“Motherfucker,” I hiss, rubbing my forehead while dangling both legs over the edge. I slide off Mike’s mattress, underestimate how far my sleepy legs have to drop, and narrowly avoid plowing teeth-first into the bunks on the other side of the aisle.
“Go awaaay,” Adam whines from the top bunk, blindly swinging his arm out and nearly smacking me in the head. His face is buried under a pillow, and his covers are hanging mostly off his bunk. I bat his hand away with one arm and rub my sleep-filled eyes with the other.
Joel’s face peeks through the curtain separating the bunks from the kitchen, and he smiles before dipping back inside. “She’s up!”
I cast a quick glance at the bunk below the one I slept in, relieved when there’s no sign of the drool machine who got her nasty all over it the night before. I scrunch my nose and grab my bag from storage, removing and reapplying my makeup in the bathroom before growing some balls and joining the guys in the kitchen.
I plop down in a bench next to Mike, across from Joel, and avoid eye contact with Shawn as he pours me a coffee I didn’t ask for.
“I’m hoping you guys dumped that chick’s body somewhere along the interstate,” I mutter while staring at the steaming cup in front of me.
Mike shakes his head. “We only did that once. Shawn said it’s bad for publicity.”
I grunt and take a reluctant sip of my coffee, which tastes so good that I almost want to thank Shawn for making it. He’s leaning against the counter, not saying a word, and I’m busy pretending he doesn’t exist.
I pretend he doesn’t exist the whole way to Philly. I pretend he doesn’t exist at soundcheck. I pretend he doesn’t exist while I’m washing my hair before the show, in a shower that he just climbed out of. He always smells so fucking good, I’m tempted to replace all of his sexy man-scented body wash with my vanilla-jasmine exfoliating wash—and then I do.
After drying my hair and reapplying my makeup, I emerge from the bathroom to find that I’m alone. And seeing my opportunity, I make quick work of switching my nasty bedsheets with Shawn’s. I even make sure the lines are crisp when I make the bed back up, just like Driver had done while the rest of us were at soundcheck. The guy is spacey as hell, but he can make a bed like no one’s business. He fixed everyone’s up but Adam’s, who apparently prefers that his covers be just as messy as the rest of him.
I’m sitting at the booth in the kitchen, munching on the peanut butter cookies that Joel tried to hide for himself in the back of the cabinet, when the guys pile back onto the bus and commandeer my snack.
“Where are we going for dinner?” I ask as I get up to follow them back through the bus. My stomach growls, and Shawn stops in his tracks to turn around and face me.
“They’re going to a burger joint. But you,” he says as he starts stripping the sheets off his bed, “are coming with me to the Laundromat.” When my face twists with confusion, he glances over his shoulder and tosses a pillowcase at me. “Did you really think I wouldn’t notice? Every inch is covered with glitter.”
“And drool,” I add with a chuckle that he mocks.
“Ha, ha, ha. Yeah, and a million other things I don’t want to sleep in.”
He finishes stripping the bed, grabs a bag from the closet, and ushers me off the bus. And outside, I begrudgingly fall in step behind him, dangling the pillowcase from my fingertips like it’s covered in something I could catch—which I don’t doubt it is. “Shouldn’t you be used to it by now?”
The frays of my cutoff shorts tickle my thighs along with a strong summer breeze. After all the trouble that wearing that safety-pinned dress Dee made me for our first performance at Mayhem caused, I’ve decided it’s easier—and safer—to just be myself, mismatched wardrobe and all. My oversized My Chemical Romance tank is tucked into the front of my shorts, my hair is twisted up into a clip, and my boots are eating the sidewalk one crack at a time.
“Used to what?” Shawn asks. His shirt is just as timeworn and dark as mine, but he lets it hang loose over the aged threads of his worn vintage jeans. His long arms are full of black bedsheets, his green eyes full of question as he waits for my answer.
“Sleeping in groupie-whore filth,” I reply bluntly while discarding the pillowcase on top of the pile he’s carrying. He doesn’t even try to fight me, the teasing mood between us shifting somewhere in a fleeting second I feel like I missed.
Shawn’s eyes are back on the littered Philly sidewalk when he says, “Would it make you hate me more or less if I told you I didn’t sleep with them?” I have no answer to give him, but he doesn’t wait for it anyway. “I’m not going to lie, Kit . . . Yeah, I’ve fucked groupies before. A lot. Too many to count. But it’s not like we cuddle after.” He looks over at me again, his gaze unreadable in a way that makes me wish I still had something to carry. “So are you going to hate me more or less, Kit? Because I don’t know what to say to you to get you to stop looking at me the way you do.”
I don’t know how I look at him now, but I know it’s not how I looked at him a few weeks ago.
And I guess he knows it too.
“I didn’t invite those groupies on the bus,” he adds.
“Why didn’t you?”
Shawn stops walking to question me with a piercing gaze.
“Why didn’t you want them to come on?” I repeat.