Micheline sighed. “Okay, it’s pretty simple. Alex had a life before me. I know that and accept it. And part of that life was these ‘girlfriends’ he has in certain cities. As serious as we are supposed to be, he is not totally ready to give up on them. I mean, some of them he has been in touch with since their first tour. So whenever we get to a place where I know he has someone I disappear for a day or two.”
“But doesn’t that…”
“Bother me? Sometimes. But I don’t know what else to do. If I push it, he’ll get upset and it’ll all be over. If I let him get away with it all the time he won’t respect me and it’ll be over. Alex has been through a lot over the years… something about having these chickies in his life seems to make him feel better. Makes him feel more powerful or something.” She shrugged. “It’s a guy thing. I just let it go. I only do it from time to time. Sometimes I stick around and cramp his style just so he knows he can’t push me around. And some of the girls are really nice. They know what tiny part they have in his life and are cool with it.”
“I still think it’s weird.”
Jeanne shrugged. “I am sure he does, but he doesn’t advertise it. I never thought of the guy as discreet, but he is. Thing is, I am always here. I suggest taking off for a while and he gets all possessive and won’t let me go.”
“I was wondering how that worked. I mean you are the only girlfriend who is always here. Even Leighanne ducks out from time to time.”
“So do I. I skip concerts and stuff. I just don’t leave. Nick won’t let me.”
“He’s never done that before,” Micheline mused. “He’s always had someone waiting in the wings for a stop or two. He hasn’t even seen any of his roadside cuties that I know of. You two must be really hot and heavy.”
Kat sighed inwardly. Actually that was far from the truth. If anything, that whole ‘did we or didn’t we’ had put an even bigger wedge between them. She knew she’d started it by going ballistic, but now things were just plain weird. He was goofy old attentive Nick in public, and in private was nice but distant. He even preferred to sleep on the couch if it was long enough for his gangly legs. He’d probably ask for two doubles beds instead of their usual king if he thought he could get away with it. That was why she’d suggested she leave for a while. Howie hadn’t been anywhere near her (he’d found someone in Cincinnati who he’d brought along for a few stops) and they could both use the break. Nick had nixed it vehemently.
“Well, you know how it is,” Jeanne replied, adding a slight blush for good measure.
Micheline chuckled. “Yeah, Alex and I’ll be like that again in a few days. We could both use a breather.”
“I could too. Not the way you too have them, but just a day or two away from the craziness. I think I’m going to put my foot down.”
“Not too hard. He has enough trouble dancing as it is.”
Jeanne cracked up at Micheline’s comment and the other woman joined in. They were still snickering when the taxi pulled up in front of the hotel. Micheline dropped her bag in the trunk then gave Jeanne a hug before hopping in the back seat.
Jeanne gave one more wave before she sighed and walked back into the hotel lobby. Only to be accosted by a small cluster of fans…
“So, you’re her,” the tall thin one said with a sneer.
“Her, whom?” Jeanne replied, affecting a blank visage.
“The bitch who is using Nick.” The girl looked her up and down with a scornful look. “Maybe you should just leave him alone. He doesn’t need anyone who is just after him for his money.” One of the girls tried to hush her, but she shrugged her off. “Nick deserves someone who will love him for himself.”
She knew better than to laugh in the fan’s face, so she worked hard to bite it back. The girl had obviously decided that what Nick deserved was a mixture of Britney Spears and Christina Aquilera with a little Tammy Faye Baker thrown in. Makeup a foot deep, with thick black makeup around her eyes. Her hair was a mixture of frizzy platinum in back and straight dark blonde in front. She was wearing jeans that actually fit her well; it was just that she was so emaciated that the full round breasts she had on display under a short blue crop top looked like they had been pasted on at the last minute.
“And I am certain that Nick will know that person when he meets them,” Jeanne replied blandly. “He and I are just good friends.”
“You’re just after his money,” she spat.
Jeanne shrugged. “Don’t need it. Got my own.”
“No, you don’t. I read about you on the internet. You just want a singing career. I can tell.”
“God, I hope not. Jeanne sounds like a wounded moose when she sings,” a raspy voice cut in. “Please, I beg of you… no singing career.”
“But Alex… it’s my dream,” she simpered, fluttering her eyelashes.
“Oh Lord,” he groaned woefully.
Jeanne laughed. “Don’t worry. I can’t stand the sound of my own voice: I wouldn’t force it on the public.”
The girl’s friends had been buzzing amongst themselves since AJ’s approach and started to inch closer. She, however, was not happy about being ignored.
“AJ, how can you let someone like this use Nick? Aren’t you supposed to be looking out for your friends?”
He turned to her and tilted his head so he could look at her over the rim of his sunglasses. A blush rose across her face, illuminating the unevenness of her makeup. “I am looking out for my friends, sweetheart. Nick asked if I’d seen Jeanne and to let her know he’s done with his interview if she wants to come play basketball with him. So I am doing just that.”
Jeanne grinned. “You playing too?”
AJ shook his head. “Just you, Nick and Rok. You know where to meet him if you want to go too. I’m going to stay here with all these lovely ladies, if you don’t mind.”
The crowd giggled shrilly, and she forced a smile on her face. “Well, you just behave yourself then. Don’t let any of them whisk you away. You have a concert to do later.”
He shot her a toothy grin then returned to signing autographs. Jeanne nodded to his bodyguard as she walked by, and then entered the elevator to return to her room.
“Hold that, please.” A large hand reached in and grabbed the door as it was closing. Jay walked in and the doors resumed their travels.
Kat’s stomach started doing several flip-flops. This was the first time they had been along together since she and Nick had told him of their plan. Jay had kept his own counsel since then and she wasn’t sure what to expect from him.
“You handled that well,” he rumbled.
“What? The fans?”
He nodded. “Seen them before. Kind of obsessed. Can give anyone with Nick a really hard time. You handled them well.”
There was a stilted quiet. Why the hell did they have to put the Boys on the upper floors, Kat thought. It just made the ride longer.
“Been handling a lot of things well.”
“I have?” she asked worriedly.
He nodded. “You and Nick. And Howie is acting strange. You’re not making it up.”
A vote of confidence? She was going to faint… “Thank you.”
“Be better if it never happened though.”
She gulped. “I agree. Wish I wasn’t in the middle of it,” she said, adopting his terse way of talking. “Just want it to be over.”
“Howie’s keeping his distance. He looks at you, though.”
She hadn’t noticed anything. “He does.”
Jay nodded. “He does anything let me know. Nick won’t be able to handle it all himself. He’ll be angry, but he loves Howie. May not have the strength to be firm enough with him. Remember that.”
The elevator chimed and before Kat could even think of a reply Jay was out the door.
(c) Kat Morgan