And what do I think? I’m at a crossroads. One way is to run far away; the other is to sink into his arms and say Put the D in me, football player.
I gape at the camo pants and long-sleeved black shirt he’s wearing. “Did Nana talk you into taking her squirrel hunting? It’s not in season, she’s terrifying with a gun, and squirrels are adorable. Did she promise you waffles?”
“Nah, I only hunt dangerous game, and you’re part of it. Let’s go.” He pins me with stormy eyes, and I feel like one of those antelopes on the nature channel when she realizes the tiger has her in his sights.
“It’s getting dark!”
“Goofball. You want to get to know me better for your article, and I want to spend time with you. I don’t see a problem.”
He wants to spend time with me. The statement makes me gooey inside. Resist!
I dust the dirt off my gloves. “I emailed you questions.”
“Did you?” He grins. “I’ll get around to those. Face-to-face is best. Put on some jeans and a dark sweatshirt, and you’ll see a side of me you’ve never met.”
“It’s eighty degrees—the last thing I want to wear is hot clothes.”
“We’ll strip them off later. You got any champagne?”
“Hurry, we’re late. I’ll help you pick out some clothes so you won’t get hurt.” He’s already stalking away and heading up to my apartment.
“Hurt?” I call out after him.
He walks up my steps. “You look sexy in those shorts, but you can’t wear them. Come on.”
Ugh, the arrogance of him… So why am I smiling back at him?
I toss down my gloves and pruning tools as I glare back at the Bermuda. “We shall battle again soon, my friend.”
I find him in my closet, face intent as he moves hangers around. He pulls out an old long-sleeved black shirt, frowns at the Four Dragons logo on the front, and shoves it back on the rack. “Why do you still keep his shirts?”
“They’re just shirts.” I forgot that one was even there.
“When I hear ‘Sweet Serena’, I want to hit something.”
“He hurt you. This!” He holds up a black sweatshirt and waves it at me. He also finds a pair of black skinny jeans.
“Okay, cool, just make yourself at home,” I say dryly. “My panty drawer is the top one. Help yourself—hey! I was being sarcastic!” I shout as he darts over and pulls it open. Oh, it’s like this, huh? I jump on his back and wrap my arms around his neck, and he starts, surprised, then laughs as he grabs a black lace thong.
“Score!” He tosses me back and I crash down on my bed. He turns and twirls the panties for a moment then stuffs them in the front pocket of his jeans.
I shake my head. “I swear, if you don’t give those back…”
“Nope. Mine. Get dressed, please. We have things to annihilate.” He whistles and heads out to the den.
Five minutes later, I find myself bemused as I ride in his vehicle down a one-lane gravel lane outside of town. We’re in deep farm country with no houses in sight. I’ve asked him questions about what is going on, but the man is a devil…
“Just so you know, I’m not killing anything. Not even a mouse.”
“We won’t be killing anything today. Just tagging.”
Oh, the black clothes… “Paintball.” Dread hits me like a brick wall. “Dillon, come on. I’ll embarrass you.”
“Nah.” He takes his eyes off the road to give me a searching look. “Never.”
“It’s about time,” Sawyer calls out a few minutes later as we park at a clearing where several players stand around. We get out of the Escalade.
“Pool Shark!” Sawyer says when he sees me. “I have a killer idea. How about you participating in some skee-ball next week with the girls—”
I put my hands on my hips. “Pool was a one-off.”
“You’re late and you have all the equipment,” Troy snips to Dillon as he jogs up. “We haven’t won in three years. This time, we almost lost by forfeit.” He flicks his eyes to me, surprised. “You brought a girl.”
“Serena,” I reply, arching a brow. “Right here.”
He blinks. “I know. You’re just the first girl to ever play with us.”
“Cool your jets, Texas. Had to pick up our best player,” Dillon says.
I snort. “I’m here for comedic relief.”
Dillon hands out equipment to our team—helmets, guns, vests—and Troy hands out green glow sticks for our necks. I eye the other team, who are also dressed in camo and black. Their leader passes out red glow sticks. Okay, green versus red. There are two teams. I can do this.
“Why do we need vests?” I ask.
“Cause it’s gonna hurt like a bitch when you get hit,” Sawyer tells me. “Suit up.”
“Huddle!” Dillon yells, and we group around him. My vest feels restrictive and I tug at it while he looks at us individually, his eyes steely. Authority and confidence color his words. This is the way he captains his team, I think.