Home > Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(9)

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)(9)
Author: Wendy Higgins

“Have you kissed many guys?” Creepy-Dopey is asking.

I’m at the top of the stairs now, heart slam-dancing against my ribs. I don’t feel right.

“I’ve never kissed anyone,” Anna says. I nearly snort with laughter at the lie, as sincere as she may sound. There’s no possible way she’s never been kissed.

“Not even Jay?” he asks.

“No way. He’s like my brother.”

I’ve found their door and I’m standing in front of it.

“How long will this last?” Anna whispers. “This feeling?”

“About four hours. Then it takes a couple of hours to come down.” She makes a sad sound at his answer, and he says, “Anna?”

“Huh?”

“I want to be your first kiss.”

I grit my teeth and grip the door handle.

“Okay,” she whispers.

First kiss or fiftieth, doesn’t matter—this guy’s not getting any satisfaction under my watch. I wrench the handle down and kick the door open. They bolt upright on the bed.

“What the—” Creepy begins, shielding his face from the hall light, but I’m only looking at Anna, feeling a strange sense of relief. She squints at me.

“Ah, there you are, luv. Let’s go, then.” I motion her toward me with the flick of two fingers.

She stares, mouth open.

“Can you walk, or will I have to carry you?” I ask.

The guy finally sprouts a tiny pair of balls. “What are you doing, man?”

“I need a chat with Anna.” I’m watching her. She sort of smiles, dazed, then slides off the bed to stand.

“I’ll be back,” she says to him.

Like hell she will.

“I wouldn’t count on it, actually.” I enter the room and take her by the hand. We leave the bloke sputtering and red-faced with anger. He shouts at me, and I give him one hard-ass glance to shut him up before I slam the door behind us.

I hold her hand and lead her down the hall, down the stairs, through the party, onto the back deck, and down the steps leading to the dock and the water.

I am confused.

I don’t enjoy being confused.

I pull her faster down the dock, where we can be alone. But when we get to the edge of the dock, I’m at a loss. I sit, and she carefully sits next to me. I can feel her eyes browsing me, and I let her. I stare out at the moon’s reflection on the water.

I’ve never met a Neph who doesn’t act like one. She doesn’t hide her colors. She is kind to people, even when they’re deceptive to her, and there seems to be nothing in it for her. She appears to have a true friendship with a human, Jay. She says and does things that no Neph would dare say or do. And then there’s the part about her having no money, which can’t be true. Either she doesn’t know what she is or she’s got the most twisted and ingenious working profile I’ve ever seen. To have two completely opposing possibilities is mind-bending.

A breeze blows across the water and Anna shivers.

“Who are you?” I ask, just as I did when we first met.

She pauses. “I don’t know how you want me to answer that.” It’s almost like she feels bad about this. Then very suddenly, she gasps violently and her hands curl around the edge of the dock.

“What is it?” I ask.

“I think . . . It feels like it’s starting to wear off. But he said four hours!” She stands on shaking legs and begins to pace, hugging herself around the middle and hunching over.

It takes me a moment to realize she’s talking about the drug. She’s coming down from the high, but she seems almost panicked about it. I stand and block her exit down the dock so she can’t run. I need her to focus on me. Perhaps she’ll be more open while she’s still high.

I grasp her chin and lift her eyes to mine. We’ll start with Neph basics. We never get ill.

“Have you ever been sick?” I ask.

She holds herself tighter. “Sick . . . ?”

“The flu. Tonsillitis. Anything?”

Her eyes grow larger and for that second she stands a bit straighter as she stares at me. Then her body spasms and she bends at the waist, grabbing her knees. It seems as if she’s in true pain, but if it’s an act I will not play the fool.

“Maybe this little sweet will help you.” I hold up the pill Raj gave me, and Anna swipes for it, fast as a damn cheetah. But I’m quicker. Her eyes are flashing and eager with need. “Answer all of my questions first. Any illnesses in your lifetime?”

“N-no,” she stammers.

Good. We’re finally making progress.

“How far back can you remember?” I ask.

She stops shaking and stares up at me. Her mouth opens, then closes. She’s afraid to answer. I step closer, my heart beating uncharacteristically fast. I feel as if I’m on the edge of a discovery.

“Answer the question,” I say.

Her hands grip her sides and she drops her eyes as if embarrassed. “Fine. All the way back. My birth and even before that. Happy?”

I’m never happy, but I’m at least satisfied she’s finally admitting to her Neph traits. Our memories are vast and clear from the moment our souls entered our bodies.

“Now for the important part.” I step closer. “Who is your father?”

I’ve never seen a Duke’s badge of that color—dark yellow amber—and I definitely haven’t seen white—that’s an angelic color.

Her jaw quivers. “I-I don’t know. I was adopted.”

“Bollocks,” I say through gritted teeth. “You must have some idea.” I raise my arm so that my hand with the pill is above the water.

She gasps and raises her hands in horror as if I’m threatening to drop a baby.

“There was this one man . . . ,” she says. Finally, some bleedin’ answers. “I remember him from the day I was born. Jonathan LaGray . . . he’s in prison now.”

Holy shit. “Yes, of course.” I’d completely forgotten about the Duke in prison, as I’ve never met him. The Duke of Substance Abuse—addiction—hence Anna’s desire for more of the drug. “I should have guessed from your behavior tonight.”

She closes her eyes and I stare at her. She knows she is different. From the way she is shaking and battling this drug lust, I can only guess this isn’t something she deals with often. As if she’s never been trained. But of course, if her father’s been in prison . . . but wouldn’t he have gotten someone else to train her? Neph are taught to control themselves, not lose themselves to their sins this way.

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