“Oh my God,” I blurt, and we both start chuckling. I look around to see if anyone saw us, but the only people looking our way—Shawn’s way—are a few scantily dressed groupies who undoubtedly caught our performance tonight and are patiently waiting their turn for his attention.
I’m glaring at them when Shawn’s lips press against my neck, making my toes curl. My fingers press into my palms, and I nibble my lip between my teeth.
“I’d rather be back on the bus right now,” he says, and I couldn’t agree more, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering why the hell two of those chicks are still staring at me—me, not Shawn. When they grin at each other and start walking my way, I can’t help feeling like a meal about to be made.
“I’m Nikki,” the taller one says when she’s finished stalking across the black marble floor. She’s only an inch or so taller than me, with hair as long as mine, a nose ring even sparklier than mine, and curves a hell of a lot curvier than mine. She’s one of the prettiest girls here, but not a single guy is hitting on her, and I’m guessing that’s for a damn good reason—she has Van’s groupie written all over her.
“And I’m Molly,” her shorter counterpart says. The girl is five foot even at best, and petite all over, with an eyebrow piercing and the most doe-like eyes I’ve ever seen. Both girls have fake lashes, fake nails, neon pink hair, and an air about them that says they’re well-taken care of.
“I’m . . . ” Confused, curious, lost. “Okay?”
Molly giggles. “Nice to meet you, Okay! We loved you at the show tonight. You’re like this hot dangerous sex kitten that can play the guitar even better than Asshat over there.” She nods across the room, to where Cutting the Line’s rhythm guitarist is drinking Cîroc straight out of the bottle, and then grins up at Shawn. “Isn’t that right, Shawn?”
It clicks in my head then, what those predatory smiles meant. They saw me kiss Shawn. They know Van. Van knows Adam, Joel, Mike.
Shit, shit, shit.
“Stop being a pain, Molly,” Nikki scolds. “Shawn, we’re borrowing Kit for a minute. Go take a cold dip in the pool or something.”
I follow them because I have no choice. They have unspoken blackmail, and I have everything to lose. Shawn and I aren’t ready for the world to know about us because, frankly, I’m not even sure there is an us. He likes me . . . I think. Or maybe he just likes kissing me. Maybe we’re friends with benefits.
God, are we friends with benefits? Am I a fuck buddy like Kale said?
The girls lead me through open glass doors out onto a balcony that has what I have no doubt is the best view in the city. The skyline twinkles before me, a collection of sparkling skyscrapers that don’t hold a candle to the magic-filled suite behind me. But out here, I’m swathed in shadow.
“So, you and Shawn—” Nikki starts, but the vulnerable girl I was with Shawn is still somewhere at his side, and I cut her off.
“What are we out here for?”
She looks through the glass wall separating the balcony from the suite. Everyone is laughing and carrying on in a frenzy of excitement, but her voice is apathetic when she says, “We were bored.”
“Are you and Shawn a thing?” Molly asks excitedly, but when she sees the worried look that must spread across my face, she scrambles to add, “Oh, don’t worry, we won’t tell!”
“It is a secret, right?” Nikki asks, and I give her a half confession.
“How’d you know?”
My question makes Molly scoff, and my head spins back in her direction. I’m going to need physical therapy for whiplash if these girls don’t stop answering for each other.
“We knew Joel and Dee were together before they even did.”
“You know Joel and Dee?”
“I got the first Dee original T-shirt creation there ever was!” Molly squeals, and Nikki smiles at her. “I love yours though. That shirt is so hot.”
I stare down at my cut-up purple shirt, feeling so weird being out here with two very girly girls. I think I’m supposed to act like a girl too, but, uh . . . how? “Thanks . . . ”
Nikki turns around and leans back against the glass. In heels, booty shorts, and a curve-flattering belly-top, I’m sure she’s getting way more attention than the one-of-a-kind art pieces sprinkled throughout the suite. A breeze blows her hair back. “So why the big secret?”
“It’s complicated,” I answer truthfully. At first, we kept the secret for fun, but now, it’s for a million reasons—none of which seem quite good enough anymore. It’s because I have no idea what Shawn wants, and I don’t want to embarrass myself by asking. What if he says he wants us to stay a secret forever? What if he says he doesn’t? When he finds out I want more from him than he’s probably willing to give, will the kisses stop coming? Will it be another six years before he calls me again?
A reckless part of me almost wanted Adam or Joel or Mike to catch us when we were kissing. Then, it would’ve been out in the open, and it would’ve been out of my hands. Instead, it’s still a secret—and it’s still mine to keep.
“Oh, sweetie,” Nikki says, patting me on the shoulder. “It always is.”
I’M THANKFUL WHEN Adam appears a few minutes later, outside for a smoke break that interrupts the girls’ interrogation about me and Shawn. I practically drag him into the conversation, and Nikki and Molly behave themselves well enough for me to actually start to like them. They don’t seem as desperate for attention as the other girls here, but maybe that’s just because they don’t need to be.