Page 5 of I Promise You

The moving around with his phone forces the brunette to lose her hold on his hand, and the redhead jostles to his right side and elbows the brunette—ouch, that looked like it hurt!—then pounces to grasp his hand.

Chaos ensues.

“It’s my turn, Bambi! You snooze, you lose!” exclaims the redhead with glee.

“Listen here, Ashley—” snaps Mila/Bambi.

“Can’t we get what we need and leave without arguing?” grouses the blonde.

“Girls, please,” comes his deep voice. “No fighting. The number-one rule: all of you get along or I’m not doing this.”

Rules?

Oh, oh, he’s precious.

The sexy beast emits a lopsided smile that’s somehow perfect, an aw-shucks attitude blended with an air of confidence that only comes from a man who’s had women at his feet since he was born. “You’re all beautiful, sweethearts. Breathtaking, the cream of the crop, and, yes, any man would be lucky to have you on his arm.” He tucks his list away. “But, I’m a lot. Being with me is hard, and really, I’m not worthy of any of you.”

“You are!” they exclaim.

Is he?

“Wicked, wicked boy,” I murmur under my breath. I take in the muscular chest, those rippling muscles. “Hmm. I’d turn you into a centaur if I wrote about you.”

I sneak a bit closer to them, easing behind a display of Little Debbie cakes. I’m not really spying, not truly, just curious. It’s the writer in me; I get ideas from the strangest occurrences.

He rocks on his heels, seeming to think for a moment as he gazes at the girls. “Fine, if you insist, you must know that I like a girl who loves the game as much as I do.”

“We do,” they say ardently.

He puts his hands on his hips, paces around for several moments in deep thought. “I know you love the game, but my girl also needs a good grasp on my stats—even how fast I run the forty-yard dash.”

“4.7 seconds,” declares Mila/Bambi, giving the other girls triumphant looks. “One of the fastest in the league for a quarterback.”

He blinks. “But… I know this is a new thing, so don’t get pissed, but she needs to know the running back, tight end, and wide receiver’s stats too. I know, I know, I see it on your faces—something new. Thing is, in the end, stats help me with my game, and you do want me to play pro, right? Make the big money?”

“But, Dillon, I already know your stats.” Mila/Bambi rattles off percentages and phrases: total plays, passing attempts, completions, yards rushing… It’s like Greek to me, and I get lost during her Ted Talk.

“Why are you giving us new requirements?” the blonde demands.

“Because football is a game of numbers. My girl, maybe the love of my life”—he places his hand over his heart—“will live and breathe numbers…for the whole offense.”

“That’s eleven players!” she replies.

He nods. “A complete analysis for the past three years will work.”

His announcement goes over like a lead balloon as the girls glower and give each other baleful looks, maybe fearing one of the others already has these strange stats in her back pocket?

He continues, “If that’s too much, I totally get it if you want to drop out. My loss.”

“We can do it!” Mila/Bambi and the redhead say.

A worried expression flits over his face, quickly hidden. “Are you sure? You’ll have to talk to coaches and assistants to get the numbers and then make an Excel spreadsheet. Are any of you a statistics major?”

They admit they aren’t.

“Well, that’s just too bad,” he murmurs. “This is going to be a lot of work. I don’t think you have the time to commit to it. You have classes and your own personal lives.” He sighs—extravagantly—his muscled chest wilting, his shoulders slumping as if they’ve just told him his puppy died. He appears so despondent, I half-expect him to wipe a tear from his eye.

My eyes narrow. He’s a faker.

“It sounds easy enough. I’m pre-med with a 4.0,” Mila/Bambi declares, and I stifle a sound of surprise. Jersey chasers for the win, I say! Beautiful, intelligent women can fawn over athletes all they want. I’m a believer in women following their own path, and if she’s in some sort of competition to win this guy’s favor, well, who am I to judge?

Once, I was like her, and I would have moved heaven and earth for a certain musician. I made myself available the moment he called, skipping classes to go to every gig within a four-hour drive of Magnolia. I treasured each moment we shared together, rolling them over in my heart like little jewels, certain he loved me. Newsflash: he didn’t. Not the way I needed. I wasn’t technically a “groupie” because he called me his girlfriend, but it was a very thin line. Part of his appeal was the music.

“I’m pre-law, and there’s no doubt I can do it,” quips the blonde with a mulish look on her face. “Though I personally hate math.”


Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance
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