Home > The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(12)

The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(12)
Author: Jessica Sorensen


I’m making her pay me back for dragging me around the mall. I hate shopping, watching people buy stuff they really don’t need. It’s so pointless. Give me a T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of boxers and I’m seriously good to go for a week.

“I can’t believe you’re making me do this,” Lila complains after I take her to where I want to go. “I hate getting dirty.”

“I can’t believe you made me carry your bags,” I reply, smiling up at the clear, blue, unpolluted sky. “I hate shopping.”

We’re out in the middle of the desert, the city far, far away in the distances, along with the noise and chaos of it. The sun is shining down on us and there’s a little bit of sand on the blanket we’re spread out on. We’re side by side on our backs, squinting up at the sun. Lila has her arm draped over her forehead, acting overdramatic and I have my hand tucked under my head, feeling totally in my element. The quiet. The bare space. I love it. It makes all the crap jumbled in my head clear out. I just wish I could hold on to it.

“I didn’t make you carry my bags,” she protests. “I just handed them to you and you took them.”

“You’re right,” I say, shutting my eyes as the cool air blankets me. “I guess I’m a sucker, then.”

“You totally are,” she muses. “But a sexy sucker.”

It grows quiet between us. It’s not news that Lila thinks I’m sexy. She’s hit on me way too many times for it not to be evident, but it still makes things tense between us and the sexual tension builds.

“One day I’m just going to pack up my shit and take off,” I say, causally changing the subject. “I seriously want to spend a year just driving around the country, sightseeing.”

She’s quiet for a moment, mulling something over. “But where would you live?”

“In my truck.”

“In your truck?” she says. I feel her shift and I open my eyes, blinking up at her as she hovers over me with an astonished, almost horrified look on her face. “How is that even possible? I mean, where would you sleep?”

I shrug. “It’s got a backseat. What more do I need?”

“Um, running water, a toilet, a fridge. Clothes. Shoes. Jesus, I could go on.” She sits up straight, tucking her legs under her to raise herself up on her knees. “And where would you keep all your stuff, like your television?”

I shrug again. “Honestly, I’d be okay with leaving them all behind, but I’d probably just get a storage unit so I didn’t have to start over if I ever decided to settle down again.”

She seems angry, her face sharp, her gaze nearly cutting into me. “But you tried the whole loner thing already when you took that road trip and it didn’t work out.”

“It did work out, but Micha asked me to move to Vegas with him so he could be close to Ella and he couldn’t afford to do it alone.” I prop up on my elbows. “I was doing just fine being on the road alone. It was my niceness that got in the way of it.”

She raises her eyebrows as she gathers her hair at the back of her neck, fanning her hand in front of her face as her skin dews with heat. “You’re always telling me you’re not nice.” Her voice is tight and her face pinched.

“I’m usually not.” I sit up and brush some sand out of my hair. “Why is this bothering you so much?”

“It’s not,” she snaps, turning her back to me. “I was just wondering why. That’s all.”

I stare at the back of her head as she rests her chin on her knees, staring out at the desert land. “It seems like you’re bothered,” I point out.

Her shoulders lift and descend as she shrugs. “If you leave, then I’ll be alone.” She mutters it so quietly I can barely hear her.

I’m silent for a while, unsure what to say or if there’s anything I can say—want to say. “You can come with me.” It slips out and I want to smack myself on the head. Taking her with me would defeat the purpose of escaping the noise and people, yet at the same time I know I’d miss her if I left her behind.

She glances over her shoulder with skepticism on her face. “Could you imagine me living in your truck, because I sure as heck can’t.”

“Why not?” Again, what the hell is wrong with my mouth? Why can’t I just let it go? She’s giving me such an easy out to a huge commitment I shouldn’t be taking.


“That’s the silliest reason I’ve ever heard.”

“Because I don’t understand why anyone would want to take off from a city where you have everything at hand and live in a truck where you have nothing but a backseat. It’s pretty much like being homeless.”

I kneel behind her, inching close to her, then hesitantly place my hand on her shoulder. “Shut your eyes.”

She leans away, like I’m scaring her. “Why?”

“Because I’m going to prove what’s so awesome about my idea.” I wait for her to do what I ask and she stubbornly drags it on for longer than necessary, then finally surrenders and turns around.

“Fine.” Her voice softens a little. “Show me what’s so great about a backseat.”

“There’s a lot of great things about a backseat,” I joke in a low voice, and then dip my lips toward her ear and whisper, “Now shut your eyes.”

I expect her to argue, but she very willingly obeys, shutting her eyes the second I utter the words. I shut mine, too, but only because being so close to her, breathing in her scent, feeling the warmth emitting from her body is driving my body into a frenzy.

“Now picture nothing but mountains,” I say softly, picturing it myself. “No city. No noise. No crazy-ass parents who act like children and treat their children like shit. No nothing. Just the quiet.”

“It seems like an awfully lonely place, if you ask me,” she tells me. “Just me and the dirt and the quiet. Although I wouldn’t mind the being without the parents part.”

“You wouldn’t be completely alone.” I sweep her head to the side and rest my chin on her shoulder. “You’d be with me.”

She pauses for an eternity and her breathing is ragged. Or maybe it’s mine. “What would we do at this mountain place together?” she says.

“Anything we wanted.”

“Hike?” There’s disdain in her voice.

“Maybe,” I say. “Or maybe we’d just sit and enjoy each other’s company in the quiet.”

She shifts her weight and situates her hands underneath her legs, leaning back against my chest. “That kind of sounds nice.”



As strange as it is, and as much of a pain in the ass as Lila can be, I can actually picture us sitting together up on the mountains in the noiselessness, living in my truck, driving anywhere and everywhere. Together. And the comfort in the idea is kind of frightening because it means I’m thinking about our future. Together. Shit.

I think about moving away from her, putting a little space between us because obviously I’m heading down a road I shouldn’t be headed down. The dream of living on the road has always been one I’d planned to live out alone and now suddenly I’m telling Lila she should come with me. God knows what would happen between us if we lived in a truck with one another. We’d either grow really close or end up hating each other. Or maybe both. But I can’t bring myself to move and break the peaceful moment. So instead I sit down and wrap my legs and arms around her and we just sit there in the sun, enjoying each other in the quiet.

Chapter Four


It’s amazing how one moment in life can be beautiful, and then you return home—to reality—and remember that beauty isn’t everything and that the ugly painful part will always exist in the form of unpaid bills, bad choices, and tiny white pills.

At what point do you finally admit that your life is falling apart, not to just yourself but to the outside world? When should I finally tell someone what’s really going on? That I’m penniless pretty much, soon to be homeless, carless, jobless, everythingless. That my mother was right. I was nothing without their help.

I thought about telling Ella once, a couple of months before she left for California, about some of my money and even my pill issues, but then I remembered what I’d been taught and decided it was best to keep my mouth shut. Besides, now she’s got her own life with Micha. And I’m here, wondering what I should do with my life because I want to do something—anything. I wonder how long I can keep going like this, blacking out, having unmemorable sex, like I did the other night with some random guy I met at a club. It was after Ethan suggested our road trip together, even though I’m still not certain if he was being serious. Afterward he had to drop me off at my apartment because he had stuff to do and the emptiness and silence wore me down and I went looking for someone to fix it, after I’d taken a few pills. I’ve even considered telling Ethan about my problems a few times because I know he’s done drugs in the past and might understand what I’m going through, maybe just a little. Although, it’s not really the same. I mean he did weed and stuff and I just do pills.

“Earth to Lila.” Ethan waves his hand in front of my face. I blink and then direct my focus to him. He shakes his head in disbelief as he shoves up the sleeves of his black-and-red plaid shirt that has a torn front pocket. “You totally just spaced out for, like, five minutes straight,” he says, resting his heavily inked arms on the table.

“Well, maybe it’s because you’re so boring,” I tease with a grin, stirring my Long Island iced tea with my straw. We’re in a quiet bar with dim lighting and small lanterns on each table. Music plays from a jukebox in the corner near the restrooms and we have a platter of mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, and hot wings in front of us. It’s not usually my kind of scene—I like more glitz and glamour with a more sparkling atmosphere, classy music, fancier food, and top-shelf drinks. But I’m enjoying it for some bizarre reason, maybe because I feel heavily subdued. Or maybe it’s because of Ethan. “You’ve barely said two words to me.”

“Actually, I think it was five,” he says indifferently, but the corners of his lips quirk. He picks up his glass of ice water and takes a sip.

“Since when do you drink water?” I remark and wrap my lips around the straw, taking a swallow of my drink.

“I think I need a break from drinking.” He ogles some blonde wearing a tacky leather skirt and a bright pink tube top at the bar and I have to resist the urge to slap him against the back of the head. “It’s getting exhausting.”

“I hear you,” I say and he crooks an eyebrow, staring at the drink in front of me. “No, not about drinking. About other stuff.”

“Like what?” He picks up a mozzarella stick and dips it into the cup of marina sauce.

“Like stuff,” I respond vaguely, and then reach for a jalapeno popper. It took me a while to actually try one, because the idea of eating something that had the word “popper” in it seemed repulsive. But they are really good. Way better than the appetizers at the restaurants I grew up eating at.

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