“You’re being a jerk!”
“I’m being careful! You can’t just go out there like that any more.”
“It’s not fair! I’m my own person. You seem to like forgetting that.”
“Not on my watch, you aren’t. We’re in this together and to do it we have to stay together.”
“Not 24-7, you moron. Everybody else gets a few days off. Why can’t I?”
“No. Not until this is over.”
Kat seriously considered picking the lamp up off the table and chucking it at him. Unfortunately with his hard head and stubborn attitude she was certain it would do more damage to the lamp than to him.
It didn’t seem like too much to ask: a few days to herself, away from the tour. She’d suggested it before and he’d always thought of some reason it wasn’t a good idea. But now he was out of excuses so he’d settled on the “cos I said so” approach. Someone save her from immature men!
“Clue in, Nick. We both need a break. We are bitching at each other day and night. Howie won’t come near me because he’s afraid one or the other of us will just beat him up because we are so pissed off with life in general.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Nick scoffed as he grabbed a comic book from the table and slumped back on the bed.
Time for a different tack. “When’s the last time you go laid?”
“What?” Nick sat up quickly, staring at her in surprise.
“Simple question. When was the last time you dated something other than your hand? We ain’t hitting it, and there hasn’t been much opportunity that I can see. Been getting blowjobs in wardrobe? A quickie in a closet at some radio station? A little ‘ride’ in the back of the van on the way to the arena?”
Angry colour was creeping up his face. “Don’t be so crude.”
“Then answer the question.”
Nick mumbled something, which she asked him to repeat. He swore noisily and finally said. “Not since you joined the tour, okay? Happy?”
“Ecstatic. If I weren’t here you could get some.”
Nick opened and shut his mouth. Okay, he was willing to admit it: he’d never gone this long with sex before. And spending every night alone in a room with a woman was not helping. He wanted her more and more each day – only he didn’t know why. She bugged the hell out of him, and she wasn’t his type. She was, however, there and he needed something. It was easy at the beginning. They were cool around each other and he didn’t mind so much. Of course, he’d had quite the weekend just before the tour started… and a few memorable evenings before she’d arrived. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all…
“I can get some anytime I want,” he blustered.
Kat ignored his show of bravado. “I’d go away for some reason or other and you’d pounce on the nearest groupie you can find. Hell, make it loud and wild, I don’t care.”
“Then when I come back I can be all angry… Howie’d probably want to console me then, wouldn’t he?”
“Yeah, but… Wait a minute! Then he’d make a move and it’d all be over.”
Gee, Nick. No need to sound so eager. “That is kind of the idea, isn’t it?” she said wryly.
He thought for a minute and then looked at her. “And that is the only reason you want to go away?”
“Hell, no! I want to get away so I can get some too!” she blurted out. She’d meant it as a joke, but the scowl that appeared on Nick’s face told her she’d gone too far. “Get real,” she covered quickly. “I just want to get away from being stuck in the same old hotel rooms day in and day out, the fans who are either overly friendly or overly rude and the god awful fast food you all seem to enjoy so much. I want to be able to lie in my own bed all day, cook my own food and just be myself for a while. Is it too much to ask?”
Nick sighed heavily. “No. I want the same thing.” He sighed again and ran his fingers through his hair, cursing inwardly at the clumps that were still there from the hair gel he’d put in before the show. He had only taken a really quick shower at the arena – there was no hot water left by the time he’d gotten his turn – and he’d been so exhausted he’d just fallen into bed when he got back to the room. The stress of the last few weeks was really getting to him and he was fighting a cold. Probably what was making him so grumpy all the time. Also, there was this huge gap between Kat and him and he had no clue how to bridge it. Why couldn’t they just go back to the way things were before when they had fun?
“You cook?” Kat asked.
He was going to answer snidely when he saw the slight grin twitching at the edge of her mouth. “Yep. I’m great in the kitchen. I make the world’s best peanut butter and Froot Loops sandwiches.”
“Let me guess, you make them with Wonder bread and dip them in mustard.”
“Of course. It brings out the flavour of the lemon loops.”
They both exploded into laughter. Kat sat down on the bed and crossed her legs, pulling a pillow into her lap and using it to try and stifle her giggles. Nick did the same – only he whomped her with his pillow. Chaos ensued.
Kevin pressed his ear closer to the wall and listened to the laughter from inside. He couldn’t make out much, but from what he could hear they were having lots of fun.
He hated them.
It just wasn’t fair! He was a nice guy: why didn’t anyone care about him? Brian was all googly-eyes over Leighanne and had been for years. AJ was nuts about Micheline, even though he was occasionally seeing his old flames on the side. Howie got antsy if Miriam was away from him for too long. And Nick was all over Jeanne. Jeanne! The girl that Brian had tried to set him up with!
He lay down on the bed with a groan. Lighten up, Richardson, he told himself. You made it clear you weren’t interested in her: why get upset if Nick was? Maybe because he’d never given Jeanne a chance. He’d just said no and then backed off. She’d been okay with it and they’d gotten along fine, but he’d never expected someone else to go after her. Especially not Nick.
What was it about Nick? He supposed it was just the usual ‘oldest member of the group versus the youngest member’ stuff. Or maybe it was that he was the baby of his family and had always gotten the attention because of it and now suddenly he had to be the mature one for a new ‘baby’ in a new family.
How many times had he lectured Nick for some practical joke, while secretly wishing he’d been the one who had done it? How many times had the others looked to him to be their rock when he wanted to be the one who did the wild stuff? Why did he have to be the conscientious one taking notes in meetings when he could be flicking spitballs at Howie or giving Brian a wet willie? So unfair. Heck, half the ideas for the stunts Brian pulled he’d gotten from Kevin! They were things he’d pulled on his older brothers or his younger cousins.
Nick got to have all the fun.
Nick also got away with rolling out of bed in the morning, pulling on clothes he’d dropped on the floor the night before and still looking great. He had to work on it (okay, so not as much as Howie and Alex), and he still got ridiculed if something was amiss. Hello? I LIKE wearing Birkenstocks. They are comfy and they support my feet after a long night of performing. The last thing I need is flat feet. But if I wear them people laugh, if Nick wears them he’s being cute. Hell, he only wears them so he has easy access to his toe jam, which he then flicks at the rest of us.
Kevin pulled the pillow beside him over his face and screamed into it. It just wasn’t fair!
He sighed and put the pillow under his head, propping himself up more. It wasn’t that he was interested in Jeanne. Okay, he thought she was great and that he was an idiot for not giving her a chance, but at the time he was still smarting over Lana.
Damn, he missed her. She was the first time he had ever really known what love was. If she wasn’t near him he felt empty. When she was he felt like he could do anything. Even when they argued he could still feel the love between them. He was the first woman he’d told everything. All about those heady days when they’d first tasted fame and the even headier ones when Millennium took off, blowing them into the stratosphere. Anything he wanted he could have: drugs, women – even men – anything. He’d done some really weird shit then, some he wasn’t even sure he fully remembered (or wanted to). But as wild as the ride had been he’d come back to earth, crashing down well before the others. No rehab or community service terms for him, just the realization that it wasn’t who he was or who he wanted to be.
She’d understood it all. She’d confessed her own ‘wild oats’ days (though far from the scale his had been on). They’d talk about it: REALLY talked. Talked about their joys, their fears, their dreams. With her, he’d known: this was The One.
And then overnight, she’d dumped him and disappeared. No explanation. Just ‘I’m out of here” and then nothing. She wasn’t even modeling anymore. He didn’t know where the hell she was or what she was doing. God, how he’d hated her. She’d ripped his heart out, stomped on it and left. She’d gone from being the One to being a big Zero. Still, she hadn’t sold his story to the tabloids. He was grateful for that.
See? You just couldn’t trust women. He’d known it for years. Learned it the hard way: broken engagements, more hootchie pussy than he could shake a stick at and then the one he finally opened his heart to treated him like that. Even Jeanne, who Brian had promised him, had gone over to Nick instead of waiting around for him to make up his mind…
He rolled over and screamed into his pillow again, ignoring the thump on the wall and the shriek of giggles from the other room. Now you ARE being an asshole, Richardson. Jeanne was her own person – he’d learnt that the hard way. She’d set him straight on it a couple of weeks ago when he’d been all jealous and grumpy. Only made him like her more.
It just wasn’t fair.
Man, he needed to get laid…
Damn, he needed to get laid, Nick thought as he watched Kat sleep.
They’d wrestled for a while and then he’d finally agreed that a few days apart wasn’t such a bad thing. They had a three-day break coming anyway, and he wanted to go see Aaron. She’d been ecstatic and given him a quick kiss before bounding off the bed and out of the room. He could hear her on the phone with Leighanne he clambered out of bed and into the bathroom for his long awaited shower.
They had gotten along well for the rest of evening: she’d even tucked him into bed earlier telling him to stop ignoring his cold and start dealing with it. He had to admit the vitamins and echinacea she’d given him did make him feel a bit better, though the neck and shoulder rub was what had put him to sleep. Now he was awake and she was out like a light.
It was weird. They got along better than he ever had with any of his girlfriends, but it was all made up. Well, not made up, just… Oh you know. The friendship was real but the relationship wasn’t. Maybe this was what he’d needed all along. He’d spent the better part of his life surrounded by guys and he’d never really had a girl who was a friend before. Sure there were girls around, but they’d always wanted something from him (or he from them). Kat wasn’t like that. She hadn’t been before and she wasn’t now. She just didn’t see him romantically, and he wasn’t sure if the reason he saw her that way sometimes was because he was interested or because he was horny.
Yep, she’d take a few days off, he’d get laid, figure out which was which, and it would all make sense again.
Good game plan.
(c) Kat Morgan