“Thanks.” Kit’s smile hit him right in the solar plexus. “I’m kind of high from the night already—it’s fun.”
“Yeah, it is,” he said, stepping away so she could be in the spotlight. He loved watching her move, loved watching her sparkle. The night was fun, but only because she was with him.
When she held out a hand, he took position beside her and they let the photographers snap a few shots of them together.
“Into the cauldron,” he said when they turned to continue on up to the entrance. The closer they got to the doors, the harder his muscles bunched, until by the time they cleared the entrance, he felt as if he was made of stone.
His aunt was standing near the entrance with her partner of many years, Louise. Seeing him, she beamed and walked over as fast as she could in her elegant red gown, a petite powerhouse with golden hair cut in a chic bob, and brilliant blue eyes.
“My favorite boy,” she said, giving him a tight hug. “I’m so happy you came. And look at you!” She patted the front of his tuxedo jacket.
“Only for you, Aunt Margaret,” Noah said, bending to accept a kiss on the cheek before turning to Kit. “If you don’t recognize Kit, I’ll disown you.”
Laughing at Kit’s scandalized response, his aunt took Kit’s hand in her own. “I’m in awe of your talent, my dear.”
“The admiration is mutual.” Kit’s response was warm, her smile lighting up the room. “Everything looks incredible. I hope the gala raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the foundation.”
“Oh, we’ll get it,” his aunt said, her tone steely. “Even if I have to stand over people to get them to open their wallets for the auction.” A wink. “At least I know one donor who won’t stiff me.”
Noah pretended to look up at the high ceiling as if fascinated by the old-fashioned moldings.
“Don’t make me twist your ear, Noah St. John.”
Grinning, he hugged his aunt with one arm. “I already transferred the money to the foundation’s account. Tonight I’m just going to outbid people to drive up prices for the auction items, then drop out so they’re stuck with paying but feeling like they got one over on the brat rock star.”
Kit nudged her shoulder to his in laughing agreement while Margaret’s responding expression held pure glee.
“That’s why I love you. Go on and mingle, you two. Prepare for a few starstruck types—they might be rich, but most can only aspire to bad reality television.” She put a neatly manicured hand on Kit’s arm. “There are a few people you might want to meet. Noah, make sure you introduce her to Cyril King and Lisa Fei.”
Kit recognized both names. Talk about money people. Slipping her arm through Noah’s as they left his aunt to move deeper into the huge atrium space that made the mansion perfect for gala events, she said, “I’m starting to feel guilty. I came to support you, but I seem to be getting everything.”
“Are you kidding?” Noah’s upper arm muscles grew rigid under her fingertips. “I’d already be climbing the walls if you weren’t with me.” He grabbed two flutes of champagne, handing her one and gulping half of his.
“Hey.” She put her frown in her voice, not her face, aware they were the focus of multiple pairs of curious eyes. “No getting drunk on champagne.” As far as she knew, Noah was always sober in public, but after the motel incident, Kit wasn’t taking any chances.
A stormy, dark gray glance that held echoes of the icy cold with which she’d seen him shut down others.
“Damn it,” he muttered. “Stop being the voice of reason.”
No cold there; he sounded almost sulky.
Lips twitching, she squeezed his arm. “Shall we go say hello to your parents? We can do it quick.”
“No.” With that flat statement, he turned her to the right. “Let’s go talk to Cyril instead. He’s a windbag but a funny one most of the time.”
However, they’d only gone a few feet when Noah was stopped by an older couple who looked very, very blue-blooded.
“Noah,” the lady said with a tight smile that seemed congenital. “It’s good to see you here.”
“Aunt Althea, Uncle Donald.” Ice now, each word dripping with it. “This is Kathleen.”
“Charmed, my dear.” Another prunish pursing of lips from the woman. “My grandchild tells me you’re to be a green… creature in your next movie.”