Page 86 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

“I’ll never know,” I answer angrily.

“Okay, let me ask you this then. Do you really think Shawn—Shawn—would have stayed away from you just because your macho-man brothers wanted him to? If he really wanted to be with you, like your little-girl heart wanted to believe, do you think he would have let them stand in his way? For six years?”

A sharp stinging surges against the back of my eyes, and I blame it on the even-worse stinging in my chest. It feels like my heart is a twisted, gnarled mess, like it’s been thrown into a food processer and then run over with a Mac truck. “I get it, Leti. Shawn never wanted me. Is that your point?”

“My point is that Kale was just trying to protect you. He’s an idiot, but he’s an idiot who loves you.”

“Lucky me.”

Leti sighs and watches me wipe the heel of my palm over my eye. “You are lucky. Extremely lucky. Which brings us to Shawn.”

“If you say I’m lucky to have Shawn,” I warn, “you’re getting a rock chucked at your head.”

“Baby steps, she-devil,” Leti replies, like I didn’t just threaten to murder him where no one would find his body. “I’m not going to tell you Shawn cares about you or anything.” He fakes a cough that sounds an awful lot like, “He does,” and then he wipes a self-satisfied grin from his face and continues. “But I am going to point out that you are a giant—and I’m talking giant, massive, enormous, colossal—”

“Get to the fucking point,” I order.

“Hypocrite.” Leti matches my hard stare with one of his own, not backing down from the darkness in my eyes or fearing the way I weigh that promised rock in my palm. “All you’ve done since the moment you walked back into Shawn’s life is lie.”

“I’m not the liar,” I argue, letting the rock fall back to the ground.

“Yes, you are.”

“But he—”

“Did exactly the same thing as you.” In my silence, Leti emphasizes, “Exactly the same thing. You pretended not to know him. He pretended not to know you. How are you going to be mad at him for something you did?”

“I did it to protect myself,” I insist, but the argument sounds weak even to my own ears.

“And you just assume he did it for a different reason? Like just to hurt you or something? This is Shawn we’re talking about. Since when have you known him to go around trying to hurt people?”

Shawn puts honey in Adam’s whiskey before shows. He goes on coffee runs for the roadies. He brings earplugs for girls who steal them.

I feel my anger waning with the absolute sense Leti is making, so I narrow my eyes even farther and continue protesting. “He wanted to keep me a secret.”

“Did he tell you he wanted to keep you a secret?”

“YES!” I bark at him. “He told me not to tell anyone about us!”

“Forever?”

I want to scream at Leti again, but instead, I think back and remember what Shawn had said. He said that he didn’t want Adam and Joel to know because they’d make the rest of the tour hell. He looked down into my eyes and said, “Later. Just not yet.”

My molars ache when I stop grinding them together. “I think he wanted to wait until after the tour . . . ”

“And did you give him the chance to tell people after you guys got home?”

God, last night . . . Last night, my mom had asked him if he had a girlfriend, and he said he didn’t know. He looked right at me. In front of everyone. Like it was my decision. And after my outburst, he chased me. He chased me like I was the only thing he cared about.

When a fresh round of tears springs to my eyes, Leti stands up, wipes off his jeans, and holds a hand down for me. “Are you ready to go back now?”

“What do I do?” I stare up into his golden eyes, set into a soft face illuminated by the sun’s golden rays. He smiles warmly at me when I give him my hand.

“You chase him.”

Chapter Twenty-Two

ON THE HIGHWAY, my foot weighs heavy on the gas pedal of the beat-up Chrysler convertible that Mason and I fixed up my junior year of high school. I’m so distracted, I haven’t even turned the music on. My thoughts are as blurred as the cars I pass, and all I can do is stare out the dusty windshield as I make my way toward the same city where Shawn lives, the same place where we tuned guitars together on my roof.

I’m not chasing him.

There are still too many questions left unanswered. And part of me is afraid to ask—to even wonder. I know why I lied, but I don’t know why he did. I was the one he crushed six years ago. I was the one with everything to lose. But still, he lied just the same as I did, and I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what we are. I don’t know what I ever meant to him, if I meant anything at all.

I only know what a mess I made last night.

My brothers could have killed him, and maybe that’s what I wanted when I was screaming at him at the top of my lungs. I was furious—over a thousand lies he told, over a thousand lies I told, and over a thousand lies I believed even though no one ever told them. I thought he wanted to keep me a secret. I thought he was playing me for an idiot. I thought a lot of things, but after everything Leti said this morning . . . now I can’t think at all.

All I can do is drive.

Because even if I wanted to chase him, no one knows where he is. Rowan was the one who drove Leti to my parents’ house this morning, and before I left, she told me that no one has seen him since last night. He took off as soon as the guys got back to his apartment building, and now he’s not answering his phone.


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