Stomach tensed against the stupid butterflies that refused to get the memo that she was over Noah, she tried for a stern tone. “This is not going to work if you throw your clothes around on the floor.”
Still smiling that lazy, sleepy smile, he grabbed the tee and chucked it onto the sofa, the layout of his bus the same as Molly and Fox’s except there was no desk tucked into the corner. “There, now it’s not on the floor.”
She tried not to smile. “You’re dopey with sleep deprivation. Go get some more rest.”
Jaw cracking in a yawn, he took her hand and tugged her to the bedroom. “I can’t sleep, but I’ll lie down if you sit with me and tell me stuff.”
Pushing him down onto the bed, she slipped off her heels, then climbed on beside him. He was lying on his back, his arms folded under his head and his eyes, those so often unreadable eyes, turned toward her.
Unable to look into the storm gray lest she betray too much, she busied herself getting into a seated position with her back to the wall that acted as the headboard. The idiotic butterflies dipped and dived at being so close to him, his gorgeous body laid out in front of her.
Noah was built beautiful, his chest bare of hair except for a thin trail that began below his belly button and disappeared into jeans that hung sexily low, exposing the lickable vee of the muscles on either side. There wasn’t a lot of ink on the front of his body. Lyrics down his left side in vertical lines, a quote that spoke to him across his ribs on the other side, and a small, stylized sun on his left shoulder.
She couldn’t see his back in this position, but she knew it bore a finely detailed phoenix so stunning the artist in question had asked Noah to pose for a photograph that adorned the front of the artist’s book. That phoenix rose from the flames, defiant and glorious, and after guessing just how deep Noah’s scars went, Kit had come to realize the phoenix was Noah.
Only he hadn’t quite escaped the forces trying to haul him back down.
I can’t save him, she reminded the heart that still ached for him. Not if he won’t help save himself.
Swallowing the lump in her throat, she said, “I had a one-on-one meeting with Esra Dali.” She’d held the news inside all day because Noah was the only one with whom she wanted to share it.
“No shit?” A smile that just destroyed her. “You got the part?”
“Not yet. But he asked me to come in next week and read for him again, this time with Garrison opposite me.” The Abigail-Garrison show was now on the road, and they were doing better than Thea had predicted, so things weren’t yet in the bag.
“Kit, that’s amazing.”
Noah’s excitement was genuine, she knew that. He’d always been her biggest champion, right back from when they’d first become friends. The fact he’d broken her heart didn’t alter that, didn’t erase all the things he’d once been to her… still was to her. “Thanks,” she said, wanting to shake him and kiss him at the same time. “I’m cautiously excited.”
“So,” Noah said after a short pause, “what did Gates say when you told him about us?”
Kit rubbed a hand over her face. “Terrence and I aren’t an item anymore. I wanted to tell him the truth about everything, but… I didn’t.”
She’d still been on the sofa the morning after the gala, staring at the muted TV, when Terrence had called her. He’d said he was watching the same report, asked her if the rumors were true, if she’d ended up in Noah’s bed the previous night.
Kit had gone to deny it, to reassure Terrence that it was all media hoopla, when he’d continued on to ask if she’d “dumped” him for “that manwhore,” if she’d “lowered herself to the gutter.” He’d added that he hadn’t thought her so “cheap.”
His voice had been colder than she’d ever heard it, so much anger in it that she’d felt the hairs rise on the back of her neck. Maybe it was just a flash of temper, but maybe it was a side of Terrence she didn’t know—and his extreme possessiveness was especially troubling when they’d only gone on three tentative dates.
Kit’s mind had suddenly filled with the stalker’s letters. He’d used the word “whore” liberally too, though always in relation to Kit. Chilled, she’d snapped at Terrence that he had no right to speak to her that way, and that if they hadn’t been over before, they were now.
Afterward, she’d felt guilty at suspecting Terrence of being her stalker, but she couldn’t shake off the chill, not even after he apologized via text message since she refused to answer his calls.