He muttered grumpily at her, but she didn’t care. Not so long as he was awake and not locked in whatever hell it was that had held him captive.
God, she loved him.
There, she’d said it, even if it was only in her head. She loved him. Damaged and beautiful and talented, he was the only man she’d ever loved, no matter if he’d stomped on her heart.
“Drink this coffee,” she ordered after blowing on it to cool it down.
“Coffee from Mean Hallucination Kit,” he mumbled, letting her put the cup to his lips.
She got half a cup down him. He spoke in disjointed pieces between sips. Sometimes he made her laugh, but mostly she was so worried about him that she focused every ounce of her attention on keeping him awake. “I am never letting you take sleeping pills again,” she said at one point, rubbing her cheek against the bristled roughness of his.
“Hate sleeping pills,” he muttered, able to hold his own coffee cup now. “Make me scream.”
Kit froze, caught in a moment when she knew she could have the answer to every question she’d ever had about Noah.
Don’t take advantage.
Fox’s light comment suddenly held a deeper, darker meaning. Kit opened her mouth, about to give in to temptation… and couldn’t. Because whatever she discovered this way would be tainted and would always taint anything they built, whether it was a continuing friendship or something deeper.
Swallowing the questions, she kissed the side of his temple. “Finish drinking your coffee.”
“Enough.” He put down the nearly empty cup. “I’m jumpy.” A yawn cracked his mouth, but he kept his eyes open. “Pretty Hallucination Kit.”
Not lucid, she realized, just a touch more coherent. “Pretty Drunk Noah.”
He started laughing as if that was the most hilarious thing he’d ever heard. “Not drunk,” he said at last, a heavy scowl on his face. “Sleeping pills. Hate sleeping pills.”
“I know. I’m sorry I made you take them.” She hadn’t understood, hadn’t realized the terrors that haunted him. “I won’t do it again.”
He patted her forearm. “’S okay.” Another yawn. “I want to sleep.”
Kit went to tell him to stay awake, but a glance at the phone she’d dropped nearby told her it was nearly dawn. Maybe he could sleep now? “Will the bad dreams come?” she asked, hoping she wasn’t inadvertently crossing a line.
He shrugged. “Maybe. But need sleep.”
Kit eased him down. “Okay, but I’m going to dump ice water on you if you won’t wake up when I shake you.”
“’Kay.” A frown, lines between his eyes. “Alone.”
It took her a second. “Okay.” She picked up the sleeping bag and put it over him, then went into the bedroom. If Noah needed to be alone to get rest, then she’d give him solitude—but she’d still keep a careful eye on him.
Noah woke with cotton wool in his mouth and a bladder that was about to burst. Stumbling to the toilet, he shut the door and did what needed to be done, then turned to the sink and threw water on his face. The shock of cold brought a few of his senses back to him.
That was when he noted the bruise on his left cheekbone.
Opening the door, he said, “Kit?”
She poked her head out of the bedroom. “You’re awake.” A brilliant smile, her gorgeous hair tumbling over the vivid blue of her robe.
“Did I fall flat on my face?” He indicated the bruise.
“No.” She winced. “You kind of ran into Fox’s hand.”
Fuck. He’d taken the fucking pills. “How bad?”
“You wouldn’t wake up, but once you did, you were quite funny.” A crooked smile. “You called me Mean Hallucination Kit.”
He felt his gut turn to lead. “What else did I say?”
“Nothing, except for telling me what you thought of certain bands and how you hated sleeping pills.” Her eyes, bleak and dark, went to the bruise on his face. “I’m sorry, Noah. I didn’t know the pills would lock you into a nightmare.”
The lead grew heavier. “You saw my nightmare?”
“What did I say?”
“Nothing.” She held his eyes. “I didn’t ask you and you didn’t say.”
He finally took a breath. “Thank you.”
Kit shook her head. “Don’t thank me. I pushed you into this.” Wrapping her arms around herself, she rocked slightly on her feet. “You can’t go on like this, not for three more weeks or however long it takes.”