Never Sweeter (Dark Obsession #1)

By: Charlotte Stein

Prologue


Letty’s heart sank when the headlights illuminated the trail she was walking along. The vehicle behind her was never going to be her dad come to pick her up, after all. She hadn’t told him about her broken-down car—mainly because she was a senior on the verge of graduating, not a child who still needed his help at every turn. And it wasn’t Becky here to rescue her. She doubted Becky had even gotten her message, or would care if she had. No, it had to be them. They were always hanging around up here, drinking their longneck beers and fooling around.

Not so long ago she’d passed the bluff on the way home, safe inside her rusted-over Camaro, and seen Tate throwing something at Jason’s head. Or at least it had looked that way in the split-second glimpse she’d gotten.

Lucky her—now she was going to get more than a brief glimpse. They were going to pull some stunt, and she knew it. It made her walk faster, arms tight around her middle as though she could somehow make herself smaller.

She knew it was impossible, however. She was too big in almost every way: her generous hips and breasts and butt were forever on their radar. Even her nose and hair took up way too much space—the former was far too long and strong for her dimpled face, and the latter refused to stay in almost every clip and tie she owned.

The dark curls sprawled down her back and over her shoulders, in a way that should have been beautiful. Instead it was forever a mess.

They probably could have seen her from a mile away.

And now they were honking the horn. Hollering out of the window.

Letty heard fatty and thunder thighs and flabby, and tried to speed up. The trouble was—speeding up only made things worse. It made things jiggle. It emphasized how awkward she was. Pretty soon she would have to break into a run, and then the real trouble would start.

In fact, it already had.

She heard something clatter against the dirt path behind her, and knew it was something one of them had thrown. Probably Tate, because he was always the one who took things too far. The other day he had put his book bag behind her chair, so that when she got up she stumbled over it. He followed her places and seemed to lie in wait, each time getting steadily weirder until she was sure he was building to something terrible.

This had to be it. They’re going to run you over, the terrified part of her brain told her. But they wouldn’t take it that far, would they? She glanced back and saw that Jason was behind the wheel, which gave her some hope.

Jason was the more reasonable one of the three. He usually hung back, tiny dark eyes only assessing the action, and never really contributing. He would probably keep things under control, she told herself, even as the truck edged closer and the laughter got wilder. Plus there was Tate, furiously jabbering in Jason’s ear.

Go on and ram into her, she imagined him saying, and for one insane second she just wanted to ram them first. A hot vein of anger split the stone she usually kept around it and surged to the surface. It burned through her body, taking out almost everything in its path—her reason and sense of self-preservation and restraint.

And then suddenly she was stopping.

No more shrinking down.

No more running away.

She came to a dead halt and just stared through the windshield at them: these three guys who had made her years in high school hell. They looked strangely small and almost far away—as though just the act of facing them reduced everything they were down to an insignificant speck.

And it seemed that they knew it, too.

The laughing and hollering stopped. All she could hear was the wind keening up from the bluff that was now almost behind her, and the rattle of the leafless trees and brambles that lined that sheer drop.

It was bliss—for about a minute.

And then Jason revved the engine once, twice. Like someone firing a warning shot, she thought, though she wanted to laugh once she had. They weren’t ever going to actually do it for real. Bullies like them never really did anything. It was all just safe things that made their target feel like shit.

Ramming someone off the bluff with a truck wasn’t safe.

It was dangerous, it was deadly, it could kill.

They would never kill her.

No matter how stone faced Jason looked, or how fiercely Tate was urging him, or how queasy Patrick seemed, they wouldn’t—a fact that she was so sure of she was almost grinning when the truck lurched forward. At the very least she felt as if she had won something, about a second before the metal grille hit the middle of her body hard.

Then there was just air underneath her feet.

Followed by jagged rocks.

And finally, bloody silence.





Chapter 1


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.

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