Page 77 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

I lay in bed with my heart pounding so hard, it threatened to throw my covers off me. He was apologizing. Too late, but he was doing it.

For what? I typed back. My fingers were shaking, the mangled pieces of my jigsaw heart quivering as they promised to either put themselves together or impale themselves into the walls of my chest.

For everything.

When I put down my phone, Kale must be able to see the hurt that swallowed me whole this morning. It must be written all over my face, because he sits on my bed and frowns at me. “What did he say?”

I hand my phone over, and my twin’s brow furrows at the text conversation he pulls up. “For everything? What the hell does that mean?”

When his black eyes flick up to mine for an answer, all I can do is shake my head and stare at him through a blurry veil of tears, a wall that I refuse to let crumble. Kale’s hard expression immediately softens, and my voice breaks when I say, “I don’t know.”

He’s sorry for everything. For sleeping with me six years ago? For leading me on? For never calling? For lying about forgetting me. For kissing me on the tour. For making me think we could ever be something.

“Jesus, Kit,” Kale says as he pulls me into a hug. He shifts on the bed until I’m wrapped tightly in his arms, and I turn my face into his shoulder to dry my eyes, but I don’t break down. If I break down now—if I break down again—I’m afraid I’ll never be able to put myself back together. “Tell me how to fix this.”

“You can’t.”

“What can I do then?”

“Nothing.”

He squeezes me tighter, rubbing my arm like he’s trying to physically wipe the pain off of me. If only it was that easy. “Who do I call to cancel this dinner tonight?”

“No one.”

“What do you mean, ‘no one’?”

When I sit up straight, his hand slowly slips away from my shoulder. I take a deep breath until I can see clearly again. “I don’t want to cancel. I’m not quitting the band, and you know Mase and Ry and Bryce are still going to want to meet everyone.”

I’ve thought about it—a lot—and I want to stay in the band. I won’t be Shawn’s toy, not anymore, but that isn’t going to stop me from being the rhythm guitarist for The Last Ones to Know. I’ve worked too hard, have given too much. I’m not walking away. Not now.

“Not if they knew—” Kale starts.

“But they don’t know . . . They’re never going to.”

“So you’re just going to—”

“Let Shawn come.”

Kale studies me for a long time, his lip twisting and disappearing between his teeth before reappearing an entire shade brighter. “Kit . . . ”

I just sit there staring flatly at him, resolute despite my own apprehension. It’s probably a terrible idea to let the band come tonight, but Kale and I both know I’m right—my brothers will insist on meeting them sometime, and if I cancel dinner tonight, it will only trigger the alarms in their heads. It’ll only make things worse.

Kale sighs when he realizes I’ve already made up my mind. “What are you going to say to him?”

I shake my head. “Nothing. It’s done.”

“Bullshit,” he says. “You guys are never done.”

“We weren’t ever not done.”

“You’re stupid.”

With my legs crisscrossed and my hands curled around my shins, I furrow my brows at him. “You’re stupid.”

“At least I’m not delusional,” he argues with his legs crisscrossed and his hands on his shins, my mirror image.

“Oh yeah?” I’m about to throw Leti in his face, about to call Kale delusional for thinking he’ll be able to keep him while still hiding who he is from the rest of the world, but I bite my tongue.

Hurt flashes across his face anyway, and I realize it’s too late. He’s done that annoying twin-telepathy thing again, and I’ve already said too much.

“Well, whatever,” I say to end the conversation, hating my quick tongue and even quicker temper. I let myself collapse back against my pillows to avoid having to acknowledge the damage I’ve caused in the person I care about most.

“I know Leti and I are done too,” Kale says. “You don’t have to tell me.”

“I didn’t tell you,” I counter without conviction.

“You might as well have.”

When I say nothing, Kale sighs and stretches out on my bed. My feet are by his head and his are by mine. “You could fix it, you know.”

He doesn’t argue, and he doesn’t agree. Instead, he considers what I said for a moment, and then he presses his gross-ass sock against my cheek. I knock it away, and he counterattacks by rubbing both sets of funky toes all over my face. I yell and scramble to push him away, he laughs and accidentally kicks me in the eye, and all hell breaks loose. Kale and I attack each other with toes and heels and ankles—until he gets a bloody nose and I get a throbbing knot on the back of my head from falling off the bed. We’re both laughing hysterically as we nurse our wounds when Bryce walks in, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and scowling at us.

“What the fuck is wrong with you two?”

With his head tilted back and his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose, Kale mutters, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

And then, I laugh so hard, I can’t breathe. I laugh until I snort, which only makes me laugh harder. I laugh until this morning almost seems to not matter, and this evening almost seems far enough away.

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