“On the plane, when you walked past him, I thought I heard some talk…”
My attention sharpens. “What talk?”
He shrugs. “It’s just that you’re new and don’t understand how rowdy players can get. In the past they took bets, usually offense versus defense.”
“I remember something like that…they had a trophy and maybe a scoreboard?” It’s a distant memory.
He nods. “They live and die by their traditions. When I played basketball, we did our own things.”
“You think there’s a bet about me?”
“I heard Troy ask Dillon about a challenge and you’d just talked to him—”
“And you think they meant me?” My tone is sharp, and he shrugs.
“I’m sure I was mistaken. Besides, you’re smart enough to avoid a guy like him.”
He isn’t a bad person. Plus, Dillon wouldn’t set me up as part of some contest, like the Theta thing.
“Serena! Serena!” comes two girly voices.
I look over Neil’s shoulders as Chantal and Bambi waltz through the lobby. Decked out in tight jeans, cropped jerseys, styled hair, and full makeup, they look gorgeous. Tiger stickers adorn their cheeks, blue and orange pom-poms in their hands.
“Who are they?” Neil asks, caught in their thrall.
“My sisters,” I murmur. “Didn’t know I had them until recently.” I smile at his confusion. “Thetas. They like me for some reason.”
“We adore you!” calls Chantal, overhearing my comment. They smother me in hugs and squeals.
I rear back, some of the anxiousness Neil’s words caused disappearing. I do a quick round of introductions while he wanders off to arrange an Uber for all of us.
They tell me about the seven-hour drive. “Thank God Ashley rode in a different car,” Bambi grouses. “If I hear her playlist for her and Dillon one more time, I will shoot myself.”
“So, Troy? What happened after I left Caddy’s?” I’ve missed talking to her this week.
She flips a strand of blonde hair over her shoulder. “He’s being weird.”
“But…” I arch my brows.
“Maybe I’ll give him another go.” She shrugs.
I elbow Bambi. “And Sawyer?”
A blush steals up her face. “Um, about that. I asked him to the Fall Ball, so…”
“What she means is…Ashley wins the contest by default,” Chantal says tersely. “She’s babbling to anyone who’ll listen about her big night with Dillon. It’s all over Insta. Wouldn’t be surprised if she took an ad out in your paper.” She gives me an appraising glance. “What’s wrong?”
I’m picturing Ashley in a gorgeous floor-length dress and Dillon in a tux at the formal. They’re dancing, and he’s holding her, her curves against his…
My hands tighten.
“What the heck is that on your neck?” interrupts Bambi. She leans in, pulling at the silky tie thingy near the hollow of my throat. “Well, well, it’s a big, juicy hickey. Call the paramedics, Chantal. Our girl’s been busy!” She pokes me. “You need a blood transfusion?”
“Oh, a love bite! Show me! Move, I can’t see, Bam,” Chantal edges in, elbowing Bambi as they inspect the side of my neck.
“Keep it down,” I mutter as I eye Neil.
Did he see it? Is that why he asked about Dillon?
Inwardly, I groan. Have to hide it from Romy…
“I dabbed makeup on it for fifteen minutes,” I say ruefully.
They blink down at me.
I huff. “It’s just a little bruise!”
“Maybe put some ice on it,” Chantal says on a snicker.
“Was it WBBJ guy?” Bambi whispers, eyeing Neil a few feet away. “He’s cute, like an accountant. Or a lawyer. Maybe a professor. I like them with less tweed and more brawn, but to each their own—”
“Was it some guy from the hotel bar? That’s a fantasy of mine,” Chantal muses.
I retie my shirt, adjusting the front of my blouse. “No!”
“So who?” Chantal presses as she reaches behind me.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Taking your hair down. The up-do is cute, but your necktie is slipping and everyone’ll see it. Your hair needs to be down. It’s so gorgeous.”
“It was Dillon,” Bambi says, her eyes sharp. “He was all over you at Caddy’s.”
I touch the dandelion under my blouse. “No.”
“Liar!” she calls, and I shush her.
“Stop yelling. Fine, fine, it was, but you can’t tell anyone. It was a…”
“One-time thing?” Chantal finishes.
Her mouth twists. “Oh, honey, don’t…” She trails off, looking to Bambi for support.
Bambi exhales, pink lips pursed. “He’s a slippery one. Keep your heart locked away, feel me?”
“Did you do the deed?” Chantal asks. “Was he huge? He looks huge.”
“Was it amazing?” Bambi gushes.
It was. “No comment.”
“Meanie,” she chirps.
I circle back to what Neil mentioned. “Have either of you heard about the guys doing bets?”
They frown in sync, and Chantal responds, “There used to be bets until Ryker got involved with a girl over one and it blew up in his face. He had to grovel his way back into her good graces. Why? Want me to investigate?” Her eyes narrow. “I will kill Dillon McQueen if they’ve brought that tradition back.”