“We’ve had this argument.” He grabbed her wrist. “I can do it.” He couldn’t have her give up on him.
“I know you can.” Tugging at her wrist, she tried to extricate it, but when he refused to let go, she stopped attempting to pull away. “I want you to move in with me.”
He stared at her. “What?” Having his own space, his own bolt-hole, had always been critical.
“You’ve slept over before,” she pointed out. “You might’ve been blind drunk the last time, but the other times you were sober.”
He’d snuck out and run for hours each of those nights, fallen asleep out of exhaustion. It had only been for a fitful few hours, but he had slept. “Why do you want me to move in with you?” He had to know what she expected, because there were things he simply couldn’t give her.
She touched his bruised cheek, her fingers featherlight. “You asked me to be with you.”
His entire world trembled.
He knew he should call back that request. It was beyond selfish. But his throat, it wouldn’t work.
“If we’re going to make a relationship work in any way,” she said, “we have to figure this out.”
“I’m almost twenty-eight years old, Kit. If I could figure it out, I would have by now.” He turned into the tender warmth of her hand.
“I bet you’ve always tried to do it alone, haven’t you?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “We do it together this time.”
Noah wanted to say she was wrong, that it wouldn’t work, but he hadn’t ever tried to figure this out with someone else. Even with Fox, they’d only discussed it that one time when he’d been a scared seven-year-old boy. Never again.
And there lay the crux of it. “How can you fix something if you don’t even know why it’s broken?” Because he wouldn’t tell her. The idea of Kit knowing? It savaged him.
“I know something really bad happened to you,” she whispered. “Bad enough that one of the toughest men I know is still haunted by it.”
He flinched. “I’m not tough.” If he had been, he would’ve gotten over this long ago.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Her wrist still in his hand, she said, “Will you come home with me?”
“Yes,” he said, a desolate nothingness inside him.
This would fail. When it did, so would all the hope inside him that one day he might be normal, might have the right to love Kit.
Late afternoon the next day, Kit smiled and flirted with the cameras as she and Noah drove through the gates of her home in Noah’s convertible. He’d be returning to his place later to grab clothes and other things, but given the situation with Abe and Sarah—and since this media circus was inevitable—they’d decided to handle it together.
The funny thing, Kit thought as Noah laughed at something one of the photographers had yelled out, was that she no longer cared about either the movie or the cosmetics deal. Her career was important to her, but the most important thing in her life was in the driver’s seat, and he was badly, badly hurt inside. Kit didn’t think she was a magician, didn’t believe she could heal him, but she could love him.
Maybe it would help a little.
Maybe it might even be enough to stop him from continuing on the self-destructive path he’d been walking to this point.
“Kathleen! Give us a smile!”
She gave the photographer what he wanted, wondering why anyone cared what she was doing and who she was doing it with. She knew it was good that they did, that it helped her make a living doing the work she loved, but today she just wanted to be alone with Noah.
However, it took them another five minutes to get through the gates. Reaching the house not long afterward, the two of them got out in silence. Kit glanced reflexively into the backseat of the convertible. “Noah, did you leave that gift in there?”
“No.” Frowning, he went to pick up the card stuck to the package, which was wrapped in gold paper.
“Wait.” She took off the thin, colorful silk scarf she was wearing and passed it to him. “In case there are fingerprints.” She was probably being paranoid, the gift something a fan had managed to drop in during the media fracas outside, but she had to be sure.
Using the scarf to pick up the card, Noah opened it with care. The dangerous ice in his expression answered her silent question. When she went around to his side, he wrapped his arm around her while holding the card out of reach. “You don’t need to see this. It’s the same ugly bullshit.”