Kit had no idea what she was doing. Noah needed a counselor, but since he refused to even consider going to see one, they had to stumble through this on their own. Part of that meant reading everything she could online about abuse survivors. She did that during the day while Noah hooked up with David and Abe to go see a set of drums David was thinking of buying.
The first thing that became clear was that Noah’s belief that as a male, he should’ve been able to protect himself, wasn’t unusual. According to the help sites and forums, even small boys picked up and internalized the wider world’s ideas about “real men.” How those ideas had savaged Noah broke Kit’s heart.
In his case, his parents’ actions had further solidified his beliefs. Robert and Virginia had made him feel like he was the one who’d done something wrong, boarding school a punishment. “Bastards.”
Breathing past her fury, she continued to read.
When Becca called her midway through the day to ask her if she wanted to hang out, Kit said, “I’ll take a rain check this time, okay? Thanks for thinking of me though.”
“Of course! I know breakups can be hard.”
“We’re back together,” Kit told her, hope a fiercely optimistic candle in her heart. “Wish us luck.”
Becca paused before saying, “Good luck, Kit.” Her voice was quiet. “I’m sorry, I still don’t think he’s good for you—but if you love him, I’ll back you.”
“You’re a good friend.” One who’d been there for her from her Primrose Avenue days and who’d seen her in the aftermath of the first go-round with Noah. Kit couldn’t blame Becca for her view on Noah, but neither would she let even the closest friend influence how she saw the complicated, talented man she loved.
Hanging up after a lighthearted conversation about monster makeup, Kit continued to read. Enough to know that she could really screw this up. She was so scared of getting things wrong and messing up everything. And she couldn’t talk to anyone without betraying Noah’s confidence.
No, wait. She sat up straight. Fox knows.
Grabbing her phone, she called the lead singer. “Noah told me,” she said and didn’t elaborate. “He won’t go to a counselor, Fox.”
“Yeah, I know.” Fox blew out a breath. “You’re going to have to figure this out between the two of you.”
“I don’t want to mess up.” Already she’d made a mistake in not actually asking him if he wanted to exchange massages. “I don’t want to hurt him.”
“He doesn’t want to hurt you either,” Fox said. “He’s done a piss-poor job of showing it to date, but that guy will walk on hot coals for you if you ask. So I figure you two have a better starting place than most.”
Kit tried to hold on to that thought as she did some more reading. Harper called around midday and told her she had a meeting with the Redemption people tomorrow, which she noted down. But otherwise, her day was quiet. Even the media coverage about Noah and Fox’s fight was relatively low-key.
It totally fizzled out once Fox joined the other guys on their drum-kit-buying slash just-hanging-out trip and a blogger uploaded photos of Noah and Fox laughing together after Fox offered Noah a bag of frozen peas. The two were also pretending to throw more punches.
Kit had to admit that photomontage made her smile too.
They’re such guys sometimes, she messaged Molly, attaching a link to the article.
The other woman replied quickly. Fox stole those peas from our freezer. I was planning to use them for dinner!
Laughing so hard her shoulders shook, Kit sent another message. Did he tell you Noah looked worse?
Of course!! :-)
Kit decided to call Molly, and the two of them had a good laugh before the conversation turned serious. “Sarah’s doing laps in the pool,” Molly told her. “I think she’s more comfortable here now, but she really wants to go home.”
“I can understand.” Kit would want to be in her own space too. “Has Abe been by?”
“No, but he messages me or Fox several times a day to check on her.” Blowing out a breath, Molly said, “I had my phone on the counter earlier and Sarah saw his message on the home screen.”
“Oh.” Kit worried her lower lip. “What was her reaction?” After what she’d seen at Zenith, she had no idea what was going on between Abe and Sarah—or what had gone on in their marriage and divorce.
“It’s strange, but she looked shocked… and kind of sad.” Molly sounded like she was moving around as she spoke. “Thea says Abe’s been extra quiet and uncommunicative but that he’s staying stone-cold sober.”
“Good.” At least if drugs and alcohol were out of the equation, Abe and Sarah could finally talk. “Is that your other phone ringing?”
“Drat. It’s a work call.”
“Go grab it. We’ll catch up later.” After hanging up, she threw together a quick salad for lunch, then continued her reading.
Noah picked up dinner on his way back home from what had turned into an impromptu jam session at David and Thea’s, and they ate out in the garden—at his suggestion. He was really comfortable out there, Kit realized, another idea bubbling in her mind.
“So when’s this massage thing happening?” he asked an hour after dinner.
Surprised and happy he’d brought it up himself, she smiled. “You sure you want to do it?”
“Yeah. I bought this stuff.” Going into the house, he came back out with a bottle of organic vanilla oil for sensitive skin. “I figure your skin’s softer than mine.”
“It looks great,” she managed to get out, though her stomach was full of butterflies. The idea of having Noah’s hands on her, those guitar calluses deliciously rough against her skin…
Breathe, Kit. This is just a massage. That’s all it can be.
The point was to teach Noah that sensual touch didn’t always have to lead to sex, that intimacy could be built in other ways… that he could give her physical pleasure in other ways. The latter sounded selfish, but the things Noah had said, his behavior, it all pointed to the fact that should he be unable to give her pleasure, he’d take that as a failure on his part, and that failure could lead him to some very dark places.
Kit was going to do everything in her power to keep him from going there.
“Do you want to go first or shall I?” she asked after spreading out a blanket in the center of the living area, Noah having shifted the coffee table out of the way.
“I’ll do you,” he said without hesitation.
Butterflies in full fury, she nodded and, going down to her knees on the blanket, took off her T-shirt while Noah came up behind her. Her yoga pants, she was definitely keeping on. She didn’t know whether to take off her bra or not, decided to leave the decision up to him. “You can unhook the bra if it gets in your way,” she said as she lay down on her stomach.
Noah didn’t say anything, but she felt his warm, strong presence behind her, heard him twist off the cap on the oil, sensed him pour some onto his palm. Vanilla scented the air. Then his hands were on her, and the rough, warm feel of them brought tears to her eyes. She’d waited so long for him.
Noah put his hands on Kit’s shoulders, careful not to use too much pressure. She was so fragile in comparison to him, her skin delicate. He immediately found he couldn’t work properly from the side. “I’m going to straddle you. Okay?”
“Just don’t try to bridle me for a ride.”
Chuckling, he straddled her on his knees and ran his hands over her shoulders.
“Harder, Noah. I won’t break.”
He obeyed the request in small increments until she let out a groan at the sweep of his thumbs on either side of her spine and kind of went all lazy and loose-limbed under him. Realizing he’d found a sweet spot of pressure, he kept it up as he went down her back.
When he reached her bra, he unhooked the clasp and kept going. Her back was flawless, one of her best features. When she wore those dresses with a plunging back, he just wanted to stroke her like she was a cat. Today he had full permission, so he indulged himself.
“What about you?” she mumbled at one stage.
“I like doing you,” he said, running his hands up her back.
She moaned again. “’Kay.”
There wasn’t much conversation after that; Noah sank into the sensory experience, into the feel of Kit’s body under his hands, the scent of vanilla in the air. He’d had women offer him massages before, but he’d always said no. He’d certainly never wanted to return the favor. It had all been wham-bam-get the fuck out of here. Yeah, he was no prince.
But with Kit he wanted to linger, wanted to touch, wanted to just do the things that gave him pleasure. No expectations, no demands.
His body hadn’t gotten the memo though, his cock hard as rock at the physical stimulus of having Kit’s ass so close, her upper body all but naked in front of him. Gritting his teeth, he continued the massage; it wasn’t until a while later that he realized Kit hadn’t said a word for over half an hour.
“Kit?” he said softly.
Putting his hands on either side of her head, he leaned down to check her face. Her eyes were closed, her breathing even.
He grinned. She was so not going to be pleased with him when she woke up and realized he’d massaged her to sleep on the floor. He, on the other hand, felt like a smug asshole.
Grabbing a blanket, he covered her. Then, thinking of how it had felt to sleep with her outside, he found an extra pillow and sprawled on the blanket by her side. He didn’t really sleep, the demons vicious tonight, but that was all right. Every time they howled too loud, he stroked Kit’s bare back until the simple human contact silenced the voices.