The two men shook hands. Following that, Kit’s mother put one hand on Noah’s shoulder and leaned in to brush her lips over his cheek. Adreina touched easily. The boys Kit had dated in high school and college had often taken it the wrong way, believing it a come-on. It wasn’t.
Noah, however, still had that wary look on his face, clearly braced for parental disapproval.
“How did you get backstage?” Kit asked her parents, the funny, twisty feeling inside her refusing to subside.
“We know people.” Parker winked.
“Oh, look!” Adreina waved at someone. “There’s Naomi. We’ll see you later, darling.”
“Sure, Mom.” Relieved it was over, Kit turned to Noah. “See, no biggie.”
He was scowling. “What the hell? If I had a daughter and she was dating a guy like me, I’d take him out back and threaten him with a shotgun to make sure he treated her right.”
Kit’s mouth fell open. “You?”
“Yeah.” He folded his arms, his scowl growing heavier. “Jeez, Kit, he didn’t even tell me to be good to you. That’s bullshit.”
Realizing he was dead serious, she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. “Where did you pick up this chivalrous instinct?”
“My father,” he said, the sneer that usually accompanied any mention of Robert St. John missing from his voice. “He’s a son of a bitch, but he brought me up to look after any women under my care.”
“Under your care?” Kit raised an eyebrow. “Chauvinistic much?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, well, maybe it is, but I’m not changing. My imaginary daughters are never dating musicians. Ever.”
Stomach somersaulting at the idea of little girls with Noah’s features and talent, she shook her head. “Noah St. John, bad boy of rock and concerned father of imaginary daughters. Hell hath frozen over and become an ice rink.”
“Come on, smart-ass.” He slung an arm around her shoulders again. “Let’s go find a seat out front so we can watch Esteban. Maxwell has rug things we can use since the grass won’t have dried out yet.”
Kit fell in with his plan. Not only did she like Esteban’s music, she knew he was a good friend of Noah’s. She had a feeling Schoolboy Choir and Thea had had a great deal to do with getting him on the bill at the festival. Yes, he had a morning slot, a time when people were still getting themselves together after a late night, but he had a slot. His performance would be reported on by the bloggers and other media here, clips would be posted on social media, and so on.
Grabbing a spot beside a wild-haired guy sitting up in his sleeping bag, Noah pulled her down between his legs. She settled with her back to his chest and tried not to sink into his warmth, his scent, him. Whispers and camera clicks sounded from around them, but no one tried to intrude into their space.
Part of the draw of Zenith was that the musicians blended into the crowd, hung out and danced like regular people. It was an unspoken rule that they weren’t to be mobbed. Kit didn’t know how long that would last with the festival getting bigger and bigger, but it held today.
Then Esteban walked onstage. Just a dark-eyed singer and his guitar and his voice. Listening to the smooth, heart-tugging cadence of it, Kit felt herself becoming boneless against Noah. “He’s a real musician, like you guys. No tricks.”
“Yep.” Noah’s lips brushed her ear as he spoke. “I was thinking—that song I wrote. Esteban would do it justice.”
She knew he was talking about “Sparrow.” “No.” Scowling at the idea that he’d even consider giving it to anyone else, she twisted around to look at him. “That’s meant for you.”
“It’s not a Schoolboy Choir type of song,” he said again.
“Have you even talked to the others?”
Hauling her back against his chest, Noah wrapped her up in his arms. “Stop fighting with me and listen to the music.”
She did, but she wasn’t finished. She didn’t know why Noah was being so stubborn about “Sparrow” when he and the other guys messed around with all kinds of stuff as they put together an album. Maybe, another part of her whispered, because the song was so close to his heart. If it didn’t make it onto the next album, or if the other guys didn’t like it, he’d be devastated.
Kit knew Abe, Fox, and David would like it; she just had to convince Noah to sing it for them.
“I like this one a lot.” Noah’s lips brushed her ear again, his breath warm and his body so strong and powerfully male around her own.