And Noah stopped thinking.
Wiping the blood off his face with a towel some time later, Noah looked in the mirror. “You fucked up my face, man.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Fox snarled from the kitchen area.
When Noah walked in, the other man threw him a bag of frozen peas that had probably been around since the Ice Age. Noah didn’t even know who had put it in his freezer. Fox was holding another bag of some frozen thing against his eye.
Noah chose to use the peas against his jaw. Unlike Fox, he didn’t have a black eye. He had a jaw that felt as if it had come to within a hairsbreadth of being broken, a cut above his left eye, and another one on his cheek. His mouth wasn’t in the best condition either.
“You look like shit,” he said to Fox.
“Thanks, princess. You look great.” His hair damp from the water he’d thrown on his face at the sink, the lead singer pointed at Noah. “You’re calling Thea.”
“Not happening. Let the tabloids make up some bullshit story about how the band is splitting up.” The fact they’d been in a fight would be pretty damn obvious as soon as the two of them were caught on camera. “She’s probably asleep anyway.”
“Thea doesn’t sleep, and you’re a chickenshit.”
Noah didn’t deny it—Thea was goddamn scary when she got mad. “I don’t see you calling her.”
“Bastard.” Stabbing in their publicist’s name on his phone, Fox put it on speaker. “Noah and I punched each other,” he said when she answered. “Our faces look like crap.”
“Of course you did, and of course they do,” she muttered. “It’s not like I enjoy having a peaceful life.” A small pause and rustling noises followed by a masculine murmur in the background.
“David says he’s going to punch you both in the morning.” Thea actually sounded like she was smiling. “I’ll make a preemptive strike, say you fought after a few too many drinks, then kissed and made up. Long as they have a reason and you don’t give them a juicier option, we can ride it out.”
She made a small hmming sound. “It’s not like they can sell the line that you were fighting over Kit—not when Fox is so openly crazy for Molly.” Thea’s voice softened on the last part. “And rock stars are expected to behave badly once in a while, so this is actually good for your image. Leave it to me.”
After hanging up, Fox went straight back to the conversation that had led to the fight. “You screwed up. Why?”
“It’s what I do.” Noah put down the bag of frozen peas, felt his jaw. In one piece at least.
“How long have we been friends?” Fox’s tone was dead serious. “Over twenty years. You don’t get to bullshit your way through this.”
“What, you want to have a heart-to-heart? Shall we paint our nails together while we’re at it?”
“You love her,” Fox said, stealing all the air in Noah’s lungs. “You’ve loved her for so long, and now you’re just going to give up? That isn’t the boy I knew.”
Noah sucked in a breath at Fox’s oblique reference to their childhood. “Don’t go there,” he said quietly. “Never go there.”
“Is keeping your secret worth giving up Kit?”
“Yes,” he said on a wave of gut-twisting pain. “I’ll lose her anyway if I tell her.” It was torn out of him, the serrated edge in every word ripping him bloody. “I can’t stand how she’ll look at me.” How his father had looked at him.
His mother had stopped looking at him altogether.
“You don’t know that.” Fox threw down the bag he’d been holding against his eye. “She loves you too.”
“So much she threw me out.” That hurt, that she’d thrown him out the first time he’d fucked up… except it wasn’t the first time, was it? He’d more than fucked up the night in the hotel suite when he’d orchestrated that ugly little play that had devastated her.
He could still see the stark, shocked pain in her eyes, still hear the dull sound of her heels on the carpet as she ran out of the room.
Shoving a hand through his hair, he collapsed into a chair. “I was so angry at her,” he whispered through a throat gone raw. “For expecting me to be normal.”
“You sure she’s the one expecting anything?” asked the man who’d known him since he was a boy who just wanted to be like everyone else. “Or is it you?”