Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #1)(7)By: Charlotte Stein
Her own voice was flat, when it came out.
Flat and cold and strange.
But Blondie didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh my god. Searing hot and modest. I think I have my dream man.” She paused again, but this time it was purely down to the elbow her friend gave her. It was hard and insistent, and it seemed to bring Blondie back to something like sense. “Unless you guys are a thing?”
“I don’t even know who you mean.”
She shook her head, to make it stick.
But a sick feeling was starting to thread through her stomach.
“You know, he’s the wrestling champ Coach Parker is completely in love with. Can’t miss him—he’s like seven feet tall and super beefy. Just really, really beefy.”
“Sam, I think we should just leave this nice girl alone, okay?”
“No, no, hold up—his name is something like…Trent.”
“You don’t even know his name? Sam, seriously let’s just go.”
“A guy like that doesn’t need a name. He has to learn to respond to desperate grunts.”
“It’s Tate,” Letty said, but they didn’t hear her.
Probably because she sounded like she was dying when she spoke.
“I think it might have been Taylor. He looks like a Taylor.”
“I don’t think it’s Taylor. Maybe Topher?”
“Topher is not a name, Bea. Come on, where is your head?”
“It is a name I—”
“His name is Tate; you mean Tate. Tate Sullivan.”
They both turned and looked at her, half surprised.
Half so gleeful it sort of made her sick.
“Yeah that’s the guy! So you do know him.”
“No, I don’t. I really don’t at all.”
She was glad that she sounded so sure when she said it.
Only they didn’t seem to think she sounded sure at all. Blondie leaned and put a hand on her arm, her face a picture of completely sincere concern. “Hey, are you okay?” she asked, so kindly Letty couldn’t speak for a moment. Her throat was apparently full of very emotional bees. Her head was spinning and her stomach had clenched into a knot, so it seemed like the best thing was to just get out of there.
She needed to get out of there, now.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I just have to go. I left the curling iron on while needing to wash my hair just as my favorite show is starting. See you around, okay?”
Letty decided the best course of action was just to pretend none of this was happening. But it was hard to, with ten girls a day coming up to her to ask if she was dating her mortal enemy. Most of them were lovely about it, but lovely was not the point. She came to this school to get away from Tate, and now he was everywhere.
He was in their starry eyes and behind almost every whisper she heard. She had to endure a million iPhones being thrust at her so she could see herself being carried in his massive arms and hear comments like it looks as if it hardly took him any effort. And she couldn’t disagree, either.
It was true. His biceps were barely tensed. She looked tiny and featherlight cradled between them, like some kind of doll of herself.
Though that wasn’t what stuck with her.
What stuck was the video she saw on her dorm neighbor’s phone.
Her name was Lydia¸ and she had gloriously thick bangs and eyes that seemed to house seventeen souls. She had been the only one on her floor who offered to help when Letty moved in, and the only one who had struck up a conversation. As the girl approached her, Letty even remembered the substance of their conversation. “Man, you really have to be good at trusting complete strangers to get by at college, huh,” she had said, as if she’d known exactly what made Letty jerk back when she’d grabbed for the box full of knickknacks in Letty’s hands. She’d somehow seen the sharp spines that covered Letty’s skin and understood that a sudden move from a new acquaintance made them stand up.
It clearly was the reason she didn’t just thrust her phone at Letty.
And probably explained why the video she’d shot was different.
This one didn’t focus on his arms, or her feet, or anything to do with the physical act of carrying. It instead focused on Tate’s right hand—the one that was carefully curled over her head, as though it were possibly made of glass on the verge of breaking.