Never to Sleep Page 4

We turned the corner, and I glanced up when the voices I’d heard fell into a sudden hush. There were only a few people left in this corridor, and they were all staring at a couple in the middle of the math hall, making out like they were trying to swallow each other whole.

I didn’t recognize the guy’s pale curls or athletic build, but I would have known her anywhere. Thin, curveless body that she didn’t know how to showcase to its own advantage. Plain, thick brown hair that could be pretty, if she’d use a decent conditioner or let me flatiron it. But she never did, so I’d stopped asking when I was twelve, and I realized it’d be easier to pretend I didn’t know her than to try to explain how she could be so mousy when we sprang from the same genetic line.

“Who is that?” Luca whispered, and I had to swallow a groan. Of course the first things he’d see at Eastlake were me, flat on my butt with a bruise rising on my forehead—not my finest hour—and Kaylee, starring in yet another public spectacle.

I shook my head. “I’ve never seen him before, but she’s my cousin. And that is not her boyfriend. I swear, she is such a closet slut.” She’d gotten double detention for public display with Nash two days ago.

Luca glanced at me with upraised brows. “Looks like the closet’s open.”

“Great.” The only thing worse than a quiet, crazy cousin was a slutty, skanky cousin with an exhibitionist streak. At least Peyton knew how to keep her secrets secret.

For the millionth time, I wished my parents had let me change my last name so people would stop mistaking me and Kaylee for sisters. That’s all I’d wanted for my thirteenth birthday, and those little-girl diamond heart earrings were a poor substitute.

A second later, Nash and his creepy, goth-freak friend stepped around a corner on the other end of the hall and stopped cold, staring just like we were. I couldn’t decide whether to stick around for the fireworks, or run from the drama before I became collateral damage by association. Again.

“Kaylee?” Nash said, and my cousin and the mystery hottie jumped apart like someone had lit a fire at their feet.

I ducked into a classroom doorway, behind a row of lockers, and Luca glanced at me in surprise. “That’s her boyfriend. At the end of the hall, with the scary brunette.”

Luca stared down the hall again, and when the shouting started, I grabbed his arm and pulled him around the corner with me. “You’re right. Let’s go this way.” I started back the way we’d come and he fell into step beside me, still carrying my box, as the drama behind us grew louder and even more embarrassing.

“I take it you’re not close to your cousin?” Luca said, watching me with those beautiful eyes.

“I’m close to never speaking to her again. Does that count?”

“Why? What’d shedo?”

“You mean other than the Jerry Springer-worthy public display back there? She lived with me until this year—her own dad didn’t even want her around for, like, thirteen years—and she’s been trying to wreck my life since junior high.”

“With serial public displays of affection?”

“No, that’s a recent development.” Thank goodness. “Kaylee’s kind of…unbalanced.”

“Meaning, she falls over a lot?”

“Ha-ha. She’s nuts. My eighth grade dance recital? We had to leave before my solo because Kaylee had this stupid panic attack.”

“A panic attack?”

“She was totally faking. She just started screaming at the top of her lungs, for no reason at all, and everyone stared at us, and my dad had to carry her out like a baby. Every time she does it, they fuss over her like she’s all fragile, when it’s my life she’s turning into a public tragedy every time she opens her mouth.”

“And you’re sure she does it on purpose?”

“So sure. She’s a social assassin. She sabotaged my run for Snow Queen. She got my boyfriend arrested and committed to a mental institution, and—”

“Boyfriend?” Luca looked disappointed, and my pulse rushed so fast I got a little dizzy again.


But the worst part—the part I hadn’t told anyone—was that she was there when my mom died. Kaylee did something—or, at the very least, she knew something—but she wouldn’t tell me what really happened. She couldn’t even come through for me the one time I truly needed her help, yet she went to great lengths to hold me back from the social existence I was born to live.

“The moral of the story is that my cousin is a malicious freak, and you should avoid her like the social equivalent of the black plague.”

Luca’s brows rose. “That sounds a little harsh.”

I shrugged. “Survival strategy. If you’re not careful, this place will eat you alive, and Kaylee’s like bait for the beasts.”

“You make your school sound like a war zone. Should I come dressed for battle?”

“Always.” And it doesn’t hurt to have designer labels on your chain mail. “The key is to know which battles are worth fighting.”

“Would these be dance battles?” Luca said, his eyes sparkling with good humor. “If so, I’m afraid I’m not very well trained. Maybe you could give me some pointers.”

“Yeah,” I said, trying not to look or sound as nervous as I felt. He was so pretty, and he’d just heard all about my psychologically challenged cousin and wasn’t scared away. “I could probably make time in my schedule for some private—”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies