Page 16 of I Promise You

Adrenaline hits my bloodstream. Swaying on my feet, I right myself with effort.

She’s—holy shit—the girl from the bonfire.

Same face, petite body, and fierceness.

I had the hints at the Pig, then the parking lot…

That night from three years ago rushes at me, playing back in my head: the movement of her hips, the dandelion on her nape…

“When can I see you again?” I blurt.

“What?” Confusion mars her features, her nose scrunching. “Are you crazy? I’m not one of your kittens!”

I’m barely registering what she says.

Maybe I am crazy.

She’s…here.

Right here.

I try to speak and fail.

She nibbles on her bottom lip. It’s lush and a pale pink color. I remember the fullness of her mouth, how she melted against me...

“We can’t stand each other. I don’t know you,” she adds.

I swallow.

Oh…

Oh, she doesn’t… I exhale gustily.

“You don’t remember me,” I murmur incredulously, more to myself than her.

She pauses for a second, frowns, looks away, then shrugs.

I huff out a breath. I’m used to girls knowing me by the way I walk from clear across campus, or at least that’s what they say.

How could she forget?

I read the uncertainty on her face as she darts her gaze back to me.

She’s… God, she has no clue.

I tore that party up looking for her, staked out the freshman girl dorms for a month, asking about her, describing her. I even checked out the dance studio on campus, all while enduring the trash talking the team tossed my way, the kissy noises they made.

She doesn’t know that I’ve compared every girl I met to her, and they always came up short! All over a kiss!

The craziest part is, I was absurdly celibate for months, turning girls down left and right. Waiting. Holding out hope I’d find her. Am I the kind of guy who believes you can have a brief moment with a girl and fall hard? If anyone had asked me then, my answer would have been hell yeah, but now, after all this time? That’s crazy talk.

Clarity sinks in, and I lean against the table.

You were just another guy who hit on her.

What sucks is that she wasn’t even a freshman at the bonfire, so if the legend is true, would it apply to her? I don’t know. I always assumed she was a freshman since most of the partiers were, but—

“Are you okay?” she asks.

No. I built up this idea of her, that one day we might see each other and, I don’t know, be together?

You don’t even know how to be in a real relationship, my head says.

Whatever. This is fine. It’s going to be fine, dammit! I don’t need feelings in my life. Not with the pressure of this season, and hello, she doesn’t even like me as a person. That much was obvious from the Pig.

“Forget it.” And then I’m stalking away to her door.

“Wait!” She catches up with me and tugs on my arm.

Her eyes meet mine, and they’re a pale golden color, like topaz.

Our gazes cling and hope, unbidden, fires off like a rocket inside my chest.

“Yeah?” I say gruffly, shifting closer to her. Her skin is like porcelain, soft and creamy, the tilt of her eyes giving her an otherworldly, exotic look…

She toes her boots, fidgeting, her shoulders shrugging. “Thank you for the ride.”

“I see. Thank you for the ride…that’s all you got?”

A slow blush rides up her neck to her face, hinting at vulnerability. That makes twice. Does it mean anything? Is she even attracted to me at all?

“We rub each other the wrong way, but I am appreciative that you brought me home.”

She’s appreciative? I whip my cap off and scrub my face. “I can’t believe this… Karma really is a bitch…”

“Believe what?”

I shake my head. “Just do one thing for me. Say my name.”

“Dillon, thank you for the lift. Happy?”

No, I’m not. Not by any stretch. Frustration gnaws at me that there’s a girl in front of me, one who has been in my head for three years, and she can’t wait to see the back of me. It’s a blow to my chest.

“I hope I never see you again,” I mutter under my breath.

“Same!” she calls as I slam her door.5I’m awake by six for a run, my goal to get some cardio in before our morning practice. After slipping on my running clothes and shoes, I enter the den. A disaster meets my gaze: red Solo cups on the floor, the TV still playing, empty beer cans on the end tables and on the kitchen counter. Chris, our tight end, doesn’t live here, but he’s sleeping on the couch, his mouth open as snores reverberate through the house. He’s gonna be useless at practice today, and an angry rumble comes from me as I head out the door, shutting it hard to wake him up.


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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