“That one woman was like fifty years old,” he exaggerates of a cougar dressed in, yes, cougar print, who was waiting outside the bus. There are some women who just have a thing for drummers, and this one made no secret of it—which, I’m guessing, is why Mike is currently glancing toward the front of the bus like she’s about to storm onto it SWAT-style at any given moment.
I laugh and tease him some more. “Not all of your fan club was that old.”
He gives me a look and collapses onto the seat next to me, handing me one of his beers before starting his Xbox.
“How are you going to meet your future wife if you won’t give any of them a chance?”
“Trust me, any girl I’d want to be with is not one waiting outside of a tour bus.”
“I’ve waited outside of my fair share of buses,” I counter. For autographs, pictures, hugs. Nothing more, and I certainly wasn’t dressed in cougar print.
“Exactly,” Mike says, and when I drop my jaw and smack him hard across his shoulder, he laughs.
I smile and relax back against the seat, waiting until he’s playing a game to say, “Thanks for not saying anything to the guys about me and Shawn this morning.”
“You should’ve just told me,” he says with his eyes on the screen and his fingers frantically pushing buttons. “I knew there was something going on with you two.”
“That obvious, huh?” I try to ignore the fire-breathing dragon beneath the brightening skin of my cheeks.
Mike glances at me and chuckles. “Yeah. But don’t worry. You’re a much better liar than Shawn is.”
I grin at the smart-ass compliment, and then I ask, “How so?”
“Dude,” Mike says, “he gave it away from the moment you auditioned. I just never really got why he looked at you like that.”
My nose crinkles. “Huh?”
“At first, I honestly thought he just didn’t like you.” Mike laughs. “I had no idea you guys hooked up in high school.”
A ringing in my ears. A loud, loud ringing. “Wait . . . what?”
All sorts of warnings are flash-firing in my brain, causing my heart to protest painfully against my ribs. He had no idea we hooked up in high school? In high school?
Mike glances at me again before turning back to the TV with a chuckle. “Relax. Shawn told me everything. Your secret’s safe with me.”
“He . . . told you we hooked up in high school?”
That’s impossible. He doesn’t remember we hooked up in high school . . .
Mike curses and jerks to the side along with the character on the screen. Then he regains his composure and says, “At Adam’s graduation party, right?”
“Yeah . . . ”
“Kind of epic, if you think about it. It’s like you guys were always meant to be together or something.”
“Yeah,” I mutter again, with dread pooling coldly in the pit of my stomach.
When Mike glances at me again, I disguise my emotions with a fake smile, and he smiles back at me before returning to his game. “I think you guys will be good together.”
I walk away from him in a daze, icy shivers dancing over my arms and up the back of my neck as I replay his words over and over again in my head.
I had no idea you guys hooked up in high school.
Shawn told me everything.
You guys hooked up in high school.
In high school.
At Adam’s graduation party.
Shawn has remembered this entire time. He’s known since my audition, since the first time he locked eyes with me after six years of nothing. He knew when he gave me a hard time at our first practice and I ended up throwing a guitar pick at his head. He knew when I kissed him in Mayhem, when he kissed me back and I ended up making an idiot of myself on the bus. He knew when we sat up on the roof of the hotel and I admitted I had a crush on him in high school. He knew with every kiss he stole, every smile he took, every time he made me look like a stupid fucking girl harboring the crush of a fifteen-year-old freshman.
Betrayal plants in my belly and spreads like a weed, choking out the butterflies and making one thing perfectly clear: he doesn’t want to tell the guys about us because he never wants them to know. He didn’t want them to know back then, and nothing has changed. He only told Mike because Mike caught us and he had some serious explaining to do. But he doesn’t want me to tell Rowan, or Dee, or Kale, or Leti, because after all these years, I am still just his dirty little secret.
When he climbs onto the bus and smiles at me, it takes everything I have to not cross the distance between us and clock him in the face. He’s not my boyfriend anymore, not the guy who made me giggle tonight onstage. He’s the guy who fucked me in a dark room and never called. He’s the guy who has lied to me for months. He’s the guy who broke my heart—twice.
Once, shame on me. Twice, you are so fucking done for.
After Adam and Joel pass by me to get to the back, I catch Shawn’s arm and haul him to the front, closing divider curtains the entire way. Driver is still on the other bus, and I have only minutes before he appears to drive us to the next city.
“You looked hot onstage tonight,” I say, my voice carrying a manic sort of recklessness that I’m hoping he can’t hear. I boldly reach up and curl my fingers in his hair, a wild energy buzzing in my veins and threatening to make my fingers shake.
It would be easy to confront him, and it would be easy for him to lie. I’d look absolutely crazy—like just another one of the scorned groupies I’m sure he’s collected over the years. Shawn could deny everything—every kiss, every touch, every word . . . every goddamn fucking thing I was stupid enough to think meant anything. And honestly, I’m not sure who the rest of the guys would believe. The forgettable little girl from high school? Or their best friend since forever?