Wrenching away her gaze with a harsh reminder that he couldn’t bear her touch, she slid her phone out of her pocket and skimmed through her e-mails. There were a couple from Harper telling her there was no news on Redemption, but that no one else—namely Abigail—had been signed either. The race was still on.
Right then a message popped in from Thea’s intern, copied to Noah and Thea. It was a roundup of all of Kit’s and Noah’s media mentions today. The efficient young woman had included a file of clippings of the main articles, even screenshots of tweets and other posts online.
#NoKat was trending worldwide, thanks to the “money shot” Noah had engineered.
Kit knew she shouldn’t; she’d been in the business too long not to know the Internet could wound, but she couldn’t stop herself from doing a search on that hashtag. She didn’t know what she was expecting, but it wasn’t what she got.
Did you see that?! I TOLD you he was into her! #NoKat #Forever
OMG, so romantic! Why can’t my boyfriend look at me that way? #NoKat #Romance #SCFans
Okay, I was bummed when Noah hooked up with her, but yeah, he looks happy, so #NoKat, I’m on board.
Even my cold and bitter heart is melted. #NoKat #SCFans
That is the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen. #NoKat #Happy #Staytogetherforeverplease
The sentiments were repeated over and over and over again. A lot of women were crushed that Noah was taken, but most found it romantic that the bad boy had apparently reformed for his girl. Meanwhile, the band’s male fans were chest-poundingly proud that “their” Noah had hooked up with such a “hottie.”
Kit wanted to scream and laugh at the same time. Yeah, she was hot. So hot that Noah was physically repulsed by the idea of any sexual contact with her.
“Hey.” Noah stepped out of the bedroom. “Just let me pull on my boots.”
She watched him do exactly that. He’d changed into a fresh pair of black jeans that were just as disreputable as the ones he’d been wearing earlier and a plain black T-shirt. As far as she could see, he’d just run his hands through his hair after rubbing it dry with a towel and left it at that. And he was flat-out gorgeous.
Noah put his arm around Kit’s shoulders after they left the bus. She didn’t resist, sliding her own arm around his waist and acting the smitten girlfriend, but he was conscious of her tension. No one else would be able to tell, but he could sense it through his skin, feel it in his gut. He’d hurt Kit because he couldn’t handle his own reaction to her, and he didn’t know how to fix that.
How could he tell her about his fucked-up psyche without betraying everything?
All he could do was try to be the best friend he could be in his own messed-up way. Putting his lips to her ear, he said, “I’m sorry,” then took a breath and slit open a vein. “I’m so damn happy you’re here, with me.”
Fuck, it was hard to just lay himself out there. “I like having you in my space, near me.” Loved the smell of her soft skin and hair, the way she felt against him, her smile. “I don’t want to push you away, but there’s stuff inside me that”—another harsh breath—“that just screws me up sometimes.”
Her hand clenched on his T-shirt. He wondered if she remembered she’d given him this tee. It was plain, but it had a tiny guitar stitched at the bottom on the right. The guitar was in black, hardly visible, but he’d always liked that tiny, secret detail.
She didn’t say anything in answer, but her hand opened and she kind of… petted his side. It was just a small motion, but it spoke louder than any words she could’ve said. Unable to fight the need, he took advantage of the situation to cuddle her closer.
If it could always be this way, if he never had to think about sex, if he could fix his brain so it didn’t hunger for the same thing that destroyed him, he’d beg her forgiveness on his hands and knees and find a way to put a ring on her finger that would never ever come off.
Only that was such an impossible dream that he might as well wish for wings.
“You hungry?” he asked as they reached the marquee set up to one side of the “behind-the-scenes” part of the festival grounds. The scent of hot cheese and all the other good stuff that equaled pizza made his stomach rumble.
“I actually am—I danced the entire concert.”
Seeing Thea tug David into a kiss not far from the marquee, Noah wolf-whistled. David grinned and didn’t stop the kiss, one hand cupping the back of Thea’s head, the other on her ass. She wasn’t in one of her professional outfits but in a tiny sparkling dress that left her long legs bare from high up on her thighs, her straight black hair out of its usual twist.