Kit was feeling guardedly optimistic. Not only was Noah sleeping at least a few uninterrupted hours a night, he was working with her to figure out the physical stuff. She’d thought it’d be awkward and hard, but it wasn’t. It was fun, like they were teenagers, cautious and not quite sure what was okay and what wasn’t.
Noah had really gotten into the “romantic bullshit.” Turned out the bad boy of rock liked kissing. Kit had never been so thoroughly kissed in all her life. The night before, he’d pinned her down on the bed outside and, one hand gripping her jaw, kissed her until she’d all but melted into the bed. For a man who’d avoided kissing before, he’d sure picked it up fast.
“I love him so much,” she confessed to Becca when she met her friend for a coffee a week later, a surely silly smile on her face.
Becca laughed, her makeup relatively low-key today, though her hair remained that gorgeous, vibrant blue. “In that case, I’m happy for you, you sappy goof. I will, however, still stab him in delicate places if he hurts you.”
Reaching over, Kit touched Becca’s hand. “It’s different this time, trust me.” Noah remained the same man, but he was no longer using his defenses to block her out, sabotage their relationship. This was the Noah she’d come to know in their hotel room conversations—the sensitive, complicated, talented man who’d written a heartbreaking song about a sparrow with broken wings.
She understood that song now, knew how deeply personal it was, though to anyone who didn’t know his past, it would simply be a sweet, sad, beautiful song.
“Hey,” Becca said with a wry smile. “Boys come and go, but girlfriends are forever, right? I’m not going to mess with our friendship by dissing Noah when you love him.”
“I want you two to like each other—give him a shot, okay?” Kit knew this “boy” wouldn’t be going anywhere. He made her heart sing.
“Just for you.” Becca poked her cake fork at Kit. “Are you two coming to my birthday dinner? Crap, I think I forgot to e-mail you. It’s tomorrow night.”
“I feel wounded! Forgotten already.” Kit slapped a hand over her heart. “What time? Where?”
“Nothing fancy. My place. We’ll do takeout, and since I forgot to order a cake, we’ll eat random cakes I pick up from the grocery store. Seven p.m. to probably around ten thirty as a whole bunch of us have to be on set by eight the next day.”
“I’ll be there.” Kit crossed her fingers that Becca and Noah would hit it off. “And I’m going to make sure you have a proper birthday cake—chocolate-frosted vanilla, right?”
Becca’s smile was so sweet it belied the tough attitude she so often put on. “Thanks, Kit. I should’ve known I could count on you.”
Noah gave Kit a dubious look when she told him her hope that he and Becca would find common ground. “Becca is never going to like me, Kit. It’s in the girl code or something.”
“Just be nice to her,” Kit said, picking up her phone to call a caterer friend who owed her a favor—and who happened to have a baker on staff.
He was actually nice to Becca, to the point that the makeup artist seemed to be thawing a little. Kit actually saw the two of them in conversation not long after Becca cut the dual-layer cake Kit’s caterer friend had managed on short notice, and Becca had a genuine smile on her face. Relieved she wouldn’t have to run interference between her man and one of her closest friends, Kit had a great time at the party.
Returning home with Noah around eleven that night, she stretched in the hallway. “That was a good night.”
The only awkward moment had come when Terrence turned up.
“Oh, shit,” Becca had mouthed from across the room. Later, when she’d had Kit alone, she’d been so apologetic. “I totally forgot you two had a thing before you got together with Noah. Do you want me to ask him to leave?”
Kit had assured her friend that it was fine, but the situation had been strained. Terrence had barely spoken to her, and it made her sad that he was still so angry with her—though she did think he was taking things a bit hard when they’d only been on three actual dates. They’d been friends for years before that; surely he understood that she hadn’t meant to hurt him?
His behavior seemed unusually possessive, but Kit couldn’t bring herself to believe Terrence was her stalker. Still, she’d be extra careful around him, especially since Jade was still excited about Kit doing the project with the two of them. Kit had expected Terrence to veto it, but according to Jade, he wanted Kit for the role.
Not that she’d know it from his personal treatment of her.
“Hey.” Noah rubbed the lines between her eyebrows. “Why the frown?”
Kit shook her head, not wanting to bring up Terrence. She’d sensed the animosity between Noah and the writer, figured they must’ve run into each other when she wasn’t around. “I’m glad you and Becca are getting along.”
Taking her hand, he tugged her to her bedroom and leaned in the doorway while she slipped off her heels. “Yeah, dodged that bullet. Phew.” He pretended to wipe his brow. “Any guy worth his salt knows you’re toast if you get on the wrong side of the girlfriends.”
Kit laughed. “How did you do it?”
“Told her I was crazy about you.” Smiling lips, dead serious eyes.
Her heart squeezed so hard she could barely breathe. “I have to change,” she said, the words coming out husky.
Stepping inside the room, he braced his back on the wall by the door. “Can I watch?”
Kit’s breath froze in her throat at the unexpected question, the heat in Noah’s gaze searing. “I… Okay.” Gripping her nerves in a tight fist, she walked over to him and, turning to give him her back, swept her hair over one shoulder. “Unzip me. Please.”
A rough breath, his lips brushing her nape before he began to tug down the zipper slow and easy. He touched her nowhere else, but by the time he’d finished, she had goose bumps all over her body. Keeping her back to him, she returned to her original position beside the bed and slid off the long sleeves of the midthigh-length black dress.
A single push at the hips and the soft fabric fell to pool at her feet.
He groaned. “You’re wearing a garter belt with thigh-high stockings.”
Yes, she was. Not simply because she liked the way they felt on her body, but because Noah had once let it drop that he found the look hot. It had been a passing comment while they’d been watching a movie, but she remembered everything when it came to him.
“These old things?” she said and, stepping out of the dress, bent down to pick it up. She was hotly conscious of Noah’s eyes on her ass as she walked into the wardrobe and hung the dress in the section where she put clothes that needed dry-cleaning.
A deep inhale while she was hidden from him, a slow exhale, her pulse a drumbeat.
Going back to the bed using the same unhurried stride, she put one foot on the mattress and unclipped the stocking from the garter belt. The stocking was baby fine and, to be honest, not really necessary in LA. But again, it was all about playing to Noah’s fantasies.
She rolled down the stocking with care, inch by inch. Tugging it off her foot, she dropped it to the floor and started on the second. No rushing, no visible self-consciousness, just a woman slowly, sensuously teasing her lover as she undressed for him.
Though Noah hadn’t moved from his position by the door, his thumbs hooked into the front pockets of his jeans, his breathing was audible. Her own heart thumped hard as stone against her ribs. It was so loud by the time she finished taking off the second stocking that she couldn’t hear Noah anymore. Dropping the ball of airy material to the carpet, she put both feet back on that carpet and went to undo the tiny hooks that fastened the lace of the garter belt around her hips.
It was erotic black, the same color as her panties and the demi-cup bra she wore on top. All a matched set.
Her hands trembled as she removed the lace and dropped it on the bed.
She’d just lifted her arms back to unhook her bra when Noah moved. She saw it out of the corner of her eye, stumbled when his weight hit her, but he had his hands tight on her hips, kept her upright.
“Noah,” she gasped, feeling the hard push of his cock against her lace-covered butt.
“Now, Kit,” he said harshly. “Now, while I only have you in my head.”
Kit didn’t argue. If Noah thought now was the time, now it would be. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t burning up for him. “Yes,” she said.
He turned her to the wall, pushed her forward. It was rough but controlled, Noah’s hands holding on to her until she’d braced her palms against the wall. Her chest heaved, her breasts swelling against the cups of her bra. She made a low, needy sound in her throat when he pulled down the scrap of her panties… and then they just tore, the ribbon ties on either side snapping like they were made of paper.
She felt his hands moving behind her, heard the sound of a belt buckle being opened, the metallic rasp of a zipper being lowered, braced herself for him. She was ready, her body melting, but at that moment, a dark, twisted fear invaded her heart. He was taking her from the back, the way he’d no doubt taken many of those other women. Was that all she’d become? Did he even remember who she was anymore?
A condom wrapper.
“I’ll keep you safe,” he ground out.
Her panicked heart interpreted that to mean he was keeping a barrier between them. Part of her knew that was stupid, that he was doing the right thing, but her panic grew and grew. She couldn’t bear it if they did this and—
His hands back on her hips. Spinning her around, strands of her hair sticking to her cheeks, he grabbed her face in his hands and kissed her so hard that their teeth collided. But that was okay, that was better than okay, because he had his eyes open and he was looking at her and he knew damn well who it was he held.
“Kit,” he said, stroking his callused, gifted hands down her body and lifting her just enough that he could thrust into her.
Hard. Fast. Deep.
A guttural scream ripped out of her. She’d thrown out her hands for balance when he spun her, clawed at the wall as he pulled out then slammed back in. Barely able to hold herself together, she put her hands on his face, on that part of him he so rarely allowed anyone to touch, and held him, their eyes locked together and their breaths colliding as he pounded her into the wall.
The scent of him was hot, masculine, and Noah. Just Noah.
Her body knew his, wanted his, and her heart, it was his.
Her orgasm was inevitable. The last things she saw were Noah’s eyes looking into hers, the dark gray wild. His body slammed into her one final time and went rigid, his fingers digging into her flesh and his chest crushing her breasts.
Her hands never left his face.
And she heard him say “Kit” again a heartbeat before the world became nothing but a wrenching kaleidoscope of pleasure.
Noah shuddered through the clawing, violent pleasure of his orgasm. It gripped him, shook, but what held him even more tightly was Kit’s touch on his face, her skin against his.
Legs shaky afterward, he pulled out of her and got rid of the condom by trying to chuck it in the neat wicker trash basket Kit kept on one side of the room. He was fairly certain he missed, but Kit could be pissed with him for that later. Right now he just wanted to hold her.
Tumbling them both onto the bed, Kit’s eyes dazed when they opened, he braced himself over her just enough that he wasn’t crushing her. Her breasts, still cupped by black lace, moved against his chest, and her breath kissed his face. She lifted a trembling hand, stroked his jaw. It felt good, felt fucking great.
“You can have the romantic bullshit now,” he said, being the hard man when the truth was that he needed the romantic bullshit.
Lips curving in a smile that rocked his world and eyes heavy lidded, Kit stroked her fingers back to play with his hair as she put her other hand on his biceps. “Thanks,” she said and, when he kissed her, kissed him back slow and lazy.
He sank into the kiss, sank into her, feeling good after sex for the first time in his life. It hadn’t been some cheap hate fuck. Not the women, he’d never hated them. It was himself he’d hated, his anger directed inward.
This, tonight… it didn’t feel like that.
He didn’t hate what he’d done, didn’t want to escape it. He wanted to linger, wanted to wallow, wanted to wrap himself in this moment when he’d given his woman what she needed. Squeezing her breast as they kissed, he caught her moan in his mouth, squeezed again.
She squirmed under him, but her fingers stayed lazily playful just above his nape.
Lowering himself even more heavily onto her, he tugged down the cup of her bra and filled his hand with her warm flesh. Her nipple was stiff against his palm, her skin silky. Even softer than the skin of her legs as they rubbed along the hair-roughened skin of his.
They lay tangled and lazy in bed, kiss after kiss, the air hot and humid between them and his hand on her breast.
“Let me take off my bra,” she murmured when her lips were swollen and wet and her body so aroused that he could smell the erotic musk of her in the air.
He lifted himself off her but didn’t go far. She had to twist to get the bra off, and he enjoyed every small movement. The instant the lace was gone, he came down on her again, this time with his chest flush against her breasts and his hands interlacing with hers on either side of her head. His cock unerringly found her slick heat.
She arched, moaning. “Again?”
“Yeah.” He felt good tonight, felt normal, no demons howling in his head. “You got protection?” He’d only had the one condom in his wallet
Kit ran a foot up his calf. “In the bathroom cabinet.”
He groaned, not wanting to get up and out of bed to go grab it. “It’s meant to be in the bedside drawer for a reason.”
Rubbing up against him, she wiggled one hand free to run a finger down the line of his throat as the tip of his cock touched the scalding heat of her. His eyes all but rolled back in his head. A little more of this and he was done. Especially if she kept stroking him, petting him, dropping kisses along his jaw and down his throat.
“I’ll go get it,” he said, not moving.
She hooked her legs over his hips. “Okay.”
“Kit.” He was trying to be a good guy here, but she wasn’t exactly helping. “Move another inch and I’ll be inside you.”
Lashes lifting, she sank her teeth into her lower lip… and moved that inch.
The air left his lungs, his hips slamming forward almost of their own accord to bury his cock to the hilt inside her. She was so goddamn hot, so fucking wet. “Oh, Jesus.”
Not about to question her trust when he’d never felt so good in his life, he began to move again. He’d intended to go slow, intended to make it last, but his body had other ideas. No way would this be slow, not with Kit holding him so possessively inside her while her kiss was pure heat and tenderness.
“Noah, do that again,” she moaned after he pulled out almost all the way, only to thrust back in.
His cock pulsing at the sign of her pleasure—yeah, his dick was a teacher’s pet, wanted all the gold stars—he gave her what she wanted. Again and again and again.
An hour later, they somehow stumbled to the outdoor bed and fell asleep, sticky with sweat and sex.