Page 43 of I Promise You

“You have a kid?” He toys with the end of the mat.

“I miscarried at twelve weeks.” My breath hitches.

“I’m sorry, Serena.” He pauses, seemingly at a loss for words. He studies my face. “I can’t imagine…wow. That must have been tough.”

It was the worst time of my life other than when my parents died. I remember the day I missed my period, the anxiousness that ran through me at the idea of having a baby. Vane and I were up and down at the time, him traveling further and further away from Magnolia for gigs, ones I couldn’t go to. We argued over the phone when I saw pics of him online, cozying up to groupies. He promised me nothing was going on, that it was just part of being a musician. Right.

I wait for the stinging betrayal that comes with those memories, and it’s there, just waiting, but I take a breath and set them aside. “I was terrified to be pregnant. We barely saw each other, I still hadn’t finished school, and I had Romy at home with Nana. I didn’t even realize how much I wanted the baby until…” I stop, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I will them to not fall. “Forgive me. I’ve always wanted kids, and it felt too soon, it did, but I was excited. Romy was over the moon. Nana had doubts, but she was knitting booties. Julian, well, he was pissed. He never approved of Vane. Ugh, I shouldn’t tell you this.”

“Hey. It’s okay. Some people are just easy to talk to. Catharsis is good. The verbal expression of past painful emotions helps smooth over bad memories. It’s like the brain merges the original painful memory with the new less painful version of sharing the memory.”

“You’re full of facts.” I give him a wan smile as I sit up on my mat. He does the same, and we face each other.

“Psych major. Tell me anything. I joke a lot, but I’m a good listener.”

“Vane, well, I was beginning to suspect that we wouldn’t last, and I figured he was cheating on the road, but when you’re in the middle of something, it’s hard to see what’s ahead. I pretended like everything was fine. I wanted it to be fine, so I ignored the warning signs. Maybe I compartmentalized? I don’t know. He had a lot of fame thrown at him. We were young.”

“You still care about him.”

“He was the center of my world for a long time.”

“Come here,” he says softly.

I do, inching forward until our knees touch. He smells divine, vanilla mixed with virile male. Something electric zings between us as we look at each other.

“Je promets d’être bon avec toi,” he murmurs, holding my gaze.

My heart skips at his soft words. “I caught I promise, but what does the rest of it mean?”

“I promise I’ll be good to you.” He tilts my chin up and leans in and—

I pull away and maneuver up to standing.

“Serena, wait—”

No. I’m already walking into the small kitchen that’s to the left of the yoga space. I don’t believe in promises from guys anymore. F that. Dillon is trouble with a capital T. I should run out of this room and go straight home.

I hear him following me. Swallowing down my anxiousness, I open the fridge and reach for one of the waters Zena keeps for us. His hands land on my shoulders. He’s right there, the heat from his bare chest against my back. Tension crackles in the air around us.

“Serena.” He pauses, uncertainty in his voice. “Look, I’m sorry if I came on too strong. The truth is, I met you my freshman year at the bonfire party.” A small huff comes from him. “I kissed you. Twice. I said some douchey stuff about who I was and you ran off.” His hands stroke over the straps of my halter top, touching my skin with the barest touch. He drifts down to my hips, and I lean back against him.

“You don’t remember, do you?”

Oh, Dillon.

“I remember.”

The silence builds in the room as we stand there, my hand tightening on the handle of the fridge. He turns me around and looks down at me intently, his eyes searching mine. “When?”

I can feel my face warming. “I had an inkling at the Oreo encounter, but I knew for sure when you came in my apartment. I didn’t admit to it because I thought it would inflate your ego.” I dip my head. “You looked different then.”

“I wore bleached out dreadlocks in my hair. I also grew two inches that year.”

“And you’ve bulked up more.”

A dawning hits his eyes. “It’s more than that though. Did you feel guilty about the kiss? It was his band that night. Were you married then?”

“I wasn’t married, but yeah, I felt guilty. I told him what happened after his set was finished.” A scoff comes from me. “He just laughed. I guess he was just that confident that I loved him—which I did. I adored him. You kind of came out of nowhere and took me by surprise.”

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance