Usually when she was tense, Kat retreated to a good book and something fattening. Probably why her body had looked like a sedentary blob. However, Jeanne didn’t - couldn’t - do that. She had to stay slim and beautiful. She had to work out and avoid too many books. And fattening stuff was a no-no. Lots of salads for Nick Carter’s girlfriend.
Some days, Kat HATED Jeanne.
Oddly enough, this wasn’t one of those days. She was actually enjoying the chance to stair climb (because every time she stepped down she was squashing his head) and pump iron (sure you aren’t supposed to clank the weights but how else are you supposed to crush a certain Nick appendage between them effectively?).
Okay, so she wasn’t that angry with him. It was Howie’s head that was getting squished more often than not, and as for appendages, well, the less she visualized that the better. She just couldn’t say anything out loud – Howie was in the gym with her after all.
She sighed heavily, wishing that the gym had a heavy bag she could work out with. Nick had, in a highly chastened mood, gone out and gotten her a small one. Not great, but the best he could get for their tour bus. Heck, he was even using it too and finding that punching out his anxieties (and hyperness) was fun.
See? You can’t crush a guy’s head when he’s trying so hard.
Neither of them could remember that night, and were definitely afraid to bring the subject up. Things had settled down a bit after the fight, though they still pussyfooted around each other, and the fact that Jay was keeping an eye on them was more than obvious.
That was probably why Howie was keeping his distance. She and Nick were almost always together – Nick was being very protective – though there was an air of tension between them. And when Nick wasn’t around Jay seemed be. Howie couldn’t have made a move even if he wanted to. She was never alone (except in the bathroom, and she always kept the door locked then anyway).
The stair machine chimed and she climbed down off it with a sigh of relief. Working out felt good, but it just gave her too much time to think, and she just didn’t want to.
“Had enough?” Howie asked as he magically appeared at her side.
"Yeah. I think I’ll pack it in for the day.”
“Not going to do some reps?” He flexed his arms, showing off his muscles. “Good for toning.”
“Not today. Today is just a cardio day. Tomorrow. On the bus.” She wiped her brow with her towel and gathered up her things.
Howie grinned. “Just try not to miss the bag and hit the guy.”
She laughed, wishing that Nick hadn’t told the others about the heavy bag. Kevin had already expressed an interest in riding along with them for a while so he could use it. Nick had told her that and she wasn’t sure if he hoped that having Kevin around would make her happy (his version of an apology) or what. How the heck did she tell him that she really didn’t want Kevin around because right now all he did was remind her of the mess she’d gotten herself stuck in the middle of? She was even having trouble looking at Kevin at the moment: having him around for a few hours solid would drive her nuts.
“Fine. Tired,” she answered automatically.
“We have been keeping awful hours lately,” Howie agreed. “And I guess that fight you had with Nick the other day didn’t help.”
She looked at him, trying to find out if he was playing with her head, but oddly he seemed genuinely concerned. It was as if the ‘Dr. Jekyll’ version of Howie wasn’t at home and the guy she had first met was present. “I… Well, actually that didn’t help,” she smiled wanly. “I just think I’m feeling out of sorts in general.”
He nodded. “I know how that is. It’s not the touring or the job or anything in particular. It’s just life. Nothing you can put your finger on; you just feel kind of blagh.”
She chuckled. “That’s it exactly. Maybe it’s not enough sunlight, or too much wheat or lactose or something.” She shrugged. “Whatever, I am sure I’ll snap out of it soon.”
“Need to talk to someone about it?”
Another glance. Same Howie. No monster currently present.
She hesitated for a moment. It would be so easy: to let it all hang out with the guys she used to know. Unfortunately, that guy had two faces. “I’m okay. As you said, it’s just life. Maybe I’ll just stay in tonight. Not go to the concert. Maybe that’ll help.”
”It’ll certainly cheer the fans up,” Howie grinned. The fans had started to notice her recently. Seeing the glances that she and Nick shared. Cluing into the fact that he had someone along with him. She was sure that the internet was buzzing with gossip and couldn’t repress her groan.
“Oh lord, if I DON’T show up it may cause more speculation that if I do.” She ran a hand through her slightly sweaty hair. “Remind me again why I put up with it?”
“Because you’d miss us if we weren’t around?” Howie quipped. “Or at least Nick.”
“There are days when I could honestly live with missing him.” She smirked and gave Howie a wink as she grabbed her bag and headed to the showers. She could still hear him chuckling as the door closed.
Standing under the spray it was almost enough to make her weep. The days when Howie was ‘himself’ were the hardest. She missed him. She honestly did. But the other side of him scared her senseless. How could you miss someone and wish they were around at the same time as you were petrified of someone and wished them as far away from you as possible? Maybe that was what was making her feeling so awful recently. That whole contradiction. Heck, all the contradictions that she was living right now.
The hotel suite was it’s usual mess when she opened the door, and she could hear Nick playing some video game or other in the bedroom. She groaned inwardly. She’d hoped he’d be out doing something – anything – so she could get some peace. She just didn’t want to spend time around anyone right now. Oh well.
“Hey, you’re back,” he said with a grin when she entered the room. “How was your work out?”
“Pretty good. I feel exhausted, which I guess is the whole idea,” she replied.
He looked at her appraisingly. “Well, you are losing some more weight and I must say it looks good on you.”
She blushed faintly at the compliment and mumbled thanks as she stowed her things. She flopped down on the bed, watching him play his game absently.
She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew Nick was shaking her. “Come on sleepyhead, you gotta wake up.”
“Gimme one good reason,” she mumbled.
“I have something important to tell you.”
“Leave me a note,” she replied and turned over to go back to sleep.
Nick laughed. “Come on, you grouch. This is really important. It’s about us.”
Us? Did he say us? There was no us… Oh wait, maybe there has to be or something. God! Did this stupid game, or plan, or whatever it was ever end?
Slowly Kat pulled herself up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “Okay, shoot.”
Nick knelt in front of her, holding her hands in his. “This is really important, and I want you to know…”
She yawned. “Cut to the chase Nick, ok?”
“We didn’t have sex.”
Now she was definitely awake. “What did you say?”
“We didn’t have…”
“Yeah, I got that. Explain please.”
Nick sat back on his heels. “I was talking to Rok and he said something about that night. Made some comment about how much noise we’d made crashing around the room when we got back from the club. He was right next door and heard a lot of it. Said we were ‘hooting and hollering and making a big old noise.’” Nick laughed. “You can take the boy out of Kentucky, but you can’t take the Kentucky out of the boy.”
She grinned quickly. “Yeah, yeah, but what does that have to do with…”
“I’m getting to that. Anyway, he said it was almost as noisy as that time in Sweden when AJ and I brought two strippers back to the hotel with us and…” He blushed a fiery red and then waved his hand. “That’s not important. What is important is that he made me remember that night. See, back then, I got all revved up, but… ah… sort of fell asleep before anything happened.” He puffed his chest out a little, trying to get whatever machismo he felt he’d lost back, “made up for it the next morning of course, but still…”
“So you think that we just got all ready to do it, but then, what? Passed out?”
“Yeah. Don’t you? I mean, think about it. Neither of us can remember much. Neither of us had any, umm, physical remnants of it – except that condom, of course. And neither of us were willing to check to see if it had been used.”
Kat sat back. “It had been used Nick.”
“Yeah, but had it been used used? I mean, I could have put it on… but then it fell off during the night. You now, instead of actually…”
It was Kat’s turn to blush. “I get it.” She thought hard for a few minutes. “That could have happened.”
“Could have? Of course it did! It’s the only explanation.”
“Maybe. But come on… how ridiculous is that?”
Nick chuckled. “Very. Still it would explain why you can’t remember me. I’m good.”
Kat doubled over in laughter and Nick joined in. She finally wiped the tears from her face. “You said that on purpose.”
“Hell, yeah! I mean it IS the truth. Ow,” he complained with a grin as she slapped him lightly on the arm. He’d come and sat next to her on the bed when they had been laughing. “But isn’t this a better explanation? We tried, it didn’t happen. It explains why we can’t remember the deed, and why we both feel uncomfortable about it.”
“I like it. It’s the explanation I’m gonna go with.”
Kat laughed again. “You just don’t want me telling people I slept with you but it was totally forgettable.”
Nick chuckled. “Right back at you.”
They sat there for a few moments, and Kat was surprised at how much weight seemed to be off her shoulders. It was a weird explanation, but one that seemed to sit well with her. It seemed right somehow; and definitely felt a lot better than thinking that the Nick she had gotten to know in the last while – and liked a lot – was as much a liar as Howie was.
She sighed, but it was a peaceful one. “Okay, that works for me. It’s wacky, but highly probable. And most of all it makes me feel better.”
Nick gave her a quick hug. “Me too. It just feels right, you know?” he said, echoing her thoughts.
“Besides,” she grinned. “No one can be that forgettable.” A pillow came shooting at her and she ducked quickly.
“Too true,” Nick said as he ran from the room, avoiding the pillows she was shooting at him. “I never thought you’d be so ‘vanilla’ as to be forgettable too. You have a definite naughty streak I’d like to explore sometime. After all this is over.”
Kat stared slack jawed at the door, the pillow dropping soundlessly from her hand. She didn’t which was more amazing: that he remembered the comment that David had made about her sexual prowess (the one that had angered her so much), or that he was actually interested in her.
(c) Kat Morgan