Chapter 22: Surprise Landings
"I am NEVER going shopping with you again," Kat laughed as she put the huge pile of bags in the truck of the car.
"What? I needed clothes. I didn't bring any with me. I was in too much of a hurry to get to you," Howie said as he put his arms around her and kissed the tip of her nose.
"Well… if you put it that way."
He chuckled. "Besides, I had to get you out of that "refugee on the run" wardrobe you had."
She smiled sadly. That as exactly what it had been. Dull colours designed to make her fade into the background.
"Hey. No sad eyes, okay, love?" She looked into his anxious brown eyes, and kissed him lightly on the lips.
"Never again. I promise."
"Come on. I want to get back to the hotel and pack all this stuff up. The flight leaves in three hours."
Howie had insisted that she leave her shabby apartment in Kingston. To come with him to Orlando. To forget the past heartbreaking three months and be with him. She didn't need much convincing. She didn't have much to pack. He hated everything that would remind either of them of their time apart, and decreed that they needed to go shopping for new clothes before they left. Never argue with this man on the subject of shopping; he had very interesting ways to convince you that he was right.
He also had excellent taste. The clothes he insisted she try on were glorious. A riot of colours, each one seeming to set off her features perfectly. The only disagreement that had was over a brilliant white silk dress that she refused to consider.
"It'll make me look like a whale. White is not flattering to fat people."
"You are not fat. You are perfect."
"Come on. Look at it. That neckline will emphasize your beautiful breasts and the waist will glide over your skin. That dress was made for you."
"It will make me look pasty."
"It will make you look tasty," he mimicked as he hugged her. "Please? For me?"
"You are not playing fair," she whispered into his ear before nipping it lightly. He groaned.
"Now who is not being fair," he said pulling her closer.
"I am. And I am going to win this one. Not that dress, Howie," she said as she arched her body against his, feeling his interest, then slipping out of his arms and walking down the aisle.
"Cheat!" he accused her when he caught up to her. "Okay, this one then…" he held up a royal blue shirt. That she could agree on and slipped into the change room.
Buying clothes for him was even worse. Howie wasn't vain… okay, so maybe a little…but he knew what he wanted and was quite insistent on it. Shirts, ties, suits, the pile got bigger and bigger, and she just shook her head in wonder.
"Howie? Why do you need all this stuff if we are going home?"
"I like the sound of that."
"'Us' and 'home'. That is something I could get used to."
The knock on the door was brusque, and AJ opened it quickly, blinking at the bright sunlight. Kevin stood there, a serious expression on his face.
"So I suppose she sent you over to talk to me?" he said, words slurred a little.
"You're drunk," Kevin stated.
"Give this man a prize." AJ turned away. "Go away, Train."
"No. We need to talk. You heard that Kat is back?"
"Yeah. I talked to her."
Kevin looked at him in confusion, "she called you?"
"No, I called her. Didn't Howie send you over to tell me to keep away?" AJ had thought that was why he was there.
"No. I just got back. I came straight from the airport. How did you find out where she was?' Kevin asked, curious.
AJ ignored the question, countering with one of his own. "Want a drink?"
"No," Kevin said and took the bottle out of AJ's hand. "And you don't want anymore, either. I need to talk to you and I want some straight answers."
AJ grunted and turned away.
"AJ. Look at me," Kevin turned the slighter man around. "Kat said you lied about that night. I want to know what really happened."
"She didn't tell you?"
Kevin shook his head. "She wouldn't talk about it other than that. I left soon after."
"And you left Howie there." AJ grabbed the bottle of scotch, unscrewed the top quickly and raised the bottle in a mock salute. "Well congratulations, Kevin. Now he's going to get her back and I am screwed," he said before taking a big gulp of the strong alcohol.
Kevin was stunned. "What do you mean 'you're screwed'?"
"You guys never gave me a chance did you?" AJ said rhetorically. "It was all 'call Howie.' No one even thought to let me know. To let me have a chance."
Comprehension finally dawned. "You didn't just sleep with her, did you? You made love to her. You're in love with Kat."
"Give this man another prize! We have a winner," AJ said sarcastically as he took another swig, then collapsed in the chair. "If you had just giving me a few minutes to talk to her. I could have convinced her…" He trailed off, a tear falling down his face.
Kevin sighed. This was getting worse by the minute.
Kat raised her head from Howie's shoulder sleepily. "Where are we?"
"At the airport, sleepyhead."
"Which terminal?" she asked, not recognizing where the car had pulled up.
"I forgot. I told Kev but not you. When I found out where you were I came as soon as I could, but there were no more flights to Toronto. So I chartered a plane."
Kat eyes shone with tears, "you did that to find me?"
He kissed softly. "Anything to get to you."
"I'm going to cry."
"Too late," he chuckled as he kissed her tears away.
"Gods, do you know how much I love you, Howie?"
"I think I have some inkling. And I'd really like to stay here and find out, but we do have a plane to catch," he smiled as he kissed her nose.
She wrinkled and wiped it quickly. "You keep doing that. Stop it. It's annoying."
"You are such a grouch when you haven't gotten enough sleep."
"Who's fault is that, studmuffin?" she smirked as she got out of the car and took her bags from the driver, smiling her thanks.
Howie walked over to the pilot who stood waiting and talked to him briefly. The man nodded and climbed into the cockpit, starting up the engines as Howie and Kat put the bags in the hold and the climbed into the jet.
"Wow! This is nice." Kat said as she looked around at the cabin.
"No, this is nice, "Howie said as he buckled her into the seat next to him and then pulled her head down on his shoulder. "Go back to sleep, baby. I'll wake you when we get there."
Kat snuggled into him. "Howie?"
"I love falling asleep in your arms," she murmured drowsily.
"I love it, too" he said, looking down at her slumbering face.
The sound of the engines slowing woke Kat. She had slept the whole flight. She raised her head, then noticed that Howie was dozing as well. The beam from the overhead light hit his face at such an angle that he looked like an angel; a god with halo intact. How did I get so lucky? Kat thought as she watched his still visage. Then he moved slightly and his eyes opened, their powerful gaze sweeping across her. She felt her mouth go dry as she looked into them. He smiled and her heart quickened. He leaned in and kissed her, soft lips caressing hers. She couldn't repress a small moan, and flicked her tongue along his bottom lip.
"How do you feel about the Mile High Club?" she whispered.
He smiled. "Is that an invitation to join?"
"We could join together," she said huskily, the double meaning clear in her voice.
"God," he groaned as he captured her mouth again. "You know just what to say. Unfortunately I don't think we are Mile High anymore. I think we are landing."
Kat looked out the window. It was still dark, but the neon lights were vibrant. She frowned. "I don't think we are in Orlando."
"No, we're not," he said.
"Where are we?"
She was surprised and confused. "Las Vegas? Why are we here? Is there a concert here or something?"
"Howie, what is going on?"
"We are here for a reason. There's something we need to do before we can go back to Florida."
"You are starting to worry me. What are you talking about? What do we need to do?"
"We need to get married."