Fighting for Everything:A Warrior Fight Club Novel(6)By: Laura Kaye
Noah moved to the other side and bared her there, too. And then he was sucking hard on one nipple while he teased and tugged at the other. Each touch, each lick, each bite flashed through her and pooled liquid heat between her thighs. She used the leverage of her heels against the bed to rock herself against him—
Pop. Pop-pop-pop. Pop. Pop. Boom.
Noah was off her in a flash.
In the dim light thrown by the LED screen of his alarm clock, she saw him tumble in a quick and controlled move into a crouching position on the far side of the bedside table.
Boom. Boom. Pop-pop-pop.
Heart thundering in her throat at the confusing suddenness of his movements, Kristina couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. “Uh, what are you doing?”
No answer. The fireworks display that the Harlows always put on at their big riverfront house seemed even louder against his silence.
She frowned. “Noah?” Scooting to the edge of the bed, Kristina tugged her dress back into place. Sheer bewilderment pushed every other reaction away as she leaned over and fumbled for the lamp on the nightstand.
Light illuminated the room, coming from right above where Noah remained crouched.
And it was like he didn’t even notice. Like he didn’t see it. Or her.
Like he wasn’t there at all.
The firefight raged around Noah. He crouched at the edge of a building and peered around the corner, automatic weapon in hand, trigger finger at the ready. A bombed-out car, half-hidden passageways between the buildings, and high rooftops gave their enemies plenty of places to hide down the seemingly empty street.
Noah pulled back. God, he had a bad feeling about this. Where was the fucking shooter?
He looked around the corner again… The image before him went shimmery, a strange light shining through the landscape.
What the hell? Was he experiencing haloes now? The visual disturbances happened sometimes when he looked at bright lights.
Wait. That didn’t make sense.
Squeezing his eyes shut tight, Noah shook his head.
He blinked his eyes open again to find Kristina kneeling in front of him, golden light spilling over her. His first thought was that she was in danger. But then his brain registered the room surrounding her—surrounding them.
His room. At home. In Alexandria.
Where the fuck had that come from? He’d had a lot of issues since returning stateside, but he’d never before been sucked into a memory like that. He might as well have blacked out. Jesus, it had been so real it was like he’d really been there. He flinched against another explosion of fireworks.
Humiliation flooded through Noah fast and hot. Anger followed close behind. He gulped for air.
“What just happened?” Kristina asked. And damn if her cheeks weren’t still flushed from…
Fuck. From how Noah had kissed her, touched her, ground himself against her. Chasing something good. Something beautiful. Something that would help him escape all the ugliness inside him.
Boom-boom-boom. Noah’s breath caught in his throat and he flinched. The fucking fireworks. The sound had pulled him right back into Iraq, and there had been absolutely nothing conscious about it. Still wasn’t, judging by the sweat trickling down his back, the paranoia burning through his mind, and the triple-timing beat of his heart against his sternum. His mouth was like a desert, and he couldn’t manage to form words around the panic seizing his body.
Kristina crawled closer and reached her hand toward him. “It’s me, Noah.”
He recoiled, his back coming up hard against the corner of the room. “Don’t,” he choked out. Sadness carved worry lines onto her pretty face, and he was certain he couldn’t loathe himself more than he did just then. For long minutes, they sat there. Facing off. Both of them trapped in the awkwardness his delusions had created.
Finally, the fireworks boomed in a symphony of explosions, big bangs, smaller pops, and crackling, whistling noises combining in what had to be the finale. But it was like the fireworks were hyperlinked to sounds and sights and even smells from his past. Buddies crying out. Spilled blood. Torn bodies. Burned flesh. Noah’s heart was going to beat right the fuck out of his chest. He was sure of it.
Well, all except for the rasping pants of his attempts at breathing. Christ, it sounded like he’d just finished a thirty-mile hump with a sixty-pound pack on his back.
Actually, he’d never sounded this bad after one of those.
Pressure against the top of his sneaker. Kristina’s hand rested there, trying to reach him, trying to comfort him. But all he felt was soul-scorching humiliation. He knew he’d lose it in front of her. He hadn’t known when or how or why, but the very fact of it had been all but certain. Now he’d done it. And she was looking at him like his head might start doing three-sixties as he spoke in tongues.
He couldn’t stand it.
“Go,” he rasped, shaking now from anger as much as from the residuals of the panic attack. Or whatever the hell it had been.
“What? No.” She scooted closer, her hands going to his drawn-up knees. “Tell me what’s going on, Noah. Talk to me. I want to help—”