No answer from Noah.
When she glanced over at the passenger seat, it was to find that he’d either fallen asleep or passed out, his head leaning against the window. Stopping at the lights, she reached out to check his pulse to make sure it was a natural sleep. He mumbled something at the touch of her fingertips, his pulse strong.
Relieved, she alerted Casey she was on her way back, then drove straight home. Once there and parked inside the garage, she went around to open Noah’s door and was faced with the prospect of either leaving him in the car or trying to haul him inside.
“Noah,” she said, forcing herself to grab one of his muscled shoulders and shake. “Wake up if you want to sleep in a bed.”
“Not your bed,” he mumbled.
Kit tried not to let his words draw blood. “Yeah, you’ve made that clear. Now get up.”
Eyes opening, though his lashes were heavy, he stumbled out and wrapped one arm around her shoulders. “Hi, Katie.” He nuzzled at her hair. “I missed you.”
Tears so close to the surface that they were about half a minute away at most, she managed to bully, push, and lead him to one of the spare bedrooms—where he flopped facedown on the bed and went immediately back to sleep. Realizing he was wearing his boots as well as his belt with its heavy silver buckle, along with old black jeans, she thought she should do something to make him more comfortable, but she’d hit her limit.
She paused only long enough to put a blanket over him because she knew how much he hated her liking for cold temperatures at night. Leaving the guest bedroom, she went into her own, stripped off, stepped into the attached shower, and cried until she had no more tears in her.
Her chest hurt by the end, her throat was raw, her nose stuffy. But she was an actress, knew all the tricks. Grabbing a cold pack from the fridge, she lay down on the bed with it over her eyes. She still had forty-five minutes before she had to leave for the studio. Plenty of time for her to become Kathleen Devigny again, sophisticated, talented, and far too intelligent to have her heart broken a second time by a rock star who had never loved her like she’d loved him.
Noah woke to the sound of a drumbeat loud enough to reverberate through his bones. “Cut it out, David,” he muttered, wondering why Schoolboy Choir’s drummer was practicing inside his skull.
When the drumming continued unabated, he opened his eyes a slit and saw white sheets with tiny blue flowers. There were even green leaves around the flowers. He ran his fingers over the sheet, felt the texture, focused on the flowers and leaves again. This wasn’t home. And he never stayed overnight with anyone.
Eyes flicking fully open even as another part of his brain identified the scent in the air—evocative and fresh and painfully familiar—he sat up. Too fast. His head swam.
He groaned and, holding his head in his hands, closed his eyes for another minute until things settled down. Then he glanced around the room.
The walls were a warm cream, the bedside tables honey-colored wood, a stained glass Tiffany lamp on one side; the colors from the lamp were reflected in the abstract painting on the wall in front of him. On his right side was a large window that looked out onto what appeared to be a private green haven. He could see the pebbled pathway, knew that if he walked down that path, he’d find himself in a painstakingly maintained Japanese garden.
Inside was a pond bordered by large stones covered in a fine, velvety moss. A small wooden seat was positioned beside a miniature maple tree, right at the perfect spot to look into the calm of the pond as a cherry blossom tree cast its shadow on the water.
Go right and he’d eventually reach the end of the garden outside the kitchen. There was a picnic table in that spot, along with two benches, under the spreading branches of a leafy green tree. Go left and, after several minutes, he’d find himself at a moss-covered wall—because this place was a haven, secret and contained.
Noah knew every corner of it… or he had. Kit had probably changed everything by now. She was always out there. She had a service that maintained the lawn out front and made sure the wooded area on her property was free of any damaged or dangerous trees, but the garden was hers.
“It gives me peace,” she’d told him once, her eyes shining and open. “I walk out there, put my hands in the earth, and the stress of the day just falls away.”
Shoving off the blanket tangled around his legs, Noah got out of bed. He was still wearing his boots, and it felt like his belt buckle had embedded itself in his gut. It made him laugh even as he winced, and the laugh had his head pounding like it had a live jackhammer buried in it.