Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Chapter 5
THE BRICK WALL OF JUDGMENT AND REGRET

Nick Thomas turned around to look at the empty door that his Teach ran out of, and took off weaving like she did, but shoving a few more people with his big bulky 6’3 frame. Scotty popped up to go after them, but Matthew jumped in front of him, holding him back.   
“Stop, sit down. Let him face what he’s done.” Scott’s fury, which was previously aimed at Nick, was now growing toward Matthew.  
“What the hell are you saying, Matthew.” He pushed him down in the seat and stood in front of Scotty to block him. Scotty in his rage, jumped up and grabbed Matthew’s shirt, shoving him against the same table Nick backed up into, knocking Matthew over. Becca popped up out of her seat to grab Scotty’s arm, preventing a thrown fist, and attempting to calm him down so he could think reasonably, again. 
“Scotty, take your hands off my husband.” He turned to Becca, shoved her a bit, and grabbed Matthew with an even firmer grip.  
“I can’t believe you, Matthew. How can you turn on me like this? How can you let that man get within even ten feet of our Katie after what he did to her? You’ve had it in for me all this time, just like your bitch wife, haven’t you?” Becca jumped back toward Scotty fearful of his temper.  
“Scotty, please, calm down. That’s Matthew you’re talking to; he loves you like a brother.” Scotty looked at Becca.  
“Yeah, but you haven’t ever liked me, now did you, and you got to him, didn’t you? I ought to kill you both.” Matthew and Becca both gasped.  
“Scott, listen to yourself,” Matthew said slightly frightened. “Your rage is out of control.” Scotty heard the words that came out of his mouth, and he came to his senses, immediately regretting them. He let go of Matthew, then took two steps back, and blew out his anger aimed at Matthew.  
“Oh no, you’re right Matthew, I’m sorry.” He helped Matthew back up and straightened his shirt. He took several breaths to regain his composure and redirected his anger at the appropriate enemy. “It’s Nick Thomas I’m going to kill if he so much as lays a hand on Katie. He’s not getting another chance at her. I’ll kill him first.” Scott headed for the exit.  
Matthew got in front of him to stop him, and Becca pulled up aside of him, taking a firm hold of his tense and rock hard bicep. “Scotty, don’t talk like that,” she said, pleading with him to calm himself.
Scotty snapped his arm away, giving her a slight shove, and then barreled through anyone in his path. He was going to find and beat the daylights,  the alcohol, and any idea he had of stealing his Katie-bear away, out of Nick’s mind and body.  Matthew and Becca ran after him. He turned to Becca as they got to the doorway.  
“This is what you’ve wanted, to take my Katie away from me and give her to that bastard who crushed her a year ago. What the hell is wrong with you?” Matthew grabbed Scott’s arm just before he exited.  
“Scott, give her some space. Don’t go to them like this. You are too mad. She can handle herself. You can’t control your rage. You are out of control.” Scotty’s breathing became that of a fire-breathing dragon; again, as he let the thought of Nick screwing with Katie feed his anger. He shoved Matthew again and headed for the door with Matthew and Becca close behind. 
As they exited the pub, there was no sign of either of them. Scotty took off, however, it was in the wrong direction. 
Junior started a mob, calling to the crowd at the pub.  “Fight, fight, Nick Thomas is going to kick some ass.” 
Junior and some other patrons having watched the confrontation, chose to follow Scotty out the door. Matthew and Becca joined the race to what would be the brick wall of judgment for Nick Thomas, and the catalyst that would free Nicolas Paul from his imprisoned state, submerged deep in Nick’s sub-conscience.   
All the while Matthew attempted to avoid a fight and calm down Scotty, Nick was running after his Teach, just like he did two years ago. He caught up with her when her empty stomach and weakened state forced her to stop from the dizziness. She grabbed the side of the wall, turned a corner down into an alley, and bent over trying to keep herself up on her feet, while she caught her breath.  
Nick had caught up with Katie just as she turned into the alley, but no one else had seen them there. He grabbed her arm and pulled her up, to steady her and keep her standing. He himself was not any steadier on his feet than she was. He put his other hand against the brick wall, imprisoning Katie between him and the wall. Katie was struggling to get free from him, and the pain in her arm he was causing by gripping it so tight.  He stared into her face, shaking his head, still reeling from the shock. With his eyes wide open and his mouth open as to catch flies, Nick Thomas, the superstar, had just vaporized, and Nicolas Paul immediately re-emerged.
“You are hurting me, let go of me!” She said trying to pull away from him. He kept his firm grip, not realizing the pain he was causing her bony arm. “Let go of my arm,” she said bringing to Nick’s memory the clarity of her specific accent and voice. 
Anger joined Nick’s panic, yet he was not sure with whom to be angry. He was angry with Shawn for not telling him who she was. He began to wonder who else knew and did not tell him.  
“What the hell? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t Shawn tell me? Why have you all been keeping this from me? Katie Lynn Moore is my Teach, my Princess Cindy? Why would you all do this to me?”  
“Oh my God, are you out of your friggin’ mind, you stupid fool? You’ve slandered me for a year. You’ve been hateful and mean and the biggest jerk of a drunken fool, screwing everything in a skirt and saying all that stuff about me to justify your own debasement.” 
Nick’s other hand went to his mouth, while the one maintained a tight grip, not letting her go anywhere. His memory kicked in and began to torment him with every malicious thing he ever said. All that time, he thought he was verbally taking down an obscure author, when he was stomping on the heart of the woman he swore he would tenderly hold and never break. The alcohol in his system emphasized the devastation of what he had done, and it opened a floodgate of tears and weeping. His deep sobs matched and over took hers.   
“Oh my God, what have I done? Teach. I didn’t know. I swear, I didn’t know that was you?” The hurt, anger, and devastated heart of his Teach lay before him in her eyes, and he was drowning in self-hatred from her tears. “I swear, Teach, I swear, I would never hurt you like that, never. I would never say those things about you. I wouldn’t do that to you. I love you, I love you.” He kept professing his feelings in his crying voice. 
“Let go of me! I hate you Nick Thomas.”  
“Oh, God, please don’t say that, Teach. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.  I didn’t know it was you. Please, believe me. I didn’t know,” he kept saying in his tears. Anger and sadness fought for control of Katie’s heart. “Teach, I don’t know what happened to me. I waited so long. I got lost. I got lost waiting for you. I love you, oh God, I love you so much, still, after all this time, I still love you so much.” He pulled her into his arms. She tried to push him away, but his strength over powered her hatred. The memories of being in his arms all that night flooded her soul and heart. “Please, believe me. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” He held her face to his chest, so she could hear and feel his heart pounding for her, as it did two years ago.   
“You’re lying,” she cried into his chest while trying to push him away, denying his wails. He held fast to her.
“I swear to you, I’m not lying. I love you, I love you. I would never hurt you.” He pulled her even tighter into him. Feeling his arms around her, and smelling that same essence he wore from two years ago, caused her to stop pushing him away. She indulged herself for a brief few seconds, buried her face into his chest, and wept bitter tears. He squeezed her so tight as to never let go. Her love for him took center stage, as they cried into each other from the hurt; his from her being gone so long, hers for who he became and the betrayal. “Oh, Teach, I’ve longed to have you in my arms, again. I started to believe it would never happen.”
She cried into his chest, taking in the combination essence of his cologne mixed with the booze, which was permeating through the pores in his skin. Katie began to see all the pictures of him partying with groupies, hanging all over him on all the social media sites. She remembered reading what Brooke had posted about them, and the worst being what she said that night. The words “when we made love,” stung her heart. Anger pushed any love she had for him right out of her heart as she pushed on him trying to get free. She started pounding on his chest with her fists.  
“Why? Why did you have to do this to me? You promised you wouldn’t hurt me,” she cried. “You told me that you were different, that I was special. I believed you. You lied to me, just like everyone else. Why didn’t you just leave me alone if you were going to be just like them?” 
“No, I am not, and I didn’t lie to you, Teach, I swear,” Nick said, begging her to believe him, but knowing in his heart that he wasn’t different, he was just like her Michael, and he did the same thing to her. 
“That slut twit, she said you made love, you told her you loved her. I heard her say it.” 
“She’s lying, she’s crazy, too. I didn’t, I swear it. Not her, not with her,” he swore with complete and utter deception. 
“Oh, then that little starlet of yours on the tour. I knew it. I told you that I wasn’t going to be enough for you.” 
“No, not her either. I swear, Colton started that rumor. I begged Chelsea to set the record straight. I swear. I didn’t touch her either. I was waiting for you. I was longing for you. I even told her that. She was mad because I wouldn’t do anything with her. That was her payback.” 
“Liar,” she said into his chest in her heavy sobs. She continued to push on his chest, trying to get away, but the strength of his love and repentance over powered her weakened arms.  

He let her free from his chest and held tight to the top of her arms to face her with his version of the truth. He shook his head no and looked  straight into her red swollen eyes, with puffy tear-soaked eyes of his own. 
“I didn’t lie to you. Teach, I really fell in love with you. I haven’t stopped loving you. I haven’t made love to anyone. I swear, I didn’t touch the whack job,” he said lying, again in desperation. “I swear, I didn’t or Chelsea, either. They made it up to push you away. They were jealous of how much I loved you.” 
“Oh, and you told them about me?”
“No, not who you were, but my Princess Cindy from the liner notes. Everyone knew about you from that. Becca said that was why you ran up to Massachusetts. I’m sorry I did that. I chased you away even further. I know that now, but I swear, I didn’t touch them.” 
For a moment, Katie stopped wailing and looked deep into his eyes, searching for the truth. He began to cry as he stared into her eyes of hurt with hurt eyes of his own. “Why didn’t you come back to me? You promised you would.  I was dying inside without you. I waited and waited.”
Regret watered her eyes with every broken promise she pelted at his heart, as it battled anger and protection over her own shattered heart. Katie’s best and easiest fall back, anger, took control. 
“Oh, payback, I get it. All that crap you said about me was payback. I see your game. Get the hell away from me, you sick bastard.” He shook his head, willing to shoulder all the blame, appalled at the things he said and did over the last year. 
“No, no, I would never do that to you. I was a fool, a drunken fool. I’d never be mean to you like that. I didn’t know you wrote that book or any book for that matter.” 
“Why didn’t you tell me?” 
“I did. I invited you to my book release party, dumb ass, remember what you said?” She began to remind him of his words, but her reminders were not necessary. He backed up, shocked at the revelation of the book release party that he had been invited to from that author was his one and only jolt-giver and the malice he spewed about her and her book. He shook his head while trying to digest all of this past year, all that he said and did to the only woman he could ever love. She looked up at him with red-spoked empty eyes and a concaved face that matched her crumpled heart. “You said you were going to love me twice as much. Nick Thomas, well I hate you twice as much as I’ve ever hated Michael.” 
“Oh God, please don’t say that Teach.” Katie struggled to get free, but he refused to let go. 
He pulled her back into him, holding her close to his body, feeling her bones through her clothes. Fear gripped his heart, as he remembered those months of his aunt who died of breast cancer, and how she wasted away, thin like his Teach was now. He pulled her away from him and grasped her firmly by her shoulders. He scanned and studied her emaciated body. Her face was so different, yet eerily the same. His Katerina’s face was round, robust, and with rosy cheeks. This woman’s cheeks were concave, and her eyes were sunken in with dark circles. Her full shoulder-length, auburn hair made her look very different as it almost overwhelmed her frail, malnourished face.  He stood still as he studied her, and she remained still, watching his eyes roam her entire body. 
“What are you looking at?” She asked with annoyance. 
“Teach, what has happened to you?”
“I’m that ugly whore bitch, remember?” He shook his head. 
“No, I mean, you’re so thin. Are you sick? Oh, my God, you’re sick, you’re sick. Oh God no, please don’t take her away from me.” He pulled her into his chest and looked up to heaven as he pleaded for her life. “Oh God no, don’t let it be cancer, not my Teach. I just found her. What is it?”
“You don’t deserve to know anything about me. I hate you, now you get away from me. I don’t want anything to do with you. I love Scotty. I am going to marry him.” He picked up her left hand and it was bare. 
“The ring is gone. You don’t love him. Don’t do that to get back at me. Please, give me another chance. Don’t marry him. I need you. My life is so empty without you. I can fix this, I can, I know I can.” He wailed, begging her for another chance. “I’ll fix this. You don’t love him, Teach. You love me, or you did. Let me win you back, please?” 
“I do love him, not you. You were right. I finally saw him for the wonderful man he was. I do love him, and I want to marry him. I never want to see you, again, now let me go.” She shoved him causing him to stumble. While trying to retain his balance, he leaned his two hundred fifty pounds on top of her ninety pounds, and he caused her to fall into some trashcans.  
He started to pull her up when a strong hand pulled him back and slammed him against the wall with the back of his head slamming and bouncing off the wall. The shock of the contact and the force of the blow blinded him, and he blacked out for a few seconds. Searing pain on his neck from having his throat crushed, forced him to come to, as he gasped for air. He fought and he felt himself passing out, again. He heard a woman yelling, with her body sandwiched between him and the man crushing his throat.
His face became beet red. 
“Let go! Scotty, let go. You’re killing him! Let him go, please!” 
“Get out of the way, Katie, I’m going to kill him.” Rage was the ruling emotion that took over all control of Scotty, and seeing this man he hated assaulting his Katie, made him want to kill him all that much more. She continued to plead and scream at him, trying to save Nick’s life. 
“Please, Scotty, don’t! You’ll go to jail. I can’t live without you. I need you. I love you, let go!”  Katie dug her nails into Scotty’s arm, forcing him in a reflexive move to release him. 
Nick took in deep breaths trying to recapture the oxygen he was being denied. In his fogginess, and in his drunken blurred dizziness, he saw his Teach pushing a man who had his hands gripping her.  Protection mode went into over drive, and he pulled his Teach away from the man, inadvertently pushing her down. While the man was watching Katie going down, Nick wound up and punched the man as hard as he could knocking him down.  
He straddle the man, lifted him by his shirt, and hit him two more times, before he felt someone grab the back of his shirt and throw him down on the ground next to Katie. Nick laid next to Katie on the ground trying to get his bearings. The alcohol and the dizziness from the blow to the head put him in a complete fog. He watched as Katie crawled over on top of the man as he started to rise.   
“Katie-bear get off me! I’m going to kill him.” 
“No, Scotty, don’t, they will take you away from me. I can’t live without you.” 
When Nick looked into the eyes of the man, death was all he could read. His disorientation started to clear, and he finally realized who this man was. It was her deputy, and he was as strong as she testified. The pain in his nearly crushed throat lay witness to that fact. He started to get up to go toward Katie when he felt that hand pull him back, again, knocking him back down. 
“Stay down, you idiot,” Matthew said. “You okay, Kate?" Matthew asked looking back at her while holding Nick down.  
“I'm fine. It's Scotty that I'm worried about, Matthew. Help me calm him down. He’s going to kill him.” Scott was trying to get up and push Katie off him to get to Nick. Becca joined Katie and got on top of Scotty to get him to calm down. Katie grabbed his face in her hands. She forced him to stare into her face. “Scotty, look at me, look at my face, calm yourself. C’mon, Scotty, come back to me.” She attempted to pull him out of his uncontrollable rage. She was a victim once before to his tendency to leave the real world when he lost control in his rage, not knowing what he was doing. 
“Scotty, calm yourself,” Becca said holding his bicep.  Matthew held Nick down. Nick looked at Scotty who had death in his eyes. He then looked up at Matthew, who let him know just how stupid he was by ticking off a cop, an anger-driven, jealous cop. 
“You’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life, by hitting him. He'll make you pay for this, big time.” Matthew said. Nick backed off, and tried to survey what just happened. He tried to stand, and Scott yelled to Matthew. 
“Keep him on the ground, Matthew before I do kill him.” Nick watched his Teach in Scotty’s arms. Jealousy seethed in his heart as much as the pain in his head. Katie’s love brought Scotty back to the present reality, as he focused on her face and the panic in it. He started to breathe deep. 
“Scotty, don’t kill him. They’ll take you to jail. Stay calm. I need you. Sweetie, look at me, not him.” He blew out his rage and regained control of his thought process. He wanted to prove to the woman he loved that he could handle his anger.
“I got this, I got this. I won’t do anything that will take me away from you.” Scott said in a calm voice while he rose to a stand, pulling Katie up by holding her bony shoulders. “I’m fine. I’m okay, Katie-bear. I want to kill him, but I won’t. I’m good. I’m good. Are you okay, Katie-bear? He was hurting you, are you okay?” 
“He wasn’t hurting me, we tripped. I’m fine.” He brushed her clothes down, wiping any dirt from the sidewalk off her and inspecting her. 
“Are you sure you’re all right, honey?” He said checking her over for injuries. 
“I'm fine. I tripped. I'm fine,” she said leaning up against Scott's huge muscular chest and six-pack abs. She buried her thin frail body in his arms, locking Nick out of her head and heart. She was safe in Scotty’s arms and Nick could not reach her there. “I love you, Scotty. I hate him. I can’t live without you, Scotty.” 
Nick, confused from the alcohol and the blow to his head, thought they were in Indianapolis, and he needed to save his princess from this bully. “Take your hands off her,” a disoriented Nick yelled at Scotty, remembering Marianne telling Nick that Scotty beat Katie a few times. “Take your hands off my Teach, I’m going to kill you, let go of her.”  
Katie looked back at Nick, shaking her head in disgust and unaware of his disorientation. He continued to try and rise, shoving Matthew out of the way. “What the hell is wrong with you? Shut up. He’s a State Trooper. He can throw your butt in jail, after he breaks your face.” Scotty watched as Nick started toward him and Katie. 
“Yep, yep, and that is exactly what I'm gonna do,” He said as he lunged after a rising Nick who had gotten on his feet.  Scotty grabbed Nick’s arm, twisting it up his back and threw him against the wall again. This time the front of his head hit and bounced off the wall. Nick grunted and groaned in pain from his arm, feeling as if it were breaking.  
“Nick Thomas, you are under arrest for the assault of a peace officer and a citizen,” Scotty said as he pulled handcuffs out of his back pocket.   
“He carries handcuffs in his pocket?” Becca asked mocking Scotty. 
“Yep, he always has, and sometimes they come in handy,” Katie said, smiling and remembering a time they did.  
Seconds later, two police cruisers with their red and blue lights flashing and their sirens toning down pulled up with one officer in each cruiser. They both made a dash to rush Scotty, who was holding Nick up against the wall, having not seen the cuffs. One officer grabbed Scotty, pulling him off Nick. He saw the handcuffs, and then pointed at them with his head to the other officer who grabbed Nick.  
“My name is Scotty P. Wells, I’m a Kentucky State Trooper,” he said as the officer tugged him away from Nick. “I have detained this perp for assaulting a peace officer and a citizen.”    
“His ID and badge is in his left pocket, officer,” Katie said.   
“I’m on it, baby, I got this,” he said back to Katie with a smile on his face.  
He reached in his pocket with his free hand and pulled his badge and ID. The police officer who was holding him, let go of his arm.  
The other officer had Nick by the arm, as he started to sway. Seeing the blood on his forehead, the officer sat Nick down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. That officer watched Scotty as he was identifying himself. 
When no one was watching, Nick fell over, losing consciousness. Nick’s drunkenness combined with the knot on the back of his head put him in a whirlwind of dizziness and into a dreamlike state. Dozens of sounds taunted him as if they were voices clanging as symbols and instruments of an orchestra warming up to play a concerto. Faces in meet and greet lines flashed before his eyes. Visions of him bending down to shake hands, hugging fans, and taking picture after picture with them flashed before him in a whirlwind collage in his head. 
Katie turned to Nick when she saw him down in her peripheral vision. Seeing a small puddle of blood on the sidewalk, drained all the anger out of her and flooded her heart with panic.  
“Becca, oh my God, he’s not moving!” Katie dove to the ground where Nick laid. She sat down, lifted his head and put it on her lap, fearing the worst. “Oh, my God, I think he’s killed him!” Becca rushed over to Nick and they gently turned Nick over so he would be facing Becca as she checked his respirations. “Oh please, God, don’t let him die on me, too!” 
Katie’s pleading to God for the life of this country music superstar, one of the many who had crushed her already jigsaw-puzzled heart, caught the attention of Scotty. He began to nurse his own brand of anger toward Katie for her returning devotion to this playboy cad.  
“He’s breathing Kate.” Becca, the nurse practitioner, said to comfort her sister-in-law of nearly eighteen years. She then went into her trauma nursepractitioner mode to tend to Nick’s wounds. 
“Thank you Jesus, thank you God,” Katie said with her panic and fear somewhat subsiding. Katie noted the cut on his head and blood dripping down the side of his forehead onto her hands and pant leg. “I need a cloth or a towel, somebody, please. Becca come look at this cut.”
“Oh my, that’s deep. He’ll need stitches. We need a unit here, right away, he has a head injury,” Becca told the officer who then leaned in to his radio clipped to his shoulder and called for an ambulance. “Please un-cuff him,” she asked of the officer.
“Ma’am, we’re not supposed to un-cuff them.” 
“For crying out loud, he’s injured very badly, now get the stinkin’ key and un-cuff him,” Katie said in anger. 
The officer signaled for the key and another brought it over and un-cuffed Nick. Scotty watched from a few feet away as Katie held Nick’s head in her lap, noting the panic in her voice.  
“Try to stir him and wake him,” Becca said. Katie began to call to him. 
“Nick, wake up, open your eyes.” He started to groan a bit.
“That’s good, keep talking to him, see if you can wake him completely, and get him talking.” 
“Becca, is this from the head injury, or the drunkenness?”
“I’m not sure, Katie, so just keep talking to him.” Katie was handed a dry bar towel, by a witness on the scene who then backed away. She applied pressure to his forehead by putting her other hand behind his head. She pulled her hand out to investigate when she felt moisture on her hand and saw her hand covered in blood.  
“Oh my God, he’s bleeding in the back of his head.” Becca lifted his head and found a huge bump with a gash on it.  
“It’s a big goose egg, I need an ice pack,” Becca called into the spectators. Katie felt the bump with her bloodied hand.  
“Goose egg, for crying out loud, it’s a pterodactyl egg.”
“Let’s try to wake him.” Becca and Katie started calling his name. “Mr. Thomas, wake up.” Matthew joined in the chorus of those worrying on the sidewalk.
“Mr. Thomas, please wake up.” A couple of more police units had joined the mayhem, and the officers had backed up the crowd, giving them a safe circle around them. A third police officer brought to Becca an ice pack from his first-aid box in his cruiser. She applied it to the back of Nick’s head. 
“Nicolas Paul, wake up. C’mon PC, now open your eyes. Look at me,” Katie said. Nick’s eyes started to crack open. “That’s right, open your eyes. Wake up, right now, you big oaf.” 
Nick heard his Teach’s voice, noting the panic in her voice. He was confused as to where he was in time, space, and reality.  
“Princess, I’m here. You can come to me. Everything is going to be okay,” he said keeping his eyes closed. Becca and Katie eyed each other. Katie started shivering from the cold. Becca noted Katie’s shivering and called to her husband. 
“Matthew, your jacket, Katie’s cold.” Matthew removed his jacket and put it around her shoulders.
“Put your arms in the sleeves,” Matthew said. Katie removed the jacket from her shoulders and laid it across Nick’s sprawled out body. 
“He needs it more, right Becca?” 
“We should keep him warm, she’s right about that.” 
“I’m fine, Becca.” Nick heard the two people arguing with Katie and a semi-conscious Nick involved himself in the argument, concerned about the chill on his Princess Cindy, recalling the fights he had with her regarding his jacket two years prior on that magical.  
“Princess, put on my jacket, right now. It’s cold,” he said. Katie covered his mouth with her hand. 
“Shhh! Geez, you want the whole world to know?” She asked, referring to her secret status as his long lost love, whom he called his Princess Cindy in his album’s liner’s notes.
“Kath er-eena,” he said in his best attempt at an Italian accent. “Stop being such a firecracker, and put that jacket on, right now,” he demanded.  
“Kath-er-enna?” Becca asked.
“Yeah, I told him that my Italian grandmother used to call me Keth-erreena,” she said using her best Italian accent. 
“Kat, my Keth-er-eena,” Nick said to correct her in a much improved Italian accent. 
“Not bad, been practicing, huh?” Nick was quiet. “He liked Kat. I told him whatever he wanted to call me was fine, and Princess Cindy seemed to reign as his favorite,” she said whispering and smiling with the pleasant memory it brought back to her. That warm smile did not go unnoticed by Becca and Matthew, and it had them winking toward one another in agreement that her love was still alive, just buried under the hurt and anger. 
“You never told us that,” Matthew said looking over at Katie. She shrugged her shoulders, and stuck out her bottom lip. . 
“So, I didn’t tell you everything.”  
“Yeah, like she let her hair down, four times, Matthew. She is sneaky, like you said,” he reported still with his eyes clothes. She slapped the top of his back slightly. “Shawn told me, you had that fourth drink, you bratty princess,” Nick added in a foggy and raspy voice. 
“Shut up, you titanic tattle tale.” She raised her head to look at Matthew. Becca chuckled. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Matthew, he’s got a head injury.” 
“Kate, four drinks?” Matthew asked tilting his head in disgust. 
“Then she got naked in a body of water,” Nick said with his eyes still closed in his feeble slurring voice. Katie’s eyes bugged out, and she slightly slapped him in the arm. “I tried not to look, but I saw her reflection in the window, by accident.” Katie lowered her head near his ear.
“By accident?” Katie asked. “You liar. He’s a pig, Becca, a typical man.” 
“If you weren’t naked in the pool, Kate, he wouldn’t have seen anything,” Matthew said reprimanding her.
“Matthew, that was two years ago, you can’t hold that against me.” He crossed his arms across his chest in chastisement. 
“I didn’t do anything. I promised I wouldn’t, even after she begged, I kept my word.” Katie’s eyes widened, again. Her eyebrows lifted and her mouth opened. She shook her head. 
“You begged?” Becca asked her, chuckling at the thought. Katie shook her head in disgust. Matthew stared her down, surprised at his sister-in-law, especially on that particular day.
“Damn you, I did not, he’s lying. Shut up you slimy stupid star,” she said looking down at Nick whose eyes were still closed. 
“Kate, your language,” Matthew said with shock and disapproval.  
“You fink, I’m done here. I’m going to go get your Kimmie, so she can hold your head.” She started to hoist her tiny frail and weakened body to a stand. 
“I don’t have a Kimmie, or a girlfriend. I just have my Teach. I only love her. I have to calm her. She went to the ladies’ room, because I upset her. She hasn’t come back yet. Toni’s gone to look for her. I’m worried.”  
This proclamation from a barely conscious Nick softened Katie’s stance. The memory of her confession that night and the closeness that brought their hearts together then drew her back to him on that sidewalk. She sat back down and laid his bloodied head tenderly on her lap. 
“Mr. Thomas, where are you?” Becca asked. 
“Indianapolis with my Teach, but she’s panicking. I don’t know why. I have to calm her.”
“I am here, and I’m calm,” she said to soothe him. 
“Oh, good, Teach, I’m glad. It’s all going to be okay. Right now, I’m really tired. I’m going to take a quick little nap.” 
“Mr. Thomas, wake up, don’t go to sleep,” Becca said, calling to him and shaking his still body.  


Chapter 6 Facing the Music



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Chapter 24 HOW TO DROP A COCKY COUNTRY SINGER  Nick’s nervous energy would not let him stop wiggling all morning, as he  laid i...