The Temptation of Lila and Ethan Online - Jessica Sorensen

Acknowledgments

A huge thanks to my agent, Erica Silverman, and my editor, Amy Pierpont. I’m forever grateful for all your help and input.

To my family, thank you supporting me and my dream. You guys are wonderful.

And to everyone who reads this book, an endless amount of thank-yous.

Prologue

Lila

Beauty. Vanity. Perfection. Three words my mother adores. They mean more to her than her husband, her daughters, and life. Without these attributes, she thinks she’d be better off dead. Without me having these attributes, she would disown me. Be flawless. Shine bright. Never, ever do anything less than excel. These are her rules and the vanity that makes up my life. And my father isn’t any better. In fact, I think he might be worse, because even with beauty, perfection, and flawlessness, I’m still never good enough.

The constant need to be perfect continuously overwhelms me and makes me feel like I’m going to be crushed from the pressure. Sometimes I swear my house can shrink and expand, that the walls can close in and then retreat. When I’m alone in my house, the space feels overly immense with too many rooms, too many walls. But when I’m in it with my parents it seems like I can’t get enough space, almost as if I can’t breathe, even if we’re on opposite sides of the house.

Maybe it’s because I’m always doing something wrong and they’re always reminding me of my unforgiveable mistakes. Either I’m not doing enough to appease them or I’m not doing things well enough. There are always rules to follow. Sit up straight. Don’t slouch. Don’t talk unless you’re spoken too. Don’t screw up. Be perfect. Look pretty. We have expectations and standards to live up to. We must be perfect on the outside, despite what’s on the inside. I get so exhausted by the rules. I’m fourteen years old and all I want to do is have fun for once in my life and not wear sweater sets, slacks, and designer dresses, not worry about my hair being shimmering and sleek, my skin flawless. If I could, I would cut off my hair and dye it some wild color, like fiery red or streak it with black. I would wear heavy eyeliner and dark red lipstick. I would do anything as long is it was really me. At the moment, I’m not sure who that is, though. I only know the me my mother created.

I’m getting tired of it. I don’t want to worry about what everyone thinks of my family. I don’t want to have to sit at a dinner table that is big enough to seat twenty when there are only three of us. I don’t want to be forced to eat food that looks like it still needs to be cooked. I don’t want to endure one more dinner where I’m told every single thing I’ve done wrong. I want them to just let me be myself and maybe, perhaps tell me that they love me. I don’t want to feel like I’m always screwing up. I want to feel loved. I really do.

“Lila Summers,” my mom says, her tone clipped as she snaps her finger at me. “Don’t slouch at the table. You’ll get bad posture and it will mess up your height, or worse, you’ll get a hump on your back. Imagine how hideous you’d look then.”

Blowing out a breath, I straighten my shoulders, lifting my chest up, and continue to push the food around on my plate with my silverware. “Yes, mother.”

She shoots me a dirty look, displeased with my disrespectful tone. She just had her regular Botox treatment and her face looks frozen in place; nothing moves, wrinkles, or reveals any kind of emotion whatsoever. Then again, that’s how my mother is with or without Botox treatments. To show feeling is to show weakness, something my father and mother despise, along with failure, underachievement, and embarrassment to the family name, something I frequently cause.

“But doesn’t it seem just a little bit silly,” I say, knowing I’m treading on thin ice. My father hates when we question the rules, but sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut, because I keep it shut too often. “To not be able to slouch just a little since we’re the only ones here.”

“Maybe we should start having her eat at her own table,” my father says, taking a bite of his asparagus. “You know how I feel about distractions while I’m eating.” He’s always in a pissy mood, but he’s