No question that Thea was hot, but all Noah saw when he looked at her was a highly competent publicist who could chew up and spit out most of the paparazzi before she had her first cup of coffee in the morning.
“I’m happy for them,” Kit whispered as they neared the marquee. “They fit.”
“Yeah, they do.” Noah nodded at Abe as the keyboard player appeared from the other side of the tent. “There was a good chance David would’ve ended up a sad, lonely old man if she hadn’t taken pity on him.”
Close enough to hear, Abe snorted. “I need a hella sexy woman to take that kind of pity on me,” he muttered. “I think David’s the one laughing now.”
“I don’t know who’s more smitten, David or Thea.”
Noah heard a tone in Kit’s voice that he’d never expected—mingled want and envy. The latter wasn’t sharp, hard. It was soft, poignant, and it made him want to give her things, make her happy. “You know he sent her a pink teddy bear when we were on tour?”
Kit’s smile was huge. “Really? How do you know?” Utter delight in her tone.
“I caught him walking back into the hotel with it tucked under his arm,” Noah said, wondering if Kit would like that kind of a gift. He’d never have thought so before this conversation—she was so put together, so stylish.
Except now she sighed and hugged herself. “That is ridiculously adorable and romantic.”
Abe had wandered off toward the table where piping hot pizzas were being set out, cooked courtesy of some kind of a portable oven, but Noah turned to Kit. “You don’t have teddy bears in your house.” He paused. “Do you?”
“No, but no one’s ever given me one.”
Noah had had a fucked-up childhood, but he remembered a teddy bear that his nanny, Josefina, had given him before he was packed off to boarding school.
“To keep you safe,” she’d said in the Spanish she’d taught him, her eyes wet and dark. “He will be your friend.”
Josefina never knew that the bear didn’t make it to boarding school. Noah’s father had taken one look at it as Noah climbed into the car that was taking him to the school and pulled it out of his hands. No son of his, he’d said, was going to go to school clutching “an infantile toy.”
Noah had tried to hold on to the only piece of certainty he had, that soft brown bear representing love and safety, but he’d been a small boy against a much bigger man. His father had thrown the bear onto the driveway, then told the driver to go. The bear had been crushed under the wheels of the glossy black Rolls-Royce.
Shaking off the memory and wondering what Josefina would make of him now, he glanced at Kit. “I thought your parents did the ‘throw money and toys at the child’ kind of parenting?”
Kit bit down on the plump softness of her lower lip. “I didn’t mean I didn’t have soft toys. I did… but no one ever picked one out for me especially—Mom or Dad wrote the check on my birthday or Christmas, and the store employees came in and set up the toy display.” She shook her head, mouth twisting up at one corner. “I sound so spoiled.”
“No, I get it.” His nanny’s inexpensive gift had meant more to Noah than anything his parents had given him after it all came out. Josefina had still cared about Noah even though he wasn’t perfect anymore, and that had made all the difference.
“You two gonna eat?” Having navigated his way back to them, Abe held out a plate with a whole giant pizza.
“Oh, that looks like heaven.” Kit took a slice, managed three bites in the time it took Noah to wolf down a whole piece.
Seeing a table clear up, he grabbed it for them and the three of them took a seat, the plate of pizza in the middle and fresh bottles of beer and water dropped off by one of the catering staff. Nudging aside the beer without a word, Abe stuck to water, and Noah and Kit kept him company.
Noah knew Kit’d had a lot of trouble with Abe’s drug issues, but she’d never not been supportive when Abe tried to stay sober. She’d been partially responsible for convincing him to enter rehab the second time, but Abe hadn’t been ready, had relapsed. This time though, there was a sense of intense resolve about the other man.
“Fuck, this is good,” Abe groaned, picking up another slice.
Noah nodded as around them, the marquee pulsed with the voices of musicians and crew, the throb of music from the closest stage pumping through the earth.
Rising at the call from Genevieve’s husband, Abe finished off his slice and went over to catch up with the bass player and her artist spouse.