Home > The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(10)

The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(10)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I thought I had love once, very stupidly. I should have known better. He was too old to actually love a fourteen-year-old and after it was all over, after he’d used me, he left me, brokenhearted, feeling dirty inside and confused over what I—we—had just done. Even now, when I look back at it, it doesn’t make sense to me, at least from an emotional aspect. But the pills make it easier to accept.

“I really did think he loved me,” I mumble, feeling the tears sting at my eyes as I rotate the platinum-banded diamond ring around on my finger. “He seemed like he did.”

I get up and walk out of the kitchen, heading for my room, wanting to escape my mistakes and the emptiness. The problem is that every time I do, I only add more mistakes to the list and I always end up alone. But I’ll probably keep doing it over and over again because it’s what I’m good at—screwing up, being a slut, sleeping around, praying I can find someone who will fall in love with the worthless bits and pieces of me and take care of me like my mother is constantly telling me should happen.

I open my nightstand drawer and stare down out the prescription bottle, twisting the ring on my finger, knowing that any more pills will send me into blackout mode. But I want to be in that mode right now because it momentarily makes me feel happy and content. I pick up the bottle and open it. As the pills slide down my throat, numbness slides through my body and I fall back on the bed with my hand placed on the scar along my stomach, my one flaw, both inside and outside.

I’m not sure how boarding school is going, whether I like it or hate it. It seems weird living at a school at fourteen years old. Plus, I’m having a hard time making friends. But I’m trying.

“You see that older guy over there?” Reshella Fairmamst, the girl I’m working on becoming friends with says, pointing at the table across the library, at a man wearing a suit. He’s sitting in a chair, reading an old tattered book.

Reshella Fairmamst isn’t my friend, but I want her to be—need her to be, otherwise I’ll end up lonely and friendless. But becoming friends with her is tricky, because she’s the richest, most entitled and popular girl in school. “You mean that old guy?”

“He’s only twenty-two and he’s part of the Elman family, who are totally wealthy.” She flips her honey-blonde hair off her shoulder and holds her nose in the air as if she’s smelling a bitter aroma. She does this a lot and I’ve often wondered if it’s out of arrogance or the fact that she’s trying to make sure she doesn’t have BO. “He’s totally acceptable.”

“But I’m only fourteen,” I say stupidly as I twirl my hair around my finger. “He’s not going to want me. He’s like eight years older. “

She looks me over from the seat beside mine. She wears a lot of makeup and always has gray eyeliner on because she says it brings out her sharp features. She wears a strand of pearls daily and insists none of the Precious Bells wear them. The Precious Bells are her clique and to get into the clique you have to be the best of the best of the best.

“Maybe you’re not a good fit to be a Precious Bell,” she says snidely. “Because to be one of us you have to be willing to date older men. We never, ever date guys in our school.”

“But you’re sixteen.”


“So…” I struggle against her condescending gaze. “It’s easier for you.”

She rolls her eyes. “Oh please. It’ll be easy for you if you just stop thinking so much like a child. It’s time to grow up, Lila, unless you don’t want to.” She turns her head toward the group of girls and guys sitting at the round table in the corner, the ones everyone have deemed nerds and social outcasts, and my mother would never in a million years approve of me hanging out with.

I think of the last words my mother said to me before she dropped me off at boarding school to live out the rest of my high school life: “Do not embarrass us like your sister did. You will not hang out with crowds your father and I won’t approve of and you will excel in your studies. Succeed, no matter what. Screw up, and we’ll throw you out on the streets just like we did Abby.” It was like she was reading a cue card written by my father, but I know it’s the truth, because his threats always are. And I really don’t want to live on the streets.

I sigh, straightening my posture. “What do you want me to do?” I ask Reshella.

Her glossy pink lips curve to a grin. “I want you to go over and get his number.”

My jaw drops. “How?”

“Figure it out,” she says simply. “And then, when you do, you’ll officially be a Precious Bell.”

Nodding, I get up and step back from the table, nervous and near fainting as I make my way over to him. When I reach his table, he instantly looks up. His beauty throws me off guard, along with the hungry, intense look in his eyes.

“I’m Lila,” I say quickly, sticking my hand out like a spastic moron for him to shake. “Lila Summers.”

His lips quirk, but he doesn’t smile. He reaches over and takes my hand, but instead of shaking it he brings it to his lips and delicately kisses it. He has stubble on his chin and it grazes me, feeling both good and bad.

“Lila, that’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl,” he says thoughtfully as he looks back at me.

I notice he has a ring on his hand, a platinum band encrusted with diamonds. It’s on his ring finger, too, and I wonder if he’s married. I wonder if I should ask. I feel so nervous right now, I’m starting to sweat.

I grin, though, kind of smitten by his dazzling smile, my heart throbbing inside my chest at the way he’s looking at me. It makes me feel kind of special. And I’ve never really felt special before. For a moment I can be just a beautiful girl standing in front of a gorgeous guy, thinking she’s the most amazing person in the world.

What I really should have been thinking, though, was how stupid and naïve I was.


I can’t get up from my f**king bed, not just because I drank a six pack of beer, but because I really don’t want to. I’ve got the damn bracelet out again, the one she gave me so I would always remember her. It’s on my bed beside my journal, both of them haunting me with memories. I’m lying flat on my stomach, moping like a p**sy over a girl who doesn’t exist anymore and shouldn’t exist to me anymore. I need to let her go. But I can’t seem to. I’ve always hated the idea of relationships—still do. I’d seen them at their grand ugliest and pretty much made my mind up that love and commitment were faulted, fictional, but then London came along and my views changed—I changed. And I don’t understand why, what it was about her that made me think differently. And now she’s gone and I’ve yet to find anyone else who makes me reconsider my warped, yet insightful view on eternal and never-ending love.

I haven’t been able to take my eyes off the bracelet since I lay down. It’s there in front of me, reminding me of everything that happened between London and me and everything that didn’t.

“You are such a beautiful guy,” London used to say all the time. In fact, she’d pretty much sing it to me. “Which is why you can pull off wearing a bracelet.”

I’d shake my head. “No f**king way am I ever going to wear a bracelet.”

“Even if it’s from me?” she questioned with amusement as she traced her fingers down my face.

“Even if it’s from you.” I was such a douche to her, totally in my father’s a**hole character and I’ll always hate myself for it. The thing is she never really did seem to care. I never knew what she was thinking or feeling and she never got to see me wear the bracelet. I could put it on now, but what would be the point. It doesn’t have any meaning anymore, no connection to anything real. It’s pretty much just a piece of leather with “E&L” imprinted on it.

I lean forward, observing it closely, realizing that it could also stand for Ethan and Lila, which makes me hurt only more because I’m thinking about Lila instead of London. What I really want is to not be thinking about anyone. I want silence. Solitude. I want my God damn thoughts to turn off.

Shaking my head, I toss the bracelet aside, out of my line of vision. I need to get out of the house, otherwise I’m going to drift into that place where I get stuck in my own head and pretty much lock myself in a box. My mother always called it being unsociable and a few shrinks referred to it as social anxiety and I call it knowing too much. A couple of shrinks wanted to put me on something for it when I was about fourteen and got super stressed out about the idea of starting high school, not because I was afraid but because it seemed like there were so many people just moving together in herds. All I could think about was the loss of the peace and quiet I’d gained over the summer and all the other stuff I’d rather be doing.

I’ve always loved the quiet, although I’ve never really gotten much of it. When I was growing up, I had my brothers always pounding on me. Then they moved out and I was left with my dad constantly yelling at my mom and sometimes he would even hit her. I tried to interfere and ended up taking a few blows myself, which was fine except both my dad and my mom ended up mad at me. My mom told me that I didn’t need to interfere with things that weren’t my business. I was, like, thirteen and it totally confused me. When I asked her why, she simply said, “Because I love your father more than anything and he’s just going through a rough time in his life.” Just like he was when I was in second grade and he was addicted to pain pills. Sometimes I worry I’m going to turn out like him, that eventually I will end up with someone and this ugly, abusive person will manifest itself inside me.

Eventually my dad stopped hitting my mom—although to this day he walks all over her—but I still saw enough of the ugly, and how easily it was forgotten, that I really question why relationships are so important. Even with London, I didn’t see the importance of us declaring that we were together. We never said “I love you,” even though I think we both felt it. Sometimes I think I still do… maybe… I think so anyway. Shit, I have no idea.

“I really need to get out of here.” I push off my bed, grab my phone and keys, and head out the door. I think about going to a club, but I hate the noise. I consider a bar, which is lower key, but honestly I just want to walk, move forward, stop sitting still.

I take a cab to the strip, order a drink from this building that’s a smaller replica of the Eiffel Tower, and then walk up the crowded sidewalk, shoving my way through the crowd, wishing I was some place else instead. It’s as loud as being in a club, but I’m outdoors so it’s easier to breathe through it. I wander around sipping my drink, watching the neon lights blink. For a while I consider calling Lila and asking her to come meet me, but I’m afraid what will happen if she did. I feel bad for blowing her off, but I’m in one of my need-to-get-laid moods, which is the best way to turn off my thoughts, and with Lila around, I might end up breaking the rules I set with her. Then what? We’d f**k and things would get awkward and all those fun, light talks that we have, and the rescue missions, would get awkward and probably vanish.

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