Page 4 of I Promise You

Off in the distance, the football guys hoot my name, then chant Venus over and over.

Well, hell.

Legend 1, Dillon 0.1Three years laterA tall, ripped man wearing the tightest black leather pants I’ve ever seen struts into the Piggly Wiggly Saturday night.

Admittedly, I’ve never seen a dude in leather pants, so perhaps there might be some tighter, somewhere.

Why is his dress shirt unbuttoned?

My God, he is cut.

More importantly, where on earth did he come from? He’s obviously not one of the laid-back locals here in Magnolia, Mississippi. They wear flannels and jeans or Waylon University apparel.

I tug my earbuds out, cutting off “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. True, it’s my theme song, but this can’t be missed.

I watch as an entourage of three women float through the sliding glass doors with him like pretty made-up dolls, each one long-legged and busty. They’re also all wearing some form of cowhide.

One of the girls, a platinum-haired beauty in a red leather mini skirt and platform heels, trails behind him, adjusting his white dress shirt as it billows around his trim hips, giving a peek of tattoos and washboard abs with defined hills and valleys.

The brunette—dang, she looks like a tall Mila Kunis—wears a purple-fringed suede vest, skinny jeans, and strappy stilettos as she holds his hand and preens.

A willowy redhead with double Ds flanks his left side, her hand on his shoulder playing with the ends of his golden brown hair as it curls from underneath his ball cap. Her honest-to-God black and white cow-printed mini-dress looks amazing, as if it came straight from a New York runway.

His hat creates a slice of diagonal shadow on his chiseled face, giving me half a view of one bladed cheekbone and part of a full, pouty mouth. Dark stubble covers his diamond-cut jawline, and a pair of expensive silver-mirrored aviators shield his gaze. A golden belt buckle as big as a dessert plate glimmers at his waist.

There are so many sensory details hitting me at once that my mind spins and my fingers twitch to write. Serena Jensen uncovers secret leather cult inside the Piggly Wiggly. Someone call PETA.

Wondering if they’re even real—it’s been a long week—I close my eyes and reopen them. Still there.

My spidey sense is screaming athlete judging by his muscular build and his height, around six foot, four inches. The man is practically towering, a veritable wall. Footballer, most likely—and not a Southern boy, because they wouldn’t be caught dead in those pants. At least not in Magnolia, Mississippi. Maybe Memphis, just two hours away.

“Must be a full moon or a banging party,” I muse aloud to a crate of seedless green grapes. They nod their agreement, silently reminding me that only weird people talk to inanimate objects.

“Just tired,” I tell them as I pick up a bunch, put them in a plastic bag, and tie them off. I worked a catering job for the university last night, and I’m beat.

The man and his harem move farther inside the store, and a regretful pang washes over me. I didn’t always spend my weekends at the grocery. The parties off campus used to be my favorite, especially the bonfire. Crisp fall weather, local bands, and macho games—there’s nothing more entertaining than watching D1 jocks playing tug-of-war over a mud pit. I sigh. The last college party I went to was the bonfire my junior year.

I’m not that girl anymore. I work and study. I rarely go out just for fun. Nana says it’s because I’m an Aquarius and we internalize heartbreak, taking longer to recover. My birth sign also means I’m offbeat and peculiar. True.

Mr. Hot Pants stops at the flower center, and the girls pause with him in sync, six eyes riveted to him, bodies on alert, anticipating what he’ll do next. Maybe buy some supermarket roses for them?

Snapping a finger, he murmurs something I can’t hear, and the blonde rushes to tug a piece of paper out of her purse. She drops it in his grasp then strokes his cheek before settling back into her position behind him, all of it graceful and mesmerizing—as if they’ve done this particular dance before. He whips off the sunglasses and tucks them handle side down inside the pocket of his dress shirt. Staring down at the paper, he smirks, and I think he mouths, Oreos.

Next to him, the girls await instruction like well-trained greyhounds. They stand patiently as his phone rings and he answers it, talks, and laughs at whoever is there then tucks the phone into the pocket of his pants. His thighs are muscled and thick, bulging against the leather. His stomach is sun-kissed and hard as iron. And, he’s a leftie. “A nice one,” I murmur to the grapes as the outline of his crotch draws my eyes. It’s been a while, and a girl can look, okay? Just don’t touch.

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance