Every cell in her body snapped wide awake. Lifting her eyelids, she just stared at the ceiling through gritty eyes. Her heart thumped, her throat moving convulsively as she swallowed. She hated that he could still do this to her, hated it, but her visceral response to Noah wasn’t something she could stop. She knew because she’d tried for the past two years and three months.
“Noah,” she said flatly. “Do you know what time it is?”
“Two fifteen,” he answered.
Kit should’ve hung up. God, he’d hurt her. So much. But there was something in his voice that had her sitting up. “Are you drunk?” One thing she knew about Noah: no matter his bad-boy rep, he was never wasted. He might give a good indication of it, but look closely and those dark gray eyes were always sober.
“Probably.” A silence, followed by, “I just wanted to hear your voice. Sorry for waking you.”
“Wait,” she said when he would’ve hung up. “Where are you?”
“Some dive.” He took a deep breath, released it in a harsh exhale. “I’m sorry for being an asshole. I wanted to tell you that. I don’t want to go without saying that.”
“Noah,” she said, a horrible feeling in her stomach. “Where exactly are you?”
“The Blue Flamingo Inn off Hollywood Boulevard. Far, far, far off.” He laughed, and it held no humor. “It has a neon sign of a blue—surprise!—flamingo that’s flashing right through my window. Looks like someone stole the curtains.”
Having already grabbed her laptop, which she’d left beside the bed after answering some e-mails before sleep claimed her, she found the Blue Flamingo Inn. But Noah was already gone, having said, “I love your voice, Kit,” in an oddly raw tone before hanging up.
He didn’t pick up when she called back.
“Damn it! Damn it!” She shoved aside the blanket under which she’d been buried, having turned the AC to ice-cold as she usually did at night. Shivering, she tugged on a pair of jeans and an old sweatshirt over the panties and tank top in which she’d gone to sleep.
Pulling her black hair into a rough ponytail to keep it out of her eyes, she ran through the house, phone in one pocket, credit card and driver’s license in the other. In the kitchen, she grabbed her keys off the counter and shoved her feet into the tennis shoes by the door that led to the garage.
She was in her car and on the way to the motel three minutes after Noah had hung up, mouth dry and an ugliness in her gut. “Please be okay, please be okay, please be okay,” she kept saying, the mantra doing nothing to calm her down, but at least it kept her mind focused.
She wanted to call Molly and Fox, or the others in the band, but no one was currently in the city. Schoolboy Choir had completed the final show in the band’s hugely successful tour just over two weeks earlier. Day after that, they’d all gone their separate ways to recharge and regroup.
“Much as I love these guys,” David had said with a grin that reached the dark gold of his eyes, “I’ve been looking at their ugly mugs daily for months. We need to go blow off some steam separately before we start snarling at each other.”
At the time, Kit had nodded in understanding, having had that same experience while working on location for long periods. Tonight, however, she wished the others were all here, not scattered across the country, because something was very wrong with Noah.
“Noah doesn’t do drugs,” she told herself as she drove as fast as she dared, not wanting to risk getting pulled over and further delayed. “He isn’t the kind to—” She couldn’t say it, couldn’t even think of Noah ending his life. “No,” she said firmly, her hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel. “Noah isn’t like that.”
He might be a bastard, but he’d never hurt his friends and family by committing suicide. His sister was only twenty-one, and Noah adored her. If nothing else, his need to protect Emily from their overbearing parents should keep him from doing anything stupid… anything irreversible.
Her phone began to beep. Reaching out, she pressed the button to activate the Bluetooth speaker and microphone. “I’m fine,” she said to her security service.
“Casey’s in the car behind you.”
Kit’s eyes flicked to the lights in her rearview mirror, unsurprised the bodyguard had caught up to her even though she’d taken off like a bat out of hell. She’d hired Casey and Butch and their team because they were damn good, but tonight she needed to be alone; whatever happened, Noah would shut down if a stranger walked in beside her.