Casey's identity is discovered and Kevin has to do damage control.
“How old is your daughter, Kevin?”
“How long will she be on tour with you?”
“Who’s her mother?”
“Did you raise her or did her mother?”
More questions were shouted, and cameras flashed all around as pictures were constantly being taken. The paparazzi kept inching closer to Casey, beginning to shout questions at her about her father and her personal life. Some of the questions were outrageously inappropriate. She tried to focus on something, but was overwhelmed by the group surrounding her. She felt like she was suffocating.
“Get her in the bus!” Kevin shouted from the front of their small group.
Nick grabbed Casey and dragged her onto the bus. It was clear she was shocked by the events. He got in the bus, followed by Brian who shut the door. Howie and AJ got on the other bus. Kevin stayed outside to fend off the media. While Brian made sure all the blinds on the bus were closed, Nick stood holding Casey. She was trembling, and he knew he needed to do something. Nothing came to mind, so his instincts took over and he pulled her into her arms and hugged her tightly. He stroked her hair and whispered in her ears. Brian stood to the side, saying nothing. After several minutes, Casey stopped trembling and looked up at Nick.
“Thanks,” she told him.
Without meaning to, she leaned towards him. He drew her closer, and leaned towards her as if he was going to kiss her. Just before their lips met, Kevin burst into the bus and slammed the door shut on the shouting reporters outside. The two quickly separated themselves before Kevin noticed.
“What happened?” Brian asked. Kevin sat down and ran his hand through his hair. He let out a sigh before speaking.
“Apparently someone told them that Casey, the mysterious girl on tour with us, was my daughter. They didn’t need much proof to convince the media, who jumped at the chance for such a big story: ‘Kevin Richardson has illegitimate child,’ or some such title. I don’t know who leaked the information, but I plan to find out. I’m going to give a press conference as soon as possible, to keep them from printing any rumors they might hear, or create. It’ll be in two days, on our day off. That should give me enough time to figure out what I’m going to say, and to hopefully find their informant.”
No one spoke for a minute, processing the information. Kevin hated having Casey brought into the spotlight in such a forceful way, but she was exposed now and there was nothing any of them could do. It was up to him to do damage control. Brian wanted to be there for his cousin during this time. He could only imagine how he felt; he would hate it if someone suddenly shoved his family into the spotlight and demanded information. Nick felt sorry for Kevin, assuming he felt betrayed because someone had told the media about Casey. He also felt sorry for whomever that was when Kevin found out. But he was more worried about Casey. She had no idea how her life was about to change. He promised himself he’d help her in whatever way he could.
“Will I have to be at the press conference?” Casey said softly, breaking the silence. She slowly sat down next to her father. Kevin’s head snapped up and he looked at her.
“God, no! I don’t want you anywhere near the press conference. You’re going to be in the hotel, as far away from the paparazzi as I can keep you. Brian, I’m planning on doing this press conference alone, or do you think you and the guys should be there too?”
“No, I think you’re right to do it alone. Involving us isn’t necessary as it’s just you and Casey they’re interested in. We’ll stay at the hotel with Casey while you’re out.”
That settled, everyone climbed into their bunks and waited for the buses to arrive at the hotel. Once they arrived, Brian and Nick filled in AJ and Howie while Kevin went with Casey to her room.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I think so. I was just so surprised when they jumped out and started shouting and taking pictures. I was blinded from the flashes and couldn’t hear myself think. I was relieved when Nick got me into the bus.”
“I’m sorry that happened. They were never supposed to find out about you.”
“It’s okay, Dad. You weren’t going to be able to keep me a secret forever, we both knew that. Yes, it would have been nice if it had happened differently, but it’s done now, and I know you’ll do your best to keep me safe.” Casey hugged her dad, thinking he probably needed it. After a few more minutes of talking, Kevin left her to get some sleep.
The next day, Kevin made Casey stay on the bus to keep her out of sight of the paparazzi, who he knew were hiding somewhere nearby. After the concert, he spent the remainder of his free time preparing for the press conference.
Casey waited with the four guys in her room. They tried to talk her out of her decision to watch the press conference on television, but she refused to listen to them. She knew it was smart to stay at the hotel, rather than risk being seen at the press conference and asked questions, but that wouldn’t keep her from finding out exactly what happened. She knew her father wouldn’t tell her everything if he thought it was in her best interest. So she turned on the TV and watched as her father sat down and the press starting firing questions at him. He took control of the situation though and answered one at a time.
He told the press she was his daughter, though avoided her age. He didn’t want to make public his early mistake. He explained briefly about her upbringing with Diane, his relationship with both mother and daughter, and Diane’s recent death. The reporters asked about his decision concerning bringing her on tour, and he explained the arrangement he and Casey agreed upon. By the end of the press conference, he’d told them everything they needed to know to write their stories without inventing things to make them interesting, while keeping details of Casey’s life private. He allowed one final question before he ended it.
“Is it true that your daughter is in a relationship with fellow band mate Nick Carter?”
Casey watched as Kevin reacted by not reacting. He sat frozen for a few seconds before clearing his throat. She noticed the care he took to keep emotion off his face, though she knew he’d have a few words to say when he got back to the hotel.
“Casey is not, nor has she ever been, in a relationship with Nick. Thank you all for coming.” Kevin then stood up and left the stage.
Once out of sight of the media, Kevin breathed slow, deep breaths to calm himself. He nearly jumped off stage when that reporter asked her final question. He knew rumors like that were bound to circulate, and he wanted to put an end to them as quickly as possible to keep Casey from getting hurt. He knew from experience how brutal the media could be.
Meanwhile, Casey sat staring at the TV. She’d turned it off, but had been surprised by the last question. She thought since no one brought up personal questions of that nature earlier, no one would. But she was wrong. Brian chuckled quietly behind her, so she turned towards him.
“What’s so funny?”
“Just how you and Kevin are more alike than either of you will admit.” Casey stared at him, waiting for him to explain himself. “When that question was asked, both you and Kevin got this look on your face like you were concentrating really hard. I imagine Kevin was trying to control his emotions and through them his response. As for you, I can only guess what you were thinking.”
Casey knew Brian wasn’t saying everything. The others had left after she turned off the TV, but Brian had opted to wait with her for Kevin. He’d encouraged Nick not to wait after hearing the last question. Nick agreed. So without anyone else to overhear, she told Brian to tell her what he was really thinking.
“I was thinking about your thoughtful expression during the last question and about what you were most likely thinking about. I’ve seen the way you and Nick act around each other, and I’m not stupid, at least not that stupid.” Casey smiled, though the smile faded when he spoke again. “You both like each other. I know Kevin’s given you a hard time about that subject, and I know we all know why. Still, I think you and Nick need to talk about your feelings for each other before something happens you’ll later regret. No, don’t interrupt me. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, just make a suggestion. After all, you asked me what I was thinking. And now I think we ought to change the subject before Kevin gets back. I doubt you want to discuss this with him around.”
Casey agreed. When Kevin returned, she opened the door for him and gave him a hug. They spent the rest of the day relaxing, and talking about what changes would occur with Casey’s identity now revealed.