Page 43 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

“Because I didn’t want you to look at me like you’re looking at me now.”

“How am I looking at you?”

Shawn’s thick eyelashes fan down over his eyes, and then he opens them back up to look at me, everything about him calling to that thing in my chest that used to beat for him, that thing that still beats fast even now. “Like there was never a time when it was just you and me hanging out up on your roof,” he says. “Like I never made you laugh or smile or . . . ” He sighs, and those fissures in my heart start to pull again. The regret in his eyes breaks them open. “Just because we kissed in Mayhem doesn’t mean things have to be like this.”

It mattered to me more than he knew, more than he can ever know, and that’s exactly why that kiss meant things did have to be like this. I couldn’t keep falling and letting myself do it.

I can’t.

My defense mechanisms go on high alert, the alarms in my head drowning out the sound of that pounding behind my ribs. “You’re getting awfully sentimental, Shawn.”

We’re walking shoulder to shoulder in the heart of the city. There are cars passing and sirens in the distance and people shouting back and forth—but I hear none of those things, not one, when Shawn says, “Maybe I miss being on the roof with you.”

My eyes flit in his direction—hoping to catch a smirk or a glint in his eye or something else that would tell me he’s just teasing. But when he won’t even turn his head to look at me, I know he’s telling the truth.

“That was corny,” I reply.

“I meant it.”

In a signature Kale move, I twist my bottom lip between my teeth. What exactly does he want from me? He misses being on the roof with me? What does that even mean?

When Shawn opens the door to a place called Laundrorama, I refuse to go in. “How am I supposed to look at you, Shawn?”

This time, when our eyes lock, he doesn’t look away. “Like you did before,” he says. “Like we’re friends.”

I don’t tell him that never—never—have I looked at him like we’re just friends. Instead, I silently walk through the door he’s holding open for me, and with my back to him, I quietly say, “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“I’ll try to get my eyes to . . . I don’t know, what are they supposed to do?” I turn around with my eyes intentionally as crazy and wide as I can get them, and when Shawn laughs, I ignore the way that sound calls to my heart again, and I force a smile back at him.

I pick up a pillowcase that drops to the floor as he sets the sheets at the side of a machine and opens the lid. He unties the bag he brought with him and pulls out two mysterious, unlabeled plastic containers—one with white powder, one with blue.

“Detergent and fabric softener?” I ask while I gaze around the Laundromat. Washers are lined in the middle, with dryers stacked along the walls. The place is mostly empty, save for a woman smoking right next to a No Smoking sign and a leering old man in a robe and pair of jeans.

I shrink closer to Shawn, my shoulder pressed against his when he says, “Mmhm.” He measures the powders out in marked cups and empties them into the machine.

“What kind?”

“Some shit I can’t pronounce. Something Italian.”

“Is that how you get your clothes so soft?” I ask, and he turns a tender smile on me that makes my cheeks redder than the No Smoking sign being ignored at the corner of the room.

“Yeah. It also makes them smell really good.”

Uh, yeah, I’ve freaking noticed. But that does nothing to stop me from wanting to turn into him and bury my nose in the neck of his tee.

“Want to smell?” he says, shifting toward me like he’s offering to let me do just that. His collarbone looks good enough to eat, just begging to be nibbled on under the thin black fabric of his T-shirt.

I pick up the powder and sniff that instead, coughing when some gets huffed up my nose. “Smells like dead brain cells.”

Shawn barks out a laugh and takes the container from me, closing both up before pushing the sheets in the washer and closing the lid. He roots some change from his pocket and feeds the machine, and then we take two seats in front of the big bay window of the Laundro-freakin’-rama.

The bells on the door jingle as we both watch a very pregnant woman wearing too-tight boxer shorts and a two-sizes-too-small top enter the Laundromat. She has two little kids screaming and chasing each other around her flip-flop-clad feet, and I can already tell the next hour or so is going to be a blast. Shawn twitches like he wants to offer to help her with the laundry basket she’s balancing on her hip, but with the way her suddenly heated gaze homes in on him like he could be her next baby daddy, he settles back in his plastic chair. The kids start running through the aisles making enough noise to drown out the dryers, and Shawn stretches his arm behind my seat.

“Kill me now,” I say, and his head turns in my direction, a smile on his lips.

“So what did you do when you left the kitchen last night?”

I’m distracted by the glances the woman keeps stealing at Shawn while she fills one of the washers, so I barely hold back a snicker when one of her kids face-plants on a dryer and starts screaming his head off so loudly that she can’t continue ignoring him.

“You’re evil,” Shawn says with a grin when I’m too busy laughing to answer his question.

“You do realize she wants you to mount her on a washing machine, right?”

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