Fighting for Everything:A Warrior Fight Club Novel(8)By: Laura Kaye
Which was why he needed to get out of this conversation right now.
“You can always talk to me, you know. I’m still the same old Kristina, and you’re still the same old Noah. Just like before,” she said. The smile on her face was so damn pretty…and hopeful.
He couldn’t bring himself to dash that hope, but he had none to give. “Right,” Noah said. “Thanks. I’m good. Actually, I think maybe taking a shower might help chill me out.”
“Yeah? That sounds like a good idea,” she said. They rose off the ground, and hell if he didn’t have to keep a hand against the wall to maintain his balance. Panic attacks and anxiety did shit for his equilibrium problems. “I could grab us some food and bring it down for when you’re out—”
“No. I mean, nah, I’m tired. I, uh, just wanna crash,” he said, forcing a false ease into his voice he didn’t feel at all. He’d be lucky to sleep. And what sleep he did get would likely leave him wrung out and exhausted. But Kristina didn’t need to know any of that, either.
“Oh. Right. Sure.” She smoothed her hands over the front of her dress, like she didn’t know what else to do with herself. “Well, whoa—” She took a step back and almost tripped over a pillow that had been knocked on the floor. Kristina caught herself on the edge of the bed and chuckled. “That could’ve been bad.” She picked it up and tossed it against the headboard.
Noah gazed from the pillow to her. “Sorry. And, uh, about that,” he said, glancing to the bed again. “I probably shouldn’t have… I mean, before, when I, uh, kissed you and…” Goddamnit, was it hot in this room or was he in the process of internally combusting? “I think…maybe…”
“It was just a crazy accident,” Kristina said, saving him from his apparent inability to string together a coherent sentence. “Heat of the moment.” She smiled.
“Yeah. Heat of the moment.” A gut check said it was more than that, but none of his checks and balances were working too good these days, now were they.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, giving him a wink.
“Okay. Won’t happen again, ma’am,” he said, making a weak effort to inject some humor.
“Dude, you're the geezer in this friendship, so drop the ma’am crap.” Kristina pushed onto her tiptoes and gave him a strictly platonic peck on the cheek.
Friendship. Right. Good, at least they were on the same page.
She walked around the foot of the bed and stopped with her hand on the doorknob. “Sure you’re okay? I wouldn’t mind hanging awhile.”
“I’m good,” he said, forcing a smile, forcing himself to stay together for just a few more seconds.
“Okey dokey,” she said, disappointment plain in the cast of her eyes. “Gimme a call tomorrow.”
Kristina slipped out the door and closed it behind her.
Noah released a long breath and braced his hands against his knees. The room seemed cold and the silence loud without Kristina there. And he didn’t want to examine that too closely. Or, really, anything that’d happened in this room during the last…hell…he didn’t even know how long he’d been with her.
On autopilot, Noah tore off his clothes, locked himself in the bathroom, and turned on the shower water. Not wanting to meet his own gaze, he kept his eyes off the mirror while he waited for the water to warm, and then he stepped in, closed the shower curtain, and rested his hands against the white tile as the hot water sprayed down onto his head.
A sob clawed up from deep inside his chest. Shit, no. If he let that sucker free—
Noah raked his fingers into his hair and pulled against the pressure building up inside him. He’d already lost it. He’d already lost it enough today. No more. No more.
Except the pressure just grew and grew and fucking grew—
Noah whirled and punched the wall. Hard. White tile cracked and crumbled under the blow. The destruction…was fucking freeing. He punched again. And again.
And, damn it all to hell, it was like someone had pressed a release valve. He sagged against the side wall and stared at the damage he’d done at the back of the shower. Fuck.
He felt guilty about that. He really did. And he was going to have to get it fixed quick so he didn’t have to explain it to his parents.
But it also didn’t escape his notice that despite fucking up that wall—and the knuckles on his right hand—he could breathe again. He didn’t feel good, but it was still the best he’d felt in days.
Thursday came and went, and still Kristina didn’t hear from Noah. She’d texted and called him. Nothing. And it was stressing her out on so many levels.
Sitting in her car in the parking lot at school, the air conditioning slowly but surely cooling the late May air, her thoughts raced.
First, his panic attack. What if he’d had more? What if he was holed up in his room and fighting against them on his own? Kristina had witnessed her dad having plenty of panic attacks over the years, so she knew how they could make a person feel exhausted and in despair, isolated and alone.