Quit Playing Games

Chapter 8

"Hey, Kat! Wait up."

She turned to see Brian jogging down the hall towards her. "Shouldnít you be getting ready?"

He adopted a pose and saluted her. "A Boy Scout is always prepared," he said in a kiddy voice.

She chuckled. "Yeah, but does a Boy Scout have thousands of screaming fans just outside that door who will rip him to shreds if he doesnít get on stage soon?"

"He does if heís lucky." Brian pulled a small bag from behind his back. "I wanted to give you this earlier, but I forgot. I got it when we went out this morning."

Kat opened the bag to reveal a Beanie Baby in the shape of a dragon. "Scorch," she said in surprise.

"Oh," his face fell as she gave the dragon the name that the manufacturer had called it. "You have that one all ready."

"I did. I mean, I donít. I mean, this is the only one I have with me. Thank you, Brian." She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I donít know what to say."

"You just did. Leigh told me that you liked dragons, and I saw this one and figured you should have it. He is kind of cute, isnít he?" Brian knew that Kat wasnít given to talking about herself very much, and while it seemed to frustrate Leighanne, he didnít mind. Sheíd open up when she was ready. And while it had seemed so right to get the small toy for her, he realized that heíd made her nervous. So he concentrated on the toy, and not on her. "I like the sort of burnt look, and those shiny wings."

"Yeah. Heís got a comical face, too," Kat agreed.

"So does the guy who got it for you," Brian said, sticking his tongue, imitating the look that the toy had on its face. "Gotta go. Gotta do my Boy Scout thing. Leighís out front, why donít you two sit together?"

Kat nodded and he rushed off. She looked down at the toy and smiled. "Well, come on, Scorch, we have a concert to go to."

 

It had been Lana who had waved her over, not Leighanne, and Kat had spent the rest of the evening with the tall, cool, brunette. She had been surprised to discover that Lana was a closet bibliophile, and the two women talked at length about their favourite books. She didnít even notice when Kevin joined them, which was a rare occurrence for her. He was also an avid book reader and the three discussed some of the latest bestsellers, until AJ came bounding up. He dragged Kat away to tell her that he had called Micheline and she was going to come down for the weekend, and that she, Kat, was wonderful for pushing him into it.

 

Jay stopped her in the hallway as she approached her room. Kat had been wary around the big man. He really was God; the Boys deferred to him, and he always seemed to know everything that was going on. He was also very stoic, and she still had no idea about whether or not he had accepted her yet or not.

"Good concert tonight," he said bluntly.

"Very."

"I read the stories you sent to The Firm."

Oh boy, Kat thought, hereís where I really get it.

"Good writing. Nice flow and the right balance of seriousness and humour."

Kat was stunned. "Thank you."

"There were a few factual errors, but we can fix them later."

"Yes," she agreed, her mouth going dry with nervousness.

"You are fitting in well. Iím glad. If you hadnít I would have seen to it that you left."

"I realize that," she replied.

"Good night."

As suddenly as he had appeared he was gone.

Kat took a deep breath. The giant had spoken. And he hadnít killed her. She looked down at the toy clutched in her hand. "Well, Scorch. Looks like I might make it through this after all."

 

Or maybe not.

The nightmare came on suddenly. One minute she was having a pleasant dream about kittens in pink tutus, the next it was an explosion of fire, blood, pain, lightning, and terror. This time she couldnít break out of it. She was running, but it still surrounded her. It wouldnít let her go and sheÖ

"KAT!" Strong arms shook her, jostling her out of the spiral.

She looked up into AJís concerned face, and to feel Howieís arms holding her.

"Jeez, girl, that was the worst one yet," AJ sighed.

"Sheís had them before?" Howie asked worriedly.

"What happened?" she asked, her throat raspy from screams she hadnít known she had uttered.

"You were having another nightmare. Fortunately the door between our rooms was unlocked. Unfortunately Howie was next door and heard this one too," AJ explained.

"Oh shit," Kat said and started to cry softly.

"Sweetie? Whatís going on?" Howie pulled her into his arms, letting her weep. He turned to AJ. "Sheís been having nightmares a lot?"

He sighed. "She was. They started a week ago, then stopped for a few days." He shrugged. "I thought sheíd grown out of them."

"You could have told me," Howie said in disgust.

"I asked him not to," Kat whispered, her head still on Howieís chest. "I thought theyíd gone away too."

"What are they about?" he asked curiously, but she shook her head. He glanced at AJ who also shook his head. "I couldnít get her to tell me either."

"Its just all the travelling," Kat said, but knew that neither men bought the excuse.

"Kat," AJ said gently as he stroked her back. "You are going to have to talk to someone. Itís the only way to make them stop. You know that Iím telling you the truth about this." She looked at him, seeing again the pain in his eyes, and wanting to make it go away. Hating herself for being the one to remind him of whatever pain he had had to deal with.

"I canítÖ"

"You canít go on like this," Howie noted.

"Iíll just make sure I get a room away from the rest of you. I wonít disturb you again..."

"Dammit, girl!" AJ said in frustration. "Donít you get it? Thatís not the problem. We arenít going to fire you. We arenít worried about being disturbed. Weíre worried about you."

"Whatís going on?" a sleepy voice said from the hallway. Three heads turned to see a rumpled Kevin standing in the open doorway. His hair was sticking out at strange angles, and he was wearing nothing but pajama bottoms. There was a little crease across his chest from lying on a fold in the sheet. He looked so sexy, Kat shivered a little.

"Nothing. Kat had a nightmare. Go back to sleep, Kev," AJ said firmly.

"Okay. Feel better Kat," the other man mumbled he stumbled back across the hall to his room.

"See? You woke Sleeping Beauty," AJ grinned, trying to make light of it. "Iím sorry, Kat but you really need to deal with this."

She sighed, knowing she was defeated. But it was so hardÖ And there was so much to tell. Maybe if she only told a small part of itÖ.

"IÖ Itís about my parents."

Howie thought for a moment. "Your parents are dead, right?"

She nodded. Howie saw AJís frown. "Donít you pay attention, Bone? Jay did a security check on Kat. Same as he does on anyone on the tour. It mentioned it in that."

"I never got around to reading it," AJ admitted.

"They died only a little while ago," Kat said. "In a fire."

"Oh damn," Howie sighed, pulling her closer.

"I wasnít even there when it happened. I think thatís why the dreams are badÖ My imagination just takes me thereÖ Like it is trying to show me what they feltÖ" she choked back a sob.

Both men enveloped her in their arms, holding her until she calmed again. They sat there for a short while, just talking softly, until Kat started to yawn.

"Come on, Bone. Letís let her sleep. Kat, we can talk about this some more tomorrow. I think itíd help," Howie said and she nodded.

Howie left through the main door, and AJ moved to the connecting door. "Iím going to leave this unlocked. Just in case."

"Thanks AJ."

He started to shut the door, then, "Kat?"

"Hmm?" she said sleepily.

"Thatís not the whole story is it?"

"IÖ"

"Itís okay. Whenever youíre ready." He pulled the door shut and she stared at it. Then turned to the dragons that sat on the bedside table.

"Itís because of you, isnít it?" she accused. "Because I was stupid enough to let you back into my life. What did I ever do to you?"

She got up and stuffed the figurines and the toy that Brian had given her into the bottom pocket of her suitcase.

Chapter 9

(c) Kat Morgan