“No, Noah.”

When she pulled at her door, he released his grip on it, well aware he’d already pushed far beyond the point where he should’ve stopped. He couldn’t blame her for her response; he was a bad bet even as a friend. He’d only stuck with Fox, David, and Abe this long because the three were as stubborn as he was… and in different ways, they needed him as much as he needed them. Kit didn’t need him, and so he didn’t know what to offer her to make her come back into his life.

Chapter 5

Kit managed to make it home and inside the garage before she gave in to the sobs that had been building inside her since the moment she’d walked out of the studio and seen Noah waiting for her. It had been like one of her stupid daydreams come to life—daydreams he’d stomped to death under his boot.

Crying so hard that it hurt, she clung to the steering wheel and told herself to stop. But she couldn’t. All she could think about was that night, the night when Noah had hurt her more than anyone ever had before.

Kit had learned not to believe in people a long time ago, courtesy of her parents. It wasn’t that Parker and Adreina Ordaz-Castille were bad people; they loved Kit, but they weren’t exactly reliable or steady. When Kit was a child, her father would play with her for hours sometimes, promise to take her to get ice cream the next day, only to cancel because a friend asked him to go sailing.

Some months she’d be lucky to see him at all around his business and social engagements. Other months he’d focus all his attention on her, charm her into believing his promises… only to disappear back into his busy life just when she’d hopefully invited him to a school play or some other small thing that meant a lot to her.

It had been either feast or famine.

As for her mom, Adreina would take Kit shopping, spoil her, but though she’d promised Kit some mother-daughter time, she’d invite along her girlfriends. Kit had craved alone time with her vivacious and always-in-demand mom. Just an hour when she didn’t have to vie against adults for Adreina’s attention, when they could talk about little-girl things.

But if Adreina wasn’t with friends, she was at Parker’s side as they enjoyed their active social life together. Midway through her eighth year on the planet, Kit suddenly realized she hadn’t actually seen either parent for a month. Late nights meant they were asleep when she got ready for school, at business meetings or modeling shoots when she came home after school, and from there, they’d been going straight to dinners and parties.

Kit’s nannies had been nice, but they changed so often she knew not to get attached—Adreina always fired them when she decided to be a stay-at-home mom, which happened about four times a year and usually lasted all of three weeks.

By the time of Kit’s ninth birthday, it had become easier not to expect anything emotionally from either Parker or Adreina—that way she was never disappointed. Instead, any time her mom or dad kept a promise or remembered something important to Kit, it had been a nice surprise that gave her pleasure.

She’d never again been as terribly hurt by their benign neglect.

And somewhere along the way, she’d started applying her rule about not expecting anything from people to everyone she met. It had stood her in good stead in show business. Then she’d become friends with Fox, Noah, Abe, and David. The four men had kept their word when they’d said they’d do something—whether it was meeting her for lunch or dropping by to move her stuff from her tiny first apartment to the town house.

After her life exploded following Last Flight’s success, the guys had been there to help her through it, far more used to A-list fame than Kit was. When she’d needed dates for awards shows or other red carpet events, Abe, Fox, or David would always make time to go with her, aware that she was nervous and needed to be with someone she trusted.

Even before, when she’d been on Primrose Avenue, the soap that had paid her rent for years, one of the three men had stepped in whenever she needed a plus one. But Noah… Noah hadn’t ever been her date, not even before what he’d done during the filming of Last Flight.

They’d always had too much chemistry for her to be comfortable with him the way she was with the other guys. Until one day he’d heard her talking to Abe about a book she’d recently read and called her up that night to tell her he’d just finished it himself. They’d spoken for an hour, and by the time she hung up, the chemistry had started to change into something deeper, more dangerous.

It had continued to change, call by call. Eventually they’d moved from books to movies, and he’d come over to her place to watch old black-and-white films full of glamour and wit. They’d played chess in the garden, and he’d even helped her plant the leafy tree that shaded the picnic table. When the band went on tour, she’d started to fly in for visits, somehow always ending up in Noah’s room.

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