Page 32 of I Promise You

Mortification washes over me, and I try to keep my face from showing it. Be cool, be cool. God, why did I FaceTime him when he specifically asked for me to text him? Of course he’s out with his buddies, no doubt about to pick some lucky girl to take home.

Ashley pops up on the screen, her red hair piled in an elaborate chignon, her lips a hot pink. “Come on, let’s do some shots.”

“Give me a minute.” He eases away and steps into a less crowded hallway. “Are you in bed?”

“Obviously.” I grab a couple of Oreos from my nightstand and munch on one. Nana picked them up at Walmart earlier this week.

“It’s Saturday—don’t you ever go out?”

“I’m not really a party girl.” I used to hang out in bars with Vane and his crew all the time, most of them out of town. I haven’t been to Caddy’s in years.

His eyes gleam as I pick up another cookie. “You need to lick the cream now. I promise, it’s the way to eat it.”

“Like this?” I manage to ease the wafers apart with one hand and run my tongue over the white center, closing my eyes as I lick my lips. “Mmmm, you’re right. So good.”

“You almost make me forget I don’t like you.”

An unexpected laugh comes from me. “Will any girl do, Dillon?”

“Not lately.”

“Is the big bad football player having a dry spell?”

“You have no idea. It’s been months—”

A girl comes around the corner from behind him, cutting him off as she screams his name and jumps on his back, wrapping her legs around his waist. The phone falls and the camera lens spins then goes black as it slaps the floor. I hear Dillon’s muffled voice, the laughter in it. After a few moments, his face appears again and he smirks at me ruefully. “It’s crazy in here.”

I can see that.

She saunters off, but she’s behind him in the camera, looking over her shoulder and running her eyes over him.

“Looks like you have plenty to pick from tonight.” I toss my cookie on the bed, too annoyed to eat it.

“Maybe I want this particular one, but she’s giving me trouble.”

“Who is she, Dimitri?”

A slow smile curls his lips. It’s real and genuine—and I melt. “You love to play games, don’t you?”

“Dillon, come on!” comes Ashley’s sugary voice.

“Carry on without me. This call is important,” he tells her in a muffled voice off-screen before looking back at me. “Sorry. How are your feet?”

“Better.”

“You have”—his lips quirk—“nice feet. I liked your chipped pink polish.”

“I dig capes, you like podiatry.”

He turns up a beer and takes a sip.

“Fat Tire, I see.”

“Every time I drink one, I see you at the Pig. Fierce.”

“I made an impression.”

He stares at me, a deep look, and it feels as if he’s in the room with me. “Oh, yeah. First impressions.” He shakes his head. “Ever hear of the 7-11 rule?”

“No.”

“People make seven decisions about a person in the first eleven seconds of seeing them.”

I gasp. “Are you spouting random facts?”

“Hush. Within seconds, we make decisions about sexual orientation, economic status, cultural beliefs, religion, desirability, kinks, level of intelligence—what are you doing?”

Propping my phone on my knees, I wave my notebook and pen at him. “Writing this down. Go on, tell me what you assumed from your first meeting with me.”

He huffs out a husky laugh. “You’re different. You don’t care who I am. You give it back as good as I give, and most girls don’t. What was your impression of me?”

“A pigskin-toting Casanova.”

And the very first time I ever saw him? Well, I thought the same…

“You hate me.” He smiles.

“Who can hate the best lacrosse player at Waylon? You’re so good-looking you should be in movies—the cashier’s words, not mine.” He chuckles and I smile at how easy it is to talk to him, at the way he can find humor in himself.

“I need someone like you to keep me in line. Reminds me I’m just a regular guy,” he murmurs, staring at me, his gaze warm. “Want to get out of your place and join me?” he says. “I’ll wait for you outside in the parking lot.”

My mind goes back to watching him perform on the field. He’s a warrior, a big majestic fighter. I sat in my seat and watched him far more than was professional. Temptation unfurls inside me, yearning to see those broad shoulders in person… “I shouldn’t.”

“You know what I’m thinking right now?” His voice deepens.

I resist the urge to fan myself. “What?”

“About that rapid pulse I see in your throat. Hmmm?”

I place my hand over my throat as he holds my gaze. He walks through the crowd and steps outside the back door of Cadillac’s. The background noise is quieter, but I still hear the strum of music from the speakers in the bar.


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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