“Kit?” Kale’s voice asks in my ear, and I shake my head of thoughts of my morning with Shawn to answer him. I’m sitting on a curb outside of a Bojangles fast-food joint while the guys finish their breakfasts inside, a phone to my ear and my skin melting off.
“Georgia,” I grumble, wiping the sweat off my arms and peeling myself from the curb to find the shade of an overhang. “It’s sticky. Seriously, my skin is like goo right now.”
“I look like a melting wax figure. I swear to God, the insides of my ears are sweating.”
“You’re nasty,” Kale says.
“I know.” I cradle the phone against my shoulder and flap my arms like a chicken to get some airflow. “Don’t you dare bury me in Georgia. Scrape me off the sidewalk and ship me to Antarctica or something.”
My brother chuckles, and I lift the back of my oversized band tank to press my back against the shadowed brick of a nearby building, ignoring the judgmental looks I get from passing pedestrians. “So I take it you’re ready to come home this weekend?” he asks.
My thoughts immediately jump back to Shawn and the way he kissed me in the kitchen this morning. The one morning Adam decided to wake up early, it had to be today. Every damn time Shawn and I start getting too hot, something always happens to hose us down, and I’m not sure if I should be thankful for it or flatten all six tires of the bus.
“No,” I admit, and then I sigh and start pouring my heart out. “Shawn and I—”
“Uuuggghhh,” Kale groans. “I knew it! I knew it.”
I close my eyes behind the dark shades I’m wearing. “I don’t know what’s going to happen when we get home.”
It’s not like I haven’t thought about it a million or two million times. I don’t want us to stay a secret forever, but I’m the one who made us one in the first place, by hiding what we were up to in the kitchen from Joel, and Shawn has been content to keep it that way. How will I look if I change my mind now? Needy. Desperate. Pathetic. Shawn hasn’t said what he wants from me, and I’m too scared of disappointment to ask. I’m too scared of having my heart broken. Again.
“Did he actually ask you out, or is he just using you as a fuck buddy?” Kale asks.
“We haven’t fucked.”
“Answer the question.”
“I don’t know.”
“How do you not know?”
“I think we’re together,” I say, mostly to appease my brother, because honestly, I’m not sure what I think.
I wipe a layer of sweat off my brow. “I think I’m falling for him again.”
“Bullshit,” Kale says, like I’m his petulant kid sister, which I am. “You love him, and we both know it. You never stopped.”
My twin says out loud what my heart already knows, and there’s no use denying it anymore. “I thought I was over him.”
“Yeah,” Kale says as I wipe my clammy hand on my shorts, “because you’re stupid.”
I slink down against the brick wall until I’m sitting with my knees against my chest. I don’t bother arguing with him, and he doesn’t bother rubbing it in. We both know I’m teetering on the edge of another heartbreak, and we both know I’m going to risk it anyway. Because Shawn has always been worth the risk to me, and these past few weeks have only given me a million more reasons why.
It’s because he puts honey in Adam’s whiskey before shows to help his voice, and because he tapes a bottle of aspirin above Joel’s bunk when he’s doomed to wake with a hangover. It’s because he makes me smile when he smiles, and makes me laugh when he laughs.
Getting to know him—really know him—has only made my feelings for him deeper. What I felt for him when I was fifteen is nothing compared to what I feel for him now—now that I know he feels something for me too, even if I don’t know exactly what that something is.
Kale and I let my confession hang between us, not needing to say anything else because we both know what each other would say. He’d say I need to stop messing with Shawn before I get hurt again. I’d say it’s too late for that. He’d tell me he doesn’t like him. I’d say I know. He’d ask what I plan to do when he does hurt me again. I’d sigh and have no answer to give him.
“Leti wants me to come out to Mom and Dad,” he says, and I’m thankful for the favor he’s doing me by changing the subject.
“Of course he does.”
Leti and Kale really hit it off the night we all went to Out. Even though I texted them to tell them they could sleep on the bus that night before heading home, they never showed up. They partied all night, have talked almost every day since, and have even gone out a few times. I’ve rubbed it in Kale’s face that I told him they’d be perfect together, and he hasn’t denied any of it.
When he goes as quiet as I had, I ask, “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, you know what I think.” I push to my feet as the guys file out of Bojangles, with Adam already lighting a cigarette and Joel already complaining about the heat. Shawn has his cell to his ear, and the look he gives me when he sees the way my ripped white tank is clinging to my skin makes my sunburned cheeks blaze even hotter.