Page 87 of Chaos (Mayhem 3)

I thought about calling him to see if he’d answer for me, but something kept my fingers away from his number. Maybe it was embarrassment. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear. Or maybe it was all of those—six years and three months of bottled-up emotions that made me feel more vulnerable than I ever had.

Had he really been chasing after me, just like my mom said? Did he mean what he said on the roof the night of Van’s party? With my shades down and the wind in my hair, I want to believe it.

But it isn’t until I see his car parked in my driveway that a little part of me starts to.

I coast into the driveway and park the silver Chrysler next to Shawn’s black Mitsubishi Galant, hope flaring in my chest like a flame threatening to burn me alive. I clamp down on the fire, reminding myself that it’s just an empty car. He could be here to chew me out for humiliating him. He could be here to kick me out of the band.

With my nerves bunched tight in my shoulders, I gather my things from the backseat of the car and carry them up to my apartment, half expecting to find him in my unlocked room. When I don’t find him there, I dump my things in a corner and venture into the old lady’s house, entertaining her warm welcome home and casually asking if a boy stopped by to see me today. But apparently, the only boy she saw today was the neighbor boy, Jimmy, who crashed his bike into her mailbox because he was trying to hold his Labrador’s leash while he was riding, and thank God Jimmy was wearing a helmet, because he could’ve died on her lawn, and he broke her mailbox post, but his parents made him come over to apologize and fix it, and she wishes she knew if anyone did find that damn dog—

With my toes twitching in my boots, I back out of the room and eventually out of the house, with the old woman’s voice still talking to herself somewhere in the living room. I slip back into the garage, back up the stairs, and back into my loft, with only one place left to check.

At my window, I stare out at Shawn sitting on my roof, his long legs stretched over the shingles as he gazes off into nowhere. He’s in the same clothes he was in last night—a nice black button-down and an untattered pair of black jeans—and it’s like the night stuck to him, preserving his dark form from the golden sunlight stretching across the rest of the roof.

He’s untouchable, and even when I slide the window open, his concentration remains unbroken. I sit near him in the silence, having no idea what to say or feel or do. He could have gone anywhere last night—there have to be at least a dozen groupies within a one-mile radius of his apartment—but he’s on my roof, outside of my room, where no one would find him but me.

My head turns in his direction, but it’s like I’m not even here. He won’t even look at me. His green eyes are pinned on some distant place, and I’m not sure I’ve truly found him at all.

Eventually, I stop searching, and together, we stare out at the same spot on the sunlit horizon—me with my arms around my knees, him with his hands flattened against the roof at his sides. When he speaks, even the sun shines behind a cloud that sweeps across the sky. “I’ve been thinking all night of what I could say to you.” His voice is dry, unreadable, and it makes my stomach drop.

“Did you sleep here?” I ask.

When he finally gazes over at me, his thick black lashes hang low over tired eyes that tug at the splinters of my heart. His scruff is days old, his hair is an untamed mess, and in his all-black attire, he looks . . . beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

“I didn’t really sleep,” he says, and he stares back out at that invisible spot again. His chest rises on a heavy breath before deflating in a shallow one. “I don’t know what to say, Kit. All night, I’ve tried to come up with some way to say I’m sorry, for every single mistake I’ve made with you, but I still don’t have it.”

The hopelessness in his voice manifests in my own chest—an empty aching that makes me want to wrap my arms around him and pray he holds me too. Even if it means nothing to him. Even if it doesn’t change anything.

The sun peeks out from behind the clouds, and when he gazes over me, all I can do is stare back at him. “I lost you before I ever had you,” he says, “and all I’ve been doing is sitting up here feeling sorry for myself.” He shakes his head in silent admonishment of himself. “Do you realize how big of an asshole that makes me? That I’m so jealous of the guy I should have been for you, I can’t even find the right way to apologize for the guy I was?”

He’s saying all the things I needed to hear days, weeks, years ago, and I don’t even realize I’m crying until a tear slides over my lashes and trickles down my cheek. It’s hot and speaks of a million different things—of the sadness I feel that we’re over, of the regret I feel that we never began, of the relief I feel that he’s sorry, and above all, of the emptiness, of the distance that stretches between us until it’s much too far to cross.

The clouds open up for us, and light raindrops begin to mix with the shallow streams of tears on my face. Shawn just stares at me from across the void, until his somber voice says, “I should go.”

My head is shaking back and forth even before I find my voice. “No. Come inside.”

I walk to my window ahead of Shawn, not waiting to see if he’ll follow, and inside my room, I wait and I wait and I wait. When he finally climbs in after me, his hair and shoulders damp from the rain, I want to hold his face in my hands and kiss the raindrops from his cheeks. I want to tell him I’m sorry too. Instead, I lean against a wall, my arms crossed over my chest to keep them from reaching out. I have a million questions, and if I don’t ask them now, I know I never will.

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