Quit Playing Games
(c) Kat Morgan
Howie'd been drinking again. Worse than usual. She could smell it on him: something he'd always managed to cover before. Howie: the breath mint King.
But not tonight. Tonight the alcoholic had overpowered the retsyn.
"I have a favor to ask you," he mumbled.
"A favor. Something you'll like."
He sat down on the couch. "Itís about the game."
"Game. What game?"
"Are you going to repeat everything I say?"
Kat sighed. Drunk and belligerent. Just what she needed. "Just tell me, Howie."
"Okay. We have this game we play."
"Us. The Boys. Get with it, Kat."
Take a deep breath. You can always kill him later, she thought. "Go on," she said patiently.
"Itís simple really..."
He gestured for her to sit down and she did.
"You know how we're famous and all. Well, it can be a real drag if we start seeing someone who turns out to be pain. I mean some girls can fake themselves well enough to suck us in, you know?"
Kat nodded. She'd seen some of the girls who hung around the Boys. Sweet charming and cute in front of them. Heinous bitches when they weren't around. What kind of idiots did they take them for? Didn't they realize that the insiders talk to one another?"
And as this for ones who got through: she counted Miriam as one of those.
Leighanne and Lana were genuine. Neither had a cruel bone in their body, though they were both strong willed women. She is only getting to know Micheline and so far believed her to be the same way. And despite everything she was, in Kat's opinion, the most down to earth of the girlfriends. She'd tell AJ to his face when he was acting like an ass. But she'd also let him go if he was just acting silly. It was a fine line, but Micheline seemed to know it very well, and she was invariably right about when he started to cross it.
Miriam, on the other hand, had always left her feeling cold. Kat was surprised by it. She thought, if anything, it would be Lana she would have trouble with. But she was a good person; she could see why Kevin loved her (damn her). And while Kat had some romantic feelings for Howie, she was often surprised by how much she despised his girlfriend.
"So we devised this little game a while back," he was saying.
"Tell me about the game, Howie."
"It's simple really. One of us sleeps with the other guy's girlfriend."
"What?!" Kat was stunned. He was joking. He had to be.
"Yeah. That way if one of them gets annoying then the guy can say she cheated on him and use that to get rid of her."
"That's pretty nasty, D."
"Well, so is some of the crap we get from them. We have to protect ourselves."
Kat was silent, but her mind is working furiously. No, he is kidding. Is this some sort of practical joke? Something like what Nick played. "And you need my help?"
Howie sighed. "Yeah. I drew the short straw. I gotta do Lana. Only the trick is to keep Kevin away long enough. I thought maybe you could distract him for me."
"And Lana is okay with this?"
"Sort of. She'll understand."
Kat snorted. She doubted that. He really was stringing her a line. Okay, she'd play along. "What's in it for me?"
"Well, I figure, you've got a thing for Kevin. So I'll tell them that you and I have been having an affair on the side, and that I want you to be my girlfriend. Then I'll arrange it so Kevin is the one who ..."
"Has to make me part of the game?"
"Right. That way I'd get what I want: Lana. And you get what you want: Kevin."
This was ridiculous.
"Hey, look it this way. I never said what you had to do to distract him. Fuck him now. Then I'll insist he does it again after I'd tell them. That way you'll get to fuck him twice," Howie giggled.
"Think of it: all night long with Kevin your bed."
Kat was starting to get scared. The look in his eyes ... it was manic. It frightened her.
"And you all play this game?"
He snorted. "You think Nick's playing all those jokes on Micheline for nothing? He's gotta do her."
Nick had been playing a lot of jokes. And on Micheline specifically... Dear God, he was serious!
"You've been playing this game for how long?" She squeaked.
"Years now. Some fun, hunh? So you in?" He chuckled drunkenly. "Or should I say it will Kevin be in you?"
Kat rose from the chair, shaking hard from how angry she was. "Go to hell, Howie. You and all your friends. This is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard."
"Stay away from me. I can't believe I trusted you. I thought you were my friend. Just stay away."
He lunged for her, but she is too quick. She ran to the door that tore it open. She is still shaking as she raced back to her room, and she's having trouble getting a key card to work.
She gasped and turned quickly, tears streaming.
"Hey, what's the matter?" Nick came closer, worry on his face.
"Stay away from me. You disgust me. You all... just leave me alone." Kat gulped. She finally got her card to work and ran into her room, slamming the door quickly.
Nick stood there, dumbfounded.
Howie was nursing a bad hangover the next morning. He hadn't gotten much sleep easier. He'd tried calling Kat's room all night, but no answer. She wasnít answering her door either. Damn, he'd miscalculated there. He thought her attraction to Kevin would win out: that she'd be desperate enough to do anything to have him. What was he going to do if she talked?
He grunted hello to the others and poured himself a coffee. Black.
"Whoa. Rough night, D?" AJ grinned.
"Hunh?" Howie looked at him bleary-eyed, wishing he would stop talking so loud.
"You're drinking coffee. You never drink coffee," Brian chuckled. He turned to AJ. "I feel an urge to start singing, really loud."
AJ grinned back. "So do I. And off key."
"Shut up you two. You're talking loud enough," Howie growled
AJ and Brian were still chuckling when Nick joined them.
"What's so funny? Pass the toast," he said pulling up a chair across from AJ.
"He is," Brian replied indicating Howie with his chin.
Nick had to agree. A hungover D was a funny thing. Nothing sweet about it. It was enough to make him glad he wasn't legal to drink yet. Not that it stopped him. But at least he'd learnt his lesson after the first few mornings-after. Still. It had been happening more regularly with Howie. MaybeÖ
"Hey, Jay." Brian chirped.
"Right behind you," the tall man said as he rubbed his eyes and sat down next to his cousin.
"Good. You're all here," Jay said. "Can someone tell me the meaning of this?" He held out a piece of paper.
AJ took it, reading it over, then exclaimed, "what the fuck?!"
"My thoughts exactly. I found this shoved under my door this morning."
"What does it say?" Nick asked.
AJ looked at it again, a confused gape on his face. "It's from Kat. She says effective immediately she's resigning and leaving."
Howie breathed a sigh of relief.
"What? Give me that," Kevin grabbed it out of AJ's hand and read it aloud. "Dear Jay: I'm resigning as tour correspondent effective immediately. Here's the pass key to my room. The laptop and all the disks are on the desk. I'm sorry if this leaves you in a lurch, but I will not, cannot, continue work with the Backstreet Boys. I would also greatly appreciate it if you could ensure that there was no further contact between me and them. Thank you for all your assistance in this matter. Katherine Morgan."
"That doesn't make any sense," Brian frowned. He felt betrayed. When he had told Kat his "secret" the week before she hadnít given any sign that she was upset about it. But her noteÖ What if she told everyone? It wasnít an earth-shattering secret, and something that he was more than willing to shout from the rooftops once Leigh finally agreed to a date, but it had to be managed well. The last thing either Leigh or he wanted was some fan killing themselves over it.
Howie cleared his voice. "I think I know why."
All heads turned to him.
"Kat came on to me last night. And well, I turned her down. I may have been a little less than understanding about it. She didn't seem very happy."
"That's not..." Nick trailed off.
"I told her to leave me alone and that we couldn't be friends anymore," Howie said. "I may have gone overboard."
The others are silent for a minute then Brian sighed. "Well, she obviously didn't take it well. Sorry, D."
"Yeah. She was a good person. But I guess..." AJ said sympathetically.
Nick just looked at Howie, certain he was lying but not sure why. Kat hadn't been disappointed when he'd seen her. She'd been terrified. Of him. Of all of them. No, something else happened. He wasnít sure what. He's probably never know what. But Kat had left in terror and Howie was lying through his teeth.
Nick lost his appetite.
(c) Kat Morgan