He gives me a soft smile and then kisses the tip of my nose, effectively unscrunching it. “I know.”
“What are you nervous about?”
The scrunching starts again. “What are you talking about?”
Shawn smirks and checks his phone. “You ready to head backstage?”
On the way, I ask a million more questions he doesn’t bother acknowledging. And none of the other guys bother answering me either, even though I can tell they know something is up. Shawn straps the guitar around my neck because I’m too busy harassing everyone, and I don’t stop throwing questions at the backs of their heads until we’re in full view of the crowd.
Shawn shoots me one last smile over his shoulder before taking his spot at the other end of Mayhem’s stage.
The whole performance, I wait to find out what he was talking about. I wait for anything unusual, anything out of the ordinary. But nothing happens. We play our hit songs, the crowd screams them back to us, and the mania in the room builds and builds until I convince myself the guys must have just been messing with me.
Until it does.
“We want to do something a little different tonight,” Adam announces into his mic toward the end of our set, and I stare across the stage at Shawn. He stares back at me, his tattered black jeans and his vintage black band tee absorbing the blue tint of the stage lights. “Shawn and I have been working on something new,” Adam continues, his voice a muted sidenote to the cacophony of my thoughts. “Do you want to hear it?”
When the crowd’s screams start bouncing off the walls, Adam grins at me. I finally pull my attention from Shawn to furrow my brow at our lead singer, who chuckles before turning back to the audience.
“It’s something acoustic.”
Roadies rush two stools onto the stage as Mike moves his sticks to one hand and Joel unstraps his guitar from around his neck.
“Shawn wrote this one, and it’s pretty fucking amazing.”
Adam takes the acoustic Gibson a roadie hands him, and Shawn trades out his guitar as well, for the priceless vintage Fender he played for me the first time I ever visited his apartment. He takes his seat on a stool next to Adam as Joel and Mike usher me off the stage.
“What’s he doing?” I ask, unable to tear my eyes away.
The guys never answer me. Or maybe they do, but I just don’t hear them. My eyes, my ears—every single part of me is tuned in to Shawn, watching him sit next to Adam with that Fender on his lap.
The last time I saw them like this was when I was in fifth grade, watching them at a middle school talent show. Then, I thought I was in love.
Now, I really am.
“This song doesn’t have a title yet,” Shawn says as he adjusts the mic in front of him, and I smile at the uncharacteristic nervousness in his voice. He clears his throat, locks the mic into place, and leans back. When he starts playing, forgoing any further introduction, his fingers strum chords that tug at the strings of my heart.
His beautiful voice fills the room, from wall to wall, touching every soul in the crowd. Every single fan is hanging on the tune of his guitar, the sound of his voice, the words of his song.
He sings of a girl who was the sun, and he sings of walking away from her. He sings of rooftops and sunsets, of secrets and dreams. He sings of heartache and six years.
He sings of love.
His green eyes find me from across the stage.
He sings of me.
Mike’s arm wraps around my shoulder as tears start to drip down my cheeks, and when Shawn’s song fades to an end, I can’t help it—I cross the stage until I’m with him.
In front of his stool, I wipe the heels of my palms under my eyes, having no idea what to say.
“I love you,” Shawn says first, his voice carrying through his mic and filling the entire room. He stands up and dries the rest of my tears with the gentle pads of his thumbs, and I know he’s going to kiss me.
“I love you too,” I say when his lips are halfway to mine, and he pauses before dropping them the rest of the way. Just a second, just long enough for me to lose myself in the promises in those green eyes, and then his lips claim mine.
The fans explode into applause, but Shawn kisses me like they’re not even there. He kisses me like it’s just us—in a kitchenette, on the roof of my apartment, on top of a penthouse suite. He kisses me in front of everyone, and in my heart, in his arms, on a stage for all to see, I know—
I know where we’re going to be six years from now.
“YOU’RE GOING TO make me late,” I say, and Kit giggles against my mouth. I love that sound—because I’m the only one who can make her make it, and she hates that she can’t stop me from doing it every chance I get.
“Seriously,” I say between kisses, too lost in the feel of her—of her long hair slipping between my fingers, her satin lips seducing mine, her sexy thighs cradling my hips. I force her farther onto the kitchenette counter as I press tighter between her legs. “We need to go in.”
“Then stop kissing me,” she orders, her voice a convictionless, breathless moan that makes me swell against the inviting heat of her.
I break my lips from hers to press them to her throat. “No.”
Her fingertips scratch into my hair as she gives control without really giving it. She plays me just as well as a six-string guitar, knowing exactly how to touch me to get me to do whatever she wants. I’m sucking at the curve of her neck when I finally get her out of her jeans.