Most of the time, it had felt as if he was standing outside his body, watching someone else be touched. The times when he was present, that was when the rage came out, when he turned brutal. He’d never hurt a woman, but on the rage nights, he made sure to pick a woman who made it clear she could take it. Then he used her, shoving her out after he was done. That was who he’d been for a long time: a bastard who didn’t really see women as anything other than objects he could use to drown out the nightmares.
Then had come Kit.
“Sorry.” It was a blindingly inadequate apology, but he didn’t know what else to say. He couldn’t erase his past. If he could, he’d have done it as a child, wiped the memories from his mind so he could have a chance to grow up normal.
“Don’t say that.” Kit’s soft response was unexpectedly fierce. “This won’t work if you feel like you have to keep apologizing.” Her hands were white-knuckled fists on her thighs. “We have to start fresh, start now.”
Noah knew it wasn’t going to be that simple—their history was what tied them together. He also knew that part of the problem was that he’d given those women something he wouldn’t give Kit.
His hands flexed on the steering wheel, his entire body tense.
If he slept with Kit, he’d end up either in the cold or in the grip of rage. Those were his only choices, and he didn’t want to stain their relationship with that ugliness. But… would it be so bad if it would make Kit happy? He always knew when the rage times were coming, so he’d just pick a cold time.
She’d never know—he was apparently decent at sex. Not the long, lazy act he’d seen in on-screen romances or read about. The hard, fast stuff. It was mechanical on his part, but none of the women had ever complained.
Muscles locked tight, he decided he’d do it tonight.
It’d be worth it to strengthen the bond between him and Kit.
“Turn here.” Her voice broke into his thoughts, chipped away at the ice. “Security should have our names.”
Following her directions to the right parking area after they were cleared through the studio gates, he slid the car into an empty spot. As he went around to meet her by her side of the car, it was with his own emotions under lock and key. “You’ll knock ’em dead.”
A shaky smile. “Now that we’re here, I’m scared,” she whispered. “This is the biggest opportunity of my career.”
“No one else could do justice to this role.” He’d read the script on the flight back from the music festival, knew it was made for Kit. “Just remember that. And if all else fails, imagine Abigail Rutledge lording it over you at the premiere.”
Kit’s eyebrows drew together. “Not happening.”
“That’s my Katie,” Noah said and drew her into a hug. He wasn’t really a hugger, but Kit was, and truth be told, now that he’d started the hugging thing with her, he kinda liked it.
Taking a deep breath after he released her, she smiled and gave him two thumbs-up. “See you when they set me free. Probably be an hour at least.”
“You fine going in there alone?” She’d asked Butch and Casey to stay at the house today.
“Yes. Esra’s got a couple of stalkers of his own—harmless types who keep trying to get in, steal his stuff as souvenirs, rather than anyone who wants to hurt him, but it means his area is always secure.” She nodded toward the security guard on the door that was her destination. “Okay, better go.”
“Break a leg.” He watched her walk through the door.
Rather than waiting in the car, he went for a walk and managed to find a small coffee stand. Grabbing a plain black coffee, he made his way back toward the area where he’d parked and saw that the mock street to the left was now swarming with crew. He was leaning against a wall watching them set up a rain scene when he felt someone’s eyes boring holes into the side of his face.
Hackles up, he turned his head. Aw, shit. It wasn’t the stalker. It was the guy Kit had been dating before she and Noah got together: Terrence Gates. “Hey.” Noah straightened away from the wall. “I guess you want to punch my face.”
“For starters.” Arms folded, Terrence glared at him through the clear lenses of his metal-framed glasses. “You don’t deserve her.”
“No, I don’t.” That was simple fact. “But she’s mine, and I’m not about to give her up.”
Terrence’s already hard expression turned stony, his hazel eyes like chips of granite. “Yeah, well, I’ll be there to catch her when you let her down. Losers like you always do.”