Quit Playing Games
Kat hadn’t even realized she’d said it aloud until Nick launched himself from his chair.
"No! I won’t believe it!"
Kat reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling him back down on the sofa. "Sit down, Nick. And shut up. You are drawing conclusions from nothing. I just had a, umm, stitch in my side. It wasn’t what you thought." She made a big show of rubbing her hip, trying to throw him off, but deep down she knew exactly how he felt. But they needed to get Leighanne to talk and having Nick rant and rave was not going to help. Better to try and throw him off for a little while longer…
He mumbled angrily, turning his face away so that Leighanne couldn’t see the tears that were starting to form. He obviously hadn’t bought Kat’s act.
Kat leaned forward. "Leighanne, I’m going to tell you a story. Very much like it was told to me. And then we are going to need you to answer those questions we warned you about. Okay?"
Leighanne was even paler now, but she nodded.
"On the tour, I hung around mainly with Howie. We were friends, or so I thought," Kat grimaced, and then carried on. "I mean I was friends with everyone, but Howie was the one I knew best…" She shook her head. Nope, she hadn’t really known him at all. Had any of them? "Anyway, he was the one I was with most often – unless you dragged me off shopping or somewhere equally heinous." She flashed Leighanne a smile that was returned weakly.
"I guess… I guess he thought he could trust me. That I was so enamored of you all that I would do anything, accept anything. Or maybe he was just testing me; I don’t know. And he had been drinking a lot…"
"Far more than usual, lately," Leigh murmured.
"He was? See? I didn’t know that. I just thought it was a lot and it bothered me for… other reasons. So it was an increase?" She turned to Nick, who thought about it for a second.
"Yeah, it was. I didn’t really notice it because I rarely went out with you all after the shows. But you’re right. He was hung over often. I teased him about it but it never really sunk in."
"Maybe that is why his judgment was off that night," Kat mused. "I don’t think he would have said anything to me if he’d been sober."
"What did he say?" Leighanne asked, her voice shaking.
Kat raised her eyes and locked them with Leighanne’s. "He told me that the Boys have a game of sleeping with each other’s girlfriends."
"What?! That’s not true! Why would he say that?" There was a tinge of relief in her voice as Leighanne protested.
"Because he asked for my help in getting him, umm, access to, umm, one of you," Kat replied.
Leighanne gave a little gasp. "I… Why? Who did he want…"
"That’s not important right now."
"You didn’t tell me who either," Nick noted curiously.
She turned to him. "In his tale he told me who you were supposed to boink. Think about it, Carter, who’s left?"
"But I didn’t! I wouldn’t," Nick insisted, and Leighanne nodded, looking at him.
"I am telling you what I was told."
Leighanne broke in. "Its not true, though. I mean, they don’t… Brian wouldn’t… They don’t… I’ve been around them for years and I’ve never…"
"Never what?" Nick looked at her, eyes intent.
Leighanne didn’t answer him, just looked at Kat.
"I think what she means is that she’s never seen any indication that what Howie told me happens does." Kat said. "And you were also quite vehement on that point, Nick."
There was a deafening silence.
Kat finally broke it. "So anyway, that is what Howie told me. And I told him exactly what I thought of it and left right away."
"You believed him," Leighanne stated.
"He can be pretty believable when he wants to be, so yes, I believed him."
"But you don’t now?" There was a quiver of hope in her voice.
"I… I am afraid that I am not finished with my story. As I said, I left. And a little while ago Nick and I met again, and he, well, he forced me to tell him why I left."
"I did not FORCE you," he snorted.
"So mentioning lawyers and lawsuits was just in fun? Gee, Nick, could have fooled me," she replied sarcastically.
"That was about the other thing," he whined. "Not about…"
"You two fight a lot," Leighanne noted.
"Do not!" "She started it." Nick and Kat looked at each other, then started to laugh.
"Yeah, well, our "reunion" hasn’t been altogether great," Kat admitted.
"At least I don’t throw food," Nick replied, sticking his tongue out at her.
"You’re too busy eating it."
"Come on, Nick," Leighanne pointed out. "You DID eat that Danish after she lobbed it at you."
Nick grumbled, but there was a hint of a smile on his face. Their little spat had brought the tension level down a lot.
Now it was time to raise it again.
"I told Nick what Howie had told me, and as you heard, his reaction was the same as yours – the Boys do NOT do that."
"So why am I here?"
Kat looked at Nick. He shook his head. She nodded yes. He sighed heavily. "Because I think that part of it is true," he finally said.
"My turn to tell the story now. Kat told me and I freaked out at her. I don’t think I came anywhere near the things she called me last night…" Kat flushed. "But I still said a lot. Anyway, when I got back…"
"Got back? From where?" Leighanne interrupted.
"Leigh, this is difficult enough for me. Can we please get to all that later? Please? What matters is that when I got back I ran into Marissa."
The blonde woman grimaced.
"Yeah. She’s just as bitter," Nick nodded. "But she did tell me one thing that got me thinking. She told me that, other than AJ, she had slept with one of us. Not necessarily at her instigation."
Kat allowed him to fudge that point. After all, she hadn’t been there for that conversation. It was his story now.
"I thought back to what Kat had said, and I admit I got curious. So I went to see one another one of the guy’s ex-girlfriends. She said the same thing."
"And?" Leighanne left it hanging.
Nick nodded. "Same name."
Leighanne took a deep breath and then released it.
"That’s when Nick called me. He was a little upset about the picture that was emerging."
"Plus I wanted backup when I asked Tee about it."
"You saw Tanya?" Leighanne’s eyes widened in astonishment. "Are you okay?"
"A little bruised. And getting all the drool off was a little difficult."
Leighanne just stared at him in surprise. Kat, who had been there, giggled.
"Oh stop it, Leigh. Yes, I managed to resist her. And get away, well, relatively unscathed."
"Yes. She slept with him too. She cheated on me with a guy I thought was one of my best friends, and she couldn’t even be bothered to tell me," he replied bitterly.
Kat put her hand on his clenched fist. He sighed and let his hand relax enough to allow her to hold his hand. "We found out about this yesterday afternoon," Kat told Leighanne. "It’s a little too fresh."
She nodded and sat back in her chair, collecting her thoughts. "So that is why Nick "kidnapped" you? I am assuming that’s because you told him you would come down to help him on the condition that you not have to come here to Orlando."
"Because you were afraid that whoever else is involved in this would be more than a little angry if their secret came out."
Kat nodded again.
"So what you want to know from me is if anyone has tried this "game" on me?"
A third nod.
Nick knew that it was crunch time and that he would have his answers – or not – based on Leighanne’s response. Suddenly he didn’t want to know. He desperately wanted to give her an out. "Kat says that it probably only happened to Marissa and Tanya because it was a way to get rid of them. Sort of a ‘sleep with the wicked ex’s so that they would leave’ kind of thing. You know, ‘I know you’ve cheated on Nick or AJ and I’ll tell them if you don’t leave them alone.’ I mean, if anything we’d probably have listened to him, not her."
"Really," Leighanne raised an eyebrow at Kat who shrugged.
"It’s a theory."
"But you don’t believe it."
"Even that is sick enough." Kat took a deep breath. "I honestly don’t know what to believe. Look Leigh, I know it is very fresh for Nick and Tanya was… well, I was just an observer and I was very uncomfortable. She struck me as, sorry about this Nick, a bit of a bitch. And in a way I think she got what she deserved. That is harsh, I know, but, damn, she pissed me off. Maybe even Marissa is the same way; I don’t know. But at the same time, I don’t blame THEM for it. Like I said, there was a pattern emerging. He gets them when they are vulnerable for whatever reason. That’s when he makes his move. And I think that is why he came to me when he did. I guess what I am trying to say is that that only person I see as being at fault here is him."
Kat took another deep breath, emotionally exhausted by the speech she had just given. Damn, why had they put the breakfast cart in the hallway? She needed some more tea stat.
Nick was about to say something, but Leighanne held up her hand.
"You gave yourself away," she said quietly.
"Hunh?" Kat asked.
"You said ‘that is why he came to me.’ Its pretty clear that you mean Howie. I mean its not Brian doing this, I can attest to that. And AJ didn’t because Marissa is involved. I am assuming Nick is out of the running because he is here. That leaves Kevin or Howie."
"Yes, it does," Kat replied quietly.
"And I also know…" Tears started to roll down Leighanne’s face. "I know its Howie."
She took a shuddering breath. "I know its Howie because it happened with me, too."
(c) Kat Morgan