In Name Only
Chapter 65: Comfort
Kat sobbed for hours after she logged off the computer. CJ had tried hard to get her to stop; crawling into her lap and holding her tightly, crying a little himself, pleading with her to stop. It did no good. So was inconsolable. The leash she had held on her emotions for so long had finally broken.
No matter what she had said to Howie and Brian she had believed them when they told her that the divorce papers were signed. The marriage was over.
She’d lost both of the men she loved.
They’d said Kevin still loved her. Wanted her back. Gods, how she wished that was true. There was nothing in the world she wanted more. But he’d never lied to her. Never once. Even at the beginning, when they were at each other’s throats. He’d been cruel occasionally, but never once had he lied. That was one of the things you could always count on about Kevin: he always told the truth. Damn him. So if he said he didn’t love her…
It hurt. It hurt so much. Like there was a part of her that had been ripped out. She’d thought that nothing, not since those four words Kevin had said to her, could make that feeling worse. But knowing that Howie had agreed to the divorce…
It was all over.
The two men she loved most had let her go. One had pushed her away and one had agreed to it unwillingly. And the one who had pushed… the one she never wanted to leave… oh god, how could he say those four words? How could you say to someone who loves you as much as he knew she did "I don’t love you"?
A pair of arms came around her, hugging her close. She looked up at the concerned face that looked down at her.
She tried to say something, but the words caught and all that came out was more sobs.
"It’s okay, honey. You let it all out."
And the weeping started again….
"So what do we do now?"
"HE’s going to be fine as long as he gets some rest," the doctor said firmly. "YOU are going to have to clear his schedule so that happens."
Howie laughed mirthlessly. "He’s got that. It isn’t his schedule that’s been doing this to him."
The doctor frowned and looked at her chart. "He’s dehydrated. I have no idea what has been keeping his body going because there was absolutely no food in his system, which means he hasn’t eaten in days. He is exhausted and listless. Whatever it is that is doing this to him he has to stay away from it."
Brian and Howie exchanged a glance. "Actually, he needs to be close to it, but that is neither here nor there. What do we do now?" Brian replied.
"I’ve admitted him for a few days. He’s on intravenous to try and get his blood sugar level back to normal and to hydrate him. He is also on sleeping pills in order to help him get some much-needed rest. After that, well, I suggest he take it easy for a while. A long while."
Brian nodded and the doctor left the room. Howie sighed and leaned forward, holding his head in his hands. He looked up to see that Brian watching him.
"I tried Bri. You were there. I told her. I begged her to come home."
"I am less concerned about that and more about what caused her to leave as suddenly as she did," Brian said softly.
Howie blanched. "I… I don’t know what you mean. She was upset about what Kevin…"
Brian took a deep breath. "We’ll talk about that later. Right now we have to call AJ and Nick. And figure out what we are going to say to the press."
"I’ll tell them I agreed to the divorce. That should take some pressure off."
"Yeah it will. But enough? Look Howie, I think you’re being here isn’t doing any good. Maybe you should head home."
"I’ll be here. I’ll tell the press that Kevin’s exhausted or some flu bug or something. You go home. Announce the divorce. That’ll keep them after you, not him. He’ll get the rest he needs."
"And I get to play the what? The diversion?" Howie said bitterly.
"I think it’s the least you could do considering the circumstances." He paused and when Howie started to protest, "…of exactly why Kat left when she did. For why you ‘wouldn’t listen’ to her. For why you ‘lied to her in the worst way’."
"You know," Howie gulped.
"Know? No. Guess? Yes. And I do NOT want Kevin to know. Not right now."
"He’s gonna kill me," Howie muttered.
"I’d be more than willing to do it for him," Brian replied angrily. "But I get the impression that is what you want. Someone to put you out of your misery. Sorry D, this is one guilt trip you deserve. So you are going to have to suffer through it. Go home. Announce the divorce. Talk it up. Hell, go on the talk show circuit, I don’t care. Just take the pressure off Kevin and say out of his way."
CJ peeked into the bedroom cautiously. "Momma?"
"Yes, love. Come here." Kat held out her arms and he flung himself into them.
"You okay? You were so cryin’" he asked worriedly.
"I’m okay, CJ. Just very tired and upset. I am sorry I scared you."
"Are you angry at me?" he asked quietly.
"Angry at you?" she looked at him with surprise. "Why would I be angry at you?"
"’Cause you were crying. And then I did what you said not to."
"No, CJ. I wasn’t crying because of you. I love you too much. I was crying about something else. Don’t you blame yourself." She gave him a tight hug, not letting go until she felt him start to relax. "And as for the other… you did the right thing. I am very proud of you."
He gave her a wide smile. So like Howie’s. And his nose crinkled when he did it. So like Kevin. Gods, how was she going to live without them?
"What are you doing in here, little man?" a voice chided from the doorway.
"Talking to my momma," CJ replied, puffing up his chest, preparing for battle.
"Good. That’s what I thought you were doing," came the response with a laugh. "I made you some breakfast."
"I..." Hunger warred with the desire to stay here he was.
"There’s chocolate milk."
"You coming?" he asked Kat excitedly as he climbed from the bed.
Kat nodded. "Yes, sweetie. I’ll be right there."
The two watched CJ scurry out the door.
"He is so much like his father at that age."
Kat looked up warily. "So you believe me?"
"I believed you the first time I laid eyes on him. There are some things a mother never forgets," Ann Richardson said as she sat down in the chair next to the bed. "He was very worried, you know."
"CJ? Yes, I know. I shouldn’t have fallen apart like that."
"He was beside himself when I called. And he was so careful about opening the door too. Kept asking me all sorts of questions," Ann chuckled. "He’s not even 3 years old and he’s Mr. Serious just like his dad."
"Yeah," Kat replied quietly, willing herself not to start crying again.
Ann looked at her. She had been surprised when Kat had shown up on her doorstep. Even more so when Kat told her the story she had. But one look at CJ… A lot of things made sense. His need to be in Orlando at all times. The way Kevin looked at Will, his nephew. The proud way he talked about how being a great father: as if he already knew.
And the way he always talked about Kat.
He rarely talked about the other’s girlfriends. But somehow he’d always managed to slip her name into conversation. Sure, Ann had known that Kat was considered the Boys’ "mother figure" just the way Kevin was the "father figure," so she’d really thought nothing about it. Now it made complete sense.
"Umm. Ann? Where am I?"
Kat’s voice called her back out of her reverie. "Sorry, I should have mentioned. We are here at my house."
Kat sat up in alarm.
"Its okay. Jerald and Tim are still out of town. Its just us."
"Kat, when I showed up at the hotel last night you had been crying so hard could hardly see straight. Your son was hysterical because his mom was in distress and he didn’t know what to do." Kat blanched at her words. "I am not blaming you. I am just saying that I took control of the situation and brought you here." She grinned. "Besides, I’ve been at that hotel before and they have terrible chocolate milk."
Kat gave a ragged laugh. "I’m not pleased about that. CJ is hyper enough without you introducing him to chocolate at breakfast."
"Yeah, well, he’s been downstairs alone with it for a few minutes now. Maybe we should go see what the damage is."
Kat nodded and got out of bed. She pulled a sweater over her shirt and groaned when she saw her blotchy and reddened face in the mirror. "No wonder he doesn’t love you," she said to her reflection.
That started her again. The ache. The grief. It was too much. She collapsed on the bed, curling up in a fetal ball, trying to make the pain go away. She couldn’t cry; probably didn’t have enough water left in her. But she could hurt, lord how she could hurt.
Did he ever really love her? When he said what he did was it "I don’t love you NOW" or "I didn’t love you EVER"? And god, how could she blame him? Look what she’d done. That night, with Howie… it wasn’t Howie’s fault, it was her’s. She should have stopped it. She was the evil one. The one who’d had sex with someone else before the first corpse was even cold…
"Stop that! Stop thinking like that, Kat."
She hadn’t even realized that she’d said any of it out loud until Ann wrapped her arms around her. Tears still wouldn’t form, but her breath was coming in harsh sobs.
"What did I do? How could I make him not love me? Was I a bad mother? Did I not do something right? Oh gods, what did I do to drive him away? I love him so much."
"Shh, honey. It’ll be okay," Ann said as she tried to calm the broken woman. One thing was certain: the next time she saw her errant son she was going to box his ears hard. Kat loved him so completely. How could he say the things he’d said to her?