“I won’t watch you drive yourself into the ground!”
“I won’t. I’ll take a pill tonight. I’ll sleep.” The nightmares would ravage his drugged mind, but it’d be worth it. “I’ll sleep. I promise.”
Her expression altered, the anger suddenly intermingled with so many other emotions that he couldn’t separate them out. “Why won’t you talk to me, Noah?” she whispered, placing one hand against his cheek.
The touch was hesitant and he hated that, hated that he’d made her afraid of touching him in friendship, in affection. Raising one of his own hands, he held hers against the stubbled roughness of his cheek. “You know me better than anyone else in this world.” Fox knew the details of one thing Kit didn’t, but Fox didn’t know his heart, not like Kit.
“I don’t know why you hurt.” A harsh whisper. “Why you hurt so much that you do things that make you deeply unhappy.”
Sliding his hand into her hair, he tugged her against him, held her stiff, angry body close. And didn’t want to let her go. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never. “Be with me,” he whispered, knowing it was the most selfish thing he’d ever asked of anyone in his entire life. “Be with me.”
Kit froze against him, a flesh and blood statue.
“I can’t be what you need,” he whispered against the side of her head. “But be with me anyway.”
Kit’s body stayed rigid, her breathing so quiet he wasn’t sure she was breathing. Noah knew he should release her, call back the words he should’ve never spoken. But he stayed silent and he held her tight, right against the twisted, scarred, selfish heart that beat only for her.
Fifteen minutes later, and Kit didn’t know what she was going to do. Being with Noah, having him for her own, it was all she’d ever wanted, but not this way, not when he couldn’t even sleep from the strain of being faithful. It sounded so stupid to put it that way, but how else could she explain it? Noah seemed to get a kind of peace—fleeting though it was—from his random hookups that she couldn’t give him.
Glancing up from where she was sitting on the edge of the bed, having just put on her boots, she saw him in the doorway. He’d thrown on a leather jacket over his black tee, and it just intensified the rock-star vibe. But his eyes… his eyes were vulnerable.
“Rain’s stopped,” he said.
Unable to bear looking into those eyes that asked her for things that might break her, she got up and tugged at her own leather jacket. “We’ll look like those twin couples.”
“Yours is brown and sleek, mine is black with buckles and zippers everywhere. Totally different.” He shifted out of the doorway, angled his head toward the front of the bus in a silent invitation.
“Where are we going?” she asked as they stepped outside and he wrapped one arm around her shoulders. Around them, the festival grounds were damp and still sleepy. The first show wouldn’t kick off till nine, and Schoolboy Choir wasn’t on until four that afternoon.
“Just for a walk.”
He’d gone running and now he wanted to go for a walk. If she was with him, she wouldn’t need Macho Steve, the Evil Personal Trainer, Kit thought wryly. But walking with Noah in the cool morning light was fun. They went out back, behind the buses and the other vehicles. The fields seemed to stretch out endlessly, but once you got over a little rise about a ten-minute walk away, it turned into woods.
Into those woods they walked, just the two of them and the birds and the bodyguards who hung back enough that Noah and Kit had privacy. “Why are Butch and Casey following us?” Noah was more than tough enough to take on the coward who got his rocks off by stalking her.
“I’m not taking any chances with your safety,” Noah said, his body suddenly all hard edges. “I don’t ever want you in a situation where you feel helpless and alone.”
His words, his care, dealt another smashing blow to her already shaky defenses. No, she told herself, he’s not good for you. Yes, said her heart. Just yes. “My Spidey senses haven’t gone off lately,” she said aloud. “I don’t think he made it to Zenith.”
“Yeah, well, better safe than sorry.” He glanced back, lifted a hand in a wave of acknowledgment. “Butch and Casey are good guys—and they know not to get too close.”
Kit went to make a joke about getting caught in flagrante delicto, but then the reality of her and Noah stabbed at her and she couldn’t.
Be with me, he’d said.