The Devil She Knew

By: Talia Hunter

“What kind of book? No, let me guess. Is it a memoir on how he survived a childhood living with his devil brother? A horror story to give people nightmares?”

“It’s nothing you’d want to read.” Nate brushed off the question because he was trying to remember what kind of book his brother had once wanted to write.

Suzie flushed. “You’d be surprised at the books I read,” she said in an acid tone. She must have thought he was implying Harrison’s book would be too intellectual for her.

Hell, Nate even offended her when he wasn’t trying. Maybe he should try to clear the air and end their war. He couldn’t blame her for being angry he’d lied to Harrison to stop their date. It hadn’t exactly been his finest moment.

“Listen, Suzie. I—”

She cut him off with a wave of her hand that made her bracelets clatter. “Don’t bother to apologize, Milhouse. Nothing could make up for what you did.”

Her use of that hated nickname swept away his guilt in a flood of anger. Being moved into advanced classes at school had meant he’d been younger and smaller than everyone else. The bullies had already singled him out, but when Suzie had christened him Milhouse she may as well have painted a target on his chest.

“I never apologize, and I have no regrets,” he growled. “Except the fact I can’t put you over my knee and give you the spanking you so richly deserve.”

She gasped. She was still leaning towards him, her face close. A rebel curl was dangling over one eye, all-but-daring him to smooth it away. The neckline of her dress swept low enough that he couldn’t help but admire the way her breasts heaved with each outraged breath. The small buttons that ran down her front trembled, inviting speculation on how easily they might come undone. Her beautiful lips had paled with the strength of her fury, and he had a sudden, almost uncontrollable urge to pull her to him, to cover her mouth with his. And then he’d yank that dress up and give her the spanking he’d promised.

Hell, what was he thinking? Nate shifted uncomfortably. He couldn’t let himself imagine things like that, let alone get hard at the thought. Hadn’t he learned his lesson the first time he’d been infatuated with her?

“Try it and you’ll wish you hadn’t,” she hissed.

He raised his eyebrows. “Is that a threat or a dare?”

A hesitant cough came from behind him, and Nate jerked his head around. “Yes?” It came out as a snarl.

The waiter flinched and took a deep breath, visibly bracing himself. “Um. Sorry to disturb. Have you, ah, finished?” He motioned to the table in front of Nate.

Startled, Nate looked down. Both he and Suzie had plates of untouched food in front of them. He’d forgotten it was there, and from her expression, so had she.

For the first time since he’d sat down, he tore his eyes away from Suzie to scan the table. They were seated with four other couples who’d all finished their meals. All were pointedly looking elsewhere.

Nate swallowed. He and Suzie must have been putting on quite a show. He’d been totally focused on her, but hadn’t it always been that way? The fact she could make his blood boil didn’t stop him from feeling as though when he was with her, nobody else in the world existed.

“We’ve finished. Thank you. Sorry.” Suzie looked away, one hand going under her hair to rub the back of her neck. Even her ears were flushing pink. She leaned back to let the waiter take their plates, and when she pulled away from Nate, it felt as though the temperature dropped several degrees. Over the years since he’d last seen her, he’d managed to forget how charismatic she was. It seemed like the energy of the universe was contained inside her. How could anyone blame him for being pulled in?

Nate gulped his beer, though it had gone warm and flat. At least it was a distraction. The band was striking up their first song, and Laura and Luke were walking barefoot onto the sandy dancefloor for their first dance as husband and wife. Laura was holding up her white dress and Luke had rolled up the bottom of his trousers as though they were expecting to dance in the incoming tide rather than on dry sand.

Everyone clapped, staying in their seats to watch the dance. It would be rude for Nate to leave yet, but soon he’d be able to escape back to his room and start the modifications to his software.

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