Chapter 12: Morning after
The jangling of the cordless phone on the bedside table woke Kat the next morning. She reached over, still asleep and answered it.
"Howie?" She bolted upright, knocking AJís arm off her shoulder. He groaned and rolled over.
"Did I wake you?"
Kat grabbed a shirt from beside the bed and pulled it over her head. She slipped from the bed and walked to the door, trying hard to keep the panic out of her voice. "Yeah, sorry. Not awake yet."
"I wanted to apologize. Youíre right, Iím a jerk."
"I donít know why I was acting that way. You were just always spending time with Nick. It hurt."
"Howie, heís like my little brother. He was hurting. And I wasnít just spending time with him."
"Yeah, but AJ always flirts with beautiful women," he chuckled, and Kat paled.
"Thatís not what I meant. I..."
"I just want to be with you. I donít want anyone else to be with you when I can."
"That doesnít sound healthy," she smiled sadly.
"No, I guess it isnít. But the more time I spend with you the more I want to spend."
Kat blinked back tears. "I feel the same about you."
"Damn, I wish I was there right now. Look, Iím actually calling for another reason. We canít find AJ."
"AJ?" she said stupidly.
"We are supposed to be doing an interview in twenty minutes and heís not here. He was going to see you home last night. Is he there?"
Kat squeezed her eyes shut. "He was sacked out on the couch last time I checked. Give me a sec." She covered the phone with her hand and let out a little sob. She took a deep breath and uncovered the phone. "AJ," she called. "AJ!"
"What?" he groaned, still not opening his eyes.
"Donít you have an interview this morning?"
"Shit!" he sat up quickly. Kat shook her head furiously, willing him not to say anything more.
"Howie," she said, putting particular emphasis on his name, warning AJ as best she could. "You better send a car. And probably a change of clothes. Iíll throw him in a shower and pour some coffee down his throat."
"Okay. Do you want to come with us?í
"No. I better not. Just send the car, okay? Bye." She turned the phone off and slid down the door, tears streaming down her face.
"Oh shit, what did I do?" AJ said, jumping out the bed and going over to her.
"Donít touch me," she weeped.
"Kat, please," he pleaded. "I..."
She shook him off and stood up, trying hard to compose herself. "You better get ready. Heís sending a car."
She walked into the kitchen and poured water in the coffee machine. AJ came in, clothes on, and turned her around. "I didnít mean for this to happen."
"You know what the funny thing is?" she said tonelessly, not even looking at him. "I knew how much I cared about him, but I didnít know, until just now, how much. His was the first voice I heard this morning and I just realized how much I want his to be the only voice I ever hear first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Kind of funny, isnít it?"
"Itís my fault. Iíll tell him it was all my..."
"Donít you dare say anything to him about this," she screamed, focussing on AJ for the first time, eyes wild. "Not now, not ever!"
"Okay, okay. I wonít." He was starting to get scared by her behaviour, "calm down."
She shook him off. "AJ, I just canít handle this right now. You better get ready."
He retreated to the shower and when he came out he could hear Kat talking in the kitchen. He walked in and was surprised to see Howie standing there, arms around her lightly. He hesitated, then locked eyes with Kat who looked at him, terrified. He shook his head, trying to tell her that he wouldnít say anything.
"There he is," Howie said turning to AJ. "I brought some clothes; you better hurry."
AJ nodded, grabbed the pile that Howie offered him and retreated to the bathroom to get dressed. Kat and Howie were still in the kitchen when he emerged, Kat sipping on a cup of tea, which she held defensively in front of her.
"Actually, Howie, weíve got a problem."
AJ glanced at Kat, who looked scared stiff, before smiling, "these sunglasses just doesnít go with this outfit, bro."
Howie laughed, then kissed Kat quickly, "you are sure I canít change your mind?"
"No. Iíll see you later, okay?"
She walked them to the door, then kissed Howie goodbye and shut the door. And sank to the floor sobbing violently.
The two men got into the limo and settled back.
"Yeah, D. Just tired," AJ turned away, afraid to look Howie in the eye.
"Did Kat seem distracted to you this morning?"
"Sheís probably tired too."
"You sure? Sheís not still angry with me? What I did last night..."
"Was nothing compared to what I did," AJ thought. "She was pretty upset," he agreed.
They sat in silence, but as the car pulled up to the station, and AJ could see Kevin, Brian and Nick standing there, signing autographs and waiting for them, he had to say something. "D? Look, what ever happens between you too, treat her right, okay? I mean, we all make mistakes, just donít hurt her, donít be angry with her."
Howie looked at him curiously as AJ climbed out of the car.
The interview and photo session went quickly, and Howie tried several times to call Kat, but couldnít get any answer at the apartment. He was about to give up and head over when his cell phone rang.
"Howie? I was trying to reach you," Kat said.
"Yeah, I was trying to get you. Where are you?"
"At the office. They called me in, this big emergency with the magazine. Anyway, I am going to be here for a while. I just wanted you to know because I am not sure when, or if, I am going to get out of here."
"So Iím not going to be see you tonight?"
"This trip really has been a disaster, hasnít it?" he chuckled ruefully. "First Iím too busy, now you are. Are you going to be able to come to the airport and see me off tomorrow?"
"Iíll try. I want to, I just have to get this stuff done. You understand?"
He sighed, "I have to, donít I? It wouldnít be fair after you put up with me and my work."
"But Iíll be thinking about you."
"Iíll be thinking about you too, Howie."
He hung up the call, and walked back to the other guys. "Kat canít come over; she has to work. Anyone up for a movie?"