Page 46 of I Promise You

Ashley shrugs, her eyes hard, but she puts a smile on as she grudgingly says, “Whatever. If you want her to play, fine with me.”

“Just this once, Serena?” Bambi implores. “Come on, say yes.”

Sawyer cocks an eyebrow at me. “You in for some fun?”

My eyes are firmly not looking at Dillon. Do I want to hang out with Ashley while she competes for Dillon’s attention? Hell no. But this was my night out, and nothing is keeping me from it. “I’ll be at Cadillac’s tomorrow.”

I rush out a goodbye and flip around.

“Serena, let me walk you—” comes from Dillon as he attempts to follow me, but I cut him off with a hand over my back. As long as he has an entourage, I just can’t go there. Yeah, I’ll play pool with them, but…

“Later,” I say, my feet moving fast until I’m at a jog and out the door.13“Closer” by Nine Inch Nails plays from the speakers in the den, the song drifting into my room as I rifle through my closet for something to wear to Cadillac’s. Nope, not the button-up shirt (dressy and screams trying too hard), and no, not anything loose (I need to show off my assets), and not the Henley (it’s too damn hot). Yeah! I snag a faded navy Tigers shirt with the orange paw on the pocket. It’s an oldie, all the way back to my sophomore days, and it’s snug, but not too snug. Passed a killer psychology test and won a wet T-shirt contest with it last year.

“You gonna stare into your closet all night, bro?” It’s Sawyer from the door. “Ah, the lucky shirt.”

“Don’t need luck,” I lie as I slip the shirt on and tuck it loosely into my jeans. The orange Converse are next. The truth is, she brushed me off—after getting off. A long sigh comes from me. So, yeah, I want another chance. I did avoid her after I took her car to her. She cut her nana off while she was inviting us, and I get it, I do. We just showed up out of the blue, and Serena is what I call a “runner”. Because of Vane, she’s built a fortress around herself. Yeah, I asked for the kiss as payment for her car, but got nervous about it later and wondered if I put her in the uncomfortable position of agreeing.

When she’s around, my usual charm is just poof, gone. I’ve never been this unsure over a girl. I don’t need more anxiety. I mean, freshman year, I imagined the day I’d find her, but now that it’s here… What if I fuck this up? What if I’ve built up this idea of her and she’s just going to mess with my head?

Sure, she remembers me at the bonfire, but she was in love with another man.

I adored him. Those were her words. I frown.

“Just nail her. I’m sick of your moping.”

My brow furrows as I give him a sharp look. “Don’t talk about her like that.”

His voice is surprised. “So it’s like that. I apologize. You’re gonna be cuddling up and watching Netflix in no time.”

“This coming from the guy who teared up at A Star is Born, The Big Sick, and Crazy Rich Asians, which is a comedy.” My words are grouchy. I’m thinking about Vane and Serena together as a couple. My hands clench. I’m assuming she went home with Vane the night of the bonfire—was in his arms. I push those images out of my head.

“I had a cold. It was a sniffle, and you swore you’d never tell anyone that.” He tucks his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “First of all, A Star is Born has been made four times. It’s iconic, and if a person doesn’t cry when watching it, they’re a psychopath. Second, The Big Sick is original. She’s in a coma, and they somehow manage to have a relationship. Third, Crazy Rich Asians portrays a rich heritage that I appreciate, and you have to admit, the scenery is amazing. Constance Wu is drop-dead gorgeous—”

“Ah, you do love brunettes.”

He starts, his eyes narrowing. “I prefer blondes. This is law. I’ve proclaimed it many times.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You’re insinuating something. Spit it out.”

I’ve noticed this past week who he’s been eyeing lately, and she isn’t blonde.

He leans against the doorjamb. “Anyway. Tonight’s like a date for you and Serena.”

I fidget in front of the mirror. Damn, my hair needs a cut. “Technically, it’s girls’ night, and you and Bambi weaseled us an invite.”

“You’re nervous.”

I am. “Never.”

“You keep touching your hair. Sadly, you don’t enjoy romantic movies, so you can’t wow her with your sappy side. Let’s prep what not to do. These rules are foolproof and came straight from my dearly departed granny. Ready?”

I adored that woman. I went home with Sawyer several times on the weekends during the off-season. She baked us cookies and enjoyed scary movies. She gave me hugs like I was her own. When she passed away last summer, I drove to Georgia, went to the funeral, and spent two weeks with Sawyer, helping him get her things packed up. Thinking of her makes me soften. “If Granny had rules, they must have been from God’s own lips. Go for it.”


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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