Home > The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(6)

The Temptation of Lila and Ethan (The Secret #3)(6)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

I lie down on the sidewalk and twist my platinum ring around on my finger as I stare up at the melting blue sky and the blinding sunlight. For a moment I don’t care about how filthy the ground is or the fact that my dress is undone and my eyes are starting to sting. In fact, for a split second I know I belong there and nowhere better. But as I press my cheek against the scalding concrete, I remember that I was taught not to lie on a filthy ground. I sit up straight and trace the ugly circular scars on each ankle, the mark of my biggest imperfection both inside and out.

The sun bears down on me as I attempt to remember some details of the previous night. But as usual, I’m drawing a blank. If I keep it up, then I wonder if one day my head will just be as empty as my heart. But on the bright side—my mother’s bright side—at least I’ll still have my beauty and that’s all that really matters.


You know that point where you’re about to wake up, but you can’t quite seem to get your f**king eyelids to open so you get kind of stuck between being awake and asleep? Well, that’s pretty much where I’ve been for the last four years. I feel stuck. Trapped in the same place, unable to move. In a life I’m not sure I want, yet I can’t seem to figure out how to change it. I’ve felt differently only once and the person who brought the sunnier side out of me is no longer in my life. Although, sometimes Lila gets me close to breaking out of the daze, but in a different way, one based more on anger and sexual frustration than an actual deep emotion.

I even tried to escape the trapped feeling of my life once. I packed my shit and hit the road with no real destination other than to escape the trapped feelings that had been festering inside me for years. It wasn’t bad being alone on the road with no worries about where I was going, but what I learned quickly was that you can’t escape life, no matter how much you want to.

I wake up to “Hey Ho” by the Lumineers. It’s the ringtone Lila picked out for herself, even though I told her it wasn’t my kind of music. She insisted that it was the perfect song choice for her, and I meant to change it but I forgot and now I just don’t care. In fact, it’s kind of growing on me, like her.

I run my hand over my face, rubbing the drowsiness away, and then reach for my phone on the nightstand beside my bed. I answer it and give Lila a hard time because it seems like it’s becoming a tradition. She calls me when she needs help, usually with a guy-related issue and either I listen to her complain about it or go bail her out from whatever situation she’s in.

It’s the third time she’s called me this month and it’s only halfway into November. She told me once, over way too many shots of Tequila—which always makes her dark alter ego come out—that she’d been like this since she was fourteen, never giving me an exact reason. Honestly, she seems to be going on a rapid downhill decline since Ella left, even taking a semester off of school, but I think that might have to do with money more than anything. But I’m worried she’s lonely or something. A lot of people can’t handle being alone, and I think Lila might be one of those people.

I remember the first time we had a real talk, back in Star Grove, where we first met. Our best friends had a thing for each other and we kind of met through them. During the first real time we spent together, we drank a bottle of Bacardi while my dad repainted her car that someone had spray-painted, talking about life, our weird views on casual, meaningless sex, and how at one point in our lives our parents treated us like shit, although Lila’s still do.

I’d been flirting with her the entire night, because that’s what I do and then Lila tried to get me to screw her. I’d declined since we were both trashed out of our minds and I have rules about hav**g s*x and being wasted. I have to be sober enough that I can remember the sex—and the girl. Plus, I don’t think of Lila like that. Well, I try not to anyway. I have had a few slip-ups, where I crossed the no-touching rule I made, but I always make sure to play it off as casually as I can, reminding myself that I have rules about relationships for a reason, to keep me out of relationships because I don’t want to end up like my mother and father. My father is always yelling at my mother and I’m always worried I’ll turn out like them—or him really. Getting emotionally involved with someone leads to an unhealthy, disastrous relationship, where someone will get broken. Take my mother and father. She got pregnant while they were dating, they got married, and twenty-five years later they’re still married and hate each other, although they’ll never admit it. Instead, my father yells and tells her how stupid and shitty she is all the time and my mother pretends that everything’s okay. That it’s normal for people to talk to each other like that.

The only exception I ever made was with London, and after what happened with her I promised I’d never make an exception again because I never wanted to feel that much loss and guilt over losing someone again. But I really struggle with following the rules when it comes to Lila. I even had to add a no-touching rule that exclusively applied to her after I gave her candy canes last Christmas, about a year ago, when I tried to put my hands on and tongue in places they didn’t belong.

Sometimes it is hard to keep my hands off her, though, and I slip up. The girl is f**king gorgeous, in a model, Hollywood, way-too-perfect actress kind of way. She’s got flawless skin, perfect curves, her body proportioned just right. But she’s kind of high maintenance. The first time I took her to a pub, she refused to eat the food because she thought eating pub food was too gross and kind of beneath her high food standards, but she’s slowly progressing and I’ve even got her to eat ribs with her hands once, which was hilarious to watch.

After I get off the phone with Lila, I put away the bracelet London gave me and my journal, filled with pages of haunting memories and thoughts. I took both of them out of my dresser during a bout of depression last night, trying to find something that doesn’t really exist anymore, because I chose to walk away from it. Or maybe it never really did exist, yet I continue to hold on to it and allow it to haunt me, never talking to anyone about it because the idea of talking about London aloud seems impossible and almost like I’d finally be letting go of her and I’m not ready for that.

I get up and get dressed in jeans and a red T-shirt, then grab a five from my stash of money hidden in a box underneath my dresser. I work part time in construction and since my apartment is dirt cheap and I don’t really need anything else besides food, gas for my truck, and occasionally new clothes, I pretty much save everything I make. Tucking the five in my back pocket, I head out the door. I make a quick stop at the nearest Starbucks and use the five to splurge on getting Lila an iced latte because I know she loves them and it might help her with her hang-over. It’s early in the afternoon, but still warm. That’s Vegas for you, though. Even the fall seems like summer in most areas.

When I finally reach the corner of Vegas Drive and Rainbow, I park the truck where Lila’s lying down on the sidewalk with her legs stretched out into the road.

I hop out of the truck and shut the door. “What the f**k are you doing?” I ask, rounding the front of the truck with the iced latte in my hand. “Trying to get run over or something? Jesus, Lila.”

She angles her head back and peers up at me. Her blue eyes are bloodshot, her mascara is smeared, and her blonde hair is all tangled. Usually she’s so put together, even when I pick her up the morning after, and it’s a little bit shocking to see her like this. Still, she’s beautiful as hell, but I’ll never admit that to anyone out loud.

“Is that for me?” Lila eyes the coffee, licking her lips.

I hand it to her and she guzzles it down, then pulls a face. “Did you have them put nonfat milk in this?”

I shake my head. Sometimes she can be so high maintenance. “No, I forgot your specific instructions, your highness, but you’re welcome for getting it for you.”

She glares at me. “Thank you,” she says with an attitude and then starts sipping on the drink again and I struggle not to ask questions about the condition she’s in, because I want to know what the hell happened to her and how she ended up here, looking like she does. “Don’t say anything,” she mutters, then gradually straightens her legs. She gets to her feet and brushes the sand off the backs of her legs. “I’ve had a rough morning as it is.”

“You mean a rough afternoon,” I correct her and then step back from the curb with my hands up in front of me when she targets me with a death glare. “Fine. Jesus, I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Good.” She walks toward the truck door, drinking from the straw and swaying her hips. I notice the back of her dress is unbuttoned all the way, so her smooth skin is exposed to the sunlight. God, if I didn’t have my rules I’d seriously bend her over and have her take it from behind.

I check her out for a little bit longer and then back up toward the driver’s side. “Why’s your dress undone?”

She shrugs, swinging her shoes in her hand. “I couldn’t get my fingers to work this morning.”

My lips threaten to turn upward into a full on smirk. “Why? Were they preoccupied too much last night or something?” I joke, and suddenly way too many images of her flood my head, her fingers sliding up her inner thigh and then slowly entering herself.

She jerks the door open, narrowing her eyes at me, and I add, “What? You’re the one who brought it up. If you don’t want me to tease you, then don’t set up the punch line.”

Shaking her head, she presses her lips together and hops into the truck. She’ll be pissed off at me for, like, the next ten minutes, but then she’ll get over it. She always does.

After I get in the truck, I pull out onto the road and turn up the stereo. We barely speak the entire drive and when I pull into the parking lot of her apartment, I figure she’ll bail and then call me in a few days when she needs me to rescue her again.

But when she opens the door, she says, “So are you coming in or what?”

“I guess, if you really want me to.” It’s not like I have anywhere else to be. Micha, my best friend and old roommate, is gone and I don’t work on the weekends anymore. “But I’m not sleeping with you no matter how much you beg.”

“I never beg,” she says and then her face contorts with confusion as she frowns down at the ground. “At least from what I can remember I don’t.”

I climb out of the truck and meet her around the front, aiming the keys over my shoulder to lock up the truck. We make our way across the parking lot beneath the heat of the sun and I pull my sunglasses down off my head to cover my eyes. I remain slightly behind her, checking out her ass and her lower back peeking out of her still-opened dress. Finally, I have to rip my gaze away and step up beside her, otherwise I’ll end up unable to keep my hands to myself.

“You need to stop blacking out when you get drunk,” I say, nudging her playfully with my shoulder. “Drunk is okay, but getting so shit-faced you have no idea what you’re doing is really f**king bad, Lila. Even I’m not that bad.”

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