Fighting for Everything:A Warrior Fight Club Novel(10)By: Laura Kaye
She forced her gaze to stay locked with his dark brown eyes. “I’m here because you’ve been avoiding me. So I’m making sure you can’t avoid me anymore. I want Seven Guys and you’re coming with me.” Her use of the nickname eked a small smile from him. Five Guys was their favorite burger joint, and always had been. Add Ben and Jerry to those five and you got seven… It had made sense when she was sixteen, anyway. And they needed some old-time normalcy right about now. At least she did. “So, uh, go get decent.”
Before I tackle you to the ground and make us both wet.
“Yeah, okay. I guess I could eat,” he finally said.
Good. Because she wasn’t giving him a choice.
Five minutes later, he walked back out in a dark gray T-shirt and a pair of jeans that hung low on his hips. Kristina rose and nearly fumbled her phone, but finally managed to pull herself together. “Mind if I use your bathroom real quick?” she asked, stepping toward his bedroom door.
“Course not,” he said as she disappeared into his room. “Oh, uh, wait. It might be better if you go upstairs.”
“I can’t wait,” she called as she flipped on the bathroom light. “I’ll be quick.”
She closed the door…and it was like bathing in Noah. The heat of his shower still hung in the air along with the same clean-soap scent she’d inhaled off his skin when they’d kissed. She did her business then stepped to the sink to wash her hands. Glancing in the mirror, Kristina did a double take. At a big hole in the shower tiles.
What in the world? She walked closer and leaned in enough to reach out and touch the broken edge, her thoughts whirling.
She dried her hands, retreated from the bathroom, and found Noah sitting on the coffee table, elbows braced on his knees and head looking down. One hand cupped around the other. And that’s when she knew. “You punched the wall?”
His hands went lax and slipped apart, revealing purple bruising and red cuts all over the knuckles of his right hand.
“Why?” she asked, working hard to keep her voice normal, casual. Even though she didn’t feel that way inside.
“I needed to,” he said. And nothing more.
That didn’t begin to satisfy her, but something squeezed in her belly, telling her that if she pushed, he was going to shut down. Even more than he was already doing. “Okay, well…you ready?” she asked. “Because I skipped lunch and I’m starving.”
He finally looked up, and it was like he was assessing her. Assessing whether he should really believe that she was going to let it lie. “I’m good to go,” he said.
“Good.” Kristina made for the steps. “Then move your ass, Cortez. Because Mama needs a bacon cheeseburger. Stat.”
“Hungry?” Noah asked as Kristina polished off her burger. The meal had been filled with small talk about her day, the summer workshops she’d be teaching, and Josh’s wedding plans, and even a little of their normal banter. Her apparent willingness to stick to comfortable subjects allowed him to relax.
She scowled at him as she took a drink of her soda. “You know, you’re not funny.” She eyed his food. “You going to finish those—”
He pushed the rest of his fries toward her, earning a big smile. Noah wasn’t sure he’d ever finished all of his own French fries in Kristina Moore’s presence. Not that he minded. “Ice cream?” he asked when she was done.
“Hells yeah,” Kristina said. “How can you have Seven Guys without Ben and Jerry?”
“You can’t. Obviously,” he said, carrying their tray to the garbage can. Noah could still picture Kristina sitting in the Ben & Jerry’s shop explaining what Seven Guys was when she’d been maybe sixteen or seventeen. Sixteen, probably, since it was the summer before he left for college. Kristina’s hair had been in a high ponytail and she’d had on a pale blue tank top and the necklace he’d bought her for her sixteenth birthday. It had “Best Friend” etched into a heart that hung through one of the loops of an infinity charm. She’d gotten chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream and had smacked him on the arm for not telling her she had a smudge of chocolate on her cheek. God, he could picture her as clearly as if he were remembering yesterday.
“Precisely,” she said, opening the door onto the busy street.
Noah followed her out and tried really damn hard not to study the way the short skirt she wore hugged her heart-shaped ass. The ass he’d held in his hands when he’d—
“You game to walk down?” she asked, turning to him.
His eyes snapped to her face. “Yeah, sure.” He fell in beside her, putting his good ear closest to her as they started down King Street into the red-brick charm of the heart of Old Town. “Do you still have that necklace I gave you when you turned sixteen?”
Kristina’s smile was immediate. “Of course. What made you think of that?”
Shrugging, Noah looked straight ahead as they crossed a street. He wasn’t sure what had resurrected the memory, all he knew was that Kristina had been on his mind non-stop all week. Ever since he’d held her, kissed her, felt all her soft curves sprawled beneath him. She’d felt so right there, so good. And then he’d ruined it when the damn fireworks went off.