“Just don’t try to bridle me for a ride.”
Chuckling, he straddled her on his knees and ran his hands over her shoulders.
“Harder, Noah. I won’t break.”
He obeyed the request in small increments until she let out a groan at the sweep of his thumbs on either side of her spine and kind of went all lazy and loose-limbed under him. Realizing he’d found a sweet spot of pressure, he kept it up as he went down her back.
When he reached her bra, he unhooked the clasp and kept going. Her back was flawless, one of her best features. When she wore those dresses with a plunging back, he just wanted to stroke her like she was a cat. Today he had full permission, so he indulged himself.
“What about you?” she mumbled at one stage.
“I like doing you,” he said, running his hands up her back.
She moaned again. “’Kay.”
There wasn’t much conversation after that; Noah sank into the sensory experience, into the feel of Kit’s body under his hands, the scent of vanilla in the air. He’d had women offer him massages before, but he’d always said no. He’d certainly never wanted to return the favor. It had all been wham-bam-get the fuck out of here. Yeah, he was no prince.
But with Kit he wanted to linger, wanted to touch, wanted to just do the things that gave him pleasure. No expectations, no demands.
His body hadn’t gotten the memo though, his cock hard as rock at the physical stimulus of having Kit’s ass so close, her upper body all but naked in front of him. Gritting his teeth, he continued the massage; it wasn’t until a while later that he realized Kit hadn’t said a word for over half an hour.
“Kit?” he said softly.
Putting his hands on either side of her head, he leaned down to check her face. Her eyes were closed, her breathing even.
He grinned. She was so not going to be pleased with him when she woke up and realized he’d massaged her to sleep on the floor. He, on the other hand, felt like a smug asshole.
Grabbing a blanket, he covered her. Then, thinking of how it had felt to sleep with her outside, he found an extra pillow and sprawled on the blanket by her side. He didn’t really sleep, the demons vicious tonight, but that was all right. Every time they howled too loud, he stroked Kit’s bare back until the simple human contact silenced the voices.
Noah couldn’t help keeping a wary eye on Kit over the next few days. He kept expecting her to turn around and give him a look of disgust—and though he knew Kit would never be so cruel, he couldn’t stop the demon voices. Those same demons sent him running into the darkness night after night so that he wouldn’t have to deal with his failure as a man with her.
He made sure not to wake her, and he stayed on the property, running countless laps. No matter how fucked-up he was, he wasn’t going to leave Kit vulnerable again. If she called out for him in the night, he’d be within reach. Protecting her was the one thing he could do.
On the fourth day after the massage, the two of them having barely been in the same room since, he returned home from a songwriting session with the guys to find a furniture truck parked outside the front door. Casey and Butch were standing watch as two hulking men unloaded the truck.
Scowling, he headed over to where Kit stood in the doorway, dressed in a green tank top and black shorts, old tennis shoes on her feet. “You didn’t tell me you were getting a delivery.” He’d have made sure to be nearby. Her stalker might have gone quiet, but he hadn’t given up; Kit’s agent had received a letter meant for Kit only two days earlier.
“Nothing you haven’t seen before,” Harper had muttered over the call Kit had put on speaker. “Usual poison and delusion. I’m adding it to the file.”
Now Kit skewered him to the spot with her eyes. “Did you want me to put on my running shoes and hunt you down?”
He winced. “Shit. Sorry.”
“You can make it up to me by helping to move this inside. I told the truck guys to leave it here—don’t want strangers in the house.”
“Yeah, sure.” He realized she’d ordered a bed—the frame was in three parts as far as he could tell, the mattress a good one, but there were other parts he couldn’t quite understand. “Where are you going to put this?” She did have spare rooms but kept them closed off unless she had a guest over.
Kit didn’t immediately answer, instead waving off Butch and Casey when the bodyguards offered to help after they’d escorted the truck to the gate. “Noah and I will take care of it. Thanks, guys.”