Page 51 of I Promise You

“Watch and learn, pretty boy.” With a last look at Dillon, I duck under his arms and head their way.

Chantal gives me a fist bump. “Clean the floor with her, sister.” She nods her head at Ashley, and I smile.I barely win the first game, and Ashley destroys me on the second.

Bambi played poorly in both rounds, not one ball making it to a pocket. Declaring herself out, she sashays over to the others at the table and settles next to Sawyer. His arm goes around her shoulders and his eyes soften.

Well, well, well.

Dillon leans against the wall, not saying much. A few girls have ambled over, soft laughter and teasing comments, but he’s brushed them off, his eyes coming back to me.

Time to focus.

Sawyer tweaked the rules since Bambi is out, and it’s now an 8-ball game.

Ashley breaks, leaning over in her red mini skirt, her shot sure and true, snapping the 9 into the top right pocket. “Stripes,” she calls, giving me a little smile. She hits another one in, causing one of the solids to go in as well.

“Oh, too bad,” I say, positioning myself for my shot. “Move over—you’re in my way,” I chirp. “In fact, take a seat and stop hovering.”

She huffs and walks away.

Lining up with the cue, I’ve got a possible shot to the right pocket, and another one, maybe getting two into the left bottom, but…

Bending my back over on the long side of the table, I aim the cue—just like someone taught me—and make the harder shot. Both solids zip in. I move to the other side, line up the 3, and hit it in the right pocket.

“Whoa,” Sawyer says, perking up.

I walk to the other side, eyeing the table. I want to avoid the 8 ball, and it’s next to the solid by the bottom left. It’s going to be tight. I lean in, stroke the cue, aim, and shoot. The solid clunks in.

“Shark. She played us,” Dillon muses. “Why am I not surprised?”

“Not fair,” Ashley says. “You aren’t calling them.”

I don’t even look at her. I snap another solid in, an easier one. “They go where I want them to go.”

“Who taught you?” Bambi asks, jumping up to linger by the table.

“I hung out in a lot of bars during my undergrad. Most of them out of town.” I played pool while the band set up, sometimes while they sang, and always while they packed up. Vane showed me tricks when he had time, his arms wrapped around me as he explained how to play. The memory doesn’t cut as deep as usual, just a soft slice, but I miss my next shot, knocking Ashley’s ball in. I grimace.

“You insinuated you were terrible,” Ashley says as she elbows me out of the way, calls her shot, and sinks one of hers.

“I’ve been known to play dirty,” I murmur.

She scratches on the next one and stamps her foot.

“Finish her up,” Chantal calls to me as she raises her glass, another tequila.

“Be sweet, ya’ll,” comes from Bambi. “Remember we’re sisters.”

Ashley tosses her hair and levels me with a narrow-eyed look as she leans over to whisper only for my ears. “Even if you win, you won’t be part of our other games, and one way or another, he’ll be mine.” Green eyes scan over me. “Dillon gets tired of his toys fast, and you’re not any different. I’ve been around him. I know exactly what he wants.”

I smile at her, shaking my head. If that’s the best she can do… Whatever. I have fond memories of my sorority sisters, supporting them and straightening their crowns, but some women don’t get it. They prefer to tear others down. I harness my annoyance and stuff it down. Stooping to her level does no good.

“I’m teaching Romy to not be like you,” I say instead.

“Who’s Romy?”

No one you’ll ever meet. I brush past her, aim my cue, stroke the wood, and slam in the next solid. Another goes in. Satisfaction settles in my gut. Vane, you dick, you were good for something.

“For the win, the 8 ball in the top right pocket,” I say.

The air crackles and I glance over at a tense Dillon then look away. Moving to the other side, I aim, shoot, and the 8 ball flies down the table, spins in the pocket, comes out for a second, then drops in.

“Oh my God, that was awesome!” comes from a squealing Bambi. She rushes me and smothers me in a hug.

Chantal whoops and slaps me on the ass, and I shriek.

Sawyer ambles over. “So, what do you want?”

“A trophy and a million dollars,” I declare.

“More tequila?” Chantal inquires. “Ohhh, ask for his shirt. It’s his lucky one.”

Dillon grimaces, the look on his face saying, I’m sorry this is beneath you.

I’m cool, I am, and I’ve had a blast. Beating Ashley trumps the particulars of the contest.

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance