She was chewing her lower lip in frustration when that scene cut to another one. She hadn’t paid too much attention to it at the time because it linked to a background plotline unconnected to the crime in this episode. Two well-dressed people were talking about their child, hoping he was all right. The woman cried, said, “I can’t bear knowing he’s out there with God knows who. My sweet baby.”
The scene cut away again to a bleak-faced and exhausted-appearing detective staring at a bulging folder. Pinned on the front of it was a photograph of a little boy with shining blond hair and a gap-toothed smile.
A younger colleague interrupted the detective, and it was back to the Ivy Leaguer-turned-junkie storyline. Blood chilled, Kit clicked away from the site and to a major search engine. She started to search for anything on Noah’s childhood. Had he been kidnapped? Held for ransom?
Kit’s stomach lurched. Because from what she’d seen, the Blue Force storyline hinted at far more than a simple kidnapping. The mother was worried about what was being done to her little boy.
“No, no,” Kit whispered and continued to search. She knew it was futile—if there was anything to find, the tabloids would’ve found it long ago. But she couldn’t help herself.
She even tried using his mother’s maiden name to widen the search. Nothing.
Hand trembling, she put it to her forehead and forced herself to take deep breath after deep breath before she hyperventilated. But her mind, it raced. How could the kidnapping of the scion of a powerful family be erased from existence? Sure, Robert St. John would’ve been a high-powered lawyer even when Noah was younger, but you couldn’t just wipe out media attention.
Unless the police had never been called, the ransom quietly paid.
She found a bottle of water in the fridge and guzzled a third of it before trying to think through the whole thing. Usually if a ransom was paid and the child returned, it was because the kidnapping was a businesslike transaction. No way would Robert St. John have allowed his son to be missing for days without putting every possible agency on the trail of the kidnappers.
Something was wrong with her theory.
Jumping, she answered the gate-to-house intercom. “Butch?”
“Hey, Kit. I don’t know what’s up with you and Noah, but he’s at the gate. You want me to let him in?”
Gut in knots, she said, “Yes.” She wasn’t sure she was in any shape to speak to him, but it seemed like a big mistake to send him away. Whether she let him stay depended on what happened next. Because what she’d said still applied: his pain didn’t give him permission to deliberately hurt her. No matter how much she loved him, she wasn’t getting back on that particular roller coaster.
Shrugging on her robe, she closed the browser on her laptop and went to open the front door. The night was cool and starlit—and quiet. When she failed to hear the sound of the Mustang’s powerful engine after more than half a minute, she got back in touch with Butch. “He’s not here yet.”
“Walking,” the bodyguard told her. “Fox dropped him off.”
Kit returned to the doorway. Noah finally appeared in the drive a few minutes later, tall and making her heart ache… and with a face that looked like it had gone a few too many rounds with a fist. Temper flaring, she ran out to him and grabbed his jaw in her hand.
She softened her hold but not her glare. “Come inside so I can see what you’ve done to your face.”
“I was heading that way.” One of his hands landed on her hip, that familiar cocky smile back on his face. “You gonna throw me out again?”
“We’ll see.” She led him into the house and shut the door. Examining his face in the hallway light, she saw he’d taken quite a beating. “Fox look like this too?”
She made a dubious sound in her throat, conscious Fox would probably tell Molly exactly the same thing when he arrived home. “What is it with guys and fists?”
A shrug as Noah dropped his duffel on the floor. “I put frozen peas on it.”
“You want me to applaud?”
“Yeah.” A grin, followed by a wince. “That bastard hit me in the mouth.”
She could see the split upper lip, the slightly swollen lower one. “Yes, well, I wanted to do that myself today, so he did me a favor.”
“I fucked up.” Raising his hands, he cupped her face, his smile fading as his throat moved. “It had nothing to do with you. I just took it out on you because… Because I knew you’d forgive me.”