Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #1)(2)By: Charlotte Stein
Then there was just air underneath her feet.
Followed by jagged rocks.
And finally, bloody silence.
TWO YEARS LATER
It had to be some kind of hallucination. A trick of the light or not enough to eat. That was the only explanation Letty could accept, because Tate Sullivan was a million miles away. Last she heard he had bagged some wrestling scholarship at somewhere fancy like Stanford, so him being here at tiny Breckenridge College seemed completely impossible. Doubly so, when she factored in the time that had passed—it had been two years since high school, and he hadn’t needed to fill those years with rehab. He should have been deep into his college career, not just starting out like her.
Yet when she snuck a second look she had to accept it. Barely anyone was as enormous as Tate. He stood six feet five in bare feet, and had shoulders so broad they strained the seams of every shirt he wore. They were straining the seams of his shirt now, which was pretty much confirmation enough.
But then there was his face, fresh from a million of her nightmares. Nobody else looked the way he did, so ugly and handsome at the same time. His jaw was too big and brutal for that butter-soft mouth; those sultry, soft-focus blue eyes did not belong above his busted nose.
And the ears…
She used to dream up insults about his ridiculous jug ears. In fact, that was the first thing she thought of when she snuck another glance from her seat at the back. All the things she wanted to say to him, in return for every fat ass and thunder thighs. Every bit of her rage distilled into one perfect, beautiful rant, aimed right at his stupid, smug face.
Like a preemptive strike, before he got his digs in.
Because surely he was here to harass Letty. It couldn’t possibly be a coincidence or genuine interest on his part. He didn’t even like movies, yet here he was in her film theory class. What was he going to do? Tell Professor Harrison that science fiction was for fatties and weirdos?
No, he had to be here for some nefarious reason. Maybe he thought she was the one who had called the cops on him after the truck incident, and was here for some kind of payback. He’d gone to similar lengths before to get her, after all. Hanging around outside the library until seven at night, just waiting in the dark and freezing cold for her to come out. Missing practice so he could give her hell as she walked down the hallway of doom that went down the middle of school.
Driving up to the bluff, when he somehow knew she would be there.
Was this really that different?
It didn’t feel different. Her heart was already beating her insides bloody. She tried to concentrate on the lecture—her first college lecture about cool things she really loved—and found herself focusing on all the things that were wrong with her instead. She had allowed her dark, curly hair to roam free of pins and clips, and her dark eyes were ringed with mascara. Just a touch, but a touch would be too much for Tate. So would the jeans that clung to her still curvy hips and ass, and the sweater that almost showed off her impressive chest.
He would have something to say about all of it. He was probably already dreaming it up now. He only looked like he was paying attention to the lecture. Really, he was pretending to write things down—though he made it look good. He wrote in that weird crabbed way he had, hand curled almost into his body. Fingers pressing down too hard on the pen, the pen pressing down too hard on the paper. By the time he was done his notebooks always looked like murder victims, full of inky wounds and ugly punctures.
Letty would be damned if she was going back to that.
So she took the stairs two at a time. She pushed past people without apology, dodging satchels and outstretched arms, picking up speed as she went. The double doors of the lecture hall barely knew what hit them by the time she barreled through.
And she kept going that way, too. She all but sprinted to the nearest stairwell, always looking behind herself as she did. Mind constantly counting down the steps until she was free and clear. Only five more until she was at the north-side exit. Another fifty or so to clear the Bradley Building. Then a straight shot across the grounds to her dorm, where the sanctuary of a locked door awaited.
Easy, she told herself.
But that was her downfall, thinking of everything but the most important factor in all of this: Tate was and always had been as cunning as a trapped animal. You could see it when he wrestled—that kind of feral intelligence guiding his every move. Each time the crowd thought him beat, he would blindside his opponent before they ever saw it coming. His greatest strength was looking like someone too stupid to bring a knife to a knife fight. Then snapping a concealed blade right into his opponent’s gut.