Troy walks up from the bar with a drink and plops down next to Chantal. He edges closer to her, and she gives him a cool look but doesn’t move away.
“Why are you wearing all black?” Chantal asks him. “Where’s your cowboy hat? You always wear it out.”
“I left it.” He frowns and sits straighter, smoothing down his dark shirt. He touches his hair then drops his hand. “Um…” His throat bobs and he darts his eyes around the room. “Just… What’s wrong with my shirt?”
She sniffs. “Nothing.”
He picks up his beer and takes a long swig.
I smirk at the memory of Dillon showing up at the bar earlier, elbowing his way through the frat boys. He smiled at them tightly, nodding at their pats of congrats on the games, then threw his arm around me, pulled me close, and brushed his lips over mine—right there in front of everyone. Claiming me! He even let it drop that I was there with him. I glared at him, but he looked so damn pleased when the guys left abruptly that I could only shake my head. I’ve softened since we’ve been sitting here. It’s clear he doesn’t want Ashley. The man keeps looking at me.
I refocus on Sawyer as he explains how we’re going to play pool with three players. “…pool game we made up one night, a version of Cutthroat, but easier. We call it Crazy Three. Since you’re new, you’ll go first, Serena, and break. If you hit a low ball, 1 through 5, those are yours and what you want to pocket. You don’t have to call them unless you want to.”
“It’s been a while since I played,” I say evasively.
Ashley, who’s sitting across from us, smirks. “I can call them,” she gloats. “We have a table at the sorority house.”
Bambi says with a sigh, “Ashley’s good.”
Sawyer tugs on Bambi’s hair. “I’ve seen you play—you’re not bad.”
She blushes, dipping her face.
He continues, “If you hit a ball from 6 to 10, you’re medium, if you hit 11 to 15, you’re high. Easy peasy. We’ll play three games. Obviously, the first player to get her balls in wins that round.”
“Alright,” I say.
“Let’s get this over with,” Ashley says with a triumphant expression as she stands.
I’m muttering under my breath as we approach the pool tables. Dillon gets me a cue stick and rubs the chalk over it then puts it in my hands. “You need any last-minute tips?” he murmurs, his gaze searching mine.
“Yeah—how did I get myself involved in this?”
“I know it crawls all over you to play for me, but if we don’t participate, it might screw with our season. Some of the guys get weird about traditions.” A hesitant look settles on his face. “Sawyer, he loves it, and he’s…” His words trail off.
“Important to you?”
He gives me a slow nod. “Blaze and Ryker graduated. Sawyer is my family now.” He winces. “Plus, I can be a little superstitious myself.”
Realization clicks. “Oh my…the bonfire…and you and I…” I gape at him. “No, you can’t believe that Wiccan thing. You do! It’s right there on your face! You think we’re like, fated?”
“You have any Magnolia witches in your family tree?”
“Can’t you have a good time? Just for an hour or so?” His fingers brush over my cheek. “You’re the one I want, Serena.”
My eyes fly to his. Yeah? Until he gets me, then moves on?
And why is that bad? a voice in my head replies. You don’t want a relationship.
“If you’re done flirting, come break the balls,” Ashley’s acid tone says.
Dillon ignores her and whispers in my ear, “Since the moment you walked in, I’ve wanted to kiss you.”
“You did. At the bar.”
“That wasn’t a real kiss. I just marked my territory.”
“Like a wolf,” Sawyer murmurs from behind Dillon.
“Just you, Serena,” he says for my ears only. “I promise.”
I tense. “Promises, promises.”
“Fine. You want to leave? We can make up some excuse, walk out that door, and drive to your place, and I’ll show you what’s been going through my mind since you walked in.”
A shiver races over me. “No, Dillon, I’d show you what I want.”
His chest rises. “Damn.”
“Let the girl go,” Sawyer murmurs. “The rest of us are waiting.”
“Aw, they look so adorable together, don’t they?” comes Bambi’s voice as she addresses the group. “Serena and Dillon. They need one of those combo names. Dillrena?”
Chantal huffs. “Serdilla is better. Put the woman first.”
“I put women first,” Troy quips. “Isn’t that right, Chantal?” There’s a sly tone to his question and I can’t hear her muttered response, but it sounded something like Just a hook-up.
I can’t see any of their faces, but I smile, something easing in my chest. The truth is, despite Ashley’s animosity, I’ve missed hanging with friends. I needed a night out without helping Romy with her homework or paying bills.