Page 22 of I Promise You

He bumps his shoulder against me as he heads out the door, and I shake my head. Was I ever that much of a pill? No. I was an eager learner and deferred to Ryker, letting him mentor me. Hell, I welcomed his friendship with open arms. I might even have been a little needy. That first year was a hard time in my life, adjusting to college and the ghost of my brother.

Coach leans back in his chair. “Congrats on the position. Take a seat.”

My stomach jumps. Why do I feel like I still haven’t won? “Thank you, sir. I promise I’ll put the team ahead of everything. This means the world to me.”

He nods. “You’ve been patiently waiting for your turn, and I have a lot of respect for your dedication. This is it for you, son. If you’re tight this year, the scouts are going to notice.”

But? Is he just letting me start because he feels like he owes it to me and not because I’m the best? Insecurities rise up, and I tap my fingers on my knee.

His gaze goes back to the door Sinclair left through. “He is good, you know, but he’s impulsive and makes it up as he goes along.”

I’m impulsive too, but never on the field. Everything I do with football is calculated and sure.

“Just because I’m naming you starter today doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind. Don’t flake out under the pressure, because trust me, you’ve never seen the kind of intensity you’re about to face. If you aren’t the best on the team at the end of each week, you won’t be playing.” He assesses me. “I need Sinclair to fall in line. Teach him what you know.”

Oh, I see. Teach him my tricks… “So he can step up and take my place?”

Coach frowns. “This isn’t a pissing contest between two players. Ryker taught you. You teach Sinclair. Regardless of who starts our games, it’s all about winning.”

Right. This is cut-throat college football, and we have a championship to live up to. I’ll have to prove myself every day. Tension builds in my head. Definitely gonna need another run today, maybe another lifting session…

A long sigh comes from me. “I understand.”7Dear Asking for a Friend,

Does it make me a slut if I swipe right on every hot guy I see on Tinder?

A year ago, my ex cheated on me with my best friend, and they just got married in Hawaii. It feels impossible to move past the rage and betrayal—hence the Tinder addiction. These sexual encounters work for a little while, but I’m worried it’s a spiral of behavior. I want to stop screwing my dates and meet someone nice, but how?


Dating App Addicted* * *Dear DAA,

First, let’s take the word “slut” and put it where it belongs: in the trash. That word is degrading to yourself and other women, which is ironic considering it first appeared in the early 1300s when Chaucer used it to describe a male character as untidy. You are simply a person in charge of your own sexuality.

Your ex and ex-bestie are not worthy of you. (Alexa, play “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande.) It would have been better if they’d approached their relationship in a thoughtful, honest manner, and I’m sorry you went through this turmoil. You’re right, seeking happiness in the arms of a hot guy might fill certain holes (heh), but it won’t nourish your soul.

Instead of sex with your booty call, suggest coffee or a walk. If you still can’t resist getting tangled in the sheets, find a new hobby, adopt a pet, join a club, or take up knitting. Personally, I enjoy cookies. People say not to eat your emotions, but seriously, have you ever had a deep-fried Oreo? Orgasmic.

~Asking for a Friend* * *“Serena! Need you now! Get in here!”

Warren’s booming voice reverberates through the office just as I hit send to the editor for next week’s column. Jumping up from my cubicle, I grab a notepad and a pen and dash down the hall.

He’s talking on the phone while pacing behind his desk, and he waves me in. I plop down in the brown chair and immediately smell Irish Spring and leather. The owner of the Gazette, he’s fiftyish and stout with a head full of graying dirty blond hair that brushes his blue button-up.

There’s a glint of excitement in his eyes as he clicks off his call, comes around his desk, and sits on the edge. I straighten my gray pencil skirt and cross my legs. I didn’t have a lot of professional clothing when I got the internship, but I did buy a few pieces from a secondhand store downtown. My one rebellion is my black Doc Martens with red roses embroidered on the sides. They’re a little loud, true, but a girl needs personal flair.

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance