Page 19 of Mayhem (Mayhem 1)

Leti shifts to face me. His hair is even wavier now that he’s taken out the last of his braids. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

When we park in the vacant lot next to the parking lot of my old apartment, the light in Brady’s window answers Leti’s question.

“Shit,” I say under my breath. “I knew he’d be up.” Normally, he’d be in bed by now. But with the way my luck has been going lately? Yeah, there was no chance he wouldn’t be awake when we arrived for this impromptu black-ops mission.

Leti leans forward to stare through the windshield up to the third-floor window. “Can’t you just run over there real quick, start your car up, and get the hell out of there?”

I sigh. “Yeah, but if he comes out and I just speed away like a coward or something, that’d be really embarrassing. And awkward.” I fish my keys from my purse and give Leti my sweetest smile. “Can you go over there and get it for me? Please?” I do my best to look pathetic and needy, which means I don’t need to try very hard at all. I push my bottom lip out, curl my eyebrows in, and give him the biggest puppy dog eyes I can manage. “You can meet us at the gas station up the street and I’ll ride back with you.”

He purses his lips at me, but then takes the keys I hand him. “You so owe me.”

Dee and I watch as he walks to the edge of the lot we’re in, looks both ways, and then jogs across the street to my old parking lot. He glances back at us one last time before disappearing inside my car and driving off the lot. I breathe a sigh of relief when Brady doesn’t burst from the building’s front doors. Dee pats my knee, and I crawl into the front to sit next to her.

“Well, that was easy,” she says as she turns her key in the ignition. Her ridiculous bundle of key chains jingles with the movement—a miniature platform shoe, a ceramic flower, a feather, a pink glass square that says ‘sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet’.

It sure doesn’t feel like it was easy, since my neck still feels like it’s been pumped full of steroids, but I guess it could’ve been worse. “I told you that you didn’t need to go all ninja-mode.”

“Well someone had to.” Dee logic: it only makes sense if you’re Dee. She karate chops my arm, but I’m too deep in thought to even crack a smile.

At the gas station, I climb out of her car and walk to where Leti is leaning against my trunk, dangling my keys from his finger. Before I take them from him, I wrap him in a warm hug. “Thank you.”

He pats my back. “No problem, Roast Potato.”

I chuckle and take my keys. When I climb into the driver’s seat, I have to pull it way up so that I can reach the pedals. Leti climbs into the passenger seat and shifts his all the way back.

“That was fun,” he says as I pull us onto the road. The look I give him says I would’ve rather had a root canal, but he just laughs. “Do you feel better now that you have your car back?”

“Kinda,” I say, but I’m frowning.

“Then why don’t you seem like it?”

I sigh and glance over at him, at his wavy highlighted hair and his concerned honey-shaded eyes. Even though we met less than a week ago, I feel like I can talk to him. Leti is a good guy. “It was the last thing tying me to him, you know? I have no other reason I’d need to see him now.” Never seeing Brady again—it’s hard for me to imagine. And painful.

“Are you thinking about giving him another chance?”

“I don’t know . . .” Am I? “Dee would kill me.”

“If she’s a good friend, she’d understand.” I know he’s right, and I know she would.

“Leti . . . do you think people can change?” I’m thinking of Dee’s motto: once a cheater, always a cheater. It can’t be true . . . can it?

“Hm, that’s a tough one.” He runs his hand over his khaki-covered thigh. “There are some things about people that I think they can change, yes. Cheating? Yeah, I think people can learn their lesson. But I think it depends on the person.”

“I guess the thing that’s hanging me up is that I don’t think it was just cheating . . . I think he was having an affair. I can’t even remember how many ‘business trips’ he’s had to go on since he started working for his uncle. I mean, how long was all of this going on before I found out about it?”

“I guess you’ll never know unless you ask him.”

Leti is keeping it real with me, which I appreciate more than he could possibly know. He listens and helps me sort through my own thoughts without pushing me one way or another. Talking to him is so much different than talking to Dee. He’s so much more laid-back, and Dee is just . . . Dee.

“Alright,” he says after we’ve been driving in silence for a few minutes while I consider everything he said, “enough about that drama. I want to know about some other drama.”

Huh? When I glance at him, he looks positively devilish.

“Why didn’t you tell Dee that Adam is in our class?”

I gulp and make sure to keep my eyes trained on the road, wishing I was a better liar. “I told you. I forgot.”

Leti lifts his nose in the air and starts sniffing. “Do you smell that?”

I sniff the air too. What am I supposed to be smelling? Exhaust? City garbage? “No, what?”

“Bullshit,” he says with a snarky grin, and I can’t help laughing.