Grabbing at the distraction, she put on oven mitts and pulled out the two pizzas.

“Planning to indulge?” Noah asked, his gray eyes solemn though his lips smiled.

“I know you inhale pizza.” She’d wonder where it went except that she knew he ran for miles at night, long after the rest of the world was asleep. It was a truth she’d discovered when he’d crashed in her guest bedroom once. She’d woken and gone to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, caught him coming back in, damp with sweat and breathless.

He’d shrugged and grinned that off too, saying he ran after midnight because of the peace and privacy afforded by the darkness. She’d accepted the explanation, but like so much about Noah, it didn’t make sense in hindsight. Except for one notorious incident where he’d lost his temper with a frankly aggravating photographer, he didn’t seem to care about the paparazzi or the public snapping photos of him.

“This looks like seriously fancy pizza,” he said now, picking up a piece that dripped with cheese.

“Careful. It’s hot.”

He bit in anyway, groaned in pleasure, the strong column of his throat moving as he swallowed.

Kit’s breath caught. Stifling the visceral response, she jerked away her gaze and passed him a plate before getting one for herself. She grabbed a slice, some salad, and took a seat at the table.

“Is that iced tea?” Having taken the opposite seat, Noah got up and brought over the pitcher she’d forgotten on the counter, its sides frosty with condensation.

“Thanks,” she said when he poured her a glass.

They sat, ate. In silence.

It was excruciating. Awkward beyond bearing.

“I miss you.”

Throat choking up at the roughly uttered words, Kit poked a fork at her salad.

“Kit.” Noah reached across with a careful hand, closing it over her own. “I’m sorry.” It came out gritty. “I fucked up. Bad.”

A punch of anger had her snapping up her head. “You did it on purpose.”

“Yeah, I did.”

His admission brutalized her all over again, but he held on when she would’ve pulled away her hand. “I didn’t know how else to show you how bad of a bet I was,” he said, curling his fingers into her palm.

“So you had me walk in on you with another woman?” Kit demanded, ripping away her hand because he had no damn right to touch her; he’d thrown away that right. “You didn’t have enough respect for me as a friend to just tell me you weren’t interested?”

“I’m messed up,” Noah said flatly. “Seriously messed up.” It was all he could say; he couldn’t tell her the why of it, couldn’t bear for her to know.

“That’s not an excuse.” Her eyes, those passionate amber eyes, blazed at him. “We’re all a little messed up.”

“Not a little.” Getting up, he strode to the other end of the kitchen and back. “Not even a lot. I’m messed up on a level nothing will ever fix.” He’d accepted that a long time ago. “I’ll never be someone who deserves you… but I need you.” It was so fucking hard to say that, to admit vulnerability and lay himself open to her rejection.

Kit was the only woman who could make him bleed, make him beg. “Be my friend, Kit. Please.”

Kit’s eyes shimmered. Ducking her head, she pressed her face into her hands, her fingers trembling.

Noah hated himself for what he’d done to her, hated that he hadn’t just let her go, but he couldn’t. Going to her, he hunkered down beside her chair and gripped the back of it so he wouldn’t give in to the urge to touch her again without her permission. “I’m sorry.” The words were inadequate, but they were all he had. “I’m so sorry, Kit.”

Seeing her like this, Noah wanted to punch himself, kick himself. If anyone else had hurt Kit this way, it was exactly what Noah would’ve done. “I don’t expect you to forgive me, but please don’t shut me out.” His blood roared in his ears, his face flushing burning hot then going ice-cold when she didn’t raise her head. “I can’t breathe knowing you hate me.”

Kit looked at him at last, her face ravaged by tears. Then she was in his arms, that stunning tear-wet face buried against his neck. He held her as she cried, and he called himself a selfish bastard, and it was true, but one other thing was also true: “Day or night, rain or shine, I’ll be there for you,” he whispered against her ear, his hand cupping the back of her head, and his arms around her.

Tags: Nalini Singh Rock Kiss Erotic
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