Page 15 of Mayhem (Mayhem 1)

I have no idea why I’ve been thinking about Adam so much, probably even more than Brady. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of trying to protect itself from all the emotions I refuse to feel over the way Brady betrayed me. I loved him, I really did. But after seeing him with that girl . . . I almost feel like I never truly knew him. The Brady I knew never would have hurt me like that.

In a way, it feels like the boy I loved died, and part of me has accepted that . . . because when someone dies, there’s nothing you can do to bring them back. The only thing you can do is let them go.

Dee and I walk from the building with some guy who she’s apparently gotten friendly with from one of her other classes. My phone beeps again, and I peek at it while Dee talks the poor guy’s ear off. Brady again. Of course. All it says is “I miss you,” and it’s the simplest text he’s sent me so far—and the one that chokes me up the worst. His texts are like daily hauntings, apparitions reminding me of everything I lost.

“I’ll see you guys later,” I say, and then I’m practically speed-walking back to Dee’s dorm before anyone can catch me.

The minute I get back to the room, I change into sweat pants and one of my dad’s old work T-shirts. When Dee arrives later, I have a carton of Rocky Road in my lap and I’m staring off into space. She grabs a spoon and dips it in next to mine, but she doesn’t ask any questions. Which is good, because I sure as hell don’t have any answers.

Chapter Six

AT 3 A.M., I’m lying awake next to Dee. Eight hours until I see Adam again.

Eight. freaking. hours.

Eight turns into seven, and seven turns into six. By the time the alarm goes off, my eyes are red from sleep deprivation, but I hop out of bed like I’ve been lying on coals. After a quick shower, I stare down at the stacks of clothes that line almost an entire wall of Dee’s dorm room. It sucks not having a dresser or any closet space for my stuff, but beggars can’t be choosers. It’s time to figure out what I’m going to wear today.

On one hand, I want to look decent in case Adam looks my way during French. The heavens would part, angels would sing, and he . . . probably wouldn’t even remember me. Ugh.

On the other hand, I don’t want to draw any attention to myself. I made the right decision when I didn’t go back to his tour bus that night after the show. It was the right call . . . It was, I know it was.

I sift through my neatly stacked piles until nearly every piece of clothing is lying in an unfolded mess on the floor, and then I sigh and find myself raiding Dee’s closet. I opt for a short pair of jean shorts and a cute blue top that complements my deep blue eyes. In front of her vanity mirror, I yank my hair up into a ponytail and do my makeup before Dee gets back from her shower.

“Cute top,” she says as her reflection enters the door behind me.

“Mind if I borrow it?”

“Hell no I don’t mind! Keep borrowing my clothes and we’ll have you a new boyfriend by the end of the week.”

“How about this,” I say with a snarky grin, stepping away from the mirror as Dee squeezes in front of it and leans in to rub moisturizer all over her face, “I’ll get a boyfriend in no time.”

She gives my reflection a serious look, and then she laughs. “Touché.”

Dee has never had a serious boyfriend, and she’s never wanted one. What she wants is to be admired by all, to be showered with flowers and candy from guys whose names she hasn’t bothered to remember. She wants to hoard their affection but give none back, and even though she’d never admit it, I know that her aversion to relationships stems from how terribly things ended between her parents.

When she and I were in sixth grade, her dad discovered that her mom had been having a long-term affair, and Dee witnessed firsthand the devastation that love can leave in its wake. The first time she ever saw her dad cry—after her mom abandoned the family to move with the other man across the country—Dee snuck into my room and sobbed herself to sleep on my pillow while I assured her that her dad would be fine and she would be too. I told her she didn’t need her stupid mom because she’d always have me instead, and then I smoothed her hair until she fell asleep.

That was the last time I saw her cry about her parents—after that, it was just anger, heated tears, and trashed bedrooms. Her dad has always been the most doting father I’ve ever known, but he couldn’t fill the void her mom left behind, and even though Dee never said it out loud, I knew that she missed her mom as much as she hated her. Truthfully, since then, I don’t think anything has terrified her more than commitment. I always suspected that maybe that was why she was so uncomfortable with me settling down with Brady so quickly—that and all the time he sucked away from her.

I wish I could give every minute of it back.

I rush Dee out the door, and we walk to campus as quickly as I can get her legs to move. I skirt through Adam’s perfume-drenched welcome party and arrive at the auditorium for my French class extra early to make sure I get there before him. Then I scurry into the same seat I sat in two days earlier, making sure to save the one next to me for Leti.

“ ’Sup, Ro-town?” he says as he slides in beside me. “Lovin’ those blue piglets.”

I gaze down at my blue toenails and then smile at him as he pushes his shades on top of his head. A girl could seriously get used to receiving compliments so often. Now, if only straight guys paid the same attention to detail. “Thanks. I love your T-shirt.”