Friday, June 19, 2020


Chapter 4
BROOKE’S FIVE MINUTES AS NICKY’S GIRL

When Katie lifted her eyes for a second, she caught a glimpse of Shawn and they made brief eye contact. She gave him a puzzled look, noting his familiarity. Shawn had dropped more than fifty pound since he had given up the partying lifestyle, after he read her book.  Even from the distance he was away from her, and the dark settings, she could see the pain in his face, as if he just lost his best friend. Katie squeezed her eyes closed trying to place his familiar face. He looked different than someone she remembered. He had a far thinner face.  
A sudden dread took over her heart when a memory of sitting across a restaurant table from Shawn flashed before her. The thought crossed her mind that this could be Nick’s best friend, but she chose to ignore the warning and assume it was some random man who reminded her of him, with Nick being on her mind and that fear in her heart of seeing him, this night.   
Nick watched his best friend walk out of that pub and out of his life. That tortoise brain remark cut him to his heart, making him miss his Teach that much more. He contemplated running after Shawn and beating it out of him. It was bad enough all the crap he said to him, including telling him to go to hell. Getting violent with his best friend was far beyond even what this jerk Nick Thomas would do. He wasn’t past pinning all the blame of the loss of his best friend on his nemesis, though, and he began to scan the restaurant, again, to find her. Brooke walked over to Nick with a fresh beer in her hand. She opened Nick’s hand and put it in it. She grabbed his arm and turned him toward her, trying to get his attention away from the door. 
“You are so much better off without them, Nick,” Brooke said, satisfied that she eliminated her three foes. “Fuck them, Nick, they’re no good.” 
“Yeah, right, fuck them, I don’t need them.” Nick said agreeing with her in his anger, but disagreeing in his heart as regret began to move in, lodging itself in the center of his being and soul.  
“They’ve been holding you down, just wait, and see how far you go, now that they’re gone. They’ll end up in cheap honky-tonks on Broadway. None of them had any talent anyway.” Nick looked toward the doorway only half-paying attention to what Brooke said.  
“C’mon Nicky, let’s get a shot of Patron, my treat.” 
"I got it,” Nick said. As they shuffled over to the bar, Nick signaled the bartender. He put up two more shot glasses on the bar, clinging them together almost as if in a love song, as in Brooke’s love for Nick and Nick’s love for the booze. He chugged the beer in his hand. Then he and Brooke laughed and fueled up hostility toward the author by throwing back the shots.  
Brooke shimmied her body up against his, ready to pull out all the stops. She began to kiss his neck, right there in public, which would have been a first for her. He pulled her away and they stared into each other’s faces. Victory shown all over Brooke’s face as her smile brightened her aurora. She was gorgeous when she had that glow of her love for him all over her face. Now, she was his only ally, and he began to appreciate her beauty, while his blood was thickening with the spirits. The thicker his blood, the more stunning, and tempting she became to him. As the alcohol began its full effect, his confidence in his ability to hold his own in a face-to-face confrontation with that troublemaker author also increased, and the slightest of a shove was all he needed. 
Brooke was all too happy to provide that little push. With a beautiful Brooke standing alongside of him, they threw down the last of the shots, as if they were fueling a Sherman Tank, ready to run the bitch author out of that pub and the town they had invaded. They were a two-man army, prepared to rid the Cheapside of one uppity, holier-than-thou shrew. Nick had waited for a long time to do that, but not near as long as Brooke had. This was her shining moment, and she was going to illuminate that pub with the light of her life. 
Nick swayed with all the booze that was starting to take control of his mind and body.  The booze was making his head foggier by the minute as he stumbled. He started to regret taking in so much alcohol, remembering that his excess as of late, had been causing blackouts. He had no idea that this next blackout wouldn’t be from the booze, but a brick wall, courtesy of one of Kentucky’s finest. 
“You look exceptionally good tonight, Brooke and smell great, too. I love that perfume. Let's do it, girl. Let's shut that bitch down once and for all,” he said slurring to a very satisfied and successful obsessed groupie, confident in her status with Nick that night.  
"Yeah, let’s take her down. We’ll do it together.” Brooke hooked her arm around his, while the two of them swayed and stumbled their way over to the booth with the teacher in the pink hat, less the pink that that night. 
Pride garnished Brooke’s face as Nick's girlfriend officially, in her eyes only, for the next ten minutes, unaware how quickly the tables could turn on her heartlessly. The two of them stumbled over to the table next to Katie’s and began a very loud, obnoxious conversation, wanting all those at Katie’s table to hear their banter.  
“Well, well, well, I guess they’ll let anyone into these dives here. Geez, I’m surprised that the little goodie-two-shoes would be caught seen in a pub with alcohol present,” Nick said. 
"Yeah, look what the cat dragged in, or was it the rat,"  Brook added. 
Katie sucked in a deep and distressed breath. Scotty noticed how tense and tight her body became. She shook her head and dropped it down on to the table. Her heart dropped when her forehead hit the table. This was the moment she feared, the reality of this, that fateful day she dreaded for a year. She kept her head on top of her folded arms, trying to hold back the tears from the combination of hurt and love that remained for her Nicolas Paul, who had disappeared. His voice was not that sweet tender voice of joy and hope; it was a drunk and obnoxious sound, bringing pain and anger.   
Scotty put his hand on the back of her neck while her head was down. Her worst fear was happening to her at that moment. She wondered if she would live through being this close to the face she fell in love with, after all that time of waiting and hoping that it would be that of her Nicolas Paul. Sadly, though, she would see only a face of betrayal.  
Katie lifted her head, only slightly enough to eye Becca and then give Matthew that rescue-me look. Matthew sucked in his lips, dreading this moment himself. He knew of Nick’s  slide down to skid row. He had hoped that Nick would find his way out of it, before he found his way to his beloved and tender-hearted former sister-in-law of Matthew’s. Both Matthew and Becca reached over and put their hands on Katie’s arm, which was holding up her head. Scotty turned towards Katie and put his arm around her, ready to defend the honor of the woman of his heart’s desire, thus possibly earning that place on the altar next to her; he so longed for these past five years. 
He turned his head back to see Nick and Brooke, arm and arm, locked and loaded, ready to do battle. This was the moment for which Scotty had been waiting. His two years’ worth of jealousy and hatred was about to take this cocky stupid-star down, and hopefully he could throw his butt in a jail cell that night as the icing on the cake with felony charges.  
"Oh hey, honey, I forgot to tell you, that Nick Thomas was one of the side shows here, you know the fat lady? Only they changed it to the fat country singer," Scotty said, laughing, making Katie chuckle and pick up her head.  
“Good one," Katie said, leaning into Scotty’s chest, keeping her face hidden. He put his arm around her and squeezed her tighter into him.  Matthew shook his head in disapproval, as Scotty turned and looked at him. He did not care about Matthew’s tendency for diplomacy. Taking down Nick Thomas was far more important to his future with his Katiebear.
Nick got up close to their table. He swayed as he leaned on it with his palm. He then grabbed Scotty by the shirt and yanked him out of his seat. Scotty’s reflexes kicked in and he regained his balance immediately. He grabbed a hold of Nick’s wrist, squeezing it, as if to crush it. The shock of the strength of this man’s hand caused Nick to back up, giving Scotty ample opportunity to punch him. Before he could get in the first shot, Matthew jumped up and grabbed Scotty’s arm. He separated the two men, turning toward Scotty to push him back to the booth. He shoved him back to his seat. 
“Sit down, Scott, not here, not now. Take care of Katie.” Scotty returned to his protective spot next to Katie and put his arm around her, shielding her.  That little demonstration of this man’s strength, although, shocking, was not enough to get Nick to back down, and he went in for more antagonizing and payback. 
“So, isn’t this kind of late for you and your sanctimonious bitchy-self, and at a bar no less?” Nick asked, looking at the profile of Katie behind her hair and her Scotty. His smooth deep voice slurred, and his body wavered as he held onto the table with his fingertips to keep his balance.  
“Hmmph, isn’t sanctimonious an awfully big word for you, tortoise brain?” Katie mumbled with her head down. Scotty leaned over her. 
“What did you say, hon?” 
“Nothing,” she said, shaking her head, keeping her face lowered with her thick falling auburn hair, veiling her face. 
“She probably knew you’d be down here. I’ll bet she hit every pub down here, hoping to find you.” Brooke said, bragging that she herself was on Nick’s arm and no one else. “When she found out you were here, she thought this would be her chance to get you. I think it’s obvious, she’s been saying all that shit, because she’s really into you and knows that you wouldn’t give her the time of day, not an ugly bitch like her,” Brooke said. Katie just kept shaking her head at Brooke’s ignorance, having no idea who she was to Nick, or used to be.
"Hey, bitch, take your dumbass boyfriend, and the two of you get the hell away from here," an angrier and belligerent Scotty said.  "You just better stay the hell away from my girl, and if you touch me, one more time, I’ll break every bone in your sorry body, then drop your ass in jail.”  Nick’s drunken state made him miss the reference of Scotty throwing him in jail.
“I’d like to see you try, asshole,” Nick said, slurring his speech and swaying trying to maintain his balance. Brooke came up behind Nick. She put her hand on his back, grabbing and massaging his bicep with the other.  
“He can’t hurt you, Nick. You’re so much bigger and stronger than he is. You can take him.” With Brooke’s urging an a little shove from behind, Nick went for Scotty to strike back. As Scotty began to rise, Matthew had to get up, again. He stepped in between them to stop them from a physical confrontation. 
“Stay there and hold her. Help her, forget about these two,” he said to Scotty, as the elder authoritative one, and the only one in control of his emotions. Katie’s hair veiled the tears that were about to burst forth. Scotty moved her hair to see his Katie-bear’s heart-broken face.  
“I told you he’d do this. The big stupid-star of country has come crashing down to slimey-ville and picked up some scum-sucking whore on his way down,” Scotty said.   
“Nick, are you going to let him say things like that about me?” Brooke asked, hooking her hand on Nick’s arm, looking for a hero to defend her honor.   
“Hey asshole, I only have beautiful classy women around me, as opposed to that ugly whore bitch hanging on to you.” His words slurred together more with each passing moment. “Seriously dude, how do you look at her? I’ll bet you have to be blindfolded to fuck her.” 
The entire table gasped to hear such vulgarity. Matthew shook his head in disgust. Becca’s eyes popped open as her hands went to her mouth. She reached over to grab Katie’s arm. Katie had lowered her head back down on to the table, hiding her face. Matthew saw the tension in her shoulders and her shallow breaths of affliction. Scotty’s fury erupted, forcing him onto Nick with a death grip, ready to kill him. Matthew got in between them, again, separating and pulling Nick from Scotty’s grasp. He pushed Scotty toward a hysterical Katie.   
“Stop, Scott. Look, she needs you.” Matthew said pointing toward a heavily sobbing Katie. When Scott saw Katie breaking down, he decided comforting his Katie-bear was priority over killing Nick Thomas. Scott immediately got closer to Katie and wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed into his chest. With his arms securely wrapped around Katie, Scotty crooked his head toward Matthew.  
“Get him out of here, before I kill him.” Matthew, who was still pushing Nick away, while he tried to advance toward Scotty, looked square in Nick’s eyes, who for the first time, took a good look at who was pushing him away.    
“Please, just leave.” Nick squinted at Matthew after he heard his voice. It was vaguely familiar, along with his face. In his drunken state, remembering where he saw this man would be nearly impossible. That did not stop an ominous feeling from beginning to rise in his heart. Matthew gave Nick one last shove and then turned back to reclaim his seat. He looked at his wife with his authoritative diplomacy and commanding voice, and he attempted to subdue his family at this table.  “Do not engage, do you hear me? Don't give in to them as drunk as they are,” Matthew said looking at his wife of nearly eighteen years. Katie picked up her head, looked at Matthew with her eyes soaked and her vision completely blurred. She pursed her lips, looking for Matthew to help her. He was there with her; he understood, if anyone, how far Nick had fallen. He looked directly into her eyes to convey the message he had been trying to get her to believe for months. “He’s not in his right mind. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Matthew looked at the rage in Scotty’s face. “Don’t let him push you over the edge. You’ve been doing so well.” Scotty put his arm around Katie, hiding her from Nick’s view.   
The more Matthew spoke with his northern accent, the more Nick began to second-guess what he was doing. Brooke saw Nick’s resolve giving way, and she motivated him to fight some more with some antagonistic lies.  
“What a wimp slut she is. It’s amazing how she can call you a no good jackass who puts out shit for music, then when confronted, cries like a baby. You know, she’ll just be out there tomorrow calling you a weakling and a coward if you back down.” Nick looked at Brooke and nodded his head, believing her lies. Whenever Nick was drunk, he took whatever Brooke said as gospel truth.   
“Yeah, you bitch, you can berate the hell out of me in public, but to my face, you cower and cry like a baby? You just better keep you ugly trap shut from now on, or I’ll—,” he paused, not knowing what to threaten.   “Or you’ll what?” Scotty asked. “How about I just kill you first?”  
“Don’t talk like that,” Matthew said. Scotty nodded to Matthew, realizing his anger was getting the best of him. He turned to Katie, and spoke into the back of her neck while she kept her head lowered and hidden.  
“Don’t listen to him, honey. This two-bit nothing will soon enough just be one of the mop boys at the concerts. Then he won’t even be able to attract a real whore.” Nick approached Scotty, again, leaning over him.
“You wanna see what I can do with a mop, buddy? C’mon let’s go outside.” Scotty turned his head and shoved him. 
“You’d never even have the chance, jackass. I’d have you kissing the pavement and needing plastic surgery to rebuild your face, if you survived. Wouldn’t I Katie-bear?” She nodded in his arms.  
“Oh, I’d like to see you try that, my Nick would flatten you before you even got up out of that bench.” 
“Mr. Thomas, please take your girlfriend, and the both of you move away from our table and find another place to go. Trooper Wells is doing all he can to hold in his temper. Believe me; you do not want to be on the other side of his fist, or in jail.” Matthew said. 
The whole time Matthew spoke, Nick paid more attention to the accent and the voice, than he did all the words Matthew was saying. He got lost on the words Mr. Thomas, knowing he heard that voice call him that name before. He squinted and studied Matthew’s and Becca’s face. With his blood that thick with the spirits, and all the people he had to work to advance his career this past year, he could not place them with the thousands of faces and names that were swirling around in his head. 
“Please, Mr. Thomas, please just go away. Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage? She does not deserve this, least of all from you,” Becca said. 
That remark began a panicky inquisitiveness. Shawn’s earlier words now came back to begin what would become months’ of long-suffering ringing in his ears, figuratively and literally. “Listen, Nick, you know Katie Lynn Moore, you’ve met her.” 
With every word coming from that table, Nick’s stomach began to turn and churn. He was not sure if it was from the booze, or the eerie feeling of the familiarity of them to him. His mind began to conjure up a good memory of him wanting to make a good impression on these two people, but yet not at the same time.  
Brooke seeing that fighting was getting nowhere decided that loving Nick while he was this drunk was more important. She didn’t want to waste a good semi-black out opportunity.  “Nicky, these people are cowards. They’re not worth our time. Let’s go out to the bus. I’ll do an encore performance for you from the other night.” 
Brooke put her hand down on Nick’s butt and grabbed it, causing him to jump away from her. Nick’s anger at Brooke’s insistence that he fooled around with her, ignited in his mind, interrupting his concentration of his trying to ascertain how he knew this couple. She had already driven out Shawn and his friends with her big mouth and lies, according to him. He wasn’t about to let her ruin what dignity he did try to maintain, especially in front of this rival of his. 
“Damn it, Brooke, stop touching my ass. Stop telling people we did shit in my bus.” His foggy memory of being with Brooke and Jenna chastised him, while he continued to deny her the allegiance due her. The former celebrants at the table stared with shock at Nick in disgust, as he so quickly turned on this loyal groupie. 
“Yes, we did, Nick. We made love the other night?” She turned and looked at Katie’s profile and spoke loud enough for Katie to hear her. “He told me that he loved only me.” She turned back to Nick. “You said that we’d always be together, you did.” 
“That’s bullshit, whack job, you are delusional. I’d never say that to you. You know I’m getting sick of you spewing out those lies to all your friends and my friends too. They know me better than that.” He thought about how his friends had just walked out on him, and how moments ago, Shawn believed Brooke. He looked toward the door, seeing the back of Shawn exiting, again, in his mind. 
“You did too say it.” She looked over at the people at the table, in particular, Katie. “He said it, he just denies it in front of people because our love affair is a secret from the press and all the magazines, right, Nick?” Nick whipped his head around at her. “It is, I know, Nicky, you can’t tell anyone about us, I understand.” 
Katie’s head popped up when she heard her call him Nicky. She remembered how much he hated being called that, or so he told her that night. As if she hadn’t already, she began to firmly believe that everything he said that night was a lie. She stared into Becca’s eyes, who knew exactly what Katie was thinking. Nick threw his chin back. None of this sounded familiar to him. He knotted his brows at her, while swaying slightly backward. 
“Brooke, shut your damn trap. I don’t know where you come up with this shit. It must be from all your delusional friends feeding you that crap.” He shoved her away from him. Nick turned back to the table and studied these people a little further, trying to remember who these people were, and why they were so familiar to him. 
“See honey, aren’t you glad I made you dump his sorry ass? I told you that he’d turn out like this. I told you too,” Scotty said as he faced Becca who nodded. 
Brooke stepped up closer to Nick and grabbed on to his bicep, holding on for dear life when she heard Scotty mention Katie dumping Nick. He tilted his head, shocked at that statement from the man in front of the author. His eyebrows widened, and an inexplicable apocalyptic dread overshadowed that booth, and the surrounding area of which he was standing. It was as if every other person in that pub had vanished, except him and the patrons at that table. That was until Brooke shook him out of his daze. 
“What does he mean dump you? She was never your girlfriend. You don’t know her, Nicky. I know everyone you know.  I’m his girlfriend, you ass,”  she said, facing Scotty.
Brooke grabbed his hand, locking their fingers together. Nick pulled at his hand, trying to get it away from Brooke. She held tight to his hand with a death grip, white knuckling her hold on his hand, and she squeezed his arm even tighter fastening herself to his side. She never anticipated how mean and hateful he could become toward her. Nick shoved Brooke away from the table to get rid of her, but was too drunk to realize that his voice carried further than he thought, and more people than he wanted, witnessed his malevolence. He had to save face as much as he could, as everyone knew how delusional Brooke was, claiming them as a couple on her social media pages.  
“Listen, you stupid lying slut, everyone knows that you’ve been banging Tommy pretending it’s me. I have never been with you, nor would I, and I certainly would never say that I was in love with you. I don’t even like you.”
Nick’s hatefulness toward Katie was one thing, but watching him turn on his loyal groupie, the one who was by his side as he picked this fight with them, caused Katie to take in a huge sobbing breath and wipe her tears away. Before she was broken, now she was just plain fuming.  Nick looked at Katie as her body began to rise. As she arched her back, she sat up and brushed away her tears and feelings of sadness and defeat. She pushed Scotty away slightly, while she lifted her shoulders, locking them ready to do battle. 
The love and security in Scotty’s arms transferred his strength into her spitefulness. Anger took over the agony, fury conquered fear, and tenacity trampled timidity. She squinted her eyes and squared off her jaw. She had her fists clenched under the table, ready to strike.  
With all the lies he claimed Brooke was spewing, Nick suddenly felt the need to confess and open up the truth of his heart, about his anonymous Princess Cindy. It had been far too long since he had reiterated his love for her, publicly. He always proclaimed that there was always only one woman for him. He stared at the side of the author’s head, attempting to see her face behind the veil of her hair. 
“I have been in love only once, and I’m waiting for her to come back to me. She’s going to, because she knows how much I love her.” The absurd thought of this being his Teach both petrified and excited him, and professing his love for her could only help his case, on the off chance this was her. 
“Who are you kidding, Nick, she dumped you and married that cop, you know that.” Nick looked at Brooke when she said that, then he tried to get a glimpse at the woman who was hiding behind the man he wanted to take outside to fight. 
He turned to Brooke.  “It was you who lied to me about that, wasn’t it? I couldn’t remember who gave me that bullshit story. Shawn says she’s not married, that she was waiting for Nicolas—.” he paused. For the first time, Nick began to realize that he had indeed buried Nicolas Paul so deep in his sub-conscience, and for so long, he had forgotten every promise he made his Teach. He was struck down in his own discourse. Just like Shawn said, he made his life a mess, and now, he had this woman claiming that they slept together, and he knew full well that they did, but not alone, with a third party.  
“Honey, please, please, let me take him to the woodshed. I’ve been waiting two years for this, please,” Scotty begged.  Nick watched and studied the man and the woman, shaking his head no from fear, panic, and a drunken confusion. 
“No, you can’t, don’t you remember that poor grizzly bear you took down last ye’ah when we were camping? My goodness, I felt so sorry for that grizzly,” Katie said causing everyone at the table to start laughing, and Nick to gasp for breath at the sound of that voice. 
The familiarity of the author’s voice and her combination northern and adopted southern accent sent frightening waves of regret. The warnings of Shawn flew back into his mind, slapping his brain.  I just wish I could see your face, when she knocks you on your ass...,”    
Denial was fighting to take control, trying to convince Nick that this was either a nightmare, or a hallucination from the alcohol. The evidence, however, was becoming overwhelming. His breaths became shallow with dread.  
“Honey, he’s just a big prick, don’t let him get to you,” Becca said while grabbing Katie’s hands on the table. 
Matthew’s head snapped over to his wife, shocked at her vulgarity.  At the same time that Matthew was reprimanding his wife, Brooke saw the panicky look on Nick’s face and decided to defend herself one more time, desperately clinging to the only man she could ever love.  
“We did make love, and you did say those things. Oh, Nicky why do you keep turning on me like that in front of people?” She asked with deep sobs. A drunken Nick was tossed at whose conversation had claimed his attention. He heard part of what Matthew said and part of what Brook claimed. 
“Becca, I’m surprised at you. Stop it, all three of you. How can you fight with a drunk? What’s the matter with you?” Becca squeezed Katie’s hands even tighter as she defended their insults at Nick.  
“Well, Matthew, look at him, how does someone sink so low? He’s not the same man we met. I’ve been wrong about him all this time, and if I were you, honey, I’d have Scotty take him out to the woodshed.” Becca gave Scotty the nod of approval, finally.  
Nick’s head kept bobbing back and forth between the groupie that had his career and life in her hands, and the restaurant booth that quite possibly held the only person who could make his life complete and happy. Regret and panic ran rampart in his brain, and his eyes widened at the names Matthew, Becca, and Scotty. Those were the names of his Teach’s brother and sister-in-law and her former fiancé. A flash back of meeting Katie’s sister-in-law, Becca, at the Kentucky State Fair put earth shattering fear into Nick’s soul, which sped up his heart, and slowed down his breathing.
“Nick, Nick, look at me,” Brooke said in desperation. His divided attention was now solely on Brooke, and a fiery anger rose in his belly, enough to engulf a block-wide warehouse, gutting it completely. His betrayal and fury was about to do that very thing to Brooke’s devoted heart. He pulled from her grasp with a final tug and stepped back to face her down one last time.  
“You stupid lying bitch, get the hell out of my life, and stop tailgating my bus, or I’ll have you put on the stalker list and arrested the next time you are near me, do you hear?” 
The entire table looked up at Nick who shoved Brooke, again. Tears welled up in Brooke’s eyes as she grabbed his arm and clung tight to it. She turned toward Katie who had made a loud disgusting moan at Nick’s hatefulness to this groupie. Katie looked up at Brooke, this time feeling sorry for her. She folded her arms across her chest with pity and fury duking it out for control. She turned toward the two, and for the first time, Nick saw her complete, but waif like face.  His memory and his sight were starting to cooperate with each other by placing his Teach’s face onto this woman’s face, as if it had just popped out of his head. 
“Oh, you poor stupid twit, we believe you, not him. He’s a lying snake, and you’re just a young and stupid groupie. I know your kind. I got caught up twice by lying scum artists who were both cheating assholes. You’d think I would have learned from the first one.” 
The voice and the accent made Nick gasp and back away. Becca also gasped when Katie said that about her Michael.  Brooke turned to face Nick with tears pooling in her lids. Instead of letting them see her further humiliated, an embarrassed and lingering pride ran her out of the bar in hysterics. Nick turned and watched her run out of the pub, not knowing what to feel. He had just turned on his biggest supporter, and the truth of that being his Teach flung his head back to the table to study to occupants. He gasped as he heard in that same combination accent and voice say those all too familiar names. 
“Katie, how can you say such a thing right in front of Matthew?” Katie slapped her mouth and turned toward Matthew. Her eyes were wide opened, shocked at what she had just said. 
“Oh no, no way,” Nick mumbled as he listened to this woman speak in his Teach’s intonation and voice. 
“Matthew, I’m so sorry.” She reached over toward Mathew’s hand on the table, and put her hand on his. “Can you forgive me?” Katie said crying. Matthew lifted his head, with such sadness in his face that she would say such a thing about his brother in public like that. “I shouldn’t have said that about my Michael, that jackass, yeah, he fits the mold, but not my beloved Michael.”   
The lack of oxygen from him holding his breath, and the excess alcohol caused Nick to become even more dizzy and unsteady on his feet. He backed up against the table behind him, to keep himself standing on his feet. Matthew watched as he recognized what was happening to Nick, who was shaking his head in disbelief. He began to pity the man more than being angry with him. His depraved soul was sobering him up at lightning speed, along with the truth he feared of this woman’s identity. Never at any time in his life in the past two years, did Nick ever wish she was still lost out there, and not sitting a few feet away, hearing of his betrayal and his lewdness. He just kept shaking his head in disbelief, hearing Shawn’s words over and over again.
While Nick stared at Katie, her attention was now firmly on Scotty. She had noticed that Scotty dropped his head, hurt and jealous by Katie’s words of her devotion to a man who betrayed her in the most treacherous way. When Katie noticed the broken look on Scotty’s face, she realized how she had just hurt him, also.  
“Oh, my gosh, Scotty, I’m sorry.” 
Nick stared at Katie who was apologizing to Scotty now.  “Oh my God, it can’t be, you can’t be, oh God don’t let it be her,” Nick mumbled in a slurring tone. 
He shuffled further back and could barely catch his breath. He wanted to disappear at that moment and wake up from this nightmare of truth he still wanted to deny. He watched the firecracker in this woman light up, familiar to the time on the sidewalk when she expressed her hatred and anger at her husband’s betrayal; the same betrayal with which Nick was now guilty. 
“Damn it, this jackass has got me in all kinds of trouble, now. Get up Scotty,” Katie said with a clenched jaw and her fist banging the table. She shoved him with all the strength she had, causing him to stumble out of the bench. Scotty rebounded quickly and watched his Katie, who was fired up with fury, head over to the man he hated. She was about to give Nick the ‘Katie treatment;’ the one that took every man down several inches from their stature, and Scotty was going to love every syllable.  
“Katherine Lynn Petersen Moore, what are you going to do?” Becca asked. When Nick heard Katherine Lynn Petersen, a terrified panic overtook him knowing his Teach's name was the same, less the Moore. For a brief moment, all the alcohol left his bloodstream as well as the oxygen in his lungs. With his eyes wide open, he fell back against a table, putting his hands behind him to catch himself. 
Katie Lynn Moore, aka his Teach, was about to begin World War III in his life. It was a nuclear attack when she came at him with a hydrogen bomb of her words obliterating his superstar status with months of fallout to come, like a cancer in his life. The deadly weapon of her mouth and words, spoken in her true Yankee form, and with that accent he so adored, felt as if it were fatalistically stopping his heart.  
When Katie got close enough, she slapped Nick in the face with twice the fury as she did two years ago, when she was only slightly miffed. His mouth opened wide, as he grabbed his face where she hit him. This frail, undernourished, energy-drained firecracker mustered up the energy of an army. She shoved her tiny body against his massive one, pushing him down on a chair. She grabbed his shirt, and at his eye level, laid into him a year’s worth of hurt and hatred. 
“You listen here, you son-of-a-bitch. You are a disgrace, a pathetic playboy, who isn’t even fit to bow down to that twit Barbie. How the hell someone could change so much is beyond me? Maybe you were playing Prince Charming exceedingly well, and you’ve always been this asshole. You are a two-bit waste of musical talent. You make me sick. I can’t stand even the sight of you. I wish I never met you. I hate you, Nick Thomas, I hate you.” 
“Oh my God, is it really you?” He asked with his voice cracking. He placed his giant palm on her concaved face, but she put her arm up in a defensive move, knocking his hand away. 
“That’s right stupid-star, now get your ugly fat ass out of my town, and take your twit Kimmie with you.  I hope your sorry ass ends up just like your father’s, in prison wasting away.” 
“No, no,” he just kept mumbling in disbelief. 
So few people knew about his birth father, but his Teach definitely knew and how it affected him. His eyes stung with the tears that were gathering like the truth in his heart. He was now no different than her Michael, having used Brooke for his depraved fantasy, while semi-conscious from excess alcohol. Nick’s drug wasn’t crack cocaine. It was booze. 
Katie turned to her family at the table with her fists clenched.  Nick was convince at this point that his next breath would never come to him. He was drowning in regret and despair at the truth which thickened his blood even more than the alcohol. Katie pulled away from him to gather herself. She patted down the side of her legs, as if to press out the wrinkles of wrath that had taken over control in her mind and mouth. 
“I need some air. I need a minute, leave me be!” She looked specifically at Scotty, who started walking toward her. She put up her index finger, pointing at Scotty in an authoritative commanding stare. “Stop right there, Scotty, leave me alone.” Scotty clenched his fists and teeth, ready to strike Nick. Katie turned one last time to let Nick know just how much she loathed him. “You are an ass, Nick Thomas, and I hate you, I hate you,” she said right before she made a beeline for the door.  
He turned and watched the thin back of his Teach weave between the packed bodies of the overcrowded pub, as she bolted for the cold outside, like she did three times two years ago at the Circle City  Bar and Grille in Indianapolis. Scotty’s jaw tightened as he watched his Katie run out the door. He started to dart after her, and Matthew got up to move towards Scotty. 
“Let her alone.” He grabbed Scotty’s arm and pulled him back to the table. “Sit down. Give her some time.” He shoved Scotty back on his side of the table, sitting him to calm him. Matthew then turned to face Nick. Horror masked Nick’s face as he looked at the people sitting at the table looking up at him. The ramifications of this woman being his Teach were calamitous. Those two years of him wishing for his Katerina to enter back into his world, he had now eradicated by the year he spent forcing her out of it. “I told you to go away, Mr. Thomas, but you just couldn’t leave well enough alone,” he said right before he reclaimed his spot next to Becca.  




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