(c) Kat Morgan
Quit Playing Games
Kat had been with the tour for almost a week, and the schedule was driving her nuts. She hadn’t slept a full night since she got there, and the Boys had had even less rest than she had. How the hell did they keep up the pace?
She had arrived in Minneapolis on Monday. She’d been surprised at how easy wrapping up her life in the city had been. With rent covered for the months she would be away, at least she didn’t need to worry about moving furniture or anything. Just pack her clothes and those few mementos she felt she couldn’t do without. Then just shut her door and walk away.
That had taken about four hours.
She still had all of Sunday to get through.
After repacking her bag about three times she finally decided enough was enough and went out to a movie. And dinner. Then another movie. Finally to bed.
Monday morning was the opposite of her weekend. She spent the morning on the phone with lawyers and bankers making sure that while she was away at least the personal matters she had to deal with would be taken care of.
She was exhausted by the time she made it to the airport and the flight went by quickly as she dozed off and on.
"So what's a nice girl like you doing a place like this?"
Great, Kat thought as she walked down the airport corridor. The cheesiest of all pickup lines. "Catching a flight as far away from you as possible," she replied, not even turning.
"And here I thought you'd only just arrived," the voice said.
She turned around, "Listen buddy. I'm not in the mood..." her voice trailed off as she stared at the man front of her. He was about her height, wearing a ratty lumberjack shirt and acid washed jeans. ‘Didn't those go out in the eighties,’ a part of her mind thought.
It was his face, though… He had long, lank brown hair, almost heavy metal rock group long. And a pair of sunglasses fresh out of the movie Boogie Nights. He tipped them down his perfect nose and winked at her. As if those sensual lips had already given him away...
"Howie?" She asked wide-eyed.
"I take it the disguise is a good one?"
She looked him up and down. "You look like a refugee from a very bad eighties teen flick."
He laughed. "That's what I was going for. Believe me, your initial response was a lot politer than some of the things that have been said to me when I wear this get-up."
"So why wear it?"
He gestured around. "See anyone asking me for autographs? And look, no bodyguards. Just you and me."
"Still, it’s an awfully big price to pay in order to be incognito."
He sighed mournfully, "don’t I know it."
She chuckled. "Yes, here I am with one of the most gorgeous man on the planet and people are looking at me like I need my head examined."
"One of the most gorgeous men on the planet?" Howie smiled. "I like that. Come on, let’s get your stuff."
They retrieved Kat's one large bag from the carousel and headed back to the hotel. It was surrounded by hundreds of fans. Fans who didn't even give them a second glance. Kat repressed a laugh as she walked by girl holding a placard that read "Hugs and Kisses for Howie D." If only the girl realized that the man she was sneering at was the object of her affection...
Howie stood back as Kat checked in. He was more convinced now that he'd been right when he'd push for hire. She relaxed around him right away and had even argued with him, in a taxi, about which 80's teen flick he would best fit into. He'd laughed so hard his wig had fallen off twice.
And once she started talking about the book... Yes, she was certainly on the same wavelength as the Boys. It would be a good project. Kat was observant and clear about her thoughts. And she wasn't afraid to argue her point if need be. Finally they'd have someone in their court when it came to publicity material.
And she sure was easy on the eyes. OK, so she was a bit chunkier than he liked, but she had an easy style. Those black jeans fit snugly where they should, and not where they shouldn't. Sure they were covering more flesh than they need to, but she looked at ease with. She was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt. Emerald green. Not a colour he would have picked, and it did sort of clash with her blue rimmed glasses. But the jewel tone did pick up her olive skin. He was familiar with the problems with that: his skin was the same tone. To little sun and it looked sallow almost yellow-ish.
She had a touch of a double chin, but those high cheekbones quickly took your mind off that. Especially when she smiled. Her dark brown hair looked lovely too, though she had it pulled back in a braid. Some wisps had escaped and floated around her head.
He wondered what she would looks like if she really tried.
"OK that's done," she said as she turned back to him, room key card in hand. "Now what?"
"Now we go up and you drop your stuff and I get out of this ridiculous get up," he said leading her to the elevators.
He dropped her at her room, telling her to meet him in his room in a few minutes. From there he would take her to meet everyone she had to.
He was back in, well, Howie garb, when she got to his room. Dark brown khakis and a crisp white shirt had replaced the acid jeans and lumberjack shirt. His hair was a loose tangle of dark brown ringlets. And he had a scotch bottle from the mini bar in his hand.
"Hey, that was fast. I thought you'd take forever," he said as he sat down the bed.
"Nope. Quick shower and a clean shirt and I'm good to go," she smiled.
He sniffed and grinned mischieviously. "That's a much better smell."
She narrowed her eyes and her hands went to her damp ponytail. She pulled one hand down her hair quickly. There was just enough water left in it to shoot a small stream, which landed smack dab in the middle of his face.
He gave a short shriek, and wiped his face. Then burst out laughing at the look on her face. "How do you get your eyebrows to do that? To just have one go up like that?"
"Practice. Sort of like your winking."
He pulled a pompous look on his face. "My winking is my signature."
"Either that or an annoying facial tic."
"Oh yeah," he laughed, "having you on this tour is going to be great fun. I am going to have to be on my toes at all times."
"Can I call you Twinkle?"
"Short for Twinkle Toes."
He fell off the bed he was laughing so hard.
When Howie had recovered, and finished off another bottle from the bar, they headed down the hall to yet another room. Howie knocked on the door and a huge behemoth of a man answered.
"Hey Jay, Here's Kat. Delivered as promised. Kat, this is Jay. He started as Head security for us, though he's pretty much taken over as tour manager. He keeps us in line, organizes the crew and generally runs everything."
The man smiled. "Just call me God."
Kat smiled back. Nervously.
"See you later," Howie said, giving her a peck in the cheek. Then heading back down the hall. He hadn't really whispered, "good luck" to her before he left, had he?
Jay gestured her for her to follow him and she entered what was a hotel room but looked more like the command center. There was a line of walkie-talkies and cell phones charging against the wall. Blueprints of the stadium were spread out on the bed, and a laptop sat open on the desk. There was another laptop in a bag leaning against the desk. A pile of back stage passes were stacked beside the computer, as well as several manila folders.
"So, you are the infamous Kat," Jay said, indicating that she should sit in the chair in front of the desk.
"We don't often get people who just appear mid-tour. And certainly not people requested by both the Boys and the record company."
"Oh," she said, unsure what else to.
"So let me tell you a little about how things go here. In a nutshell, you report to me. You may think you're working for Jive, or The Firm or whoever, but on the road I really am God. Everything you do has to be cleared by me," he said, looking at her with measured eyes.
"Are you fucking Howie?"
"No!" The question was unexpected and Kat replied quickly.
"Jay, I only just met Howie. I don't..."
"Doesn't matter. He's got a girlfriend. All right," he pulled a file from a pile in front of him. "I did some checking on you."
Kat was starting to get really nervous.
"Age: 31. Education: Bachelor or journalism, slightly above average grades. Started on Masters, but left after you got a job with The Sentinel, a local weekly in your hometown. There for almost eight years, rising to Senior Writer and Associate Editor. Moved to City and spent last few months there as Junior Arts reporter for With It." He looked at her, "but strangely they didn't know by your editor's position."
Kat flushed. When she applied at With It she'd left that off of her resume. It is easier to appear to be just a hick small town reporter, rather than someone with a lot of experience in management. She'd already lost out on a couple jobs because she was "over qualified." So she'd just make herself a little less qualified. It wasn't lying, really...
He looked back at the page. "One broken engagement. No siblings. Parents both dead." He looked at her again. "No one but you."
"That's right," she replied, her voice shaking tremulously. He'd come so close...
"Let me make this clear to you, Ms. Morgan. This," he held up the folder, "is just a preliminary report. If I find anything that could act as a detriment to the Boys you are out of here."
"I thought," Kat started, trying hard to sound more confident, "that I already had this job."
"Oh, you have it. But if I decide that you can't tour with us that makes it very difficult for you to produce, doesn't it?"
Kat was silent.
"Look, my job is to protect the Boys and I intend do that. It take my job seriously."
"So do I," Kat replied distinctly.
Good, he thought. Not a pushover then. "Then we understand each other." He rose. "We leave for the stadium at 6. Be in the front lobby. Oh, and this is for you," he handed her the bag containing a laptop. "Welcome to the BSB tour, Kat Morgan."
So why wasn’t she sure she was all that welcome?Chapter 5
(c) Kat Morgan