These past six years, I’ve tried not to think about it. I’ve tried to erase his face from my mind. But that day, with that email in front of me, it all came back in a rush.
Green eyes. Messy black hair. An intoxicating scent that seemed to linger on my skin for days, weeks.
I give my head a little shake to clear Shawn from my mind. Then I finish brushing my hair and take one last glance in my rearview mirror. Satisfied I don’t look nearly as messy as I feel, I hop onto the asphalt and haul my guitar case from the backseat.
Now or never.
After a deep breath of city air, I begin making my way around the concrete fortress casting shadow over the parking lot. Unforgiving rays of afternoon sunshine wrap themselves around my neck and send beads of sweat trickling between my shoulder blades. My combat boots hit the sidewalk step by heavy step, and I force them to keep lifting and falling, lifting and falling. It isn’t until I’m at a massive set of double doors that I finally stop long enough to let myself think.
I raise my hand. I lower it. I raise it again. I flex my fingers.
I take a deep breath.
During the seconds that tick away between my knock and the door opening, I think about grabbing my guitar case from where it’s propped against the wall and hightailing it back to my Jeep. I think about who will open the door. I think about Kale and wonder what in the hell I’m doing.
But then the door is swinging open and I’m stuck on the threshold of a decision that could make my life or ruin it.
Long dark chocolate hair. Fierce brown eyes. A piercing gaze that smacks me right in the face. The girl—who I’m guessing is the one who responded to my email and signed her name “Dee”—trails her eyes all the way down to my boots and then back up again. “The band isn’t here to sign shit or take pictures,” she says.
Apparently, I’ve offended her just by breathing. “Okay?” My eyebrow lifts from the sheer gust of hostility she throws at me, and I resist the urge to glance over my shoulder to make sure I’m in the right place. “I’m not here for autographs or pictures . . . ”
“Great.” She begins closing the door in my face, but I slap my hand against it before she can shut me out.
“Are you Dee?” I ask, and the girl’s glare hardens with either recognition or irritation. Maybe both. She’s so focused on trying to murder me with her eyes that she doesn’t even notice when a blonde-haired girl pops up behind her. With nothing to lose, I wedge my combat boot against the door and hold out my hand. “I’m Kit. We spoke over email?”
“You’re Kit?” the blonde asks, and the brown-haired girl that I’m assuming is Dee slowly offers up her hand.
“Oh, sorry,” I say with an apologetic laugh, realizing why the girls are acting like I’m some kind of groupie. Probably because I look like one, with my barely there top and my spider-leg mascara. “Yeah. I have four older brothers who thought Katrina was too girly of a name.”
The running joke is that I didn’t even know my name was Katrina until grade school—but it isn’t a joke, because I’m pretty sure I really didn’t. The boys boycotted the name my mom had insisted on, and eventually she gave up the good fight. It was Kit from the day I was born, and the only people who call me Katrina are people who don’t really know me.
“And you’re here to audition?” the blonde asks.
I pull my guitar case from where it’s propped against the wall and give them a big smile. “I hope so. It is okay that I’m a girl, right?”
“Yeah,” the blonde rushes to say, but Dee still has her eyes narrowed with skepticism.
Having been the only girl in an all-guy band in college, I’m used to it, so I’m not surprised when she says, “That depends . . . Are you a girl who can play the guitar?”
“I think so,” I deadpan. “I mean, it’s difficult since my vagina is constantly getting in the way, but I’ve learned to manage it just like any other handicap.” I pause for dramatic effect, my expression somber when I add, “Sadly, I don’t get special parking.”
A long moment of silence passes where I’m sure my brand of humor is lost on the two chicks in front of me, but then Dee bursts out laughing and they both lead me inside.
On our walk through a short hallway, the blonde apologizes for the rude welcome and tells me her name is Rowan, and then we turn into the cavernous space that is Mayhem. A massive bar lines one wall, a stage lines the other, and in the middle of the room sits a row of card tables and six foldout chairs—like some kind of makeshift setup for the judges of American Idol.
I cross the club to lean my guitar against the stage and, in an attempt to convince myself Shawn isn’t about to magically appear at any freaking moment, I say, “So it’s just going to be us?”
“No—” Dee starts, but she’s barely gotten the word out before a back door opens and bright afternoon sunlight spills onto the floor, paving the way for all four remaining members of The Last Ones to Know.
Joel Gibbon enters first, his blond hair giving him away. In high school, it was a gelled mess that stood up all over the place; now it’s a disciplined Mohawk that cuts a line down the center of his head. He’s followed by Mike Madden, who looks the same and yet somehow more manly, like he grew into himself. Adam Everest walks in next, looking even hotter than he did six years ago. His hair is still long and untamed, his jeans still look like they got into a fight with a paper shredder and lost, and his wrists are still adorned with stacks of mismatched bracelets. The blonde girl walks to meet him, and I feel sorry for the way she’s going to feel when Adam decides to stop calling.