The Infatuation - Lauren Rowe

Chapter 1

Josh

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 me out.

“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 for Fears.

“Yeah,” I say, smirking to myself. “Leave it here. Thanks.”

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 danger—like, maybe serious danger.”

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 not 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 fucking scam?

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 could have delivered. And that’s what he thinks of as a scam? Maybe this is a wanton case of “it’s not them, it’s you.”

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 know.)

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 student.

I’m just so fucking confused. I