Page 50 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

In the dim glow of the cab, while the other guys are talking, I gaze down at him. My arm is curled behind his neck, and those impossibly green eyes are all mine, staring up at me from under black lashes that look soft enough to kiss. The streetlights flash across his face over and over and over again, highlighting the emerald specks in his eyes, the perfect shape of his nose, the shadow on his jaw. Each span of darkness makes me want to kiss him, and each flash of light reminds me that I can’t.

When the cab drops us back off at the bus, I stumble out of the backseat first, not waiting for the rest of the guys before I climb on board our gray-and-silver sleeper. I immediately grab my bag from a cabinet and head for the shower, taking it cold. The water rains over my face, washing away makeup and dancing and the heat on my skin. The cold makes Shawn feel like a dream, even though the ghost of his fingertips clings like an invisible print on my sides—one I can feel, one that’s impossible to wash away.

I take a deep breath and run my hands over my face, standing under the ice water until both my body and my memories are numb, until the entire night seems like yesterday. When I step out of the bathroom in fresh pajamas, with a fresh-washed face, it’s a new day, one I can face. One that doesn’t make my heart hurt.

The guys, including Driver, are all gathered in the kitchen, drinking and gaming and watching TV, and I say a quick goodnight to all of them, careful to avoid meeting Shawn’s eyes before I close the curtain and slip into my bunk.

My pillow, my blankets . . . My entire bed smells like him. After I switched his sheets with mine this morning, I didn’t think to take both sets to the Laundromat with us, and now I’ll be sleeping in his scent. It wraps itself around me when I pull the covers up to my chin and close my eyes. I can almost imagine I’m waiting for him in his bed, that he’ll crawl in next to me at any moment and hold me even tighter than he did inside the club.

My thoughts drift to what would happen after the holding . . .

And after the kissing . . .

I toss and turn, turn and toss. I’m alone, lying on my back while staring at the wooden beams above me, thinking of that night six years ago and how it feels like a lifetime ago, when a sliver of light cuts onto the aisle floor. When Shawn lets the curtain fall shut behind him, that sliver disappears again, leaving nothing but the dim glow of city light sneaking in through gaps in the curtains and blinds. I keep my eyes glued to the bunk above me as he slips out of his jeans, crawls under his covers, and settles in his bed. But when I feel his eyes on me, I roll onto my side to face him.

Across the aisle, he watches me, his scruffy cheek sunken into his pillow and his green eyes the brightest things in the room. He doesn’t look away when I stare back at him, and I couldn’t look away if I tried.

“Stop,” I say, so quietly that I barely reach him across the aisle.

“Stop what?” The softness in his voice tickles over my skin, lighter and warmer than the scented sheet caressing my shoulder. He’s in my head, wrapped around me, staring at me from so, so close.

Stop making me forget. Stop making me remember. Stop making me fall for you.

What I want to do is slip out from under the covers, close the space between us, drop to my knees, and press my lips to his. I want to kiss him until his fingers find my sides like they did in the club, like they did in the car, and then I want to put my hands on him the same way. I want to touch him until he’s as lost as I am, until we’re both just gone.

What I actually do is close my fingers around my second pillow and toss it across the aisle. Shawn laughs and catches it, tucking it under his head with no intention of giving it back. I can’t help smiling at him before rolling toward the wall, burying my nose in his pillow, and closing my eyes tight.

I wish Shawn had called me six years ago. I wish he didn’t regret kissing me on the bus.

I wish he didn’t want a girl like me.

I wish he wanted me.

Chapter Thirteen

A GIRL LIKE you.

Those four words plague me for the next seven days. When Shawn’s smiles give me butterflies, I think he must have been trying to tell me something. When he makes fun of me like I’m one of the guys, I change my mind.

The thing is, he’s not shy. I remember the way he was in high school, the way he took me upstairs like there was no question I’d follow him anywhere. If he wanted me now, he’d tell me. He’d take me into a dark room again. He wouldn’t say “a girl like you.”

And anyway, he’s full of shit. Shawn doesn’t want a girlfriend, or he’d have one. It’s not like he’s hurting for options to choose from. Each night we perform, he can have any girl in the crowd. Girls hotter than me, more girly than me, more his type than me. They wait for him at the bus, in their short skirts and plunging tops. And even though I’m thankful he never invites them on board—that he spends his nights reading or teasing me with smiles across the aisle—it’s impossible to forget that if I wasn’t here, that if I wasn’t a girl on his bus, he’d be sampling different groupies every night. And maybe one of them would become his girlfriend, maybe not, but either way, he’d be more himself than when he’s with me. And I’d still be just that girl—that girl he left behind. That girl he forgot.

“This last one’s a new one,” Adam says into the microphone during our ninth day on tour. It’s our sixth performance, and the sixth time he’s said those exact words. Most shows start the same—with him flirting with the front row before building up my sex appeal to the guys in the crowd. Then he belts lyrics into the mic, with Shawn singing over him and under him and after him and before him. Joel rocks the bass, Mike pounds the drums, and I lose myself somewhere between the spotlights suspended from the rafters and the strings of my guitar.

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