“I get it,” Kit said, her tone normal. No whispers, no tiptoeing. Just blissfully normal.
His shoulder muscles began to unknot. “So yeah, since you’re a hot chick, your lechery doesn’t weird me out.”
“A hot chick?” Laughter. “Smooth, St. John.”
“I try.” No longer nauseated, he found his grin again. “You do realize this is equal-opportunity leering? I get to check you out too.”
“Do your worst.” The final bolt sliding in at that blushing challenge, she went to the leftover pieces and said, “This is a canopy.”
He tightened the bolt. “Like to go over the top?”
Grabbing the instructions, he read them through quickly, nodded. “Got it.” They spent the next couple of minutes unwrapping all the pieces and making sure nothing was missing. “So is that all you wanted to know?”
“No, the touch thing,” Kit said as she held up a piece so he could bolt it into place. “I need to know what’s always okay with you.”
“Shit, Kit, I don’t think about stuff like that.” Moving behind her, he went to put his hands on her hips, hesitated… then did it. He grabbed her hips tight, nuzzled a kiss to her neck.
She shivered. “Hey, no fair. I can’t move while I’m holding up this thing.”
“I know. Makes it more fun.” Running his jaw along her shoulder, he tugged playfully at her earlobe before breaking away to put the piece in place so she wouldn’t get tired arms. “You don’t”—he coughed—“mind if I touch you?”
If the ugliness in his past wasn’t enough, he’d covered himself in dirt over the years. He had no idea how many women he’d screwed, and he couldn’t remember the majority of their faces. No way to paint that into a pretty picture. “I’m clean,” he blurted out before she could reply. “That’s the one thing I didn’t mess up.”
Kit’s response was quiet. “I’m glad.”
A concrete block fell on his chest. “I should’ve kept my mouth shut, huh?”
“No.” Kit held up a bracing piece so he could lock it into place. “If I’m asking you to be honest, I have to be honest too.” She ran a hand through her hair, her other hand still holding up the piece. “I know those women didn’t mean anything to you, but I don’t like thinking about them.”
Noah thought of how he’d feel if he saw Kit fucking some other guy; his head pulsed red-hot with rage. “Yeah, I get it.” He wanted to push her on the touch question but couldn’t bring himself to repeat it.
“And I love your touch, Noah.” She went to pick up a small piece, came back. “You and I, we’re starting from scratch, from the moment we decided to be us.” Her eyes held his, beautiful and haunted. “I will walk anywhere with you, but the one thing I ask is fidelity. Don’t cheat on me. That’s my line in the sand.”
Stark and painfully honest, her words sank into his bones, branding him. “I won’t,” he vowed. “I’ve got plenty of other self-destructive behaviors I can indulge in instead.”
It was meant to be a joke. It fell flat.
“Don’t be flip.” Kit scowled. “And you didn’t answer my original question about what touches are always okay.”
He got another piece of the canopy into place. “I don’t know.” Shrugging, he went to elaborate before his brain kicked in and ordered him to keep his mouth shut.
“Just say it. I might not like hearing some of it, but I need to know.”
Fuck, she was killing him. “I didn’t really do much touching,” he admitted. “It was mostly slam my cock in, get off, and that was it.” Even with a blowjob, he’d rarely done more than just unzip his jeans. And the stupid-ass hotel-room stunt he’d engineered? He’d braced himself on his arms so he barely touched the woman anywhere else on her body. “No foreplay, no wasting time.”
“Wow, and women still kept flocking to you?”
“Go figure.” Noah had never called himself the greatest lover on the planet, but some groupies got off on the hard, cold fuck that was his specialty.
“What about kisses?”
“Romantic bullshit,” he muttered, then paused. “But you know, since you’re my girl and all, I guess I could get into it.”
Kit’s eyes were sparkling when she looked up, and he knew she’d forgiven him for the cruel mockery of their first kiss. “Be still my heart.”