The Secrets That We Keep
~ 1 ~
Once again there they were, sitting in a cramped waiting area. Seemed like all they ever did was wait and it was beginning to take its toll on Kevin. He closed his eyes and moved his neck in a slow circular motion as he placed his hand where his carotid artery was, as if urging his head not to explode. It had been a very long day of press and photo shoots and small guest appearances with people he already forgot existed. At one point he had even posed with a stuffed gorilla, no idea why and he didn’t even ask.
“Looking at your watch will not magically speed up the process, cousin.”
“Maybe if they see how impatient we are, they’ll do something about it.”
Brian laughed at that. “Or maybe they just won’t care.”
Kevin nodded and once again closed his eyes. He felt the smallest hint of a headache coming on, the kind that hit you behind the eyes. Stress was the cause of those.
“Just think only a few more days of this, then a break.”
That brought about a smile. The break that Brian mentioned had been one that seemed so far away. They had been going for months without as much as a day off. Lots of promises of a break but then they’d all fall through. Seemed like this one was really going to happen though and for that, Kevin was thankful. It had been a long haul.
Fame came quick to the Backstreet Boys once they became a name in Canada. Sure, they were already famous in Europe but at least when they came home their lives were semi normal. That all changed when they finally broke in North America. To be known in Canada was one thing but the first time they heard one of their songs on an American station, they knew they had arrived.
Touring endlessly and promoting their album was taking a toll on everyone in the group. “God is this almost done, I want to GOOOO!!”
Kevin rolled his eyes. He really needed to get away from the guys for a bit, especially that one. Nick just drove him crazy. Every little thing the fifteen year old did got on his nerves, especially these days. He actually had a dream about strangling him the other night. He woke up smiling.
Yup, it was definitely time for a break.
“Relax Frack, this is the last interview today. Then we’re done!” Brian responded with a half laugh.
Kevin shifted when Nick decided to jump on the couch planting himself between both cousins. “Do you want to play a game of basketball when we get back to the hotel?”
“I’m kind of tired, Nick.”
“I’ll take that as a yes!”
Kevin felt the need to get involved. “Jesus, leave him alone. Brian said he’s tired.” He then forcefully shoved the teen so he’d have more room, “Personal space is always a good thing as well.”
Nick’s CD player fell to the ground and broke as a result. “Asshole!” He grumbled under his breath as he stood up and walked away.
Brian glanced over at his cousin with a pretty disapproving look, “What? He was practically sitting on my lap.”
“You broke his CD player.”
“It’s not like he doesn’t have a thousand more.”
Brian stood up, “I sometimes wonder which one of you is the teenager!” He walked away shaking his head.
Normally Kevin would have had some remorse for doing something as drastic as breaking the kid’s CD player but not today. Most likely he’d end up apologizing for it later, for now he felt the slightest tinge of satisfaction.
“Okay, we’re on!” Johnny signaled for the boys to follow him out of the small room and to the interview.
The interview seemed never ending. It was clear that the lady conducting it had no clue who the Backstreet Boys even were. She kept asking them generic questions like how did they meet? And How did they get their name etc… She also kept getting everyone confused, calling Brian AJ, and AJ Howie and forgetting Kevin’s name altogether. Nick was the only one she seemed to remember. He had headphones in his ears (Another CD player just like Kevin knew there would be) and didn’t even appear as if he wanted to be there let alone answer this woman’s questions but yet, she kept asking away.
Kevin watched the youngest member of his group as this was happening. Nick sat there fidgeting as if he was going to pee his pants at any moment. His right leg shaking away making the entire couch they were sitting on shake. Every other word out of his mouth was “Um…” or “Hrmm” as he bit on his bottom lip and looked up to the heavens for help before going to his ever familiar response of, “Kevin?”
Of course than the lady would search down the couch trying to remember which one that was before landing her eyes on the overly annoyed, grouchy one. Her words used to describe him in the interview and the same words that had Johnny Wright talking to him at this very moment.
“We look to you…”
“To set a good example, I know Johnny…I know.”
“Then why don’t you do it?” Johnny was pacing which was not a good sign.
“I thought I was doing just fine.”
“Not if an interviewer feels the need to ask you why you seem angry or annoyed.”
“It’s been a long day.”
“For everyone…” Johnny added before Kevin had a chance to continue.
“Sorry.” Was all he decided on, realizing no matter what he said, in the end, that’s really all their manager wanted to hear.
Of course he was right as Johnny nodded and took a seat on the couch across from Kevin. “It’s okay; just try not to look so mad even if you are.”
“When I get back from this break I’ll feel refreshed and not quite as homicidal, I promise.”
“Speaking of this break…”
“Jesus Johnny, please don’t tell me you’re canceling this because I swear…”
“No, relax Kevin, we’re still taking a break but I do have a favor to ask.”
At those words, Kevin who had tensed up at the mention of the word break, visibly relaxed and sat back, taking a sip of his now cold cup of coffee. “What is it?”
“Nick’s mother called us while you guys were doing that interview and it turns out that now Nick has nowhere to go during this break.”
He seemed disgusted when he said it and Kevin couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the mention of the she devil. He wasn’t a very big fan of any of the Carters, especially the mother.
“That sucks for him.”
“Well yes it does. He’s really upset about it.”
“The thing is… I can’t take him because I have plans to go away with my wife.” Kevin felt himself tensing again, he knew what was coming. “So, I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind bringing him home with you?”
“He loves my cousin, what about him? He is Nick’s legal guardian.” He made quotey fingers on the word legal, remembering that discussion as well. Long story short, the Carters were unreliable, management wanted Kevin to step up; he refused, so Brian it was.
“They are all going to Hawaii for a family vacation.” Kevin knew this but was still holding out hope. He knew his cousin would include Nick in a second but his aunt and uncle took their family vacation time very seriously.
“Denise said she wanted time alone with her son. I understand, I mean she’s on the road with Nick and the rest of you all the time.”
“So am I!” he felt the need to remind Johnny.
“I know it’s asking a lot.”
“It is and I don’t think I can. He’s fifteen, I’m sure he’d be okay alone.”
“Kevin he’s not supposed to ever be alone. Legally he can’t even be alone when we’re all in the same place. Besides there are other reasons too…” Johnny was getting annoyed but Kevin was not backing down.
“He would hate coming home with me, he hates me.”
“He looks up to you.”
“Only because I’m taller than he is.”
“Kev…” Johnny started when an “I’ll take him.” Was heard making both men turn to the doorway where Howie was standing.
He made his way into the room, “My family loves Nicky, I’m sure it’ll be no big deal.”
Johnny stood up and walked over to Howie, “Thanks. I’ll tell him the good news. There is another issue we need to discuss but we’ll do that tomorrow.”
Howie nodded at Johnny and smiled. Kevin didn’t bother to look up when his manager left but he didn’t have to, he knew he was being glared at. “Enjoy your peaceful break then, Kevin.” He said before walking out of the room.
“You’re a good man, D.”
Howie sat down and nodded, “Not really. I feel bad for him, you know? His family always does this to the poor kid.”
“Well he is annoying.”
“Kevin…” Howie laughed and shook his head.
“I know… I feel bad for him to. I just know I’d kill him.” And he did feel bad for Nick and he felt a little guilty. It seemed like the young blonde always had a way of making him feel just a little guilty all the time.
Howie nodded, “It’s all good. He is the same age as one of my nieces and a few of the kids in the neighborhood. He likes coming home with me.”
That’s when it dawned on Kevin that this wasn’t the first time this has happened. The Dorough’s had frequently opened their home to the baby of the group. He knew that his mother would do the same and would be mad at Kevin if she knew how quickly he had turned Nick away without even a second thought. He was sure she’d find out too, if Brian had any say in the matter.
“Still, it’s really nice of you to give up your vacation to babysit.”
“I don’t feel like it’s babysitting. I like the little shit. He makes me smile.” Howie stood up, “I’m going to jump in the shower before we all head out for dinner; do you need to get in there?”
Kevin shook his head, “I’m going to call home.”
As Howie closed the door to the bathroom, Kevin picked up the phone.
The call home didn’t go as expected. There were a lot of apologies and some crying ending with a dramatic fling of his cellphone across the room which Howie had to dodge as he came out wrapped in a towel.
“Whoa…what the hell?”
Kevin placed his pointer and middle finger up above his left eye and pressed hard as if that would help squelch the horrible mood he now found himself in. “Sorry, D.”
“Looks like I won’t be going home after all.”
“My mom’s good friend’s husband just died so she’s flying out to be with her.”
“Kevin, I’m sorry. Maybe you can still go home even though your mom won’t be there. I’m sure there are friends you could catch up with.”
“I was thinking of doing that, but honestly, everyone I’d want to see doesn’t live there anymore.”
“What are you going to do?”
That was a great question. He had been looking forward to this trip for so long, now that it was taken away all he wanted to do was roll up in a ball and cry. He needed this break so badly. He needed to be refreshed and spend time with people that loved him. When his mother told him the news, he literally started crying on the phone like a ten year old. Now he was embarrassed by how selfish he had been. There was his mother who was telling him the story of her friend’s heartbreaking loss and all Kevin cared about were his plans being ruined.
He finally looked up at Howie and shrugged, “I have no clue. Maybe I’ll just stay here.”
“You can always come home with me. The more the merrier.”
He smiled at that. “Thanks, but I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“It would be no big deal. My family loves you and we can go hit some of the new clubs in the area.”
Kevin thought for a few minutes before nodding, “Okay, maybe I will then.”
Howie winked at his friend, “Awesome. I’ll let my family know. I’m sorry your plans went south.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Just before Howie reentered the bathroom with his clothes, he turned back to his friend, “Kevin, how awful you felt just now, is how Nick always feels when his parents do this to him and he’s just a kid.” He paused for a second to make sure what he had said sunk in, “Just some food for thought.”
Kevin glanced over at his broken phone and nodded his head, once again feeling that slightest bit of guilt.