Page 18 of I Promise You

“So you are half wolf. Always suspected.”

“Go on, laugh all you want. Everyone emits pheromones. Why do you think cologne is so popular?”

His lips twitch. “What scent should I buy?”

“Keep on joking. The right kinds of pheromones elicit a sexual arousal response. Dude, I can’t walk past cherries or any kind of fruit without thinking about her. For three years!” I shake my head. “Therapy—I need aversion therapy for this girl so I’ll stop thinking about her. Maybe a hypnotist.”

“I’m stuck on the fruit thing. Cherries give you a hard-on?”

“If you sing ‘She’s My Cherry Pie’, I’ll kick your ass.”

Glee dances over his features and he laughs for several moments, wiping at his eyes. “Honestly? I’m blown away. You, the guy who’s always in a good mood, are actually in a snit over some girl who doesn’t recall a kiss. Who are you?”

I arch a brow. Oh, he wants to trash talk… “I know you still keep that stuffed tiger Bambi gave you freshman year. Under your pillow.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Liar.” I crack my knuckles. “I need another run this afternoon.”

“Is the worst part that she doesn’t remember you? Or is it that you’ve found her and don’t know what to do with it?”

A long exhalation comes from me. “Both. I don’t know.”

He shrugs. “She was probably drunk at the bonfire. Most people were. I was. Woke up in my dorm on the floor with Troy curled around me like a girl. Slapped him silly and kneed him in the nuts. Good times.”

“I didn’t smell or taste alcohol on her, and my tongue was in her mouth long enough to know.” Every detail from that kiss is etched in my mind as if I have a photographic memory. I don’t.

He pops a cookie left over from last night in his mouth. “She was probably there with a boyfriend, kissed you, and freaked out.”

Anger rushes at me. “She was dancing by herself.”

“Okay, okay, obviously you’ve built this up in your head over all this time, created a shrine to her sweet cherry pie memory—”

“Smartass.”

“Uh-huh. Let’s break this down: wasn’t one of your theories that she wasn’t a student or was from out of town? What did you find out?”

“Nothing really except that she hates me. She’s a grad student. Two years older.” I’m almost twenty-two. I wonder when her birthday is…

“Ah, a girl you have to work for. This is new for you.”

I sigh. Freshman year, I had a list of theories about the unicorn. Perhaps I was drunk with beer goggles and wouldn’t recognize her. Perhaps she cut her hair. Perhaps she transferred. But those full lips… I just knew I’d know them anywhere. If it hadn’t been for the hat and glasses last night, I would have spotted her right off the bat.

“I think you should have nailed her and didn’t and that’s why you’re still wondering about her. She’s the one who got away. Everybody’s got one. Mine is some chick from middle school. She was my first kiss, and I thought she’d be my first everything, but she dumped me for a high school kid. Good thing—she got busted for money laundering for the mob a few years ago, but I still wonder…” He snaps his fingers in my face. “You know what this is, right? It’s a challenge.”

“Dude…”

“Nah, listen. This girl—she could be your lucky charm. Remember last year when Zane challenged me to knock him out in a boxing match?”

Zane is a defensive player and weighs close to three hundred pounds. Sawyer is muscular but wiry, his body perfect for playing wide receiver. Not boxing.

I nod. “Yeah, you practiced for six weeks, worked out your arms like crazy. You lost ten pounds, but your shoulders filled out—”

“Right! And I had the best season of my career—because I knocked him out and beat the challenge. Along the way, I overcame my fear of getting punched. I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

I scrub my face.

His brown eyes narrow. “I’m serious. You need to work your magic and check her off. Mystery solved. No more wondering about the what-ifs. Flush her pheromones from your system. You have the game to focus on, but if your head is daydreaming about some girl…” He pops an eyebrow. “Do it for the team.”

Screwing Serena for a challenge? Nah. I don’t have a shot with her. Besides, the idea of using her to make my game better is inherently wrong—and the idea of wooing her makes me jittery. “That’s a no-go. She couldn’t wait for me to leave her place.”

“So? You’re Dillon McQueen. Has any girl ever turned you down when you turned on your smile? Come on.”

She did three years ago.

Troy slinks out of his bedroom, his shoulder-length brown hair everywhere. A talented running back from Texas, he rounds out our roommate situation. I’m not as tight with him as I am with Sawyer, but he’s cool. A stiff expression grows on his face as he approaches me, his eyes wary as he enters the kitchen.


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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