Chapter 3: The question

Kevin Richardson had called her his friend.

Kat tried to tell herself that he had lots of people he called that, but it rang hollow. Kat had only spent a few hours with him, but she had gotten the impression that he was a man who had thousands of acquaintances but only a few friends.

And he thought she was one.

Kat thought of her friend, Alexis. They had met at a dance club, both single women out, not to get laid but just to get out. A guy had come on to Alexis and Kat had sensed her discomfort. She had stepped in - pretending to be her friend and getting rid of the drunken lech. It had been one of those instinctual girl-helping-another-out situations. Within fifteen minutes they were chums. Within an hour, after spilling their guts out to each other, they were friends. Now, years later, they were, as Alexis put it, "platonic soulmates."

"Maybe that is what happened with him," Kat thought as she drove back to Edgewater. Not the soulmates bit, but the meeting someone and just knowing, instinctively, that they were a friend. She sighed, "Yep, just my luck - I meet one of the hottest men on the planet and he wants to be my friend." She chuckled, "who am I kidding? Iíll take that any day of the week!"

She turned off the highway into town. "Kevin Richardson wants to be my friend! Yippee!" she yelled loudly, then looked sheepishly around as the shout echoed through the car.

At the motel she stripped off her horse-smelling clothes and pulled on her swimsuit. A quick dip in the ocean refreshed her, though her attempt to calm her roiling mind by reading failed miserably.

She celebrated with dinner at a seafood place she had been eyeing earlier. She almost had a beer, but figured that she was "high" enough. A trip to the local movie theatre to see the latest romantic comedy was enjoyable, however Kat left feeling somewhat down. Sure, he had called her friend, but what good would that go her? Sheíd probably never see him, or Brian, or Tyke, again. It had been great while it lasted, but reality was setting in.

She walked down to the beach and sat watching the sun set. The feeling of confusion about the "Kevin" situation was now moving into other areas. She thought about work, her lack of a love life, but most of all about her feeling that she was missing "something." It was something she could almost taste, but was just out of reach. She knew that the "something" was direction. She just couldnít figure out what her direction was.

The moon rose and she was still sitting there on the beach. She now regretted not "pitching" her video concept to Brian, but was ashamed about thinking that it was up to him to make her life better. She was also starting to regret this trip. She may have been better off banking the money and quitting her job. Or maybe she should have....

"You look like I feel," a voice said.

"Kevin? What are you doing here?"

"Looking for a friendly face," he sighed as he sat down beside her. "You said something about liking to stare at ocean, so I took a chance. Kelly and I broke up," he said dismally.

"Bad, huh?" she sympathised.

"Well, she wasnít too pleased, if thatís what you mean."

"Hey, if a rich, gorgeous, sexy, internationally-renowned singer dumped your ass, would you be pleased," she said, trying to cheer him up.

"I guess," he muttered. "I am not rich, you know."

"You own Lightning?" He nodded, "Thatís rich by my standards," Kat concluded.

Kevin started to laugh, and then laugh harder at the frown on her face.

"You have got to be the only person I know who equates horse ownership with being rich. Most people point to the house or the car or whatever. Never the horse," he chuckled.

"Iím a simple girl," she smirked. "Wait! You have a car?"

Kevin started to laugh again. Kat was glad to see heíd regained his humour. "And a house? You mean like a Barbie dream house or something, right? Not a real house house. And the car, its your motherís really?"

"Stop it! Your making my sides hurt," Kevin said wiping tears from his eyes.

"Look, Kevin," she said seriously. "Iíve met a few famous people before, but never spent as much time with them as Iíve spent with you - but I just donít know how to treat you as anything other than just people. I mean, after you get over the Ďgolly, gee - youíre so and soí stuff, what else can you do? Give them the Spanish Inquisition about their lifestyle?"

"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition," Kevin said in his best Monty Python voice.

"Ha ha," she smiled. "But not true. You expect it. Youíve been expecting it from me ever since I told you I knew who you and Brian are. Howís Tyke, by the way? No, wait, donít answer that yet. Iím not finished. I am sorry Kelly was such a bitch; what little I know about you makes me sure it is her big loss. I mean, there is more to you than a great voice, good dancer and a hot body."

"I am a hot body?" he asked teasingly.

"Maybe," she responded, also teasingly. "Do a turn for me, take off your shirt and flex."

Kevin pulled a muscle man pose.

"Okay, nice abs - check. Firm biceps - yep," Kat pretended to be filling in a list. "Firm butt - okay. Strong face, but those eyebrows..."

"Hey those are one of my best features!"

"Well, they are certainly one of your most noticeable features. So, listen pretty boy, stop sucking up for compliments, and be yourself. If a Kelly canít appreciate it, someone else will - and thatís the person you want."

Kevin looked intently at her. "Why do I get the impression that this is all stuff that you should be saying to yourself?"

Kat raised her hands in a warding gesture, "good with advice for others - crappy at believing it for myself."

"Well, you should believe it."

They both gazed at the ocean, lost in their individual thoughts.

"Kat?"

"Hmm?"

"When are you going back to Toronto?"

"Next Tuesday."

"If I asked you out on a date, would you say yes?"

Kat sat there, stunned.

"Kat?"

"Yes? I mean no."

"No?"

She turned and looked him in the eyes. "Iíd love to, Kevin, believe me. But youíre vulnerable now, after Kelly. And so am I after, well, life. And as much as I say Iíd treat you as a guy, and not a Backstreet Boy, it would be really hard. I donít know if I could do it. And I wouldnít want to hurt either of us by trying and failing."

"Okay," he said miserably.

"Come on, Kev. Donít look like that. Iím saying this because I care about you and I donít want to hurt you. I am being honest with you."

He snorted.

"I mean it. I haven't been anything other than honest with you since we met, and I am not about to change now. I would never want to hurt you the way Kelly did. Saying no to you is the hardest thing Iíve ever done. And Iíd REALLY like to say yes."

"Then do."

"It wouldnít be right; we both know it."

"Yeah, I suppose." Kevin sighed. "So if I asked you out as a friend would you say yes?"

"In a heartbeat."

"Good," Kevin said, relaxing. He lay back and looked at the stars silently for a few minutes. "Youíre right. I shouldnít rush into something just because Iím lonely."

"Gee, thanks."

"Hey, you turned me down!" He chuckled. "I wish weíd met at another time, when it wasnít so complicated."

"Yeah, then you wouldnít be able to pry me off you with a forklift."

Kevin laughed. "Its better we are friends. I need friends. I donít have many."

"Neither do I. Hey, NOT being famous is hard too!" she laughed.

"So, tomorrow night. You doing anything?"

"Yeah, I am going out with this new friend of mine."

"Good. So what are you two doing?" he smiled.

"Not sure. What do you think we should do?"

"I was thinking. Maybe, dinner. Then maybe out to a club."

"I am not a great dancer. I hope heíll give me some pointers."

"I am sure he will." Then he stopped. "Oh shit. I forgot. I am supposed to go out with Howie and AJ tomorrow."

"Its okay," Kat said. "Some other time."

"No. Iíll call them. Maybe Howie can come to dinner with us."

"Not AJ?"

"Nah, heíll be at his girlfriendís. They donít usually exit the bedroom until they need to," he chuckled.

"OOO. Got a quarter?" Kat said.

"Why?"

"I gotta call the National Enquirer about something."

"You are so funny," Kevin grimaced.

"Glad you got your sense of humour back," she noted.

"Thanks to you."

"Iíll bill you later."

He laughed and rose. He offered his hand, pulling her up. "Come on. Iíll walk you back to your hotel."

Chapter 4