It was only that the car was going over 100 miles per hour on an Interstate that kept Kat from jumping out of the car right then and there. Not that she didn’t try, but Nick was quicker with the door lock than she was.
“Let me out of the damn car, Carter!”
“No. Please listen to me…”
“Fuck you! You promised, you son of a bitch. Was this part of the plan? Play all nicey-nice and get me to trust you then turn me over?”
“No! Look, we are almost there. Could you please call down for a minute,” he reached over to place a calming hand on her arm but she fought back, nails clawing his hand.
“Kat! I am serious. I don’t mean you any harm.”
“Right. I am sure that is what you told all the others. Pretty neat trick only taking me to one of the ones that Howie did. Very sneaky. Make him look like the bad guy so you could screw me over.”
“Is that what it is? You didn’t get Micheline taken care of so now I’m some sort of consolation prize? Play the game on me and then I can’t say anything without looking like some sort of pissed off one-night stand victim?”
“No! What would…. Micheline? What has she got to do with it?”
“Howie told me, Carter. He told me that you had to “play” her.”
“Oh, and now you are going to believe him over me?” he shouted. “The fucking jerk is fucking around with my girlfriend and you are going to believe him.”
“Why not? You promised you wouldn’t trick me into going to Orlando,” she gestured angrily out the window. ”What the fuck is that, then?”
He turned off at an exit and slowed the car down. Kat sat sulking in her chair until his head was turned, looking before he crossed the intersection, then tried to bolt out the door.
“Hey!” he grabbed her upper arm quickly, twisting it in his determination to get her to stay.
“Let me go!” she shrieked angrily, wincing as his fingertips dug into her flesh.
“Then stay in the goddamn car!” He pulled her in, slammed her door shut and clicked the child safety lock on his side. Now her door wouldn’t open unless he wanted it to.
Kat let out a stream of swear words that would have made a longshoreman blanch.
“Yeah, well say what you want about me. You are not going anywhere until you calm down and listen to me.”
“I have heard way too many of your lies over the last few days, Carter” she sneered.
“How come I’m ‘Carter’ all of a sudden? It was Nick a little while ago.”
“I don’t call traitors by their first names. Would you prefer dickhead?”
He sighed. “Look, I shouldn’t have sprung this on you. I’m sorry. But we need to do this. I’ll keep you safe, I promise. Howie won’t know you are here.”
“Whoop-de-do. So what? I get my Kevin prize? The one Howie offered? I told him, and I told you: NO!”
“Poor Kev, he’ll be very disappointed,” he tried joking to lighten the mood. Then realized his mistake when she started to try and climb out the window.
“Fuck! Kat, no! I was kidding. Shit, get back here,” he pulled her in, swerving as he did. An oncoming car let him know it didn’t approve of his driving with a loud and sustained honk. “Yeah, buddy, you try driving and trying to tame a Kat at the same time.”
“Please let me go, Nick. I promise I won’t tell anyone about any of this. Please? I’ll just get out at the corner and you’ll never have to see me again.”
“So what? You’re going to walk back to Tampa? Do you really have enough money to get back there? Get real. Just hear me out of this. I need you to…”
“I’d rather walk, thank you,” Kat replied angrily. “More exercise, and less lies.”
He laughed shortly. “You are not going to give me a break are you?”
“Arm or leg? Maybe I’ll get lucky and break your neck,” she mocked.
Nick started to laugh, this time in earnest.
“What is so goddamned funny, Carter?”
“You are.” He turned the car into the parking lot of a large hotel complex and parked. “Get out of the car.”
“A minute ago you were so determined to get out you tried to do it through the window. Now you won’t leave?”
“Not with you, I won’t.”
“Jesus, Kat. I am really not in the mood. It has been a long and really hard day for me. Could you please just get out of the car and lets go in?”
“No. And it is going to do nothing for your reputation to have to drag me kicking and screaming through the lobby.”
“Fine. Then I won’t.” He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. “Who is this? Robert, hi. Nick Carter. Yeah, we’re here. Look, it would probably be better if we entered discreetly. Sure, that would be good. I’ll meet you down there.”
He turned back to Kat, starting the engine. “There. No lobby. Happy now?”
“Why, Nick? Why are you doing this? I thought we were friends. You didn’t have to bring me down here. You didn’t need to trick me. I told you I would have kept quiet and I mean it. You are the one who escalated it.” Kat continued to plead as Nick drove around to the back entrance to the hotel and parked. A man was waiting there.
“Hey, Robert. Good to see you again,” Nick called, then turned back to her. “Get out of the car. Come up to the suite with me. I’ll tell you what I need to do.”
Kat shook her head firmly.
“I will carry you up there. I am serious. I could care less about my image. But if I do that, then word WILL get out. And Howie WILL know you are here. I am trying very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Please, I am begging you. Let’s go in. Have some supper. I’ll tell you what I think needs to happen now. We can rest and if you agree we’ll go forward with the rest of this tomorrow. Please, trust me this one last time.” He looked at her in earnest, eyes pleading to believe him. It wasn’t his usual puppy-dog look; he was really imploring her...
Kat stared at him, trying to figure out what to do. He was right; she didn’t have enough cash on her to get back to Tampa. And how would she get her things anyway? He’d probably block off access to the house. She could always try and fly out of Orlando… She had her credit cards with her. Play along. Wait until she had a chance…
She unbuckled her seat belt and nodded. He gave a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
Clearly he hadn’t totally believed her (she didn’t believe him either so why should he?), because he was instantly on her side of the car, holding her arm lightly. She shook him off and walked past the confused concierge, who had to run to catch up to them.
“Umm. No luggage, Mr. Carter?”
“No. Just a quick visit. I’ll get anything extra that we need. Could I have the key please?”
“Yes sir. I… I only brought one, sir. I didn’t know that the lady would be with you.”
“She won’t be needing one. She’ll be with me the entire time we are here.”
Kat snorted derisively, and allowed Nick to steer her into the service elevator. Robert gave him the key and told him the room number, then gave her a confused look and walked away.
“My, my. Do that often Nicky? What a reputation you must have.”
“Look, I have had about enough of you,” he barked. “Why don’t you just shut up for a while?”
“Yes, sir! Anything you say, sir. Always be nice to kidnappers, that’s my motto,” she replied derisively.
He sighed, and practically threw her into the room once he got the door open. He shut the door and then used the key card again before moving over to the mini bar and pulling out a soda.
Kat waited until he was across the room then tried the door.
“Not going to work. You need the key to exit the room as well as enter it,” Nick said as he threw himself on the couch. He ignored her swearing and leafed through the hotel menu. “So what do you want for supper?”
“Not sure if I feel like giving you one now. Maybe I’ll make you wait.”
“Hey, you agreed to come up here and the first thing you try and do is leave. Why should I trust you?”
“Why should I trust YOU?”
“Because I haven’t done a thing to harm you since I asked you to come down here.”
“Except break your promise about bringing me here. You knew how…”
“Fine! Scared. There, I admit it? Happy now.”
“Not really. Steak okay?”
“Tell me what you are up to.”
“Wait and see,” he replied nonchalantly.
Dinner was a tense event. Neither of them talked to each other, just ignored one another. After dinner, Nick announced that they were going to go get some clothes and stuff for tomorrow.
WalMart late on a weeknight was dead enough for them to get through easily, but they were barely talking to each other, and Nick wouldn’t leave her side, even for a minute. Try using the change rooms with him hanging over her… He finally agreed to stand outside the door, but only after he’d checked for other exits. Who did he think she was? Superwoman? Able to leap out of change rooms in a single bound. Jerk.
They managed to get there and back without a major incident, though the temperature in the car was subzero. Could have cut the tension with a knife. She could really use a knife right now… What was she thinking? She wasn’t a murderer. But if he turned her over to the other Boys she just might be tempted to…
She finally gave in enough to once again plead with him to either tell her his plan or let her go. No dice. “Wait until breakfast,” was the only response. Sheesh. That’s what he’d said about dinner.
And having him lock her in that night did nothing to calm her nerves. No wonder she tossed and turned all night. And let me tell you, late night television is crappy no matter where you are. Infomercials rule at 4 a.m. and there were a few uses that she thought up for some products that were clearly not what the manufacturer intended. Think she could fit Nick’s head into the juicer? She’d be willing to give it a try.
So when Nick knocked on her door at about nine am, she was not in the mood.
“Get up. We have a guest.”
“Go to hell.”
“Nice to hear you this morning too. Now get up and get out here before the food gets cold.”
“Do you really want to know what you can do with your damn food, Carter?” Kat said as she opened the now unlocked door. Then stopped short. The person at the table with him was definitely not anyone she would have expected. And they were clearly not expecting her.
They stared at each other for a second, and then Kat realized what a mess she must look like and muttered, “umm. I’ll be right back,” and shut the door. She shook her head, trying to take in who she had just seen, then walked into the bathroom and started the shower. She was just getting in, starting to get wet, when it finally hit her sleep-addled mind.
“Oh shit,” she thought. Nick was going to ask Leighanne.
(c) Kat Morgan