Quit Playing Games
(c) Kat Morgan
The concert was amazing, and being so close to the stage was the most exhilarating thing Kat had ever experienced. And she told Howie so later that evening.
They were at one of the city’s more exclusive clubs. Brian and Nick were chatting with some women at the bar. AJ and his girlfriend were demolishing the dance floor. Never let it be said that the man didn’t have moves. He’d taught her a few earlier when they’d danced. Kat wasn’t sure how he kept up the energy. A two-hour show and then this. She was exhausted just watching him.
But watching him was easier than watching Kevin and his girlfriend. Howie’d introduced her to them earlier and she’d managed not to faint when Kevin shook her hand. They’d even had a short, pleasant conversation. Kat had obviously made sense, even though for the life of her she had no recollection of what she’d said or what they’d talked about. Just the feel of his hand against hers, the sound of his deep, Southern voice and the beautiful half-smile he’d had on his face.
She must have said something witty because he’d laughed his nose crinkling and his green eyes gleaming with pleasure. Whatever it was she’d said it had closed their conversation, and he’d moved back to his girlfriend, Lana, a statuesque woman with a café a crème complexion. He had his long arms wrapped tightly around her as they moved together on the dance floor, dancing slowly, talking and occasionally kissing.
Kat hated her.
"You’re burning a hole into his backside," Howie noted speculatively.
"And what a backside," she thought as she turned guiltily back to Howie. "Sorry. I really am too old for crushes. I don’t know why this one is hitting so hard."
"Kevin can have that effect on people."
"And how," she sighed. "Maybe I didn’t have enough crushes on people when I was young or something."
"Tell me about that."
"What?" The request took her by surprise.
"So far I know you work on an arts paper, are in your 30’s, like BSB," he winked. "I know your views on music, films and politics, though I still disagree with your stance on the Gulf War. But I know very little about you."
She shrugged. "Not much to tell. Why don’t you tell me about you?"
"I asked you first," he said faking a pout, before taking a long draught of this drink. Kat frowned quickly. That was his third since they’d stopped dancing only about ten minutes ago. Still, he didn’t seem like it was affecting him….
"I moved here about three months ago. I had been living at home, working on the local paper, but I wanted more. So I came to the big city. Here I discovered that being the star reporter in a weekly rural paper, and a dollar, would get you a cup of coffee." She smiled. "A buck fifty and it’d be Starbucks coffee."
"Anyway, I got a job at With It and have been scraping by ever since."
"Do you regret the move?"
"Often. As Parker said earlier, this is a move I should have done earlier, when I was younger. Still, the Backstreet Boys wouldn’t play the Cattle Castle back home, so I guess there are perks."
"Maybe we did. We played a lot of strange places when we were just starting out."
"Believe me, you didn’t. You were ALWAYS bigger than that."
"So you are here now. Living alone?"
"No. I have a roommate. She’s going to make fun of me forever for this. She’s into country music. Not the modern country rock stuff. The ‘my pickup died, my wife left me, the dog ran away, damn I miss that truck" kind of stuff. She has been very vocal about her disgust for my taste in music." She glanced at her watch. "And she is going to be more vocal if I don’t get home soon."
"You have to go? Damn. You’d almost made me stop missing Miriam," Howie said, referring to the girlfriend he’d mentioned earlier.
Kat chuckled. "I’d seriously worry about you if that happened." She was sure that the alcohol was taking care of most of his anxieties, not her conversation. "Yeah, I have to go. Work tomorrow. Why a Wednesday night concert? I’m going to be catatonic."
She laughed, used to his occasionally wry wit now. "Oh shut up, D." She got up and he rose with her. "Thank you so much for everything, Howie. This day has been more than I could have ever hoped for."
He smiled and gave her a big hug, and another kiss on the cheek, before letting her catch a cab and disappear into the night.
"All hail the conquering hero," Parker said acidly the next morning when Kat arrived at the small office that housed With It magazine. "I hear you closed down Smokey’s with that little Latino bimbo Boy last night."
Kat smiled tightly, wishing the caffeine from her tea would kick in. "No, Parker. I was only there for a short while."
"But partying with the Backstreet Boys," Parker rolled her eyes dramatically, then said with a simpering tone, "that must have been so, like, totally awesome."
Kat was tired, still on a high from the previous night, and yes, a little hungover. She was not interested in coming back to earth with one of Parker’s patented crashes.
"Well, after the orgy it quieted down a little. We had a mass tattooing and piercing session. But it really got hopping again after we sacrificed a goat and had a Black Mass. Probably the same kind of night you had, Parker," Kat said as she went to her desk and turned on the computer, leaving the other woman standing there sputtering.
Larry, the magazine’s cartoonist, and the closest thing Kat had to a friend there, started to chuckle, then feeling Parker’s steely eyes on him, picked up the newspaper in front of him, pointed to an article and leaned over to Kat, saying loudly, "did you see this? Those wacky politicians."
Parker probably didn’t buy it, but Kat watched her stomped off, teetering a little in her oh-so-chic black leather heels.
"Don’t get her mad at you, Larry," Kat whispered quickly at him.
"Don’t mind her. She’s just pissed that that drummer from Snod won’t do her," Larry remarked, referring to a now infamous incident when Parker had thrust her assets at a musician from a hot local band only to be rebuffed. "Did you have fun yesterday?"
Kat thought back to a handshake, a strong jawline, goatee, and deep verdant eyes. Oh, and a great extended conversation with an intelligent, overly winking, very attractive shorter man. She smiled. "The best."
"Good." He returned to his reading and doodling.
The day progressed unabated. Kat concentrated on her work, disregarding the occasional snide comments about boy bands and their fans, by the Parker-ites as she called them. "Who care what they think?" she thought as she tried to ignore yet another sling and arrow of outrageous misfortune. "I had a good time. They are too chic to do that. All must be dismal and au courant for them." Okay so it still hurt, but she knew she’d never fit in with the artsy cliché on the paper, so to hell with it.
The day finally drew to a close and she was glad that when she got home her roommate had gone over to her boyfriend’s. She had a quick cup of soup and slid into bed, still exhausted from the day before.Chapter 3
(c) Kat Morgan