Thea bared her teeth at Molly’s efforts. “I want everyone to know how my gorgeous man is rocking the festival already.”
“Hey.” Molly elbowed her sister. “That’s our men.”
When the other woman took out her own phone, Kit laughed. Molly had a single social media account that she rarely used, but today she sent out a photo of Fox making love to the mike, captioning it: My guy owning the stage at Zenith. #love
Simple. Perfect. So much what Kit wanted to write, but those words would haunt her when this illusion ended; she couldn’t put her heart out there for the universe to mock. So on the photograph she sent out into the world of a wildly talented man with storm-gray eyes, she just wrote: Noah rocking #Zenith!!!!!!
They’d kicked off the festival with a fucking boom, Noah thought as he came backstage after the final set. Not thinking about his actions, he hauled Kit close and pressed the side of his face to hers. “I’m starving.”
She laughed. “You’re also sweaty.”
Her hands landed on his bare skin, his T-shirt now the property of whoever it was who’d caught it when he’d thrown it out into the crowd. The intimate contact burned, sending a shock of sexual need through his body.
He pulled back with a jerk that had Kit’s eyes going wide before she blinded him with a Kathleen Devigny smile. “The cameras are still on,” she said without ever losing that smile. “Take my hand if you can’t stand for me to touch anything else.”
She could’ve kicked him and done less damage. Grabbing her hand, he squeezed. “It’s not what you think.”
Her smile remained high-voltage, but her eyes, they were hard and hurt at the same time. “You’ve been very clear, Noah. Don’t worry, I’m not getting the wrong idea. I know you don’t want me.”
He almost laughed because wanting Kit was so much a part of him, there was no Noah without it. But his laughter twisted inside him. Holding Kit’s hand tight, he said, “We’re all having pizza together. I just need to quickly shower off the sweat.”
Kit nodded and they walked to the bus. Soon as he pulled the door shut behind them, she released his hand—or tried to.
He held on. “Don’t.”
She shook her head. “It’s fine.” A tight smile. “I really am not getting any ideas.” Sliding out her phone, she waved it at him. “Van messaged. We dated last year, remember? He’s asking if you and I are serious.”
Noah winced as his fantasy shattered. Kit wasn’t his. He had no right to stop her seeing other men. Releasing her hand, he said, “What’re you going to tell him?”
“Nothing.” She looked down at her phone, fingers moving across the screen. “You and I are officially a couple, and I have to keep up the fiction or this is all for nothing.” A quick look up, a quicker smile. “Won’t be forever.”
Noah’s body grew rigid. “Two minutes,” he said and ducked into the shower.
Kit braced a trembling hand against the counter of the kitchenette, trying to breathe past the pain in the center of her chest, an agony of knives stabbing at her from the inside out, stabbing so hard they were punching through rib and muscle to make her bleed.
Every time she thought Noah couldn’t hurt her any more, he did it again.
She swallowed convulsively, squeezing her eyes shut to hold back the tears that threatened to choke off her air. She could hear the shower turning on, knew it wouldn’t last long. Noah had to be starving after that show.
Breathing through her nose, she forced down all the emotions tearing at her, as she’d learned to do while filming the traumatic scenes in Last Flight. Her character had undergone torture, loss, agonizing emotional suffering, and sometimes the crushing power of living those emotions had threatened to take Kit under. She’d had to learn to compartmentalize, to shift from a wrenching scene to a joyful one, the shooting schedule not always cohesive or chronological.
Now she used every skill she had to bring herself back under control.
Hearing the shower cut off, she released a quiet, deep breath, was waiting with a slight smile on her face when Noah stepped out… and almost doubled over from the punch to the stomach that was his damp body. He’d wrapped a white towel around his hips, but water trickled from his hair down his pectoral muscles to kiss its way over his ribs and past his ridged abs to disappear into the softness of the towel.
When he turned to head into the bedroom, she saw the phoenix, stunning because it was on the masculine architecture of Noah’s body.