Page 26 of I Promise You

I stand up. “It’s worse when I’m nervous.”

“I’ll file that away.”

“Do that. Now, if you’ll move and let me pass, I need to be going.” No way am I going to ask him if he’d be open to talking to me, not when I look like something the cat dragged in off the street.

He checks out my press pass. “You’re covering the team?”

“It appears so,” I say dryly.

“That’s just great,” he replies just as dryly. “I’ll have to see your face.”

“My sentiments exactly.”

“Oh, the fun we’ll have, Serena…”

“Bring it. I’m so excited I can’t stand it.”

“I can tell. You’re frowning. Lighten up.” He smiles, a perfect flash of white, and I feel the effect of it like a slap in the face. Why does he have to be hot AF?

“Does it hurt?” he asks.

“When I fell from heaven?”

“You don’t think much of me, do you? I meant your blisters.”

I clear my throat, my face warming. “No, I’m fine.” Screw this. If he won’t move, I’ll just go the long way around. I pivot and stalk off in the opposite direction, sucking in a breath at the extra steps I’ll need to take to get to the exit. Bolts of pain dance through my feet and I steel myself, yet a hiss comes out. I ease down in a seat and take a fortifying breath. I’d walk home barefooted if I could, but… Obviously, I need to call Nana. Frustration bubbles. Twenty-four and I need to call my grandmother…

“Really hurts, huh?”

I exhale. “Yeah.”

Leaning down, he takes my elbow. “Come on. I’ll get you some bandages.” He pauses, inhaling a deep breath. “Mmmm, cherries. Is that your shampoo?”

“Like it?”

“Hate it.”

“Not surprised.” I move to pull away—

“You’re the most stubborn person I’ve ever met,” he declares as he jumps up to the row behind and then hops back down in front of me. It happens so fast I can barely track him. “You asked for it.” He bends down and picks me straight up until my body is pressed against him, my legs dangling. He smells like vanilla, again, and I barely keep myself from pressing my nose to his chest. It smells divine. Ridiculous!

My arms flail. “Dillon, this is crazy. Put me down!”

A huff comes from him as he hitches me up and swings me around until I’m lying in his arms like a bride, my cheek pressed against his stupid broad chest.

“If you wiggle, I might drop you. You’re heavier than I thought.”

Ah! The nerve… “You can’t just throw me around like a sack of potatoes!” I swing my hand and my bag gains more momentum than I anticipated, smacking him in the shoulder.

“You can’t walk! I’m trying to help you.” He stomps down the aisle and into the darkness of the hallways that lead to the tunnels.

“If I wanted your help, I would have said so.”

“You’re in pain,” he growls, and I shiver at the tingles that go down my spine.

“Why do you care?”

“I’d help anyone,” he mutters. “I gave you a ride, didn’t I?”

“Jersey chaser giving you trouble, Grandpa?” comes from another player who’s coming down the tunnel. Tall and lean with blue hair, he watches us, amusement on his face.

“Don’t be dissing jersey chasers,” I snap. I liked Chantal and Bambi. Yeah, I called them kittens, but come on, they are adorable.

“You heard her, Sinclair. Women rule,” Dillon rumbles, hoisting me up higher. “Get out of the way. She needs first aid.”

“Feisty one. When you’re done, pass her along.” He runs a hand through his spiky hair and marches out of sight.

“Friend of yours, I presume,” I mutter.

“Owen Sinclair. Big chip on his shoulder. My nemesis.”

“Your rival?”

“I prefer archenemy. Sounds more dramatic.”

“So you’re Superman to his Lex Luther? Batman to his Joker, Spiderman to his Green Goblin—”

“You really do have a thing for superheroes.”

“I have a whole list in my head if you want me to continue.”

He grunts as he takes the stairs, jostling me around, and I squeal when it feels like I might fall. “Please don’t drop me.” I peek up through my lashes and study his face then look away quickly. He’s too much this close, too heady, too perfect.

He carries me into the locker room and sets me on top of a table. The space is vacant, yet I hear the distant sound of showers running, the rumble of male voices just around the corner.

He walks to the cabinet, pulls out a first aid kit, and stalks back to where I am, the fabric of his jeans brushing against my thighs as he moves between my legs. He kneels on his haunches in front of me, slowly unlacing both of my boots and easing them off, hissing under his breath at the torn red skin on both ankles. A drop of blood slides down my leg. Gross.

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance