He’d deliberately chosen a place that was out of the way, but he’d lucked out with the owners being uninterested in any music but country. Blissful anonymity was the result.
He grabbed his wallet and the keys he needed to access the hangar and plane, then got into the black SUV he kept beside his Mustang—no sense screwing up his anonymity by driving a distinctive car. This early, traffic was light enough that he’d make it to Kit’s with time to spare.
His heart beat a little too fast, his fingers tapping on the steering wheel.
When he glimpsed the lights of an all-night grocery store up ahead, he made a snap decision and swung into the parking lot. He grabbed a cart and got a few things for brunch as well as the one snack Kit could never resist. He wanted this to be a good day for her; to do that, he couldn’t allow himself to imagine it wouldn’t work, that he’d lost her forever the night he’d done the unforgiveable.
“Wow.” The pimply-faced teenage cashier’s mouth fell open. “Are you really you?”
Noah didn’t perform for the fame, but he also didn’t disdain his fans. They were the reason he could be free to live the music inside him; without that music, he’d be dead or huddled in some damn psychiatric ward. “Depends who you think I am.”
The teenager gulped. “I recognize that voice and that tattoo on your wrist.” Hand trembling, he put down the drink he’d been about to scan. “Wow. C-can I…” He just held up his phone in a wordless question.
“Sure.” Taking the phone since he was taller, Noah snapped a photo of himself with his arm around the kid’s shoulders, the teenager giving two thumbs-up and grinning so hard his face was about to crack.
The photo-taking attracted the attention of the night manager and the only other clerk on duty. By the time Noah finally left, traffic had thickened as early commuters tried to beat the chaos of LA traffic, but it was still manageable and he arrived right on time.
Kit came out of the house as he stepped out of the car. Dressed in jeans that hugged her legs, flats, and a kind of floaty tunic top in white with three-quarter-length sleeves, her hair in a ponytail, she looked fresh and pretty and like his Kit. Not Kathleen Devigny, Oscar-nominated actress on the way to superstardom. Just Kit.
“I wasn’t sure what to bring,” she said. “I have my phone and some money. Anything else?”
“No, we’re good.” He didn’t fight the happiness that was sunshine in his blood; Kit alone could make him feel that way, as if he was an ordinary man out with a woman he adored.
“Let me set the alarm. I’ve already alerted security we’re heading out.” A glance over her shoulder. “I told them not to follow today.”
Noah braced his arm against the top of the SUV, shaken by her trust. “I’ll park the SUV in the hangar so no one can get to it while we’re in the air.” Up there, she’d be safe in his hands.
Five minutes later, she was snug in the SUV.
After grabbing coffee from a drive-through, they drove in silence for over twenty minutes. It wasn’t as awkward as dinner had been, but neither was it as comfortable as they’d once been together. Noah had destroyed that. He’d done it deliberately with his eyes wide open. He’d hurt the one person he never wanted to hurt… and he knew without a doubt that it was the best thing he could’ve ever done for Kit.
No matter what happened from now on, she’d never forget or forgive the cruelty of his actions. It would keep her at a safe distance, where he couldn’t hurt her in far more vicious and irrevocable ways. Where he couldn’t stain her with his ugliness.
His hand tightened on the steering wheel. “Do you like the superhero movie?” he asked, needing to hear her voice, to have that much of her at least. “I mean, I know the green gunk and early starts got old, but do you have a good feeling about the final product?”
She shifted in her seat, the movement sending her scent his way, the freshness of soap and water licked with a faint trace of her perfume. It was subtle and elegant but with a hint of the earth, exactly like Kit.
“It’s good fun, has amazing stunts, and the plot makes sense, wonder of wonders,” she said after a thoughtful pause. “There was even some actual emotional acting required.” Her tone was a little too nonchalant.
“The script was phenomenal, wasn’t it?”
“Yep.” She laughed at being caught out. “Great cast too. Even if Cody did keep hitting on me.”
“Maybe you should hit back, make him uncomfortable.”