Page 37 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

“What’s with your face?”

I walk past the irked look he gives me and stare up at our new bus. It’s gray and silver, a single-level behemoth that’s still tall enough to put most tour buses to shame. The guys apparently know someone who owns a whole fleet of RVs, and for this month-long US tour, we needed something that could actually make it under overpasses without getting split in half. Taking back roads on the tight schedule we’ve booked just wasn’t going to cut it, so the guys scored us two sleeper buses—one for the band, and one for our crew.

“What’s your problem?” Shawn asks from beside me, and I let out a heavy sigh. The past eight weeks since we nearly hooked up on the bus have been miserable. It’s not that I enjoy being a bitch to him . . . it’s just that I can’t help it—not after being ignored by him for almost an entire month and having my anger fester the entire time. Now he’s talking to me, but now I couldn’t care less what he has to say.

If I was a mature, rational, reasonable adult, I’d realize he made a mistake that night just like I did and that I shouldn’t hold a grudge. I’d forgive—or at least pretend to forget—and act like a professional. I’d move on.

But as it is, I grew up with not one, not two, not three, but four older brothers. I grew up teasing and pranking and learning how to be a giant pain in the ass. “Moving on” isn’t part of my repertoire, but “getting even” is.

“Are we seriously going to continue talking about your face?” I ask, and when I glance over at him, the look he’s giving me isn’t nearly as satisfying as I thought it’d be. I’m not sure which is worse—having him forget me, or having him hate me.

It hurts to know that he’s probably already forgotten the way he kissed me, when I can’t stop thinking about it. It makes me want to hate him, which just makes me that much more frustrated that I can’t.

With his eyes on me, I sigh. “I didn’t get any sleep last night,” I offer in the most apologetic tone he’s going to get.

It’s not a lie. I tossed and turned in anticipation of today. For the next month, I’ll spend every single day with him. Every. Single. Day. We’ll travel together, perform together, sleep practically on top of each other.

I thought about not showing up this morning.

“Better get used to it,” Shawn says, and I can’t even look over at him as he talks to me. I’m sure the morning sunlight is hitting his hair just right. He probably has a layer of scruffy stubble because he can never just do me a favor and give himself a clean shave. And he’s probably wearing a T-shirt that feels just as soft as it looks.

A few roadies pile off the smaller bus to finish loading equipment into a trailer attached to the back. One takes my guitar from me.

“I think you’ve got the last bunk,” Shawn adds, and then he walks to the door of the bigger bus, stepping one foot up and turning around when I don’t follow. “Are you coming or what?”

And of course, he’s right. In all of my stalling this morning, I’m the last to show up, which means I get last dibs on bunks, which means I’m on the bottom . . . right across from Shawn. I stare down at the black comforter like it wants to chew me into pulp, swallow me down, and throw me back up.

Joel startles me out of my misery by hooking an arm roughly around my neck and staring down at the bed with me. He turns a bright smile in my direction—one I hadn’t seen before he and Dee made up. It was the night of her birthday party at the end of May—he drew her a picture, she kicked his door down, the rest of us waited to see whose body we’d have to bury, and then we found out they made up. I’ll never understand those two, but at least they’re both smiling again.

“I hope you brought earplugs,” he says, and—oh, God, no. Everyone had warned me about his snoring—Dee, Rowan, Adam . . . everyone. And still, I forgot my damn earplugs.

“Shit,” I hiss. “Please tell me you have extra.”

“Why would I have any?” he says with far too much amusement. “I sleep just fine.”

My face falls, and his blue eyes glimmer as he laughs.

“Drink enough whiskey before bed and you won’t hear a thing, I swear.”

“Really?” I counter. “That’s your solution?”

“Or you could ask Shawn,” he offers with a shrug. “He’s usually the guy to go to. But you’ve been kind of a bitch to him lately, so—” I shoot him a glare, and his arm slips away from my shoulder as he takes a quick step back. “Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s funny as hell.”

“Anyone ever tell you you’re annoying when you’re happy?”

“Dee,” he answers with a big grin. “All the time.”

I grunt at him, toss my bag into a storage area near the bunks, and make my way through the rest of the bus. The first section, behind the driver’s quarters, is filled with leather benches for sitting. Then there’s the bathroom and lots of personal storage. Then five bunks—a stack of three on one side, a stack of two plus extra storage on the other. Then a kitchenette complete with seating, a minifridge, a microwave, an oven, plenty of storage and counter space, and a massive TV that Mike is already hooking gaming systems up to while Rowan unloads groceries. It’s like she bought out the local supermarket and thinks it’s all going to fit in our cupboards. I consider pointing out that all of the guys are way too lazy to cook and there’s no way in hell I’m cooking for them, but I can tell she’s keeping herself busy to keep from missing Adam before he’s even gone. He’s sitting on a bench watching her, fiddling with the wristbands on his wrists and looking like he wants to pull her into his lap and keep her there for the entire tour. Both Rowan and Dee are taking summer classes—Rowan at the local college and Dee at the local fashion school—or I don’t doubt they’d be coming along.

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