Quit Playing Games
For all his determination to get her there quickly, Nick didn’t seem all too eager to take the next step.
Every morning she’d wake up, steel herself for a potential confrontation, then, when she joined him at the breakfast table he’d have thought up yet another thing that he really wanted to do NOW.
So far he’d taken her out on the boat, out snorkeling, had given her rudimentary scuba lessons, taught her to play basketball, explained the finer points of comic books, and introduced her to his beanie baby collection. You name it: he always had a good distraction. Not that she was fighting him too hard. And he did leave her plenty of down time. He had to go up to Orlando a few times for business, and after the first time, he didn’t ask her if she wanted to come with. He just left her to her own amusement.
After a week she had had enough. He had been a pleasant, though distant host, but her comfort level was waning.
“Nick.” They were sitting down for breakfast; she was plying him with French toast, he was reading the sports pages. “We have to get on with this.”
He grimaced. ‘I know. I just… I don’t want to see her.”
“What exactly happened between you two?”
He hesitated, a multitude of emotions flickering across his face.
She sighed. “You don’t have to tell me.”
“No, its okay. I just don’t know how to put it.” He ran a hand through his short hair, making it stick up at odd angles. “She was my first girlfriend. In many ways, my only girlfriend. We have been on and off so many times… We were both pretty immature when we got together and that never really stopped. It was always good for a while, but when it started to go bad…”
“It went bad quickly and you did a lot to hurt each other,” Kat finished. “It sounds like some relationships I’ve been through.”
“Yeah.” He sighed again. “Like I said we have gotten back together several times. We broke up again about six months ago. Since then I’ve just had short, well, flings, I guess. Like I said, I haven’t been an angel.” He leaned back in his chair. “I just don’t know what it is about her. I don’t love her. I haven’t for a while. I’m not sure if I ever really did. But…”
“She’s like a habit you can’t break,” Kat replied distantly.
He looked at her, noting the sadness in her eyes. She knew exactly what he was talking about. He’d have to remember to ask her about that sometime. “Exactly.”
There was silence for a moment.
“So what can I expect when you see her?”
He scowled. “That depends on her. She wasn’t happy about us breaking up again. If she’s still pissed she’s going to be mean and vindictive. If she thinks I’m there to ask her out again, she’ll try and twist me around. Make me beg. And when she figures out that is not why I am there…”
“But that’s not what you are afraid of.”
“No. I’m more afraid she’ll be like she was when we first met. Happy. Calm. Fun. The girl I fell for. The one who could care less about what I do for a living and just likes me.” He took a deep breath then exhaled. “She’d be hard for me to resist.”
Kat ignored that. She knew what he was talking about. “Her other, umm, ‘aspect’ doesn’t like you the Backstreet Boy?”
“No, she likes him fine. He can give her pretty things and make her famous. But she is also jealous of it. All that fame bit is for me not here. And the fans… Never really having me to herself. And like I said, I did a lot to hurt her over the years.”
“Being known only as Nick Carter’s girlfriend can be a lot to bear.”
“Yeah,” he said sadly. Then gave her a quick smirk. “Being Nick Carter himself is no picnic either.”
Kat laughed. “Oh, you poor baby. Can I get you some cheese with that whine? A crutch to lean your frail ego on? Does the pitiful little pop star need a hug?”
It was apparent as soon as Tanya opened the door that Nick’s fears were unfounded. Or rather that his fears about a reconciliation were unwarrented. Tanya was very pretty: a curvaceous (though not too curvaceous) physique, dark blue eyes, strawberry blonde hair with nice facial features. Though that was a little hard to tell with the sneer that marred her face.
“I was wondering when you’d show up.”
“Hello Tanya,” Nick replied quietly.
“So here you are on my doorstep. Again. What makes you think I’d take you back this time, Carter?”
She ignored him and turned to Kat. “Who are you?” she asked belligerently.
Kat flicked a glance at Nick then replied, deepening her voice a bit. “Security team.”
“A woman?” Tanya replied incredulously. Then looked her up and down. “Well, at least they gave you a dyke, Nick,” she said dismissively.
Nick looked like he was about to protest, but Kat shook her head slightly, then stepped back, assuming the “guarding” position she’d seen Bobby and the other members of the Boys’ security team do so often when she’d been on tour with them.
Nick took a deep breath. “I need to talk to you about something, Tee.”
Well, come on in then. Don’t lurk on the doorstep.” She turned and walked down the hallway, hips swaying. Nick followed her, his shoulders hunched. Kat trailed behind them, then moved ahead as the entered the living room, casting her eyes around as if searching for security problems. In actual fact she was looking for a corner to hide in.
She need not have worried. Tanya ignored her totally and focused on Nick.
“Baby, I missed you so much,” she purred as she patted the seat next to her on the sofa. He looked uncomfortable but sat.
The next hour was an episode direct from the Twilight Zone. Tanya alternately flirted, shrieked, petted, wailed, and chastised. And all that Kat could do was stand back and watch. She had to admit, there were times when Tanya calmed, and she could see flashes of what had drawn Nick to her in the first place. But there were also times when she wondered why Nick hadn’t pushed her off a cliff and marveled at his restraint.
She did what she could to support him. Clearing her throat ominously if Tanya got too physical. Moving around the room, shifting things and distracting Tanya whenever she got to be too much. Making funny faces at Nick behind her back when it looked like he was faltering. Refusing to leave the few times when Tanya suggested that she go and get them something to drink…
It took a while – a seemingly endless while – before Nick could get around to the subject he wanted to.
Tanya swore loudly. “I knew that jerk wouldn’t keep quiet about it.” Then she put on a simpering face. “Oh Nicky, I’m so sorry. We’d had such a big fight and I was so upset.”
“And it was so horrible. Him wheezing and panting on top of me. Not romantic and wonderful like the way we are together.” She gave him a big-eyed look that almost made Kat gag even from across the room.
“And he must have known you’d kill him, because when we, I mean, he, well, you know.. he said your name. Not mine. Like he realized what he’d done and was afraid. He begged me not to tell you. Oh Nick, I’m so sorry. I’ve regretted it every day since.”
“But not enough to tell me yourself,” Nick replied stonily.
His demeanor seemed to take the wind out of her sails. “Well, no… It was like a nightmare. I just wanted to forget it.”
“So much for an honest relationship, hunh Tee?”
“What…” Tanya recognized that she was losing her upper hand. “You cheated on me too!”
“Once,” he yelled at her. “Only once. And I told you about it. I confessed it. You couldn’t even do that.”
Her pert mouth worked but no words came out.
“Any of the others, Tee? Were you working your way through them when my back was turned?”
“No! Nick, I love you!”
“Hell of a way to show it,” he said bitterly, getting up and stalking around the room.
Kat knew he was as upset by getting his “three times the charm” confirmation about Howie as he was by Tanya’s betrayal. She said his name quietly, and he looked at her, stark shock in his eyes. He nodded and sat down. In a chair away from Tanya.
The other woman was sobbing now. “How could he? He promised he wouldn’t tell! I’ll kill him.”
That was the last thing Kat wanted to have happen. Whatever Nick was going to do with the information he had now he’d never discussed with her, but Kat was quite sure that Howie’s getting wind of it before Nick was ready was not part of the plan. “Tanya?”
The girl looked up at the sound of Kat’s voice.
“When did this happen?”
“I… About seven months ago. Before Nick and I broke up last time.” She looked at Kat curiously. “Who are you really?”
“She told me about Howie,” Nick replied listlessly.
Kat cursed under her breath. He was still reeling from all this, but he was about to blow her cover (what little there was of it). She turned to Tanya. “I’m new on the team. I heard something in passing.” She shrugged. “The bodyguards talk, you know? I slipped and said something in front of Nick.”
“So its your fault,” Tanya shrieked, coming out of her seat and launching herself at Kat.
Nick grabbed her arm before her hand could connect with Kat’s face. “No, it’s not her fault. All she did was say something. YOU did something. YOU betrayed to me, and couldn’t even bother to tell me the truth.”
He turned to Kat. “Come on. We’re out of here.”
“Nick, please. Forgive me,” Tanya begged, but he ignored her. “Please, it meant nothing. Please tell me there is a chance for us.”
He turned slowly. “You and I’ve done a lot to hurt each other over the years. But the one thing we did have was honesty. That’s gone now. A chance for us? I’m not sure. But I’d say the probability is slim to none.”
(c) Kat Morgan