Home > Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(8)

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(8)
Author: Wendy Higgins

She keeps a straight face, too cool to smile, but her eyes momentarily glint. She reaches up again, and this time runs her fingers along the side of my hair before scratching behind my ear. I want to wag my tail for her, but I’m too distracted. I glance out the window again and she drops her hand.

“That chick is weird,” Rocker Girl says. She’s looking out at Anna now, too, and she sips her drink.

“How so?” I ask.

She shrugs. “I mean, she’s nice, I guess. Just kind of . . . freaky. She stares a lot. Doesn’t talk much.”

Interesting.

“You’re in school together?”

“Yeah, for, like, ever. Anyway—”

Raj bursts through the crowd. “Yo, Kai. Got us some goods.” He holds up his hand with some pills and bumps Rocker Girl’s arm.

“Hey, watch it!” she says, holding up her drink and wet hand.

“Sorry . . .” He looks her over. “Damn, you’re hot.”

Without looking away from her, Raj thrusts a pill my way, probably X, and I slip it into my pocket.

“What’s your name?” Raj asks her.

“Mandie.”

“Cute name. I’m Raj. Bass for Lascivious.”

She appears unimpressed, but I can see the swirl of orangeish-red attraction and excitement in her aura. “That’s a band, right? Yeah, I’ve heard of you guys.” Rocker Girl takes in his black fauxhawk and the myriad of piercings on Raj’s face and ears. She bites her black thumbnail between her teeth, as if considering him. Again, her eyes are alight, but she won’t crack a smile. Raj looks at me with his eyebrows raised, asking permission. I nod and turn back to the window.

Anna and the bloke are gone.

“Shite,” I mutter. I lean forward to see more of the back deck, but other people are spilling outside now, and I don’t see her anymore. I leave Raj and Rocker Girl, and Raj’s laughter follows me as I push through the crowd. I stop and lean back against the entrance of the main hall when I catch sight of Anna’s long, honeyed hair heading down the basement stairs. I won’t lose her again. I bubble my hearing around her and I spot the guy she was with, standing at the kitchen island.

Several things happen in the next few minutes that I cannot make heads or tails of. Anna seems genuinely freaked out by the drug use downstairs and she hurries back up. The kid she’s with slips a powdered ecstasy tablet into her drink. When he gives it to her, she downs it as he watches in smug enthusiasm. She has to know the drink was drugged. Any Neph would have been listening to their date and gathered that much. But she allows him to think she’s clueless.

When she and her mates walk my way, heading toward the dance room, I think about hiding, but part of me hopes she sees me. Her friend catches me staring, but I pay her no mind. Anna’s eyes are glazed and her colors have faded to a thin, blotchy mist of confusion. I resist the urge to grab her by the arm and pull her from the party.

She’s only working, I tell myself. I’ve been blitzed out of my mind countless times while working. So why doesn’t this feel okay?

I glance into the dancing room, where the music is blaring. It’s dark enough in there to need my night vision—my pupils expand and I take in the sight of Anna dancing. She’s willowy and graceful, and most definitely high. I can’t stop watching her.

They walk past me again on their way back, and once again Anna does not look my way. Clearly the Neph girl is ignoring me. Her focus is unnerving.

The kitchen is too bright for me to remain hidden, so I stand around the corner and listen.

When Jay finds Anna, he is not pleased to find she’s not sober.

“Are you drunk?! What the hell, Anna?”

“Jay . . . Please don’t be mad at me!”

He’s been trying to score with a different girl all night, so I don’t think this is romantic anger he’s feeling—it’s a friendship thing. I don’t get it.

And then her date comes back, his aura a mix of purple pride and red lust. Everyone laughs at everything he says, and looks at him like he’s a demigod. Mr. Popular, no doubt. I want to take him outside and dunk his head into the lake a few seconds too long.

I watch as he takes Anna by the hand and leads her down the hall, past the dance room, up the stairs. I stand at the bottom of the stairs using my extended hearing to drown out the high volume of music and voices surrounding me. The bloke takes Anna into a room and closes them in. It sounds as if they’re climbing onto the bed.

My heart is beating faster than normal, and there’s a sour feeling when I swallow. I don’t feel right. This night doesn’t feel right.

Anna let herself be drugged and taken to a room—perhaps that’s how she works, pretending to be the innocent victim and allowing dodgy gits to believe they’re taking advantage of her. So why are my instincts screaming at me to go up there and intercept her?

I stand at the bottom of the stairs, leaning against the railing and pretending to look at my mobile. I feel girls looking my way, brushing purposely against me as they pass, but I ignore them and focus on the conversation in the upstairs bedroom.

“Everything feels so soft,” Anna is saying in a dreamlike voice.

“When I’m on E,” Creeper says, “I always think everyone should be naked. Just like Adam and Eve.”

A burst of laughter escapes me. Did he just use a biblical reference to get laid? That was the absolute worst line in history.

But Anna gives a breathy laugh and says, “Just completely natural and happy.” I roll my eyes. I’ve been high on ecstasy and I know how sensitive your skin feels, but she sounds like Snow White or something. I wish she’d stop humoring little Dopey.

I’m getting impatient.

“You know, Anna,” Creepy-Dopey says. His voice has taken on a false silky quality. “It wouldn’t take much for you to be more, I don’t know, popular or whatever. . . . I mean, you’re pretty, but you could be, like, hot. You know?”

Damn. Burn. Is he serious?

She sounds inexplicably sweet, not offended, when she responds. “I’m sorry, Scott, but even if I had the money, I just don’t care about those things. I want people to like me for who I am. Isn’t that what you want, too?”

I’m halfway up the stairs before I realize it.

Things are not adding up. This plonker’s words, plus what Rocker Girl said, and Anna’s friendship with Jay—what Neph chooses the “Unpopular” role? Especially when they’re as gorgeous as she is?

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