“Do you think he went back to sleep?” I ask in a whisper.
“No.” Shawn’s searing lips catch mine again in a soft yet dominant caress, but then something heavy drops to the ground, and in a second, his hands are out of my shirt, mine are off his jeans, and he’s taking a hasty step back.
Joel bursts through the curtain a second later, a hungover mess as he walks right past Shawn to get to the coffeemaker. He loads a filter into the machine, oblivious to the way my heart is pounding out of control, the way my lips are a bright kiss-swollen red, and the way Shawn is staring at me like he’s seriously contemplating finishing what he started regardless of who is or isn’t watching.
“Why the hell didn’t anyone make coffee?” Joel complains, and I bite my bottom lip between my teeth.
Shawn takes a little step toward me, and I subtly shake my head. He hesitates, then nods toward the curtain, silently asking me to leave the bus with him. For once, he’s asking, and for once, I can think.
A satisfied smile touches my lips, and I shake my head again.
I’ve always made things too easy for him. Too quick. Too forgettable.
“Don’t make me any,” I tell Joel as I hop down from the counter, determined to make myself memorable. “I think I’m going to try to get some more sleep.”
I smile at Shawn as I walk past, my fingers brushing his in a move that makes my heart pound even harder than it did while I was on the counter. His fingers curl with mine before letting them go, and that morning, I fall asleep not minding the scent stuck in the fibers of my pillowcase. I turn my face into it and smile, because those green eyes were sober this time and they were honest and they still wanted me. I smile because he said he wouldn’t regret it. I smile because I believe him.
THERE ARE A few things most people don’t know about being on tour. One is how things change.
The first week, the big shiny bus smells like excitement and fresh leather, but by the fourth week, it smells like exhaustion and boys’ gym shorts. The kitchen loses its shine, the road loses its magic, and the towns all start to look the same. Each night is the best night of your life, and each morning is déjà vu.
The first week, saying good-bye to friends and family is easy. Hugs, kisses, waves from windows. But by the fourth week, saying good-bye—even over the phone—feels like cutting an invisible tether that’s tying you to home. Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never see home again . . . because how can you when home is so, so, so far away?
Adam gets restless, taking late-night walks and filling notebook after notebook with lyrics for our next songs—anything to distract himself from how much he misses Rowan. Joel develops an unhealthy attachment to his phone, sleeping with it right next to his pillow and constantly whining about how much he misses Dee’s ass, her legs, her mouth—anything to disguise how much he really just wants to wrap her in his arms and never let her go again.
Mike complains about missing his house, his entertainment center, his studio.
But Shawn and I . . . Shawn and I don’t complain. Because how can we when each new morning, each new city, brings quiet kisses behind the kitchen curtain?
Sure, I miss Kale. I miss Leti. I miss the rest of my brothers and my mom and dad. I miss Rowan and Dee, and even my old-lady landlord. I miss my own bed and having more than just a few pairs of clothes to wear. I miss primetime TV and watching Sunday night football on my parents’ couch. But I don’t miss not being kissed by Shawn or not being touched by him. I don’t miss wondering what being wanted by him would feel like.
For me, the tour becomes a different life, one of toe-curling kisses and secret smiles. Shawn and I keep whatever is going on between us a secret from everyone else, because I don’t think either of us knows what it actually is . . .
It’s waking up early to giggle against his lips in the kitchen. It’s sneaking away from crowds to moan against his lips in the dark.
This morning, I opened my eyes to find him smiling at me from across the aisle, and I hid the goofy grin that consumed my face deep in my pillow. When I peeked over at him again, he winked at me, and it took everything I had to not wake the rest of the boys up with a stupid girly giggle. Shawn pointed toward the kitchen, and I shook my head. He pointed again, and I gave him another troublemaker smile and shake of my head. He gave me a devilish smile and picked up his phone.
As I read his text, I bit my lip between my teeth, forgetting that he could see me. When I looked his way, I was pretty sure he was going to pick me up and carry me there whether I wanted him to or not.
More sleep. :P
Then I’m crawling in bed with you.
My head whipped in his direction when I heard him start to slip out of his covers, but I slid into the aisle before he could beat me to it. And in the kitchen, he swept me into his arms and punished me for my teasing—with scorching kisses that left me breathless and soft touches that drove me insane. He treated my body like a toy he was learning, and I was happy to let him play. He took his time teaching me my lesson—too long, because the bus started, the boys woke up, and Shawn and I nearly got caught with our hands buried under each other’s clothes. For what seemed like the hundredth time.
I’ve spent the afternoon frustrated, but it was worth it. The fact that we’re a secret makes this thing between us even more fun, makes us even more desperate, and every moment I have with him feels like something I’m stealing for myself.