Noah had wanted to dance with Kit for so long, to feel the music through her body. He’d never permitted himself the pleasure, never allowed himself to put his hands on her. Because whatever he touched, he destroyed.
Continuing to play when Fox broke off to grab Molly’s ringing phone to pass to her, he segued into a romantic little ballad that let David twirl Thea. Schoolboy Choir’s usually sharply dressed publicist was barefoot and in an at-home outfit of white shorts and a cherry-pink top, the straps fine against her honey-gold skin, her black hair sleek down her back.
I could do what David did, win my girl.
It was a tiny whisper, from the boy he’d once been. Noah ignored it. If he tried to be with Kit, he’d mess her up so badly nothing would ever put her back together again. Friendship was all he could aim for, hope for.
Coming back into the room after having taken her call by the pool, Molly went back to dancing, this time with Fox. Abe relaxed in the armchair next to the one where Noah sat and, after a short pause, began to sing.
Abe didn’t have Fox’s ferocious vocal cords, but he had a bluesy tone to his voice that was perfect for this night, this moment. And the words he sang, they were gentle, undemanding, yet compelling all the same.
“You could go solo,” Noah said when the song ended.
“So could you, dipshit.”
Lips curving, Noah shook his head. “Me? I’m just a pretty face.”
“And I’m just a schmuck piano player.”
Fox, having caught their conversation, spun Molly to hold her from the back, his arms crossed over her waist. “And David’s just the drum guy, while I can sing some. We are who we are together.”
“We’re better than who we are alone.” David sat down, tugging Thea onto his lap, her long legs hooked over the arm of the chair as she wrapped one arm around his shoulders.
“You aren’t better,” Thea said with an arched eyebrow. “You’re phenomenal. Split you up and you’d be good, perhaps even great, but it wouldn’t be this magic.”
“I’m too lazy to go solo anyway,” Abe drawled. “At least this way, I get a breather during concerts when you showboats take over.”
“Fuck you,” Fox and Noah said in stereo while David fist-bumped Abe.
And he was okay. For tonight, for this instant in time, he was okay. As long as he didn’t think about the fact that some other man was probably putting his hands on Kit right now.
Kit crawled into a cold bed and stared up at the ceiling. She’d had fun with Terrence, but when he’d kissed her good night, all she’d felt was a keening, horrible pain. Because it wasn’t Noah, wouldn’t ever be Noah.
I fuck everything female that moves. I don’t want that with you.
Those words were important, she knew that, but they also hurt. So much. It would’ve been easy to say yes to the invitation in Terrence’s eyes, to ask him in, to lose herself in his body. He was handsome and kind and her friend.
And she couldn’t use him that way.
“I’m not ready,” she’d admitted to him. “I… I’m getting over someone.”
To his credit, he’d cupped her face with slender writer’s hands that felt too smooth against her skin, kissed her on the forehead. “I was starting to get that vibe.” A warm smile. “Feel free to rebound on me. Anytime you need a date or a plus one¸ I’m here for you.”
Throat thick with emotion, she’d hugged him tight. “Thank you,” she’d whispered, drawing in his scent—and that scent, it wasn’t right, wasn’t of the man she should’ve been hugging.
It was all so frustrating and stupid.
“And,” Terrence had added, “I’d like to keep seeing you if you don’t mind. We can go as slow as you like. I don’t want to stop and try to start all over again now that we’ve discovered we can have a good time together, just the two of us.”
Kit’s heart had hurt, but she’d nodded. “Yes, I’d like that.” Then she’d remembered her one prior engagement. “I promised Noah I’d go with him to a charity gala next Saturday, but we’re not dating or anything.”
Terrence’s smile had been open, his hazel eyes clear. “I know that, Kit. Everyone knows you and the Schoolboy Choir guys are tight—if you’d intended to date one of them, you’d have done it by now.” A deeper smile. “I won’t throw a jealous fit if the tabloids report it as a clandestine love affair.”