Page 13 of I Promise You

“Oh, wow, sorry about your parents. That must have been tough,” Chantal says quietly. “But, hey, small world. We’re Thetas. You still know the secret handshake?”

Serena laughs as they do something weird with their hands.

“I’m thrilled to meet an alum,” Bambi says. “We all pledged three years ago. We’re seniors now.”

Ashley frowns at Serena. “You don’t look like a Theta.”

“We don’t all look the same, Ashley. Chill out,” Bambi says. “She’s one of us.”

“I was a junior when y’all were freshmen, so I was already gone.” She grins wryly. “My picture is up in the house if you want to check. I was president of my pledge class. My last name is Jensen.”

“I’m the current president,” is Ashley’s curt reply.

The girls, being nosy and maybe a bit intrigued by the way she defied me in the checkout line then me chasing her through the parking lot, slam her with questions: how old is she (twenty-four), where’s she from (Magnolia), who does she know (a few people they do), does she like football (no), what does she do in her free time (yoga and sewing). Sounds boring.

They continue to bombard her with questions, but she skillfully turns the conversation to them, asking about their majors, where they’re from, and the party we’re headed to. She compliments them on their leather attire, even asking Ashley where she got her dress. She talks to Bambi and Chantal about where they’re applying to graduate school next year, offering tips and advice about the process. I’m listening to every word, analyzing her. She’s much nicer to them than she was to me.

“So, you three and Drake,” Serena says later as she licks at a piece of chocolate wafer at the corner of her mouth, “I can’t help but notice you’re all together. It feels like an episode of The Bachelor, campus style. How do you manage? Set up a schedule? Rock paper scissors for a night in his, um, bed?”

Ashley glares at her. “His name is Dillon.”

“Oh,” she replies innocently. “I don’t follow lacrosse.”

I roll my eyes. Her smartass remarks don’t bug me like it did in the store. She’s doing it on purpose, obviously, which means she wants to get under my skin.

They give her a confused look, and then Bambi, who’s one of the kindest, most genuine girls at Waylon, offers, “He plays football, honey. You were inactive when the Thetas started the tradition to partner with the team. We pick three girls, usually officers, and we all get to spend time with the selected player. Then he’ll take one of us to the Fall Ball. It’s a lot of fun and we get to hang out with the team during the contest. It’s considered bad luck not to do it. Athletes are very superstitious.”

I make a turn onto Highland, keeping my eyes peeled for her street. “I’m sure Serena doesn’t want to know the details of our contest.”

Oh, but I do, her eyes tell me in the mirror.

And why is that, my eyes say back.

Serena nibbles on her cookie. “Tell me, how did you girls meet him?”

“He sat next to me in art class freshman year, and as soon as I realized he played football, I was a fan,” comes from Bambi. “My dad’s an NFL player so I grew up in the culture.”

The guys on the team consider Bambi our little mascot.

“I met him at Cadillac’s, he’s hot, plus I’m not seeing anyone right now,” Chantal explains with a dismissive shrug.

I hide my smile. Out of the three, she’s the one most likely to ditch me.

“I’ve known him since freshman year, and he danced with me at our Theta party last spring. Three times, and you know what they say about three: it’s the magic number…” Ashley gushes as she reaches over to stroke my arm.

“You’re all half in love with him, I suppose?” Serena inquires.

“You ask a lot of questions,” Ashley retorts.

“I’m a writer,” Serena says with a shrug. “Actually, I’m interning for the Magnolia Gazette. I answer letters in the ‘Asking For A Friend’ advice column.”

“Huh. Is that why you know how many ridges an Oreo has?” I ask.

“I collect random facts, yes. It’s a quirk.”

“Oh my God! I’ve read that,” declares Chantal, turning in the seat to give Serena her full attention. “You’re hilarious. I loved the one from the girl who said her boyfriend had to dress up like a superhero to have sexy times.”

“Oh? What did you tell her?” Bambi asks.

Serena laughs, the sound husky. “I told her role-playing is fun as long as it’s consensual. I might have said Spiderman could bite me any time. And Thor—hello, bring out the hammer. Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, and who can forget Henry Cavill as Superman? Those lips are to die for, and of course Ironman—”

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance