Kevin's kept her a secret all these years. Now he has to tell his friends that he has a daughter.
“Sorry guys,” he said to the group before answering his phone. “Hello? No, I can’t, not right now. Well I’m sorry, but that’s not what we agreed. You can’t just- what?! Fine.” He hung up. When he turned around everyone looked at him with confused expressions, wondering what on earth the phone call had been about. “I’ll be right back.” He quickly exited the room and headed down to the first floor. He got off the elevator just as a small girl entered the building.
“Daddy!” she yelled, running towards him with complete abandon. She didn’t get to see her father as often as she liked, so when she did see him her excitement knew no limits. He kneeled down and held his arms open, enveloping her in a bear hug.
“Hey Casey, how are you?”
“I’m good. Mom gave me a snack before we left home and told me I was going to see you today.”
Kevin quickly looked up towards the glass doors. He saw the familiar rust colored station wagon pulling away from the curb. He just barely caught a glimpse of dark brown hair on the driver of the vehicle.
Diane. His junior high sweetheart. They’d liked each other all through the middle school years. He remembered the first time he saw her and how his palms started sweating. He got tongue tied the first time they spoke, and she laughed when he stuttered over his words. Still, she agreed to “go out” with him. Neither really knew what that meant, but other kids were doing it. At the end of eighth grade, he brought her back to his house when his parents were out at a dinner party. One thing led to another and unexpectedly they found themselves giving in to their hormones. They stopped going out after that, unsure of how to handle things after sleeping together. Then a few weeks into summer, Diane called him and told him she was pregnant.
He was stunned. Pregnant? That meant they’d be parents. They had unintentionally created a child. They agreed to keep the child, knowing it wasn’t the child’s fault that it was alive. Kevin offered to stay with her and marry her when they were of age, but she told him no. She wanted to raise the child by herself, with her family. She agreed to let him see the baby and be part of its life though.
Kevin moved to Florida after high school, getting a job as a performer at Disneyworld. Diane followed him so he could still remain close to their daughter, Cassandra Marie Emerson. They’d named her together. He allowed Diane to give Cassandra her last name rather than his, since she was living with her mother. Then he’d become part of a new pop group, the Backstreet Boys, and his time with Cassandra became more limited.
His cousin Brian, whom he shared an apartment with along with another band mate, found out about Cassandra when Diane dropped her off one day. None of the other three members of the group knew about her though, and he planned on keeping it that way. That is, until now. He returned his attention to his daughter, who was holding her arms out, indicating she wanted to be picked up.
He picked her up and twirled her around before setting her back down. Born premature, she was a petite girl, and thankfully hadn’t inherited Kevin’s height. He rode the elevator back up and listened to her tell him all about her day at the beach over the weekend. He remembered when he took her to the beach with Brian a few years ago, during which Brian had endearingly given her the nickname Casey because she couldn’t pronounce “Cassie”. She loved it so much she demanded everyone call her by it rather than her full name. The elevator reached their floor and he walked towards the meeting room.
“Casey, I have to work right now, so will you be a good girl and be quiet while I finish up talking?” She nodded enthusiastically. “Good girl. I promise it won’t be too long. And Uncle Brian is here.”
“Yay!” She had started calling his cousin “Uncle Brian” out of respect and love, being one of the only other adult men in her life.
Diane kept in touch with him, updating him whenever they spent time together with Casey. She never brought men home, and rarely dated. She didn’t want to make anymore mistakes with Casey around to witness. Kevin admired and respected her for that.
Upon entering the room with his little girl, all conversation stopped. Casey, oblivious to the sudden attention directed at her, squealed when she saw Brian. Kevin let go of her hand and she ran over to him.
“Hey Casey, how are you?” He walked over to the side of the room with her, entertaining her with his Donald Duck voice.
“Who’s that?” Howie asked Kevin after their manager had finished filling Kevin in on the final decisions. AJ and Nick listened to Kevin’s answer, just as eager to find out about the mystery girl.
“She’s my daughter,” Kevin told them. He briefly explained the circumstances of her birth, leaving out anything unnecessary. “Apparently Diane had a job interview and couldn’t take Casey with her, so she dropped her off here.”
“So that’s who called you earlier?” AJ asked. Kevin nodded.
The guys were in shock, learning that their “father figure” in the group had done something so out of character. Meanwhile Casey motioned for Brian to lean in towards her so she could whisper something in his ear.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” She looked so embarrassed that Brian couldn’t help but smile.
“How about I show you where the ladies’ room is then?” She nodded and he led her by the hand out into the hall. Just before he left, though, he mouthed the word “bathroom” to Kevin so he knew where Brian was taking Casey. They were only gone for a few minutes. Upon returning, Casey ran over to Kevin.
“Casey, I’d like to introduce you to my friends. This is Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, and Nick Carter. Guys, this is my daughter, Casey.”
“It’s nice to meet you all,” she said, shaking hands with each person. “I’m eight years old.” They smiled and returned her greeting, all taken in by her sweetness and openness.
Kevin left shortly after, accompanied by Brian, and headed back to their apartment. He stopped at McDonald’s to get Casey dinner. That night, he let Casey sleep in bed with him rather than on the couch, and sang her to sleep. Diane picked her up early the next morning, letting him know that she’d gotten the job, and she promised that she would never drop Casey off like that again after apologizing.