Page 43 of Mayhem (Mayhem 1)

“Cody,” he says, “but they both suck ass.”

I laugh, watching them both miss shot after shot until a waitress comes over to ask if we need any drinks. When Mike asks me what I want and tells me it’s all going on the band’s tab, I order a Long Island iced tea, desperately needing a liquid-induced buffer between me and all the pheromones in the air.

When a pool table opens up, I grab a stick and call to Shawn, “You ready?”

He shakes his head, chatting up a girl standing next to him. “I suck! Play Adam!”

Adam immediately steps away from the cluster of girls to grab a pool stick. Chalking it, he sheepishly says, “I’m really terrible at this game.”

“You can’t be as bad as Cody and Joel,” I joke.

“What about you?” he asks, brushing his hair from his eyes. “You any good?”

“Not really,” I lie.

“Then we should make this interesting.”

I hold back a smile. It’s already getting interesting. “What do you have in mind?”

“If I win, you have to do a body shot with me. Give or take, doesn’t matter.”

“And if I win?”

“What do you want?” He busies himself with racking the balls.

I think about it for a long time, and then a smile curls my lips. “You have to get all the way through chapter seven tomorrow, even if that means studying after the show.”

“That’s four chapters!”

I smirk at him. “Take it or leave it.”

He licks his lips as he thinks about it. “Can I at least break?”

“Sure,” I say with an easy smile. Breaking or not, he’s going down.

Adam leans over the table, aiming his shot. A confident grin lifts his eyes to mine. “You’re on.” He hits the cue ball hard and balls scatter all over the table, two immediately tumbling into pockets. His shot was so smooth, I can immediately tell he was lying about not being any good.

“Rowan!” Shawn laughs as Adam takes his next shot. “He’s totally swindling you! Adam grew up with a pool table.”

When Adam takes another shot and misses, I step to the cue ball and grin at Shawn. “So did I.” I lean over the table and take my shot, sending my target sailing smoothly into a corner pocket. Everyone watches the red ball roll in, and then the guys immediately break into fits of laughter. Adam looks absolutely dumbstruck as I circle around the table, lining up my next shot and taking that one just as flawlessly.

“My dad got a pool table when I was eight,” I say, sinking my third ball. “And I’m an only child, so we played together—a lot.” I smirk up at Adam, who still looks like he thinks he might be dreaming. “Sorry, Adam, but you never stood a chance.”

I’m sitting at the bar with Adam later when he whines from the stool beside me, “You’re not seriously going to make me study after the show tomorrow, are you?”

I grin down at my drink, trying to ignore the girl standing behind him massaging his shoulders. She has long pink hair—pink, for God’s sake—and she’s wearing a toddler-sized halter top and a doll-sized skirt. I’m about to reply, when she circles around him and sits on his lap. “What are you studying for?”

“French,” he groans.

“Oooh, I love French,” she says, playing with his hair. I somehow resist the urge to bat her fingers away. “Say something to me in French.”

Adam thinks about it for a moment, and then with a big smile, he looks up at her and says, “Tu parles trop.”

I bite back a snicker, raising my fingers to my mouth to keep from spitting my drink out as the girl squeals with delight and asks Adam what he said. He looks at me, the corners of his mouth twitching, and I can tell he’s trying not to laugh. I can’t very well tell her he said she talks too much, can I? Adam chuckles, and I realize he’s not going to answer her, which makes this situation now incredibly uncomfortable.

“He said you’re very pretty,” I tell the girl, to fill his silence, and she blushes and plants a kiss on his cheek.

Adam grins at me. “Tu es une . . .” He leans in to whisper in my ear. “What’s the word for ‘big fat liar’?”

I laugh as he leans back, and the girl smiles at us, oblivious. “Menteuse,” I tell him.

“Tu es une menteuse.” He shakes his head and clucks his tongue against his teeth. “Tsk, tsk.”

I playfully roll my eyes at him and spin back to the bar, ordering another drink. When Shawn comes by to ask me if I’m ready for that game of pool, I follow him to the pool tables at the other side of the room, leaving Adam with a girl on his lap, a cigarette in his hand, and a drink on the counter in front of him.

Shawn and I weave through the crowd, passing by Joel—whose blond mohawk makes him easy to spot standing by a pillar, making out with some brunette—and Driver, who is smoking something that smells especially suspicious. When we get to the open table, which Mike is standing by to hold for us, I pick up a stick and chalk it. “So what changed your mind?” I ask Shawn, wondering why he’s finally decided to play with me.

“How many drinks have you had?”

I hold up three fingers, and then I raise my eyes to the wooden ceiling as I think about it, and I slowly lift my pinky finger too. He laughs.

“That’s why. Maybe I’ll actually stand a chance now.”

Mike shouts back to us as he walks to the bar, “I wouldn’t count on it!”