Page 8 of Mayhem (Mayhem 1)

Before I have to lie to her, because I can never lie to Dee’s face, I blurt, “Brady’s here.”

“What?!” she asks, pulling me farther from the stage so we can hear each other better.

“I said ‘Brady’s here!’ ”

“Where?!” Her eyes dart around the crowd, but there are so many people, it’s useless.

“He’s with another girl, Dee.”

Her eyes snap back to me. “Another girl? Are you sure?”

“I saw him kiss her.”

She frowns at me for a moment, and then she pulls me in for a hug so tight I can barely breathe. It’s the exact kind of hug I need. The minute I’m in her arms, the tears break free again, dripping onto her bare shoulder. “Do you want to get out of here?” she asks.

I nod, and then she’s pulling me out of the club. I cast one last look at Adam. He’s shouting into the microphone over an ocean of raised hands. The front row is all girls, reaching like they’re trying to touch him. And even though I was touching him just a few minutes ago, I know just how they feel.

Dee was right. This is a night I’ll never forget.

Outside, we sit in her car as I cry into a stack of travel tissues. She shifts to face me, resting her knee on the center console. “You’re positive it was him?” I blow my nose and let the tears fall, still not wanting to accept it. “Ro?” she says.

“I’m sure, Dee. I texted him and watched him pull his phone out of his pocket, look at my message, and put it away.”

She’s silent, and that scares me. When I look up at her, she’s positively seething. “That fucking asshole,” she growls, and I can see the wheels turning in her head as she contemplates all the horrible things she wants to do to him. “That motherfucking ASSHOLE. I can’t believe this!”

She starts the car, and I sober up a little at the sound of the engine. “Are you good to drive?” I ask.

“I’m fine.” She puts it in reverse and backs up, and I know that’s the end of it. Never ask Dee twice if she’s good enough to drive. She’s not stupid, and if she says she’s fine, she’s fine.

“Where are we going?” I ask once we’re on the road.

“We’re getting your stuff.” She glances over at me, reading the confusion on my face. “You’re staying with me, babe. There’s no way in hell you’re going to be there when that asshole gets back tomorrow.”

I never thought about where I would go, but she’s right. I can’t stay there. I can’t see him. “I can’t believe he did this to me right before I’m supposed to start school.”

She casts a sympathetic glance in my direction, but she leaves the words unspoken. And just like that, because we’ve been best friends since forever, I know what she’s thinking. He didn’t just do this to me—he’s been doing this to me for a long time. All those business trips, all lies.

I rest my forehead against the window as more silent tears fall. I’m thinking of Brady, of how I don’t know what to do about him. I love him. Even after everything I saw tonight, I love him. But I’m not going to be that girl. I’m not going to be that girl who lets guys lie to her and walk all over her and cheat on her. I’m thinking of Adam, and how easy it was to be with him. How exciting. How he did make me forget, and how while I was with him, none of this shit with Brady mattered so much. How I walked away from him and now I’m all alone.

Dee reaches over and squeezes my arm, and I clasp my fingers with hers. “Thanks for always being there for me, Dee.”

“Shut up,” she says, and I let out a congested chuckle. She smiles over at me and gives my hand another squeeze.

By the time we’re finished going through my and Brady’s apartment, Dee’s car is packed to the brim. I changed into a T-shirt and yoga pants and then packed every single last item of clothing I own. All my jewelry, cosmetics, personal effects. I took the damn panini maker, and I would’ve taken our big flat-screen TV too if only we had the room. I thought about leaving a note, but decided not to. What would it possibly say? You broke my heart, I’m a blubbering mess, I love you, you asshole? We got out of there as quickly as possible, and then we drove to campus.

On my third trip up the stairs to Dee’s third-floor dorm room, I’m huffing. “Are you sure your roommate’s okay with this?”

Dee drops one of my shoes down the stairs and curses under her breath. “Are you kidding? The girl has no friends. She’s thrilled.”

My arms are full, but using my thumb, I manage to snatch up the shoe Dee dropped. “Then why isn’t she helping us lug all my crap upstairs?”

“Because she’s socially retarded,” Dee answers bluntly, and I just shake my head. I have to lean against the wall for a minute because the stairwell starts tilting. When we arrived at my apartment, I was still way too drunk to drive, so we left my car there.

“We’ll have to get my car on Monday,” I say. “Brady never told me what time he’s coming home tomorrow, and I don’t want to run into him.”

“I wish we would run into him,” Dee snarls, and I don’t have to ask why. I’m guessing he’d enter that encounter with two healthy testicles and leave with negative one.

Dee’s roommate holds the door open for us as we carry my things in and collapse on Dee’s bed.

“Macy,” Dee says, “we’re going to clean this mess up tomorrow, okay?”