Page 20 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

Considering I haven’t seen much of Adam, Joel, or Mike, and Shawn is so not ever going to be like a brother to me, they have nothing to worry about.

Did you tell them to stop being girls?

I have the bruises on my arms to prove it.

I smile and pocket my phone again when the barista slides my drink over. It smells like heaven, and I risk burning the roof of my mouth to take a long sip. Of course, it burns the shit out of me, but the caramel flavor on my tongue is worth it, and I’m still sipping as I toss my straw paper in the trash. I’m five steps from the door when a college guy in a red polo shirt abruptly stands to get it for me, but I hurry my pace and escape outside before he can get to it. I’m chuckling under my breath when a voice from behind me nearly makes me drop my drink.

“Hey. Kit, right?” Mr. Shortcake pushes away from the wall as I finish spinning on my heel.

“How do you know my name?” I walk backward while simultaneously giving him my attention and scanning the area around us for anyone I might know. Either I’m in a practical joke or I am a practical joke, because I have no idea who this guy is—or why he’s looking at me and talking to me like he’s my biggest fan.

“I also know that you have three—no, four brothers, and that you grew up in Downingtown, and . . . ” He closes his eyes and waves a hand around me, like he’s reading my aura or something. “And you just joined a band.”

When I stop walking, he opens one eye and smiles at me.

My voice is defensive when I say, “How do you know all that?”

“I can read fortunes.”

His smile grows wider, and skepticism drips from my voice when I say, “Uh-huh.” I take another sip of my drink to demonstrate just how unimpressed I am by his bullshit. “What’s my fortune, then?”

He takes a sip of his coffee to mirror me, smacking his lips when he’s through. “Ah, that’s an easy one.” He pauses for dramatic effect and then grins and says, “We’re going to be best friends. Well, second-best friends, actually, or . . . third-best friends, but . . . semantics, Kit-Kat, that’s not important.”

“Who are you again?” I ask, and Mr. Shortcake sticks out his hand, chuckling when I make no attempt to shake it.

“If I told you I was Rowan and Dee’s friend, would that help?”

I stare, and he smiles.

“I’m Leti.”

“Leti?”

His hand drops to his side, and he raises a dissatisfied eyebrow. “You mean the girls didn’t tell you about their big gay best friend?”

“No?”

“Seriously?” When my expression doesn’t change, he pouts and flips his shades down over his eyes. “Well, that’s just disappointing.”

Leti talks, and talks, and talks—and somehow, within five minutes, convinces me to walk with him to campus. He insists it’s so he can show me around, and I say five, maybe ten words total.

“And this,” he says, gesturing to an auditorium in Jackson Hall, “is where Ro-cone met Adam. But more importantly, where she met me.” He flashes me a bright smile and pushes his shades back up into his hair. “We used to spend entire classes swooning over the back of his head.” He reminisces for a moment before resuming our walk and adding, “But I’m guessing he’s not your type.”

“What makes you say that?” I share looks with a snotty girl who apparently doesn’t approve of combat boots or pink Chucks, celebrating a small victory when she looks away first.

Leti turns around and starts walking backward, pretending to read my aura with his hand again. “Your type is . . . tall, thin, but with . . . black hair. Green eyes.” When he stops walking, I stop too. He closes his eyes in mock concentration. “Name starts wiiith . . . ”

When he peeks an eye open and flat out says, “Shawn,” I put on the best audition for “deer in headlights” anyone has ever seen. I stare, stare, contemplate running away with my arms flailing, stare some more, and then force my lips to curl up in a slow, amused smile.

“Nice try.”

Leti’s thick lashes drop over narrowed eyes, the corner of his mouth pulling up in a skeptical smirk. “You know, it’s not very nice to keep secrets from your new best friend.”

Satisfied I’ve neither confirmed nor denied his suspicion—and barely resisting the urge to shake him violently while demanding to know what ungodly black magic he used to find out about my lingering crush on Shawn—I walk past him with no idea where I’m going. “I thought you said we were third-best friends.”

Pink Chucks rush to fall in step beside me. “What if I told you a secret about me?”

I shield my eyes from the sun as I gaze over at him, and then I chuckle. “You don’t have any secrets.”

His outfit, his hair, his smile—it all screams that he has nothing to hide, and that even if he did, he wouldn’t hide it. He grins at my assessment. “Touché. But you have a ton.”

I share none of them as we continue walking—not about my present crush, not about my past crush, not about losing my virginity in an upstairs bedroom at Adam’s senior party. If I had a girlfriend, I might call her up and spill my guts, but instead, all I really have is an overbearing twin brother and a guy in neon Chucks who I’ve known for all of twenty minutes.

Eventually, the latter admits defeat, switching to conversations about the town and the school and a hundred other safe subjects.

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