Chapter 14: The Kat came back

Kat stared down at the leftover egg congealing on her plate. She was bored out of her skull, but unsure about what to do about it. She had to leave town, but wasnít sure where to go or what to do. Since turning her back on her life in Toronto she had just drifted along. It was time to make some decisions, to get on with a life and stop running away. Sheíd done that for almost three months now, and it was time to stop.

She took another sip of her coffee, making a face at the bitter rancid taste, and glad that she had order it and not her usual tea. If the coffee tasted like it had been made out of an old running shoe, she hated to think what the diner would have used to make tea. Old lawn clippings? One of those bags from the dollar store? "A million bags in one boxÖonly $1!" She didnít ever want to find out what those tasted like.

She gazed out the window of the diner, looking at the gray skies and light snow falling. Her least favourite kind of weather. What had possessed her to come here? Why hadnít she stayed where she was? At least there had been sun and warm weather. Not this crappy Canadian winter stuff. It was not helping her mood.

Maybe she should go back to Toronto. She was not cut out for life here in a small town. It was too quiet. Too provincial. A good place to hide, to avoid life, but did she need to do that anymore? Maybe it was time to poke her head out of the tortoise shell she had surrounded herself with. It had been fun at first, sort of like a secret agentís life. No roots. But she was tired of her crappy pre-furnished one bedroom apartment. She didnít even have a telephone. Just the cell-phone that she had gotten on her return. No connections, no commitments. No way to get hurt or hurt others.

No, she was not going to think about that.

She pushed her breakfast plate away and took another sip of coffee. It was lethal stuff, but at least it would keep her awake. She hadnít been sleeping well recently. Too many dreams. If they didnít hurt so much she would call them good ones. But she still couldnít deal with the memories, and her subconsciousí continuous channeling of them wasnít helping.

"Excuse me. Can I ask you a question?"

Kat looked up to see a girl, about 16, looking intently at her. "Can I help you?"

"Is your name Kat?"

It was a totally unexpected question. Kat had met few people since her arrival her in Kingston. No one seemed to worry about that really. It was a university town and most of the population was transient. She had slid herself into the anonymous flow of people who populated the town and other than the occasional meal, had little contact with others.

"Why do you ask?"

"Because you look like her. The Kat they are looking for?" she said, turning her statement into a question.

"Whoís looking for?"

"The Backstreet Boys."

Kat was surprised how still and calm she managed to remain. Other than a quick shake of her hand, which she covered swiftly by putting her cup down, she gave no sign of the whorl of emotions those three words caused in her.

"Arenít they a band or something?" she said, playing dumb.

The girlís eyes shone, "they are the best. They are such good singers. And so gorgeous"

"And they are looking for someone?"

"Yeah, they have this picture of this girl on their website. It looks really like you, so I was wonderingÖ"

"So why would they be looking for this girl? I mean arenít they famous or something? I doubt they have any trouble finding girls," Kat responded fishing for information.

"I think itís about that rape thing."

This time Kat couldnít hide her reaction. "Rape thing?"

"You know, Nick Carter being charged with raping that girl."

"Nick Carter wouldnít rape someone if his life depended on it," Kat exclaimed. "What are you talking about."

The girlís eyes went wide; "you are her, arenít you?"

"Tell me," Kat ordered.

"Nick was arrested for raping some girl at their concert in Toronto. He says he didnít do it, and they are still fighting the charge, but they have been looking for you," she looked at Kat, surprised. "Itís been all over the news for months; how could you not know?"

"I have been out of the country," Kat said dismissively. "What is happening?"

"Itís all on the websiteÖI could show you. I just live across the street."

"Letís go." Kat threw some money down on the table and got up quickly. The girl had to run after her to catch up, and kept giving her strange looks as they walked across to her house. They entered the side door, and the girl walked up the back stairs to her room. The room was covered with pictures of the Boys, mostly of Nick and Brian. There were even pictures on the ceiling. The girl sat down at her computer and flicked it on.

"Whatís your name?" Kat asked.

"Lindsay."

"A big fan?"

"Yeah. Here is the site," she got out of he chair and let Kat sit down. She heard the familiar strains of Larger than Life play and watched fixedly, like a drowning man would an approaching boat, as the five faces flickered across the screen.

She clicked the mouse, and scrolled down the page. Sure enough there was a picture of her. One taken on their first trip to Toronto after she had met them. She remembered when Alexis had taken it. Howie was on one side of her and Kevin on the other. The werenít there now; just her face and a headline that read "Have you seen this woman?"

"Umm. Kat?"

"What?" she was trying to read the short story next to the picture, to soak in as much information as she could.

"He didnít do it, did he?"

Kat turned and focussed on the distraught girl. She took her hand and gave it a little squeeze. "No, Lindsay, he didnít. Nick wouldnít do anything like that. He didnít do it," she said gently.

"And youíll help him, right? You can make sure he doesnít go to jail?"

"Iíll do my best. I swear."

"Good," she was silent for a minute. "I am glad I decided to talk to you."

Kat smiled, "me too."

"How do you know them?" Lindsayís curiosity was killing her. "Whatís he really like?"

"Who? Nick?" Kat had turned back to the screen and was finished her reading. "He is a great guy. Very sweet. Loves to sing. A good person. Can you pass me my bag?"

Lindsay complied, looking adoringly at the posters of Nick on the wall. "I knew he didnít do it," she murmured.

Kat grabbed her bag and rustled through, trying to find her cell phone. She finally located it and pounded a number on it, muttering "please still work" under her breath. It rang. Then again. And again. After five rings she was about to give up when there was a click and an answering machine picked up. She swallowed back her tears as she listened to the deep voice on the other end. Gods, how she had missed him. The machine finally beeped.

"Kevin? Are you there? Pick up. Kevin, come on. Please be there. Pick up the phone, Kevin. Itís Kat. Please be there. Kevin, I just found out about Nick. What is going on? This is ridiculous. He couldnít have done it. Kevin, please! Pick up the phone."

"Kat?"

"Thank gods. Youíre there," she sighed.

"Where are you? Where have you been? Are you okay?" he asked hastily. "Weíve been looking for you everywhere. Are you okay? AJ told usÖ"

"I donít want to talk about that."

"He said he forced youÖ"

"I said I wonít talk about that, Kevin. I mean it. I wonít talk about it."

"Kat, youíve got toÖ"

"No, Kevin," she said harshly. "I am calling about Nick. I only want to talk about Nick."

Kevin sighed. "Its bad. Heís practically under house arrest. Itís been a zoo. Weíve managed to keep him here; he doesnít have to go back to Canada until the trial date."

"But what happened?"

"That girl he met at the club that night after the concert, when youÖ" Kevin realized what he had been about to say and amended his statement, afraid that she would hang up. "She says that after she left the first time, she came back to get her purse and he grabbed her."

"He was dead to the world! He was so drunk that night, he couldnít have gotten out of bed if he tried."

"Thatís the problem. He canít remember. And she didnít file charges until a few weeks later so there was little physical evidence left," Kevin sighed, his frustration with the situation coming through the phone line.

"It should never have got this farÖ"

"We know that. Itís just her word against his. But its big news and they wonít let it go. I am afraid theyíll try and make an example of him or something."

"What can I do?"

"Youíll help?" he said with relief. "I didnít think youíd ever want to have anything to do with us again."

"I am not going to let this happened to Nick, no matter what elseÖ Just tell me what to do, Kevin."

He told her the name of the law firm that was handling the case and she wrote down contact numbers. Lindsay was practically fainting with the knowledge that she was actually in a room with someone who was actually talking to a Backstreet Boy.

"I think you have someone here who wants to talk to you, Kevin," Kat said, noticing the girlís excitement. "Whose idea was the website, anyway?"

"Brianís. Thatís what worked? He figured we could get extra help that way."

"Good one. Here. Her name is Lindsay," Kat handed the phone over to the girl.

"Hello?" the girlís voice trembled.

"Hi, Lindsay. So you found her for us. Thank you so much. Youíve done a great thing for the group."

Lindsayís face shone, and Kat knew Kevin was working his usual charm.

"Okay. Tired, I think. Kingston. About three hours from Toronto."

Lindsayís comments shook Kat out of her reverie, as she realized that Kevin was trying to find out where she was. She signaled Lindsay to give her back the phone, which the girl did reluctantly.

"Thatís not fair, Kevin."

He knew what she meant immediately. "Iím worried about you. I need to see you. To make sure you are okay."

"No, Kevin. Hereís the deal. Iíll go see your lawyer. I will do whatever I can to help Nick. But if I see any Backstreet Boys then Iím out of there."

"ButÖ"

"Please Kevin. You knew why, obviously. Itís the only way I can do this."

He sighed heavily. "Fine. But go right away, please. This is killing Nick. And I donít know how long I can keep your call quiet."

"Iíll call right away. I promise."

"Thanks."

"Kevin?" she hesitated, trying to find the words to askÖ

"He misses you terribly," Kevin replied, knowing exactly what she was trying to ask. "He looks like shit; I donít think heís slept properly in months. You have to call him."

Tears were streaming down Katís face. "I canít. Not yet. I donít know what to say."

"Say anything. Just let him know youíre alive. Itís killing him not knowing where you are."

"AndÖ"

Again Kevin was one step ahead of her. "He just about killed AJ. AJ said it was all his fault; that you hadnítÖ In a way this Nick thing is all that saved them. They are starting to talk again. But heíll never get over it unless you call him."

"I will. Soon. Just let me clear this mess up. I have to go; I have to call this lawyer."

"I miss you, Kat."

She choked back a sob, unsuccessfully, "I miss you too, Kev." She hung up the phone and stared out the window, wiping the tears off her face. When she composed herself, she turned back to Lindsay, who was watching the scene in front of her avidly.

"So, do you want to come to Toronto with me tomorrow? Youíll get to meet a Backstreet Boy."

"Really?" the girlís voice squeaked with excitement. "But you told him not to come."

Kat laughed bleakly. "Kevin Richardson never listened to me before when I told him to stay out of things. He is not going to now. Heíll be there. You can be my early warning system. Just give me a little notice when he shows up. Deal?"

"Deal!"

Chapter 15