In Name Only

Chapter 88


The laughter echoed through the room.


“Oh, that is rich! What the hell am I supposed to say to that?”


“Just answer the question.”


“Which one? The one you asked or the one you didn’t?”




She chuckled a little, then slid a little closer to him. “You asked me if I ever thought about getting involved romantically with Kevin. The answer to that one is, well, sort of. I wondered about it every once in a while; usually after one or the other of us broke up with the schmucks we were dating and the only one who could cheer us up was the other person. I dunno; maybe he wondered the same thing. It was one of those thoughts that came out of, I don’t know, loneliness, or just feeling comfortable with someone when you didn’t feel so great. But it just never felt right.”


“So you never…”


“He kissed me once.”


AJ tried to repress his growl, but Tina’s quick laugh told him he hadn’t been successful. “just a peck on the cheek, right?”


“Nope. On the lips.”


“Closed mouth.”


“Nope. Full on. Major probing tongue action. The man has great lips.”


AJ fidgeted angrily. “I did NOT need to hear that.”


“Then you shouldn’t have asked,” Tina replied primly.


There was dead silence until AJ could try and figure out what to say. “Well, then…”


“Of course he was dead drunk at the time,” Tina continued as if no time had passed. “I doubt he even remembers it. And let me tell you, while his lips are great… his breath was enough to make me gag.” She shuddered dramatically. “I still have nightmares.”


AJ started to cackle and Tina smiled. “You say anything to him, AJ McLean and I’ll kick that scrawny as of yours.”


“Me? Say anything?” AJ replied innocently. “No way! My lips are sealed – as his should have been.” Tina giggled. “But I fully intend to ensure that his side of the dressing room is always fully stocked with Listerine. And toothpaste.”


“Gum would be good too.”


“Maybe some Certs or Altoids too,” AJ nodded then started to laugh again.


Tina smiled and leaned back on the sofa. “Poor Kevin. He is not having much fun right now, is he?”


“If he had any brains he could be.”


Tina snorted. “Right. Like all he has to do is say ‘oops, sorry Kat. I didn’t mean it. I love you’ and she is going to just let hi back into her life? That boy has some serious groveling to do.”


“Well, if what I saw this afternoon is any indication it wouldn’t take much more than that to get her to forgive him.” AJ shrugged. “I think she was more concerned about whether he was going to forgive her for taking CJ away.”


“And what is Howie supposed to do through all of this? Just stand there and let it all go?”


“He better. I love Howie to death – he is my bro, but this whole thing should have been straightened out a hell of a long time ago. Even before CJ was born.”


“You could have helped with that.”


AJ shifted uneasily. “Okay, so I admit it. Having it all get straightened out then would have been difficult, especially for our fans. And the rest of us weren’t too eager to deal with it. But things have changed now. We broke up, did our own things, came out in the open about things, and now we are back together. So now they all should just fix it.”


“Hate to differ, but all that breaking up stuff you mentioned? That all happened cos of the Kevin-Kat-Howie situation.”


“Yeah,” he sighed. He leaned back on the sofa and put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her into a familiar hug without realizing it. “Do you ever get the feeling that things would have been much better if Kat had never come into our lives?”


“No,” Tina said decisively.






“I agree. Situation’s freaky, but it’s better than things could have been. Besides, I like CJ. Can’t wait to see him.”


Tina chuckled. “If you take him out and get him a tattoo that will NOT go over well.”


AJ laughed then realized that he was holding her. It had seemed so natural. Yet, here they were talking about how things had changed so much in the last few years. One of the things that had changed was their relationship – or lack thereof. He had no right to be lying there with her… He shifted a little, turning her face to his. “Umm… Tas? What was that ‘question I didn’t ask’ stuff?”


“You asked me if I ever thought about dating Kevin.”




“But what you were trying to find out is if I’d ever thought of getting back together with you.”


“I was?”


She looked deep into his soft brown eyes. “Yep. That was exactly what you were working towards. So do you want an answer?”


“Yes, please,” he whispered huskily.


She smiled mysteriously. “How strange. Those were the exact words I was going to use.” Then leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips.


When she pulled back AJ was staring at her with a look of shock… then a huge grin spread across his face as he pulled her into his arms again and kissed her with all the passion he’d been holding in all night.



The laughter echoed through the room.


“Oh, that is rich! What the hell am I supposed to say to that?”


“Just answer the question.”


“I can’t do that!”


“Come on. What do you want to say?”


“How about Carter you are a moron?”




“Listen dumbass, you were the one who said that my job was to stay here and talk Rina – KAT, damn I have to get used to that – into going to Florida and clearing up whatever mysterious mess that you guys wouldn’t talk about. She hasn’t even been then 24 hours and already you think I should come down there and see you? Can you honestly tell me that all she had to do was show up and everything would be hunky-dory again?”




“It’s a phrase my dad uses. Stop trying to change the subject.”


Nick sighed. “You’re right. It’s not better. Things didn’t go badly last night, but they weren’t perfect either. Having Kat in the room made a big difference, mind you.” He sighed again. “No, its gonna take a little while longer to fix this. I just really hope she stays.”


“And so if I come down there, abandon the restaurant that she left me in charge of, leaving it all alone and untended, that is going to make her stay longer?”


Nick could almost see Em’s raised eyebrow as she made the last comment. “Umm…”


“Think about it, blondie.”


“Stop calling me that, brunettey. Nope, how about bruny? Oh to hell with it – Curly.”


Emma laughed. “Sure thing, Spiky.”


“Ha, fat lot you know. My hair is longer now so it’s more flat than spiky.” Nick thought about it for a second. “Oh damn, look what you did? You made me look like some sort of vain dumbass!”


“If the shoe fits…” Em giggled.


“Listen here, girlie… Oh to hell with it. I don’t want to argue. I want you to come here and see me!”


Emma closed her eyes and tried to get her heart to stop beating erratically. Or rather her two hearts… on one side was the BSB fan’s heart that was freaking out because NICK CARTER wanted to see her! On the other was her true heart that was freaking out because Nick wanted to see HER. Damn, she wished she could just go – just hop a plane and then jump him… but she had the café to look after…. When the hell did she get so responsible?


“I want to,” she whispered huskily and he could hear her confusion in her voice. “But I can’t.”


Damn. “I know,” Nick finally sighed. “I just wanna see you, you know?”


“I wanna see you too.”


“Maybe I should just go and lit a fire under Kevin’s ass and get him to fix things with Kat now. That way you can come down and see me quicker.”


“Sounds good…. KEVIN?!”






The laughter echoed through the room.


“Oh, that is rich! What the hell am I supposed to say to that?”


“Just answer the question.”


“I see your ability to count is still screwed up, Kevin. You just asked me about three questions.”


Howie shook off his shock. “Then answer just the last one. Did you get pregnant?”


Kat looked back and forth between the two men, then turned and walked over to where Chris was waiting for her. She picked him up and carried him back over. “Chris, honey? Tell your Daddy and Uncle Howie all about John.”




“Yep. They want to know all about him.”


Chris looked at the two men, suddenly not sure why he was the focus of such rapt attention. “John is my friend. He’s only two though.”


Kevin made a small gurgling noise in the back of his throat that made Chris shy back worriedly. Kat stroke his back, urging him to go on.


“He’s just a baby, but he’s nice. Deb lets me look after him sometimes when she is doing something in the kitchen.”


“Deb?” Howie asked.


“Chris’ babysitter,” Kat replied. “John’s too.”


“Yeah. She showed me hold to hold him when he was just a baby, too. He’s much better now, cos he can walk and stuff.” Chris was starting to warm to the topic. “He can’t play video games yet, but we build houses with blocks and stuff. And I showed him how to use the TV so we could watch good shows, not Teletubbies.”


Kevin glanced at Kat, whose face gave away nothing, then back to Chris. “So is John your brother?”


Chris furrowed his brow. “Yeah.” He thought about it for a moment more, not noticing the widening of Howie and Kevin’s eyes. “I’m his big brother, sort of, like. Cos we are always together when Deb is looking after us. But then his mom comes and gets him, so I guess we aren’t really. But I like having a little brother.”


“I know you do, Toffee. I bet you miss him too.” Kat kissed Chris’s cheek. “How about we go upstairs and call him and say hello?” Chris nodded his agreement fervently. “Okay. You go push the button.” Kat put him back on the ground and he ran over to the elevator.


Kat turned back to Kevin and Howie angrily. “And in answer to the first question – no. Did you honestly think that if I had I wouldn’t have let you know? No, don’t answer that. Clearly you are more than willing to think the worst of me. Probably made it easier for both of you, didn’t it? Try and remember one thing – I left because you,” she pointed to Kevin, “made it abundantly clear you didn’t give a shit about me anymore and because you,” she pointed at Howie, “decided that the way to celebrate that was to rape me. As far as I am concerned I don’t owe either of you any more answers. Just enjoy your time with Chris and leave me the hell alone.”

Chapter 89