It was a piece of his heart.

Chapter 9

“Let’s sit outside,” she said through the renewed ache in her chest. “It’s so pretty by the stream.” It would also be easier than being shut up in a cabin with a Noah who was acting more and more like the man for whom she’d fallen so hard she was still bruised from it.

Putting down the food, he snapped out the tartan-patterned blanket—dark blue with lines picked out in red and white. Pretty, and one she’d seen before. He’d pulled it from the trunk of his car one day, spread it out in her garden, and lazed in the sun while she finished weeding.

The garden hadn’t been finished then. It was Noah who’d helped her hoe the beds. That day, however, he’d been a complete sloth because he hadn’t slept the previous night. He’d told her it had just been a bad night, and Kit had believed him. It was only later that she’d realized Noah didn’t sleep much at all.

He’d slept in her garden, however, under the shade of the cherry blossom tree that had been one of the first things she’d planted. Giving in to need, she’d watched him. His lashes had been dark against the gold of his skin, his cheekbones defined and his jawline shadowed. There was no question that Noah was incredibly good-looking, but Kit was surrounded by good-looking people on a daily basis, had been since childhood.

It was what lay beneath Noah’s looks that had compelled her: the drive, the passion, the talent, and, she’d believed, the capacity to care. She hadn’t been wrong about the latter. Noah could care, and care deeply, but—


Jerking, she said, “Sorry, thinking about a project I’ve been offered.” It was the first thing that came to mind as an excuse.

Light reflected into the dark gray of Noah’s eyes. “Anything exciting?”

“It’s the same writing and directing team as Last Flight.” Kit went down to the blanket and began to set out the food. Noah had bought croissants, sunflower and linseed rolls, cold cuts and little miniature spreads, as well as fruit.

Holding up an apple, she raised an eyebrow. “I’m impressed.”

“You should be.” He folded himself down onto the blanket and emptied the other bag. “Juice, water… and cupcakes for dessert.”

Kit gasped at glimpsing the miniature vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. “Noah!” She pointed a finger at him. “You know I can eat a whole package of those by myself!” Cheap and prepackaged the cupcakes might be, but she adored them a thousand times more than the expensive gourmet versions.

He moved the cupcakes under her nose. “No more painted-on superhero costume.” A wicked smile. “Or I can eat them all.”

Grabbing the package from him, she went to put it aside, then said to hell with it and opened it. “We need coffee.”

“Give me a couple of minutes.” He got up, jogged into the house, moving with a masculine grace that was addicting to watch.

Stuffing half a cupcake in her mouth, she forced her attention to the stream that sparkled under the sunshine. The water was so clear she could see the pebbles beneath, the grass around the edges lush but not too tall. Since Noah hadn’t been by for a while, the grass itself had to be of a variety that stayed short.

She finished the second half of the cupcake, moaning at the taste. Putting the package aside after taking a second cupcake, she peeled off the wrapper and started to eat that one much more slowly. As she ate, she tried to think of anything but Noah. She failed.

“Coffee, as ordered.”

Looking up, his denim-clad thighs threatening to highjack her attention, she accepted the mug he held out.

“Only instant.” He came down to the blanket with his own mug in hand, close enough that their shoulders would brush with another inch of movement from either one of them. “It’s caffeine though, right?”

“Your generator’s pretty quiet.” She’d heard it start up, but it hadn’t been intrusive.

“I bought it online.” A grin. “Had no idea how to work it—and the instructions were in Swedish.”

Even as Kit laughed, Noah knew he remained on shaky ground. It didn’t matter. Not today, not with her joy sinking into his bones. He’d shit on their friendship once, would slit his fucking wrists before he ever hurt her again—and if it took a lifetime to convince Kit, then it took a lifetime. He was in this for the long haul.

“Play that new Carina song,” Kit said when he pulled out his phone to play something in the background.

He cued it up. “Don’t tell Molly I have this. She changes the channel if Carina ever shows up on TV.”

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