Kit’s head felt stuffy, her eyes hot. She wanted to argue with Thea, but she knew the other woman was right: the world wasn’t fair. Everyone wanted their silver screen idols to be winners in real life too. Even her superhero movie might tank if people began to pity her. Kickass superheroes didn’t get dumped.
And still… “No, Thea,” she whispered, her throat raw. “I won’t use Noah that way.” It wasn’t his fault this had spun out of control.
“He’s your friend—”
“No,” Kit said again, conscious Thea was operating with a handicap. She didn’t know Kit and Noah’s history, didn’t know that not only would Kit not force Noah into an untenable position, she wasn’t sure her heart could take the charade. She was too afraid it’d start to believe the illusion was real.
“Kit, this is serious.”
“I know. I’ll take my chances.” She’d started out in the movies in a low-budget film—she’d do that again. No matter how much damage this did to her image, she was still an Oscar-nominated actress. Someone would hire her, and even if her career trajectory took a dip, it wouldn’t be forever. She’d make it back out.
Strong thoughts, but as she hung up, her mind raced like a rabbit, her skin hot. She’d worked so hard for her career, and it was all about to go up in smoke. Heat suddenly turned to ice. The cosmetics contract she was relying on to get her out of a huge financial hole wasn’t yet final… and there was every likelihood Noah would pick up a woman again tonight.
Kit pressed her fists to her closed eyes but couldn’t stop her mind from thundering ahead, couldn’t stop her gut from roiling.
The blowback would begin the instant Noah’s latest sexual conquest hit the tabloids. Chances were high she’d lose that contract. Nobody wanted to buy anything from a loser.
Eyes gritty, she wondered how it had all gone so wrong.
Noah was out by the pool listening to music, hoarding the memories from last night, and fixing a broken string on his oldest Breedlove guitar, when his phone chimed. Seeing Thea’s name on the screen, he put it on speaker so he could continue to work while he spoke with her.
“Hey, doll,” he said, grinning as he used a term that was so not Thea. “David want something?”
“No, I want something.”
“Yeah? What can the PR goddess want with a mere mortal?” Frowning in concentration, he checked the tension. “I already did my quota of publicity.”
“It’s about Kit.”
All at once, she had his absolute attention. Propping the guitar against the table on which his phone sat, he took the phone off speaker and put it to his ear. “What about Kit?”
As Thea spoke, he felt his lips curve. “That’s fucking great,” he said after she told him about Kit being in the running for Redemption.
“Only if you can keep it in your pants.”
Hand clenching on the phone at the razor-sharp words, he said, “You’d better explain that.”
When she did, he just stared out at the cold, clear water of the pool. “You’re serious? If we don’t pull off the happy-couple routine, it could crash her career?”
“The damage potential is high.” Thea spelled it out for him.
Elbows braced on his thighs, Noah wondered exactly how pissed Kit was at him right then. “What does Kit say?”
“She’ll probably fire me for going over her head, but I’m not a publicist because I’m a quivering lily. This could hurt her badly, Noah.” The sound of messages coming in on what might’ve been Thea’s computer. “She says she doesn’t want to use you, but it would be mutual. Schoolboy Choir fans are just as excited about the hookup—I’ve been watching it trend across social media since the news hit.”
“I don’t care about my profile or the band’s.” Noah fisted his free hand, bones pushing white against skin. “If Kit needs me, I’m there.”
“Can you keep it in your pants while you’re officially together?” Blunt as an ax, Thea kept going. “Because if you can’t, then I have to start putting out denials and you two have to laugh off any relationship rumors. We can mitigate the damage at least. If only you and Kit hadn’t looked so cozy—Oh fuck!”
Noah sat up. Thea rarely swore. Whatever the situation, she handled it. “What?” he asked. “Goddammit, Thea, what?”
“Did you two sneak off for your own little picnic last night?” Thea sounded like she was gnashing her teeth. “It looks like a waitress followed you, got a photograph. It’s not the best shot, but added to the red carpet photos and the waitress’s story of how ‘adorable’ you two were being, this makes damage control a pipe dream. No one’s going to believe a denial, and it’ll all turn to shit the instant you’re seen with another woman.”