Chapter 5: The Realization
Kat was still spitting mad when she got back to the hotel. AJ's words had hurt so much, especially because she had so studiously avoided getting intimate with Kevin and Howie. If they were anything they were friends, and so had made it clear that that was all it would be. No matter what else she wanted.
"Damn him," she thought angrily. "I didn't ask for this. Maybe I should have just ignored Tyke. I didn't intend to get mixed up with Backstreet Boys. All I wanted was to get away and rest for a few days."
She nodded tersely at the desk clerk and headed up to her room, careful not to slam the door and disturb the other guests. She sat down on the corner of the bed and finally gave in to the tears that had been threatening since she left the club. She grabbed her pillow and sobbed into for a few minutes. It helped get rid of the initial pain, but only took the edge off. She needed to get out. She slipped off her dress and pulled on her shorts and t-shirt. Lacing up her running shoes, she reached inside her bag and pulled out her skipping rope.
"It’s a start," she thought, wishing that she had access to a full gym, with a heavy bag so she could really give it a good pounding. She had been boxing for about a year - aerobics just hadn't been doing it for her and on a whim she had stopped by a local club and signed up for classes. She would never make the Olympics or anything, but she found it to be one of the best ways of getting rid of tension that she had ever found. Of course when she had set out on this trip she had figured that doing just skipping and footwork would be enough to tide her over. "Little did I know," she grimaced.
The pool area was empty - it was after midnight, and so she found a good spot on the terrace and started skipping. Five minutes of knees high, five of side to side, then another five of high kicks. She threw in another five of one-foot hops (alternating between both feet) for good measure and was starting to feel human again. She dropped the rope and had been shadow boxing for only a few minutes when the shadow suddenly moved. She whirled around, almost socking Kevin in the head.
"Hey," he said jumping back. "Save that for AJ."
"What are you doing here? Can't you just leave me alone?" she said angrily.
"Come on, Kat, AJ was being an ass. He is really sorry for whatever it is he said," Kevin said. "And he's going to be even sorrier when I get him alone," he thought.
"That's nice. Go away, Kevin," Kat said stubbornly.
"Please don't be angry at me," he begged.
Kat sighed -- it was hard to stay angry when she looked into his green eyes, "Kevin, I didn't come down here to play head games with Backstreet Boys. I don't need this hassle. As I said at the club, it was nice meeting you, Howie, Brian and Tyke. But I would really like you to all go away now."
"Or you'll punch us?" he said trying to make her smile.
"I am serious, Kevin. I need a vacation, not to be sucked into a pop group's soap operas."
Kevin sat down on a pool chair. "You are right. Like I said the other day, we just met at a complicated time." He shook his head ruefully, "hell, they are always complicated times. God, why can't I have a normal life?'
"You've got the life you asked for," Kat said unsympathetically.
"And you don't?" he responded angrily, "You said you hated your life and wanted to be a writer but all I have seen you do is complain about. If you hate it so much do something about it."
"Don't start with me, Kevin. Not all of us have the ability to switch our lives on and off the way you can."
"Bullshit! I don't do that."
"Oh yeah? Girlfriend giving you grief; trade her in for a different model. Don't like your car; again, get a different model. Not happy here; hop a plane and go anywhere you want. Not happy with the group; do a solo album. You have options coming out your wazoo. I don't."
"Easy for you to say; you don't get mobbed wherever you go. You can make a mistake and not have it all over the internet the next day," he said crossly.
"Oh, drop the poor-little-pop-star crap. Its not working with me anymore," Kat said, retrieving her rope from the terrace and turning away from him.
Kevin grabbed her arms and swung her back so that she was looking directly into his face, "And your don't-come-near-me-I-am-such-a-loser act isn't working either. I don't know what AJ said or what you are hiding from Kat, but stop it. I don't walk away from friends just because they are being stupid."
"Go tell it to your loser buddy," she retorted, trying to extricate herself from his grip.
"Howie is busy doing that. He's got a slow burn, but when he loses his temper he can be quite scary. I have a feeling AJ is getting the full force of it right now. Howie was NOT impressed by his behaviour."
"Isn't being the father figure disciplanarian your job?"
"I was more concerned about you," he replied honestly, finally releasing her as she went still. "Howie has a better rapport with AJ than I do. His anger will have a bigger effect on him," he said dismissively.
"I wanted to make sure you were okay," he finished.
"Fine. Just fine. I'll be better once you leave."
"Man, you are not going to give me a break are you?" he said exasperatedly. "We were having a really good time tonight. Please don't throw it away."
Kat stood lost in thought. "I'm not…I mean…" She looked at him and he saw the glisten of tears in her eyes. "I didn't always look like this, you know," she said softly.
He gathered her in his arms, hugging her tightly. "Is that what he said? AJ's an idiot. You are so beautiful."
"No, I'm not. I am a fat slob who screws up every good thing that ever happens to her. You're right I never do anything about my life," she sobbed.
"Shh, its okay," he said holding her closer.
"I used to be thin. I used to be courageous. Nothing scared me. Now I cower at home alone in my apartment. I used to write great stories, now I just run them through my head and never get them out. I used to be attractive, now no one will touch me with a ten-foot pole. My life is over and I don't even know when it happened."
Kevin just held her, surprised at what she was saying. He'd only known her for a few days but she had seemed so, well, together. He remembered their conversation when they were riding and her comments about how she felt dissatisfied with her life. He had heard the gloom in her voice then, but hadn't realized how deep her despair ran. And then he, and AJ, had attacked her at all her weak points. "AJ was acting out, but there is no excuse for me," he thought.
Kat's tears started to dry up and she realized where she was standing and who was holding her. She knew she should step back but Kevin's clean soap smell was intoxicating.
"Are you feeling better now?" he asked kissing her forehead lightly.
"Yeah. Sorry," she said moving out of his arms and looking at him. "I got your shirt all wet."
He chuckled softly, "small price to pay for the idiot I've been. I came here to comfort you and end up yelling at you."
He walked her back to the hotel door, then followed her into the elevator. She pushed the floor number, and turned to him. "Kevin, I didn't mean to react like that. I just have lot on my mind right now."
"Obviously. And all you've done since getting here is deal with our problems," he grimaced. "I really have been a self-centred little pop star."
She grabbed his hand giving it a squeeze," I didn't mean that. I was just…"
"Its okay: You were angry," he said pulling her into his arms again. Then he slowly lowered his head and kissed her lightly on the lips.
By the time Kat could think again they were pressed up against the inside of her hotel room door, still kissing. She had no recollection of how they had gotten from the elevator to the room. Kevin looked like he was in the same condition as he stepped back, startled to see the room. He looked back at her with a sensual smile, "I guess that got rid of your ten-foot-pole complaint."
She couldn't help it; the evening had been so full of emotional ups and downs. She started to laugh and couldn't stop. There was a slight hysterical edge to her laughter, which worried Kevin as he guided her to the bed, sitting her down and letting her go.
"I guess it did," Kat finally gasped, tears running down her face.
"I have come to the conclusion that we are both idiots," he smiled.
"Me too. I have been so wrapped up in my worries that all I did was plaster yours over them so I wouldn't have to deal."
"And I heard what you were saying about being unhappy, but I didn't HEAR it."
They smiled at each other sadly.
"So, are you willing to risk the Backstreet Boyitis and stay friends with me?"
"Yeah. Remind me to kick AJ's butt, though."
"You all ready did. I figured out what he said to you, but what did you say to him? He was positively shaking before Howie and I got to him."
She grinned a wicked grin. "I told him I thought he'd be really bad in bed."
Kevin erupted in laughter, "ouch, you hit him where he lives!"
"Remind me never to get you mad at me," Kevin said, then remembered. "Again," he finished sheepishly.
"You can be pretty malicious too, Mr. Richardson," she said primly.
"And you can be pretty delicious," Kevin murmured as he moved in for another kiss. Kat closed her eyes as his mouth moved over hers, opening her mouth to give him greater access. He put his arms around her and leaned her back on the bed, stroking her hair and face. She ran her hands down his back and he groaned in her mouth. He moved his lips down her face, nibbling on her neck as she lightly tickled his ear with his fingertips. His lean, compact body rubbed against hers, crushing her in his need to hold her close. She felt like she was on fire as he moved his hands under her shirt caressing her skin and moving to her breasts. Finding them unencumbered he began to fondle them with strong, determined fingers. Kat wrapped her legs around his, feeling his bulge as it pressed against her, and slipped her hands over his firm butt before slipping under his belt and touching his skin.
"You are making it very hard to just stay friends," he whispered as he licked her neck.
"Not as hard as you are making it," she replied as she nibbled his earlobe before plunging her tongue in.
His moan told her that he was definitely an "ear" person and she continued to lick, stroke and nibble on one and then the other ear. The advantage of that was that he could concentrate on her neck and shoulders, an area that turned her on, and he did with alacrity.
Kevin leaned back on his elbow and looked at her, his eyes dilated with passion. Then he pulled her shirt over her head and began to stroke her stomach as he nibbled on her nipples. Kat moaned deeply and arched her back. She reached around and unbuckled his belt and top pants button in order to give her hands freer access to his rear end and upper back. She teasingly tickled the triangle of flesh at the very top of his butt crack and he groaned in response. When she didn't think she could take it any more, she flipped him over on his back and unbuttoned his shirt. She slid her tongue over his sleek chest finally moving to his nipples. She flicked her teeth lightly over the tips, then sucked gently on them. Kevin gave a low cry, then grabbed her under the arms and pulled her up his chest so that she was lying on top of him. He captured her mouth, plunging his tongue in deeply. She moaned and ran her tongue over his teeth, which only drove him wilder.
"God, you taste so sweet," he murmured. "Do you have any idea what you are doing to me?"
Kat was going to answer but his hands had found the top of her shorts and plunged in. His fingertips felt soft and rough at the same time as he stroke her clit and it was all she could do to keep from crying out. Her wetness was turning him on even more and his breath was coming in short pants.
"How…Kevin," she moaned as he drove his fingers deep into her. She tried to move; tried to get access to him, but he had her pinned down firmly and was unwilling to relinquish either of her lips. She could feel the orgasm building and reached up and grabbed his head, forcing his lips down harder on hers. She ran her finger over his right earlobe, trying to give him, in some small way, as much pleasure as he was giving her.
And then suddenly he wasn’t there.
Kat opened her eyes to see a panting, half naked Kevin leaning against the bureau. H’s face was flushed and he was holding onto the countertop as if he was trying hard to restrain himself from jumping back on her.
"I can’t do this," he puffed.
Kat closed her eyes, trying not to let him see the hurt in them. "I can’t either," she murmured.
Her admission made him relax somewhat, but he didn’t come near her until she pulled her shirt back on. He sat heavily on the far edge of the bed and looked sadly at her. "I want to…God, how I want to."
"Thank you for stopping. I don’t think I could have."
He let out a short, harsh laugh, "I almost didn’t." He took a deep breath. "But I just can’t."
"It’s the no sex before marriage thing?" Kat asked, "I read somewhere that you believed in that."
"Yeah, and failed miserably before in that department. No that’s not it." He turned and held her hand lightly. "Don’t get angry at me for this. But the wrong man is in this room."
He saw the look of confusion on her face. "You don’t realize it yet, but you are in love with Howie."
"What? That’s ridiculous! I just met him."
"And he is in love with you."
That stopped her. "But…"
"Kat, trust me on this. Its like you said about being able to give advice and not being able to take it. I may have a hard time figuring out when I am in love, but I know when others are. It was love at first sight for both of you."
"Kevin, get real. This isn’t some fairy tale. Even if love at first sight existed don’t you think I would have noticed it? I mean, wouldn’t I have known it somehow from even seeing his picture or something? No. Whenever I watched Backstreet videos or interviews it was always you I saw first," she said, and then blushed at the admission.
He smiled, "maybe. But that’s not reality. The moment you two met it was obvious. Even AJ saw it. He wouldn’t have gone after you like that if it was just about me. Subconsciously, he recognized that you were someone who could come between him and Howie. Believe me, I have lived with these guys for years. If there is one thing AJ is threatened by is anyone who might supplant him as the apple of Howie’s eye. Their friendship is purely platonic, but AJ still gets jealous."
"I still don’t get how this involves me, or us," Kat said indicating her and Kevin.
"I want you. Badly. But you were right when you said we were just friends. I may never meet someone who understands me as well as you do, but you are in love with Howie."
"You keep saying that. It’s not true," Kat leaned in and kissed Kevin, stroking his chest with her hands. It was like touching a statue; he sat so stiffly, not reacting at all.
"Whose name were you going to say a few minutes ago?’ he asked.
"When we were… whose name?"
"Yours, of course," Kat tried hard to remember. "I said…" She sat stunned for a moment. She had said Kevin’s name, but had started out saying Howie’s. She couldn’t have about to say that, could she?
"Eureka," Kevin smiled sadly.
Kat gazed at him, but instead of Kevin’s green, the only things she could see were Howie’s chocolate brown eyes. Even Kevin’s lips were replaced by Howie’s wider sensual mouth. She shook her head, trying to clear the image. It couldn’t be true.
"That doesn’t make sense…. How could…?" she stuttered.
Kevin sat quietly as the realisation sunk in. He was both happy for Howie and Kat, but tortured by the knowledge.
"Kevin. I’m sorry. I didn’t know."
He leaned over and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "I am happy for the two of you." He rose, "I better go."
"No. Don’t. Please. Kevin, please stay with me tonight. Not like that; as a friend."
He shook his head. "I can’t. Not right now," he smiled regretfully. "I couldn’t promise to behave myself."
After he left, Kat pulled off her shirt and shorts and climbed into the shower. She thought she’d need a cold one after the heat that Kevin had started, but found herself shivering so hard she turned the hot water up. "Its not every day you find out you are in love with someone other than the one in your arms at the time," she thought. The knowledge caused her to start crying and she couldn’t stop.
Kevin stood outside the hotel door, listening to her sob, and trying hard to make himself leave. Once he heard the shower stop he waited a minute, then knocked on the door. Kat opened it, eyes puffy with crying.
"Okay, I’ll behave myself. If you need me to stay I will."