“I gotta go home.”
“No! Do you have to?”
He wrapped his long arms around her middle, pulling her body up against him. He nibbled on her neck eliciting a soft sigh. “I don’t really want to go, but duty calls.”
“Bummer,” she replied, reaching back to run her fingernails down his back.
It was his turn to groan and he squeezed her tighter in his arms. “Keep doing that and I might find an excuse to stay.”
She turned around in his arms, kissing him lightly on the lips. “Well, duh!”
“Ohhh, naughty!” he chuckled as he nuzzled her. “Unfortunately, I DO have to go. But if you keep it up I might try and stuff you in my carry on luggage.”
“Keep it up?” she repeated with an arched eyebrow and her hand slipped between then and slid down to his member, which as already at half mast. She ran her fingernails up and down it bringing it to full attention with a few strokes. “Keep this up?”
“Okay, that’s it. You are coming with me,” he groaned as he started to undo the buttons on her shirt. His head dipped low as he captured a nipple in his mouth, swirling it with his tongue.
She let out a gasp and her fingers moved through his short hair, holding his head in place as he continued to lave her breast. “Cumming with you? Or coming with you?”
“Both,” he mumbled as he switched breasts. “Not letting you out of my sight. So damn beautiful.”
She chuckled in the back of her throat then gasped as he bit down gently on her nipple and pulled it towards him. “Baby, you only say that when you want something.”
He raised his head and looked deeply into her eyes. “Then I am going to keep saying it forever, ‘cos there is no one else in the world I want more than you.”
Her eyes misted, but she managed to blink the tears back, as she ran her hand across his face. “Ditto, Alex. Ditto,” she said as she gently kissed him, her eyes open, staring directly into his. He stared back, losing himself in her eyes, until he deepened the kiss, and neither of them could keep their lids from shutting as they gave into their pleasure.
Firm flesh. Thinner than before. Taut but still lax enough to give to the hand. The swell of pert breasts under nylon cloth. A stomach that had a round-ish shape; which would probably never be flat and rock-hard, but who would want it that way anyway? Long, shapely legs that stretched down, way down to perfect feet (and the light pink nail polish was sexy too).
Of course it was all covered now. What he’d seen was just a flash; she’d covered up as soon as he’d shown up. But she’d sat around like that for, who knows, hours, maybe? Flaunting herself to Howie. Okay, Howie and his lover. Howie and his lover and his entire family.
And for him… she’d pulled on clothes.
Easy to see whom she favoured.
He sighed and mentally kicked himself. Of course she favoured Howie – he’d gone out of his way to mend things since her return. What had he done? Recently he’d been so busy trying to get his life balanced with work and spending time with Chris he hadn’t done any of the things he’d planned on doing to get to know her better.
She and Howie had baggage -- loads of it – but they also had good times to fall back on too. And Howie had been committed to working things out.
She and he had baggage – loads of it – and thought they’d had good times, he’d given her mixed signals about whether he wanted to work them out.
“Did you have a nice day?” he finally asked, trying so hard to keep the jealousy and anger out of his voice.
Kat flinched at the emptiness of his voice. “Yes, actually. Todd and I talked about old times. He’s even been trying to talk me into writing again.”
“And Howie?” This time the bitterness leaked through despite his best intentions.
Kat deliberately ignore his attempt to bate her. “Howie thinks I should write too. He was surprised I’d managed to stop for so long.”
“So am I. I would have thought you’d have lots of things to say. So many secrets to tell,” Kevin said goadingly.
“I write fiction, not fact,” she retorted, then regained her composure. “Besides, taking care of a toddler is a handful in and of itself. Never seemed to have the time to write.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t taken off…”
“I’d have been able to stay here while the father of my son took starlet after starlet to his bed, and the gay stand-in father tried to deny his orientation by fucking me whenever HE wanted, and I’d still have to raise my son single-handedly because while you two still fought over him neither of you had the time to actually take care of him? Yep, I’d have gotten lots of writing done then,” she snapped.
“You could have told Howie to fuck off and leave you alone…”
“I did that for years and then he took advantage of me when my defenses were down!”
“Gee, and I wonder why my defenses were down, hunh? So how did you want it to be Kevin? Chris accidentally calls Howie daddy, you set him straight, and then go around being ‘out on the town bachelor playboy pop star’? That would have been a great role model for the little guy.”
“Who says that would have happened? And anyway, it would have been better than having no role model at all!”
“No it wouldn’t. Look at it the way it is now: you got to screw half the country the way you screwed me, and you still get a well brought up son to parade around when you want to. If he ever does anything wrong you have a convenient scapegoat. ‘Wasn’t me! It was that mother of his!’” Because after all, being brought up in a stable environment is so not as good as being brought up on the road, with parents who can’t handle being around each other.”
“At least if he’d been with me he wouldn’t have to try and figure out which one of his ‘uncles’ was actually his father.”
The slap that Kat dealt him reverberated around the room and left a red mark on his cheek.
“Grab a clue, you bastard! Chris has always known who his father is. He may not have realized it that day, but after we left it was one of the first things he asked me and I told him the truth then and everyday since.”
“So what great excuse did you use for why I wasn’t around?”
“I told him that truth then too. I told him you were too busy. I told him that you loved him more than anything but that your work kept you away and that was why you weren’t around. Lord knows he followed your career closely enough – he knew that you were always on the go. It wasn’t a lie. Just not the whole truth.”
“Never bothered to tell him that you stole him away from me and wouldn’t even tell me where he was? Never bothered to tell him that if I’d known where he was I’d have been there in a flash to see him?”
“I told him what he needed to know. He never felt that you didn’t love him. He was proud of how successful you were. I only ever told him one complete lie, and that was all I ever will.”
“Yeah? And what was that? You have the most mixed up definitions of the truth I’d love to hear what you actually consider a lie.”
“I told him that you loved me.”
That brought Kevin to a grinding halt. The one thing she thought was a lie was more the truth than anything else she’d ever said to their son. God! She thought it was a lie! She STILL thought it was a lie!
“That wasn’t a lie,” he finally said quietly. “Chris was conceived in love. Born in love. I did love you.” And I still do. He wanted to say it…. Why couldn’t he say it?
Kat looked away, trying hard not to let her turmoil show. He did. Did. Past tense. Damn, but the ‘truths’ just kept on flying didn’t they? Yes, he was conceived in love. Yes, he was born in love. Yes, I did love you. Yes, I still love you… But he hadn’t said that, had he? And what was she supposed to say? I still love you, Kevin? That would obviously do no good.
“Yes, he was,” she replied. “So maybe that wasn’t a lie. But I let him believe that we still loved each other and that part was wrong.” She took a deep shuddering breath. “But that doesn’t change things now, does it Kevin?”
He was about to reply but was interrupted by the ringing of the phone. Kat glanced at it. “I better answer get that. It may be the real estate agent.” Kevin nodded and Kat reached for the phone. “Hello?”
“Rina! Oh god, I mean Kat... I mean...”
“Em? Calm down. What happened?”
“Oh Kat, its horrible...”
“Are you okay? Nothing happened to Nick did it?” Kat asked worriedly.
“No. No, he’s fine.” Kat smiled - he must be, she could hear Em’s smile through the phone. “He’s wonderful.”
“Hey, no details. Some things I do not want to know.”
Emma laughed nervously. “No, he’s not the problem. It’s the cafe. There was a fire...”
“Oh god, no! Was anyone hurt?!”
“No, everyone is fine. Well, Nick was a little shaken up – but I told him not to go in, and the doctor says he is fine…”
“I thought you just said Nick was fine?!” Kat asked worriedly. “What do you mean ‘the doctor’?”
Kevin tried to listen in. “Nick’s hurt?”
“He went into the back to get some things. Only for a second, but he was coughing when he came out, so they sent him to the hospital. He’s fine. Just a little smoke, the doctor said.”
Kat waved at Kevin, giving him an okay signal. Kevin released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, nodded and moved over to the window to try and collect his thoughts.
“Anyway, he’s all better. But, Kat, the kitchen is pretty much a mess. I am working on setting it to rights as best I can, but you are going to have to do all that insurance stuff if we are going to complete the job. And even then, I am not sure when we can get it open again.”
“You know that socket in the back room? The one that the electrician said had been fixed and we could use for the second freezer? Well, he was wrong. The wiring was still wonky and the amount of power that the freezer needed overtaxed it. Or at least that is what the Fire Marshall said. He’s doing a complete investigation, but that’s what he said it looked like.”
“Dammit. I knew that outlet wasn’t acting right. I told that stupid electrician to look at it again. What kind of an idiot is he? Doesn’t he realize that the last thing we need is a fire?” Kat ranted.
“Brains never were popular in his family,” Em sighed. “Rina - Kat - the Fire Marshall is asking for you. I know that you don’t want to come home yet. That you need to sort things out with Kevin and all, but he says you have to be here in order for him to complete his investigation. And he needs to see all the receipts from the electrician. He wants to get some sort of action going against him if he can.”
“He needs me? You can’t just get them from the files at the house?
“He says not. Says he needs to talk to you. Said something about an affidavit.”
“Well, I could still do that from here, but I probably should take a look at the damage. Wait... did you say Kevin?” She glanced nervously at the man who was staring out the window, oblivious to his name being discussed.
“Ummm... yeah. Nick sort of said something... He didn’t say more - said you’d tell me if you were ever ready, but that you had to sort some things out with him as well as Howie.”
“Nick has a big mouth. Tell him I liked him better when he was keeping it plugged with food.”
“Does that mean you aren’t coming back?” The strain in Emma’s voice was obvious.
“No. I’ll be there. As soon as I can. This is just not a good time for Chris... Well, whatever. I’ll be there. I’ll call once I have the travel arrangements made.”
Emma sighed with relief. “Thanks Kat.”
“Nick?” Kevin asked when she hung up the phone.
“There was a small fire at home. He got a bit of smoke but is apparently fine.”
“When is he coming back?”
“I’ll make sure he leaves as soon as we get home.”
Kevin stared at her. “You’re leaving,” he stated tonelessly. You’re leaving just when we are starting to talk – okay argue. Just when I am finally starting to get the courage up to tell you how I feel… You can’t leave… I need more time!
“Emergency at home. We have to.”
“And you are taking my son away?”
“We have to go home.”
A chance… please, let this be a chance… “No, you have to go home. Let him stay here. He can stay here. Please Kat, you’ll be busy with your emergency. Let him stay with me for a little while longer.”
“You said you were giving Howie a chance. Give me one too. I know I have been behaving badly – not giving you much of a chance to see how happy I am that you are back. Just concentrating on Chris. But maybe this would be good for me that way. I’ll have him here and continue to learn how to be a good father, but more importantly to learn how to be a balanced father. To not be so focused on him. Get my perspective back.”
Give me this chance! Let me get the father part out of the way a bit more, then I’ll concentrate on nothing other than winning you back. Please….“You won’t be gone for long will you?”
“A few days. A week at most.”
“Then let him stay that long. We can figure things out after that. If he still wants to be around me. Just give me this chance.” Please! I know I can’t see straight when I am around Chris – that I can only focus on him… give me the time I need to get that together so I can focus on you…
Kat sighed, trying to figure out if he was sincere. What was the use? She hadn’t been able to figure out his sincerity for a long time. Maybe she’d never been clear on it – just believed what she’d wanted to believe until it was too obvious that she’d been wrong. She just didn’t know. When it came to Kevin her ability to judge was skewed.
“Kevin, I agreed to move in here because you wanted to spend more time with Chris, and you’ve done that. I know that you two get along wonderfully, but you have to admit that my being here hasn’t been great. So I’ll agree to him staying here while I’m gone, but when I get back we are going to make a definite arrangement as quickly as possible. You have your life to get on with and so do I. Chris will have both of his parents, but not necessarily together.”
Come on Kevin, say something, he berated himself. Say that you want to try and fix that too. Say it! Just say it!
“And he spends time with the Doroughs. I mean that, Kevin. They are his family too - maybe not be genetics, but definitely by love. They get to spend time with him.”
Kevin felt the familiar surge of jealousy – damn, he had to learn to control that too - but nodded as Kat left the room to pack and to tell Chris she was leaving.
“I want to work things out with you too, Kat,” he finally said to the empty room. “I just have to figure out how to say that when you are actually around.” He sighed. “Plus I have to get over this thing about Howie. It’s stupid. Even I can see that you two are friends, albeit too close for my comfort, but friends and only that. And as for his family being Chris’ family… Yeah, they are his family, but only because he’s never really known any other. He’s got another family too. One he’s barely met. And I think it’s time he did.”