him, and he took another swig as she watched. In his hand was a remote, and he had a copy of the show playing on his television too.

He pushed the button and rewound it.

"So here is the new…"



"So here is the new…"



"So here is the new…"



"So here is the new…"



He just kept repeating it over and over as tears trickled down his cheek. Over and over… His son. Calling Howie his Daddy. His son. On national television. In front of him. Over and over…

"So here is the new…"



"So here is the new…"



"So here is the new…"



Chapter 59