“Maybe two.” His gaze rises to find mine.
I trace the sensuous curves of his mouth and my breath hitches. What’s the harm? “Okay. Now?”
“Later.” He gives me a lingering look then gets in his car and cranks it.
Owen crawls in the back and rolls his window down, his gaze sliding to Romy, and of course, she’s checking him out, lashes batting. I lean in. “She’s jailbait, Sinclair, and has a boyfriend.” Tree Boy is on my shit list, but a college boy is the last thing I need.
Owen flashes a sly smirk. “Looking doesn’t hurt.”
“With her, it does,” I say as I reach into the car and thump him on the forehead.
“Dude!” Owen calls, rearing back from me. “Your women are crazy, Dillon.”
“I’m not one of his women!”
“Hard to believe, but true,” Dillon muses.
“Then why are we running past her house every morning?” Owen says.
My eyes flare. Aha!
Dillon gets a wide look in his eyes—caught—and flushes red. He rolls his window up, our eyes holding through the glass.
Sawyer walks to the Escalade and meets me in the yard. His gaze flicks to the car. “You know, I think he can be kind of shy when it comes to you. Odd.”
He chuckles and murmurs goodbye and gets in the car. Dillon throws up a wave, and they drive away.
“Blue hair is hot,” Romy murmurs as we watch them disappear down the road.
I glower at her. “Remember Liam?”
She chortles. “Oh my God, his face when you said rectal issues….”
I throw an arm around her and press my lips against her temple. “You’re a minx. You know I’m grounding you, right? No phone, video games, or Liam for two weeks. Then, we’ll talk and reassess.”
She shuts her eyes briefly. “Please, Serena. I invited him to the tryouts. You know how anxious I am about it.” She’s mentioned some of the other girls are catty.
“Fine, he can come, but that’s it for two weeks.”
She releases a long sigh. “I won’t let him stay again, Serena. I promise.”
We walk back inside, and my mind is on Dillon and the kiss I promised him.12Wearing my gray tie-dyed leggings and a cropped pink workout top, I head into the student center. As I’m taking the steps to the upper level, my phone rings and I snatch it up without looking to see who the caller is.
If I’d known, I never would have answered.
“Serena.” Vane’s voice dances down my spine, and I inhale a sharp breath, ready to hang up, but he jumps in, “Baby, baby—wait. Come on, now, don’t hang up, not like last time. Just for a few minutes, let me talk to you. Please.”
My hand clenches around the phone. It’s been two months since he called, the longest he’s gone, and I thought he was finally done. Holding the phone to my ear, I sit down in a chair in one of the lounging spaces. “Okay.”
Background noise fills up the silence between us, muted rock music playing, glasses clinking together—female giggling.
“Hang on, let me go out on the balcony. Too loud in here, and I can’t hear you.” His words are husky with a slight slur.
I picture him in a hotel room, probably the penthouse suite somewhere, his riotous black hair swishing around his shoulders as he cradles the phone to his ear, moving past his bandmates, the alcohol bottles littering the tables.
We met at a bar in Magnolia my sophomore year after my parents died. I was in a weird place, still grieving, and he provided the perfect distraction. When he sang that night, I was mesmerized by the tender way his hands clutched the mic, his ripped-up jeans that hung on his lean hips. His songs called to the music lover in me. He was charismatic, the kind of sexy that tells you he’s going to be a star someday. He kept his gaze on me the entire night, and after he finished his set, he jumped off the stage and took me in his arms. Be mine tonight, he whispered in my ear.
I was his—for several nights that morphed into months, then years.
I dip my head, keeping my voice low. “You have to stop calling me. I need to go. Take care of yourself, okay? Lay off the booze.”
“Baby, baby, the sound of your voice…it’s like the sun after a storm, like a candle in a dark tunnel—”
“Pretty words you don’t mean,” I say faintly, memories of him tugging on my heart.
He exhales gustily. “Tour is over, baby. You should have been here. Sold-out crowd in Chicago last night, fifty thousand screaming fans. I’m leaving soon, coming home to Memphis.”
“That’s good. I’m sure you need the rest and your family misses you.”
“It’s been over a year since…” he murmurs thickly.
Our divorce was final. My lungs squeeze.
“Do you need anything? Money?”
“You don’t owe me anything, Vane.”