Authors: Lauren Rowe
Tags: #Romantic Comedy, #New Adult & College, #Romance
Oh my fucking God. What’s wrong with Jonas this
time? I’m so worried I’m jumping out of my skin. I look out the
window of the limo, wracked with the same sense of dread I always
feel when Jonas calls me with that barely contained panic in his
voice. Of course, I dropped everything and immediately caught the
next flight to Seattle, just like I always do—but this time, unlike
every other time, I don’t have a clue what’s happened to freak
Jonas out. And that, in turn, freaks
“Hey,” I call up to the limo driver. “Can you change
the channel to something a bit more mellow, please?” The song
blaring in my ear is “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, definitely
not a song that’s gonna calm my jangling nerves.
“How’s this?” the driver says, switching to another
station on the radio. The song playing now is “Mad World” by Tears
“Yeah,” I say, smirking to myself. “Leave it here.
When I saw my brother’s incoming call on my phone
earlier this evening, I figured Jonas had gotten back from his trip
to Belize with the “most amazing girl ever,” the one and only Sarah
Cruz, the magical, mystical unicorn he hacked into U Dub’s server
to find, sight unseen, and that he was calling to slobber all over
the phone about how “amazing” she is. But the minute I heard his
voice, I knew he wasn’t calling to babble happily about his
Belizian getaway with his new crush—I knew something was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
“Are you okay? Is Sarah okay?” I asked him, my
stomach twisting into knots.
“Yeah, I’m okay. The trip was incredible—Sarah’s
incredible,” Jonas replied. But before I could exhale with any kind
of relief, he said something that sent me reeling: “It’s The Club,
Josh. It’s total bullshit—a fucking scam. I think Sarah’s in
What the fuck? I couldn’t process what that
statement could possibly mean.
Mad World, indeed.
It’s been well over three hours since Jonas called
and said those bizarre words, and I still haven’t figured out what
the fuck he meant by them.
The Club’s a scam
? Well, no, it
isn’t, Jonas. I happen to know through my own personal experience
it’s one hundred percent
a scam. I can personally attest
that I filled out my application, paid my money, and got exactly
what I asked for, to the letter, in multiple cities, over the
course of one very awesome and cathartic month. So what’s the
The more likely scenario is that Jonas didn’t get
what he asked for because, whatever it was, it was literally
impossible to deliver. Knowing him, he probably asked for something
only some magical combination of the circus, the philosophy
department at Yale, and
American Ninja Warrior
delivered. And that’s what he thinks of as a
this is a wanton case of “it’s not them, it’s
Shit. When I told Jonas about The Club in the first
place, I should have told him, “Dude, when you fill out your
application, less is more. Just go for the big one or two things
you’re dying for and leave it at that. You can only do so much in
one month, trust me—don’t get too ambitious.” I shake my head.
Jonas is so fucking bad with women, I swear to God—and he always
has been. They fall all over themselves the minute they see him, of
course—everywhere he goes women practically throw their panties at
him. But then he opens his fucking mouth and starts quoting fucking
Plato and talking in riddles and looking like a fucking serial
killer and they run away, screaming in bloody terror. (God only
knows how he tricked this Sarah girl into sticking around for so
long. Hell, maybe she has a thing for Plato, too, for all I
But for the sake of argument, let’s say The Club is
some kind of scam (which it’s not); how the fuck could that
possibly mean this new girl of Jonas’ is in some kind of danger—let
alone “serious” danger? I can’t wrap my brain around any of it. The
only thing I can think is that Jonas must have met Sarah in The
Club? But that makes no sense. When I asked Jonas about his
membership not too long ago, he said he’d applied but had gotten
hopelessly distracted by his quest to get laid by his mystery law
I’m just so fucking confused. I look out the window
of the limo, listening to the song for a long minute.
Frankly, I’m really worried that all this rambling
is a sign that Jonas is having some sort of psychotic break again.
And if that’s what’s really going on, why now? As far as I know, my
brother’s been in full beast mode lately. I mean, shit, just last
week when we negotiated the acquisition of all those rock-climbing
gyms, he was in tiptop form, kicking ass and taking names like the
beast he is. He was a sight to see, actually—he sure out-beasted me
by a fucking mile. Of course, he couldn’t stop talking about this
Sarah chick the whole three days I was with him—which is so unlike
him, at first I wasn’t sure if he was punking me—but I didn’t see
that as any cause for alarm. In fact, I was happy for him.
But now, I’m wondering if his obsession with her was
a sign that things weren’t completely right in his head.
Actually, I was a tad bit worried when he called me
in the first place, barking at me to find some random girl who’d
sent him an email. (Any time Jonas gets ultra-obsessed about
something, it’s usually not a good sign for his mental health.)
But, much to my relief and surprise, the magical, mystical Sarah
Cruz turned out to be well worth his effort, a truly fantastic
girl. The minute I met her during our mutual limo ride to the
airport, I thought,
Now here’s a girl who’s gonna bring out the
very best in my brother.
She’s absolutely adorable. And I can
certainly understand the physical attraction, too, I don’t mind
So what the fuck happened in the four days between
that limo ride and today that made Jonas’ wheels fall off his
Downtown Seattle is whizzing past me outside my car
I exhale and shake my head.
I’m so fucking worried right now, I can’t think
straight. I just wish I understood what’s going on with Jonas. And
The Club. And Sarah? I shake my head again. What the fuck did Jonas
mean she might be in serious danger?
My phone buzzes with a text and I look down.
“Hey, Josh!” the text says. “Loooooooooooong time no
see. How ya doing, baby? LOL!”
I chuckle in surprise. Now there’s a name I never
expected (or particularly wanted) to see on my phone again:
. I admit I was dazzled by the girl’s
pedigree (and slamming body) when we dated for four or five months
when I was twenty-three—chalk that up to youth and being stoned out
of my mind half the time—but once the initial heat and the novelty
of her Grammy-winning daddy and Oscar-winning mommy wore off, not
to mention the weed, I quickly realized Jen was very likely the
least interesting girl in the world. And that’s when I decided once
and for all to pull my shit together and lay off the weed and
fulfill my family obligations in earnest. And I’ve stayed on track
ever since, other than during the occasional short vacations of
total debauchery I’ve allowed myself over the years (which I’m not
sorry about, by the way). Honestly, my little sojourns into
hedonism have helped me stay the course, something I’ve been bound
and determined to do, not just for me, but for Jonas, too. I mean,
let’s face it, Jonas and I can’t both be on the verge of a nervous
breakdown at all times, and Jonas long ago called dibs on that
“Hey, Jen,” I type. “It’s been a long time. What’s
“Have you seen what’s going on with Isabel lately?
“Yeah. Hard to miss. Good for her. I’m thrilled for
her,” I type.
I’m being sincere. From what I remember of Isabel
from seven years ago, she’s a really sweet girl. I’m honestly
thrilled all her dreams of stardom are coming true.
“The studio rented Isabel a freaking castle in San
Tropez all next week to celebrate her movie opening at number one!”
Jen writes. “Dude. It’s literally a castle! Made me remember that
time our whole group partied together in Cannes—remember that? Or,
actually, come to think of it, you probably don’t! LOL!!!!” She
adds a whole bunch of wineglass emojis and a marijuana-leaf emoji
and a smiley face wearing sunglasses. “So, anyhoo, Isabel’s getting
a huge group together to party in the castle in France (did I
mention it’s a freaking castle???!!!! OMFG!!!!) and she wanted to
know if maybe you and Reed wanna join us for a mini-reunion? It’ll
be just like old times! LOL!” She adds what appears to be a dancing
cat, a reference I’m not sure I understand.
I stare at my phone for a moment, shaking my head.
I’m not even remotely tempted. “Sorry. I’m in Seattle for a family
emergency,” I write. “Gonna be tied up here for a while helping my
brother. Plus, I’m an old man nowadays, Jen. You wouldn’t even
recognize me. I’m practically chasing damn kids off my lawn. Been
working pretty hard building my family’s business since you last
saw me. But, hey, feel free to contact Reed directly to ask him if
he’s interested. I’ll send you his number. And please tell Isabel
congrats on all her success for me,” I continue. “I’m genuinely
thrilled for her. Just saw she won some People’s Choice Award or
something? Ha! Awesome. She’s America’s Sweetheart.”
“I know! She totally is! LOL! She’s blowing up!
She’s gonna do Jimmy Fallon in NYC when she gets back from France!
OMFG! Can you believe it? She’s so excited.”
“Saw her face plastered on a billboard on my way to
LAX today. She looks great. Tell her nice boob job, btw. Her
surgeon did excellent work. Unless that’s photoshop?”