Page 51 of Mayhem (Mayhem 1)

“Hi, Adam,” she says in her sultriest voice, batting her lashes as she gazes up at him.

“Hi.” He smiles back, and I bristle because I hate when Adam smiles at girls like Michelle. She was the most popular girl in my high school—prom queen, cheerleading captain, most likely to marry an eighty-year-old billionaire and then divorce him two days later. She was in one grade higher than me, but my high school was so small, everybody knew everybody and most of us had been in the same district since kindergarten.

Michelle’s sun-tanned skin makes mine look stark white by comparison, and whereas my hair is dirty blonde and wavy, hers is sunny and straight. Even her eyes are a brighter shade of blue than mine. She’s like my prettier twin. Much prettier. Skinner and chestier and gigglier. For fuck’s sake, what the hell is she giggling about? “Hi”? “Hi” is making her giggle?

“Do you remember me?” she asks Adam, paying no attention to me even though I’m standing less than a foot away.

“Um . . .”

She giggles again. “It’s okay. We . . . met at a show you did here a few months ago.” She stands on her tiptoes to whisper something in his ear, and Adam’s lips curve into a smirk as he listens.

Gazing down at her, he says, “Sounds a little familiar.”

Ugh, someone shoot me. I’m in the process of starting to walk to a less slut-infested part of the room when Adam’s hand reaches out to grab mine.

“Hey,” he says. “Hold up.”

I let out a disgruntled sigh and turn around.

“Rowan?” Michelle asks, finally noticing me. “Rowan Michaels?”

I force a smile. “Hi Michelle.”

“Oh my gosh!” She pulls me in for a hug, and my teeth clench. “How have you been?! I haven’t seen you since graduation!”

“I’ve been alright,” I say. I don’t ask her how she’s been because I really don’t care.

“How do you know Adam?”

I glance over at Adam, who is watching us with amusement. I don’t know what it is, but something about him is pissing me off. “We’re friends.”

“Seriously?” Michelle asks with more than a little astonishment. Why is that so damn hard to believe? My eyes turn to stone as I stare at her, but she peppily adds, “That’s really neat! How is your friend . . . what was her name . . .”

“Dee.”

“Dee! How is she?”

“She’s fine too.” I might be imagining things, but Michelle seems to be gravitating closer and closer to Adam as we talk, and I’ve now made a mental note of just how many inches are separating them.

“Is she here with you?”

“No. I came with Adam.” Suspicions flash across Michelle’s features like a funny movie I’ll never get tired of watching, and pride flows through me like wine, making me feel like I could float two feet above her and laugh like an evil villain right down in her stupid sun-kissed face.

“Oh, that’s cool,” she says without her usual pep, but then she recovers. “We should all hang out! Catch up!”

Twenty minutes later, I’m trapped on the bus with too many groupies to count. We’re taxiing a huge group of people to a little club across town, and I’m sitting as far away from them as I can get, brooding. I’m feeling strangely jealous and . . . territorial. I irrationally feel like these are my boys, my bus. My friend, who is currently surrounded by scantily clad bitches. When we first got on the bus, Adam tried to pull me down to sit next to him, but I honestly think I’d rather fork my own eyes and ears out than have any more of Michelle’s giggling burned into my long-term memory.

I sit in the corner-most bench seat, keeping to myself and trying not to glare at Michelle or any of the other four girls flirting with Adam and making him laugh. I wish he and I had driven in his car instead of riding in this filthy slut-wagon. I know this Adam is the same Adam I’ve spent almost every waking minute with for the past two days, but . . . this one just feels different. Inaccessible. Agitating.

Heartbreaking.

I chew the inside of my lip raw as I stare out the dark window, watching the familiar businesses and shops pass by. Since my town is so small, Fairview is where everyone goes to do anything that’s anything. Movies, shopping, restaurants—you’ve gotta go to Fairview. And I know exactly where we’re headed, because Dee has dragged me there more times than I can count. Emily’s is a tiny little club on the west side of town. It has a bar and a dance floor and a DJ booth, but aside from pink interior lighting, there’s really nothing special about it.

When the bus is parked, I can’t get off of it quickly enough. I nearly trip over Joel’s ankle to get down the aisle, and Adam gives me a curious look as I pass by him. I kind of want to smack that look right off his stupid face. The girls pour out of the bus first, hanging off of band members and even roadies. Do they even know the freaking difference? By the way one slut is hanging off of Driver, I’m guessing that’s a big no.

Mike comes to stand next to me, and we watch as everyone else files off the bus. “I think I’m going to go across the street to get something to eat first,” I tell him. There’s a little pizza joint literally right across the road that stays open super late. They do great business from all of the club-goers who need to sober up before driving home.

“Thank God,” Mike says. “I’m coming with you.”

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