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Bron watched from the garden, Kevin cleared his throat and tapped the side of his glass to get everyone’s attention. He was standing not far from the top step, “Excuse me, may I have your attention please?”
The members of Backstreet began to assemble on the stairs around him. People drifted in from the terrace as Bron stood motionless, she was proud; the guys were going to finally to do this right. Bron saw a body coming out of the room and making their way to her out on the terrace.
“We would like to welcome you to the home of our record label. I hope everyone is having a wonderful time and booking that studio time,” Kevin grinned at the crowd. “It’s time we got a piece of the pie ourselves.”
Brian was the next to speak, “Tonight we would like to present to you Miss Krystal Harris, our new artist for your listening pleasure.” Brian nodded to Howie who was looking out the doors to see John Norris engaging Bron in a conversation. Carson was working the room instead of focusing on the fellas. Something was going down, Carson was circling like a vulture on a carcass.
Mc’s eyes followed the guys as well as Jake’s. Both men were next to Bron before she could finish her sentence. Krystal took her cue and began singing, mindless of the goings on around her. This was too important for her and Mook.
Kevin was down the stairs in a flash and out the door. “John, Carson, can I help you with something?”
Carson grinned like a devil, “Not really Kev, just talking to the Mrs. here, your Mrs.”
A small sound came from Bron as she covered her mouth and walked away. Mc and Jake followed her to the other end of the garden.
“I have no idea what you are talking about Carson,” Kevin was doing his best to charm his way out of this one.
John stood there staring at Carson, “Level with him now.”
“We have a sound tape of you and your wife, as you called her. You two were on the side of the house, I believe you mentioned babies, didn’t you.”
Kevin’s eyes closed slowly, “Carson, please don’t. I’ll give you anything you want but don’t use it, please. It’s not what I want and it’s not what she wants.”
“Give me an exclusive and the tape is yours,” Carson issued his terms and waited.
Kevin’s eyes went from Carson to Johns and down the walkway to Bron. The light was dim but there was no mistaking the wide-eyed fear.
Mc ambled up to them slowly with Jake, “The lady would like to speak to you.” Jake continued through the French doors.
Carson smirked, “Thought she might.” Gathering his wits, he began to step away.
“Not you, him,” Mc pointed to John.
Mc escorted John down to Bron. Carson and Kevin watched as they sat at one of the tables and had a brief but conversation. In his mind, Kevin could tell that Krystal was well into her second song and heading for her third, she was going to need a break.
John got up and returned to Carson, “Give me the tape.”
“It’s my exclusive, not yours,” Carson felt very large and in control.
“I said get the tape, there will be no exclusive tonight.” John smiled at Kevin.
Jake came to stand next to Kevin, a reel of tape in his hand. He handed the tape to Kevin who in turn handed it to Mc. “Take care of this,” Kevin grumbled as he went to his wife.
“Norris you are fucked up, we could have used that and I still can. I was a witness.” Carson was livid. They finally had a decent scoop on Backstreet.
John looked at Carson, “You do and I’ll have you fired. I have an interview tomorrow in this house with your cameraman present. A few exclusive announcements about Backstreet. Which do you think they are going to want? You’re gossipy piece or a real live interview.” John’s female friend joined them and Carson just about screamed as Diane walked over.
John turned to her, “Come on, I would like to introduce you to someone I just met. I think you’ll like her, she’s very down to earth.” John walked with Diane down to Bron and Kevin.
Carson was left standing with Jake and Mc. Mc gave him a speculative look, “Don’t fuck with her, you’ll be sorry if you do.”
Carson glared at Jake, “Who the hell is that guy?”
Jake grinned, “Her guardian angel some days, the devil the rest of the week.”
Carson stormed into the house. Carlos and Marcus watched to make sure he went right out the front door and wasn’t getting back in. Mc called them to follow him quickly, he needed to talk to them and fill them in. The other bodyguards would be left to pick up the slack. Jake manned the door.
Bron stood in polite conversation with John and Diane. Kevin for the first time was able to introduce Bron to someone outside the circle as his wife. A slight shock registered on Diane’s face. “It’s okay by tomorrow everyone will know.” As Kevin spoke the words, his hand gently rested on the small of Bron’s back. Softly he glided his hand back and forth in a reassuring gesture.
Diane cocked her head slightly, “Do you have kids?”
Kevin piped up quickly, “Two, the little one keeps us busy.”
Bron lowered her eyes to the stone patio; the design seemed very intricate and interesting suddenly. John’s voice interrupted her study. “Who knows maybe someday, you’ll have one of your own.”
A heaved sign of relief escaped and her shoulders sagged. He was going to keep that to himself. “It will be a pleasure to do this interview with you tomorrow, just please respect my wishes.”
“I will,” John nodded.
Kevin was being called inside for some more chitchat with the guests. Bron was left standing there. “Thank you for understanding. I know it’s your business to do news, but it is being respectful to Kevin and I. Who knows after this, there maybe more exclusives to come but only for you, not that ass kisser that just left.”
Bron quietly walked away from listening to Krystal sing. It was time for Bron to put phase two of evening in gear. It was time to even the score with Carter. Rounding the room, she found Angela, Joy, and Barb. “Hi ladies, are you having fun?”
“I can’t believe I’m here. If Kevin comes over I’m going to faint.” Barb sputtered at Bron.
“You’ll be fine. He’s very sweet. Angela can I see you for a minute in the kitchen?” Bron smiled as she thought about the time she spent looking at the pictures of her husband standing with nearly naked women in sneakers.
Sipping her drink, Angela nodded as she followed Bron.
“What was that photo shoot for, sneakers?” Bron asked.
Angela began laughing, “No, not really, it was a joke that Nick had planned ages ago on Kevin. He’s getting pretty clever as he gets older. He was just trying to see if Train would fall for it.”
“Yes Nick is a clever little bugger. He likes to play tricks on people,” Bron flashed a mischievous grin at her. “I hear through the grapevine that you… um, did a little more than a photo shoot that night.”
Angela blushed, “Well we tried to bag Kevin but he wanted no part of it. He just kept saying to Nick, ‘Witch is going to kill me.’” Pausing as she picked at the appetizer tray, a cracker in mid-air. “Honestly, I really wanted a Manwish, you know what I mean. Both of those men, a dream come true.”
Suzie entered the kitchen to see a very controlled Bron having a conversation with one of the girls from the photo shoot. “Hey.”
“Suzie meet Angela, she’s a sneaker lady. Did you know that the shoot was a fake? Another joke of Nick’s. Angela here wants a Manwish, you know what she means.”
Suzie was startled, she started to laugh, “Don’t we all darling.”
Bron lost the phony smile that was plastered on her face. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at her friend, she better be joking, she thought to herself.
“I almost had them both, but Kevin is so afraid of that witch Kris.” She chomped down on the cracker accentuating her words.
“Why would Kris be a witch?” Suzie asked in confusion. I hate walking into the middle of these damn conversations, she mumbled under her breath.
“Oh nothing, Suzie,” Bron clasped her hands behind her back. She swung her body back and forth slightly. “It seems Kevy Kev kept saying Witch was going to kill him.”
The laugh that rolled out of Suzie was immense. “I bet she will.”
“Why don’t you stay here. Maybe I can get that wish for you?” Bron was gone in a snap.
“It’s a shame that Kevin refers to his significant other as a witch, don’t you think?” Angela stood by idly picking at the tray.
“Bron what is the matter with you?” Nick could hardly pry her fingers off his jacket.
“Nothing Little Man, I want you to meet someone.” Bron dragged him in the kitchen.
“Oh hi Ang, how are you?” Nick knew that somehow this was not going to be good for him.
“Fine Nick and how have you been since we were last together?” Angela wasn’t pulling any punches. She wanted these women to know what, when, the how was between her and her friends.
Suzie’s drink tipped off the counter and on Angela’s dress, courtesy of Nick.
“Oh dear,” Bron gasped. “Quick we need to get that wine off before it stains.” The staff was bustling in and out of the kitchen. “Here, come over here.”
Bron searched the pantry as Angela, came in behind her. Handing her a cloth, she held it to the stain. Spotting what she wanted on the top shelf, she called Nick to reach it. Nick joined them while Suzie stood by the door of the pantry.
Bron flew out of the pantry and slammed the door shut. Grinning at Suzie, she turned the key in the lock, but left the key in place. “If he survives this, he’ll never do it again.” Bron turned to the staff, “Touch the door, you’ll never work again.”
“Oh Nick, they locked us in here, what a shame,” came in a purr from the other side of the door.
Bron and Suzie left the kitchen laughing uncontrollably after a good fifteen minutes. The noises from the pantry were definitely Nick fighting for his life. Pots and such clattering to the floor. Both of the women were making spectacles of themselves as they joined the crowd in the living room. They went looking for the rest of Angela’s friends. “This is fun,” Bron laughed. “I like immaturity.”
“Yeah till we get caught.” Suzie covered her mouth as Kevin joined them. He had just walked away from Joy and Barb.
“Have you seen their friend?” Kevin asked. “They said she was with you.”
“Nooo,” Bron snickered and danced away. If she stayed, Kevin would have her dead to rights and probably kill her.
“Where’s your date?” Kevin asked as he watched his wife so a little jig away from him.
“I don’t know,” Suzie smirked then took off in the other direction.
“Something is going on here. Those two are too damn happy.” Kevin stood confused watching the friends each track down another friend at the party. First Gillian, who almost choked on her drink as Bron whispered in her ear. Mary’s eyes were tearing from what Kevin could tell. Suzie holding her sides to stop from laughing as she informed Mary what they had done to Nick.
“Sir,” A man next to Kevin addressed him.
“Yes,” Kevin answered. He seemed overly stuffy and snooty to him. Must be the caterer Suzie hired, he thought.
The man sniffed slightly as he raised his nose in the air, “Can we let the young lady and gentleman out of your pantry now? They are disrupting the staff.”
Kevin darted in the kitchen. Standing by the pantry door he could hear Nick in a panic on the other side, the door was rattling away. “Please let me out, if Kevin finds out about this, he’ll kill me, bury me out back, and they’ll get Aaron. He can still sing the high notes. Please somebody open the door, it was joke, honest. There was no ad for sneakers, I just wanted to see if Kev would fall for it. Angela let go of my pants!” The door stopped rattling.
Yanking the pantry door open, Kevin gaped at what he saw. Nick backed up against the shelves. His tie was gone, his shirt hung open and out of his pants. Angela half way between kneeling and standing. Nick’s head pressed back into the shelving. His eyes clenched tightly shut as he tried to push the ever-insistent Angela off him. “Please don’t let that be Kevin.”
“Surprise,” Kevin growled as he walked into the pantry and shut the door. “What the hell are you doing?”
Angela smiled, “Getting reacquainted?”
“Kev, buddy, bro, my big brother…”
A large finger was wagged in his face, “Can it. Straighten yourself up right now. Angela, really?”
“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” she gave him an innocent look.
“Bron did this, it’s her fault, she locked us in here,” Nick churned out his excuses as he fixed his shirt and pants. Grabbing the handle of the door, he went to exit.
“Get back here,” Kevin shook his head as he reached for his handkerchief. “You’re wearing her damn lipstick all over your face.” Kevin absently wiped his face like a small child.
“You’re wife is gonna get it,” Nick furrowed his brows at Kevin.
“Wife! You’re married?” Angela switched her view from one to the other.
“I’m going to take care of her in few minutes. Carson found out so this is how it has to be. Listen here’s what were going to do and why.” Kevin looked at Angela. “You breathe any of this before tomorrow and you’ll be getting an N’SYNC Manwish.”
They both watched her turn green and crinkle her nose. “No problem,” she spoke as she made a zipping motion over her lips.
Bron was still recovering with the ladies as they entered the living room. Kevin was talking, as she approached the door, she heard Nick say, “There she is.”
“Hey everyone! I want you to meet the magnificent lady who built my house. She’s very important to me.” Kevin had a shit-eating grin on his face. A few minutes inside with Mc was all he needed. Mc had a plan and they were going to do it. They had the tape; nobody could prove anything. A small discussion with Norris and they were set. After all these years, John could at least treat them with some respect.
Bron swallowed her mouth full of cheesecake. That damn red wine again, she muttered loud enough for friends to hear. Every eye in the room now was focused on her. Jake walked over and stood behind her with a chuckle. Suzie and Mary were still on each side of her.
“Everyone, I would like Krystal to sing a special song for me, if you don’t mind. Krystal would you do that?” Kevin was acting happy and goofy at the same time.
“Sure Kevy,” Krystal’s eyes sparkled as the notes were struck.
“See everyone I want to dance with my new wife, Bronwyn Richardson.” Kevin tossed the mic to Nick before Bron could react. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her out to the patio, which was now deserted. Krystal began to sing Love Is A beautiful Thing.
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