She half smiled, half shook her head at him as she turned the coat over so it was the inside surface that touched the carpet. Sitting down, she said, “Your shirt might get dirty, but at least you’ll be respectable when we sneak back in.”
“Good thinking.” He tried not to watch as she kicked off her heels and flexed her feet. The red lines the straps had made on each foot looked as if they could do with a massage, and he almost offered. Only he didn’t think he could have Kit’s foot in his lap and not betray how much he wanted her.
Not for fucking, for everything.
“Mmm.” She bit into a toasted little rectangle of bread topped with what might’ve been hummus and sun-dried tomato.
Her lips pressed together in pleasure so lush that— Shut it the hell down, Noah.
“Try this one.” Head bent to the tray, Kit picked up something on a toothpick. “I think it’s a prune wrapped in bacon and roasted.”
Thankful for the shadows that hid his internal battle, he accepted the dubious-sounding piece of food. His eyes widened on tasting it. “This is seriously good shit.”
“I know.” Kit ate two before dropping the toothpicks on the tiny pile they’d made on one side of the tray. “I always used to think this place would be creepy at night, but it’s kind of fun.”
The ensuing fifteen minutes passed by in a heartbeat. Afterward, Noah couldn’t have said what they spoke about, only that it felt like it had before—when Kit had smiled at him without masks and he’d been able to breathe. No weight pressing down on his chest, no knots twisting his guts. When he was with Kit like this, he could breathe.
“We should go back,” she said too soon, and he imagined he heard reluctance. “The auction will be over in a few minutes, and people will notice if you’re not there.”
Noah didn’t think he was the one who was the shining star, but he knew she was right. Someone was always looking for a story. Shrugging into his jacket, he stood in place while Kit went around the back and brushed it off.
“It’s not wrinkled enough that anyone will notice, especially with the gentle lighting.”
Picking up the tray while Kit grabbed the empty glasses after slipping on her shoes, they snuck back in, leaving the incriminating items on a table by the door and merging smoothly back into the gala.
He received the message from Thea less than a minute after that. “Bullshit,” he muttered, staring at the phone screen in disbelief. “You two are punking me, right?”
Peeking when he turned the phone in her direction, Kit grinned. “Konnichiwa,” she said in an oh-so-helpful tone. “It means ‘hello’ in Japanese.”
He scowled even though he just wanted to watch that silent laughter in the amber of her eyes. “I’m going to murder the damn designer who called her.”
“I think he has good taste,” Kit said, her smile even deeper. “You rock a tux.”
Okay, yeah, it felt good to hear her say that. Worth a trip to a gardener in Japan.
When the music started up seconds later, the final round of bidding complete, Noah could no longer fight his need. Waiting only until there were enough couples on the floor that they wouldn’t stand out, he leaned down to Kit’s ear. “Dance with me?”
Her lashes lifted, her eyes holding his for a potent moment that hung endlessly in time before she nodded. They moved as one onto the dance floor, one of Kit’s hands in his, his other arm around her waist, her free hand on his shoulder, fingers almost brushing his neck.
Noah danced often, onstage and in the clubs he hit with the others in the band, but never had a dance meant more. Swaying to the classical sounds filling the room, Kit in his arms, he felt… happy.
But the clock eventually had to strike midnight, and he had to take Kit home, watch her step inside. When she closed the door, she took the happiness with her.
Kit was dreaming of Noah’s arms around her, music soft in the air and the world beyond nothing but a hazy mirage, when that world intruded with a persistent and highly annoying ringtone. She came awake on a groan. That was her landline. Only a rare few people had the number, and if one of them was calling her at—she cracked open an eyelid—six in the morning, then it had to be important.
Stumbling to the kitchen where she last remembered seeing the cordless receiver, she managed to push the right button to answer it. “Hello.” It came out a mumble.
“Go throw some water on your face and get a cup of coffee,” Thea ordered. “I’ll call back in three minutes.”