Page 70 of Make You Mine

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Noah drew his top lip between his teeth, feeling his nose stretch with it, then he gestured to the sofa, and Adriano followed him. They sat close, facing each other, knees pressed together. Noah wanted to be back in his arms, but he also wanted to talk this out.

‘My brother thinks I have PTSD,’ Noah began. ‘I looked it up last night after I finished my prep.’

Adriano’s brow furrowed. ‘Do you agree?’

Blowing out a puff of air, Noah shrugged. ‘Some of the stuff fits, some doesn’t. There’s definitely something wrong with me.’

Adriano shook his head, reaching for him before he stopped himself. ‘No. There’s nothing wrong.’

Noah couldn’t help his laugh. ‘Well, there’s something happening in my head that I can’t control. A single bad date in college shouldn’t have made me terrified to try another one, but it did. And I didn’t have sex until you came into town.’

Adriano grinned a little salaciously. ‘I don’t mind that.’

Rolling his eyes, Noah smacked him on the knee. ‘Of course you don’t. But it’s still not…typical.’ He was struggling to find words and signs that felt right. ‘Hiding like that isn’t something that should come naturally to me, but it does. It didn’t always.’

‘Tell me about the bad date?’

Noah licked his lips nervously, but he didn’t look away. ‘He was a guy in one of my classes, and he asked me out. I thought we were having a good time. He was my first date ever, and I was nervous. I tried to kiss him and…’ His hand wavered, but when Adriano laid a hand on his knee, Noah felt brave and loved. ‘He laughed at me, and mocked me, then he left me there.’

Adriano’s face darkened. ‘What’s his name?’

At that, Noah threw his head back and laughed. ‘I promise I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. Most people would just be embarrassed, but I spiraled out of control and became too terrified to ever try again until you invited me to that event. But we both know how that went. So I came home a virgin, and I stayed that way until you showed up to find me again.’

A pained look crossed Adriano’s face. ‘I’m sorry.’

Noah shook his head. ‘It all happened a long time ago. It wasn’t the bad date, though. That was just a symptom of whatever I have up here.’ He tapped his temple. ‘I sent a couple of emails to therapists here in town.’

‘Why did you shut me out last night?’

Noah couldn’t help his wince—mostly out of guilt and a little out of the fear that hit him again just remembering the things Eric told him. ‘Eric was making sense. He knew all the things I was afraid of.’

Adriano lifted a brow. ‘Tell me.’

The last thing in the world Noah wanted was to look Adriano in the eyes as he signed all this, but he owed Adriano the truth. ‘I’m a nobody. I’m a small-town nobody that caught your eye on a vulnerable day. You wanted a distraction while things in your life got sorted out, then you’d go back home to your big life with all your famous friends, and I’d still be here thinking I meant something to you.’

‘Noah.’ His name sign hadn’t changed, and Noah’s heart thudded in his chest.

‘I know it’s not true, but in that moment…’ Noah stopped and stared at his hands—at the flecks of dried dough stuck to his skin, at the way none of his body was shapely or fit—and Adriano liked him anyway. Adriano wanted him just like this. ‘He laughed at me because I can’t sign Deaf speed…’

‘Yet,’ Adriano spelled, making sure Noah understood. ‘You don’t sign Deaf speedyet.’

Noah nodded. ‘I hope. But he…he laughed. He said you do this. He said you took some twink to the Caribbean when you broke up the last time, then you came home and bought him a car and begged him never to leave.’

Adriano rolled his eyes so hard it looked like it hurt. ‘I took our friend who had just finished his last round of chemo. Eric was supposed to come with, but he thought the islands weren’t going to have all his usual comforts. We fought, and I left without him.’

‘Did you beg him to stay with you when you got home?’ Noah asked, though he wasn’t sure he wanted the answer.

Adriano shrugged. ‘Maybe. Our relationship was toxic, and I was shallow. I didn’t want things to change because I didn’t want to deal with change. What I have with you isn’t the same, and I know now that I don’t love Eric. I don’t think I ever did.’

Noah bowed his head, breathing steady, and nodded. He stayed that way a minute, until Adriano hooked a finger under his chin and drew up his gaze, and Noah found he never wanted to look away. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t just talk to you. I just…I thought he was right. How else would he know where to find you?’

Adriano’s expression went stormy as he pulled his hand back. ‘Xander, my agent—ex-agent—still had access to my email accounts. He saw when I made our account on SinSity and he tracked you through Twitter. He was trying to sue me for rights to our videos, but because he was no longer my contracted agent, there’s going to be a countersuit.’

Noah’s eyes widened. ‘Seriously.’

Adriano’s expression didn’t lighten. ‘Yes. And one against Eric. He had no right to come here, no right to harass you. He was hired in a professional capacity, and using my personal information to aid Xander…He’s not going to get away with it. I’m just sorry they put you through it.’

‘Are they going to leak my name?’ Noah asked.