Page 33 of I Promise You

I stifle a groan. The truth is, Dillon is the hottest freaking man alive, and when he gets close, I’m a firework waiting to be lit. I denied it at the Pig, but it’s always been there, just waiting to blow up.

“Know what I’m thinking?” I ask.

“That I’m irresistible—”

“Ha. I’m thinking you’d have a hard time keeping up with me.” Yeah. I just said that.

“I’m hard, alright.” He lowers his gaze, his top teeth tugging at his bottom lip.

I burst out laughing. “And people say romance is dead!”

He levels me with his searching turquoise gaze. “You said you weren’t interested. Is that true?” An anxious expression flits over his face as he frowns. “I don’t want to bother you or say suggestive things if, uh, if you think I’m terrible. I’ll, um, rein it in…” His words peter out as his eyes shut briefly. “I suck at this. Sometimes, I have no filter. Pretend we’re in middle school. For real, all jokes aside. Do you like me, you know, as a person? Check yes or no.” He squints at me, as if dreading the answer.

He is irresistible.

“I check yes.” I feel like a twelve-year-old talking to the popular guy.

He exhales. “Thank you, Jesus. Hop in your car and come have a drink with me.”

I swallow. Why not take him up on that offer—only I don’t have a car.

He looks away briefly. “Hey, they’re playing your song inside.”

“What?”

“Listen. ‘Sweet Serena’…it’s a sign.”

I hear the slow beat of the Four Dragons hit, the guitar strumming the angsty ballad.* * *Teardrops on my hands,

Red lips and an angelic face,

Come on and give me a twirl,

How do I get the girl?

Sweet, sweet Serena…* * *Teardrops on my guitar,

It’s worth fighting for,

Sand turned to pearls,

How do I keep the girl?

Sweet, sweet Serena…* * *Teardrops on my bed,

Whiskey bottles and broken stilettos,

Long lashes that curl,

How did I lose the girl?

Sweet, sweet Serena…* * *Teardrops on my heart,

Stumbling through goodbye,

Making me crack, baby,

How do I get you back?

Sweet, sweet Serena…* * *“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asks, holding the phone closer, the blue-green of his gaze searching mine.

Everything. Bad memories. Old heartaches. Loneliness wraps around me like a vise, and a long exhalation comes from my chest.

It is a sign—a bad one.

“Nothing.” I clear my throat and rush my words before I change my mind. “I need to go. If I didn’t say thank you for the first aid this week, thank you so much. Have fun tonight. You had a great game. I’ll text you questions soon. Bye.”

“Serena. Wait a minute—”

I click my cell off and throw it on the bed, lying back on my pillows and staring up at the ceiling fan. My chest feels heavy as my mind flips to Dillon and then Vane, comparing how similar they are, both hot, talented guys with women begging to be with them. I’d be a fool to get sucked into Dillon’s world. I refuse to repeat past mistakes.

But… What’s wrong with a little tango in the sheets? Or, as Nana says, making the bam-bam in the ham?

Without getting my heart involved?

There’s no doubt he’s open to that. I get the sense that’s the way he operates, easy come, easy go.

Dillon’s emotional eyes appear into my head, the pain and sadness in him from the loss of his brother, and I groan and throw my hand over my face. There’s no way I can tango with him. He’s exactly my type: sexy as hell with issues.

Must. Stop. Thinking. About. Him.11The next morning when I walk over to the house where Nana and my sister Romy live, there’s a lanky teenage boy crawling out of the top-story window. His bleached hair sticks straight up, there are piercings in both of his eyebrows, and his chest is bare. Probably left his shirt behind. Here we go again.

He tiptoes over the roof and jumps to the big oak tree in the front yard. There’s a crack as he lands, the limb swaying under his weight. Would serve him right if it broke.

I stand under the tree and wait, tapping my foot as he jumps to another branch and slithers down the tree, landing with a thump at the bottom. There are red scratches on his chest from the twigs and limbs.

“Good morning,” I drawl. “Don’t you think it would be easier to use the front door? Oh, wait—you can’t, because you spent the night with my baby sister!” My voice rises at the end, my hands planted on my hips.

He was about to dash down the street but flips around to face me, eyes flaring. “Uhhhhhh…”

“Leave him alone, Serena! I’m seventeen, for fuck’s sake!” I hear my hellcat of a sister call from the window, probably watching to see if he made a clean getaway.

“Language! I told you about letting boys in your room! Do you want me to nail your window shut?” I yell back, not taking my eyes off Tree Boy. “You,” I say in a low voice. “Don’t you dare move. We’re gonna talk.”


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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