Quit Playing Games

Chapter 68

A gentle tapping on the door woke her the next morning. She was surprised that she had slept, even if it was only for a short while. She unwrapped herself from Nick's arms, pulling her shirt around her. She opened the door a crack to see Brian standing there.

"Hi," she whispered.

"He's still asleep?"

"Yeah. He took another pill in the middle of the night. He should be out for another couple of hours. What's up?"

"You were going to take Leighanne to the airport for me," he reminded her. She had agreed to it yesterday. The last time Brian had tried to take her himself there had been a small mob scene. It was safer for them to say their good-byes at the hotel.

"Shit. I forgot. Give me a few minutes, B."

"You don't have to, Jeanne. If you want to stay with Nick, I can get…" Brian started.

"No. Like I said, he's going to be dead to the world for a while. I'm just tossing and turning anyway. He'll get more sleep if I'm not here. Give me five, okay?"

Brian nodded and she shut the door. She grabbed some clothes and shut the bathroom door. She took a quick shower, hoping the hot water would clean some of the tiredness out of her. She pulled her clothes on, brushed her teeth, then, seeing her eyes in the mirror, put on some makeup. Satisfied that she looked more like the Jeanne they all expected, she grabbed her purse and slipped from the room.

Brian and Leighanne were waiting by the elevators, talking quietly.

"Everything okay?" she said brightly.

"Not really, but she's got to go," Brian smiled wistfully, and Leighanne held him close.

"Want me to wait downstairs?" Kat asked as the elevator arrived.

"No, better not," Brian sighed as he kissed Leigh again. "I miss you all ready, girl."

Leigh picked up her bags and stepped into the elevator. "I miss you too, Bri-bear. Love you."

"Love you more," he replied as the doors closed.

Leighanne leaned against the car wall, trying to compose herself. Finally she looked at Kat. "I really do love that man."

Kat smiled. "I noticed. Shame about him loving you back, though."

Leigh laughed. "Always a witty comeback. You've been hanging around Nick too long."

"Get real. Nick is never as quick with a comeback as I am. But he's learning."

"Yeah. How is he? Brian said you gave him another pill…"

"He was a bit restless in the night."

Leigh looked at her. "Restless? Is that what they are calling it now?" Kat blushed a fiery red, and Leighanne chuckled. "Well, it appears that despite his injury, you two managed."

"Shut up, Leigh," Kat mumbled and sighed thankfully that the elevator door opened at the lobby. She grabbed one of Leigh's bags and walked over to the front door, getting the sleepy doorman to call them a cab.

"Jeanne! Leigh!" Howie called them as he walked through the foyer.

"Morning, D," Leigh said pleasantly. "We are just on our way to the airport."

"You're up awfully early, aren't you?" Kat asked.

"Couldn't sleep. So I went for a jog and then worked out. Don't get too close, I'm still sweaty," he grinned. "How's Nick doing?"

"He's okay. Asleep. As I was telling Leigh, I had to give him another painkiller in the middle of the night. He's out for another couple of hours," Kat replied, ignoring the cheeky grin that Leigh gave her.

"Good. He could use the rest. That was a nasty bruise." Howie turned to Leighanne. "Have a good trip back, honey. Are you coming back before the end of the tour?"

"I'm not sure. I depends on these auditions I have. Without it sounding bad, I hope not."

He smiled. "Well, break a leg or whatever. There's your cab. Let me help you with your bags." He grabbed both bags, lifting them easily, holding them out from his body, emphasizing the musculature in his arms. He put them in the car's trunk, then gave Leighanne a quick peck on the cheek. "See you, Leigh. Later Jeanne." He turned and walked back into the hotel, as the two women climbed into the car and it drove away.

He watched them as it went. He swore under his breath. He hadn't missed Leighanne's reaction to Jeanne's comment. Somehow, despite Nick's injury, they had still managed to have sex. Damn her. Damn Nick. It wasn't supposed to work that way. He was supposed to be too hurt to do anything, and she was supposed to turn to him, Howie, for comfort. It was a simple plan; why hadn't it worked? And after all the trouble he'd gone to rigging Nick's ropes.

All right. It was a small set back. But he could turn it to his advantage. Maybe if he got her to cry on his shoulder over the accident he could still press his suit. With Leighanne gone she'd have no one else to turn to. Except Nick. Damn. Why hadn't it worked?

Kat got Leigh safely on her plane and returned to the hotel. She was starting to get tired after a relatively sleepless night. Maybe that was why she was thinking what she was again. She got off the elevator and walked down the hall, towards Nick's room. Then stopped and turned and went down to another door and knocked.

"Morning, Jeanne," Jay said and stood aside to invite her in. "How's Nick?"

"Okay. Or he was when I left to take Leighanne to the airport."

"Good. What's up?"

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then blurted out, "was it an accident?"


"The rope, Jay. It shouldn't have broken like that."

"Jeanne." He always called her by her fake name, afraid that if he started calling her by her real one he'd forget and say it in public. Like Nick almost did last night. "Ropes break. We always check them for tension and all, but sometimes a small crack that goes unnoticed becomes a problem. We put them through a lot, what with all the concerts."

"But, like that? In the middle?"

"There must have been a small split in it. When Nick started moving around it started to tear. He's really lucky, but it could have happened to any of them. The crew are replacing all the ropes now. It won't happen again."

She sighed. "Okay. I'm just really jumpy. It just scared me."

"Scared all of us. But it was an accident," he assured her.

She smiled. "Fine. Thanks Jay. I should get back. When's the doctor coming?"

"Should be here any time now."

"I'll go and see if Nick is up yet. Thanks again, Jay."

He shut the door behind her and then moved back to the top drawer of the bureau. He pulled out the line that had been part of Nick's apparatus. He ran his finger over the break again. Feeling the rough spikes of the broken wire, and the smooth surface of the part that had been cut into. No, it hadn't been an accident, he thought. But he couldn't tell her that. He'd have to be extra watchful from now on.

He was still asleep when she entered the room. Still on his side, now clutching her pillow close to him. She dropped her bag and slipped out of her shoes, then removed the pillow and replaced it with her body. He hugged her tightly.

"Morning, baby."

"Morning, sleepyhead."

"Leigh get away okay?"

"Yep. Feeling better?"

"Now that my painkiller is back. Come here," he turned her over and kissed her.

"Yuck," she giggled. "Morning breath."

"Hey!" he chuckled and started to kissed her face, licking her occasionally as she twisted, trying to avoid his gummy mouth. They were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"That'll be Jay and the doctor. Let me up, you big lummox."

"Kiss me first," he replied.

"Brush your teeth."

"Kiss me," he insisted and she gave him a peck before slipping from his grasp. "That's all you're getting, morning mouth."

She moved to the door, as he climbed out of bed, pulling on his boxers and muttering as he went to the bathroom. She opened it and Jay and a doctor entered the room. Nick popped his head out, gesturing wildly as he continued to brush his teeth.

The doctor chuckled. "Well, I think I can interpret that sign language."

Kat smiled. "Pretty expressive, that man."

Nick came back in the room, giving her a quick minty kiss before introducing himself to the doctor. Kat quickly went to the bathroom to wash her face, then left the room, letting them get down to business.

"Morning," Kevin said as he walked in, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"Hi. Breakfast should be here soon," Kat replied.

"Good. I'm starved. How's he?" he said gesturing with his head to Nick's room.

"The doctor's in there now."

"Oh." A knock on the door heralded the entrance of the breakfast carts. The smell was enough to cause the others to start stumbling out of their rooms. AJ dragged Micheline after him, muttering coffee. Even Brian looked like he'd fallen asleep again after she and Leighanne had left. He blinked at the bright light of the main room, then started pulling covers off of the trays until he found something he liked.

Kat almost grabbed the pot of tea, then remembered that Jeanne was supposed to be a coffee drinker. Damn. This morning she really didn't need the taste of black sludge.

The others had settled back, when a bellow of "food!" sounded. Brian started to laugh. "He's all right."

Kat smiled, picked up a plate from the cart and knocked on the door. Nick poked his head out, grinned at the others, then grabbed the plate and shut the door again.

"Same old Nick. Food before pleasantries," AJ chuckled.

They were almost finished their breakfast when a fully dressed, albeit in loose clothing, Nick came out of his room. "Hi guys," he smiled. The doctor and Jay also walked out.

"So what's the verdict?" Kevin asked, assuming the leadership role again.

"It looks bad, but I think it's just a bruise not a sprain. He's walking on it; a little stiffly, but good mobility," the doctor replied briskly. "We are going to head over to the hospital for some x-rays."

"Whoa," Brian said. "I thought you said it was just a bruise."

"With a sudden jar like that it is always good to check and make sure that there wasn't any bone chipping, or tendon pulls. An x-ray will take care of that."

Nick grinned. "But I can't do any heavy duty dance routines for a while, and get this: No more flying!"

AJ laughed. "Nicky gets his wish."

"Aww. No fair. I'm going to miss that nasty face he puts on whenever the ropes get attached," Howie chuckled.

"Yeah, well, you're going to have to suffer, D. No one's going to attach me to a string for a while," Nick said. "I'm not a kite."

"Ain't that the truth," Brian smiled.

Nick came over and hugged Kat. "I should be back soon. You'll be okay?"

She nodded. "Just as long as you are."

"Not to worry, sweetheart," he replied, giving her a light kiss and pulling her into his arms again. "And when I get back…" he whispered in her ear.

She smiled. "Go with the nice doctor, Nick. And try and behave yourself."

Chapter 69