We land at four, and by the time I get to my car, I’m dragging. I’m dressed in gray joggers and Converse, dreaming about a long nap. Maybe Nana has something left over from brunch.
I halt at my window, grimacing at my hair, which is still hanging down in my face though I yearn to put it up in a ponytail. “That’s what you get for letting him mark you,” I mutter under my breath to my Highlander as I click the fob.
“Does the car ever answer back?”
I turn around. “In my head.”
Dillon has stopped at my car. He tosses his duffle over his arm as Sawyer and Troy do a wave and head to the Escalade.
“Thank you for Friday. I needed that,” he says gruffly once they’re out of earshot. Heat fires in his irises as if remembering our night, and I barely hold myself back from launching my body at him, wrapping my legs around his waist, and kissing him. I want to soothe that helpless look he’s been wearing since the end of the game.
But… Thank you?
Okay, hook-up—it’s confirmed. I can deal. It’s what I wanted!
I hum a response and open the back door, throwing in my overnight bag.
“Serena…” A hesitant looks flashes over his face. He heaves out a breath, and before he can say anything else about what happened between us, I jump in.
“How’s your knee?”
His face clouds and he looks away. “Fine. I choked out there. I’m just not as good as Ryker.”
“From what I’ve read, he’s a lot to live up to.”
“I’m not him. I’ve tried, I have, but…” He rakes a hand through his hair and vulnerability flashes on his face.
“Owen isn’t going to steal your senior year.” At the press conference after the game, Coach Alvarez announced Dillon’s knee would be fine. “Coach said you’d start next week.”
“Trust me, he can change his mind at any moment, just like everyone else.”
“Like your dad?”
“Yeah.” He rolls his neck, a contemplative expression on his face as he studies me. “So? What’s up with you?”
“You’ve got your guard up. Big walls, lots of armor. You ashamed of me?”
Ah, the dropped hand. “You’re Dillon McQueen, superstar. Please.”
“Which you care nothing about.” Worry tugs at his mouth. “Look, there’s something we should talk about before we go further—”
“I’m starving, man,” calls Sawyer as he leans against Dillon’s car.
Dillon holds up a hand—Wait a minute—then takes a step toward me. His hand takes mine, and just when I think he might pull me to him and kiss me, he settles for brushing his fingers over the pulse on my wrist.
My body melts. Damn him for these romantic quirks. They’re havoc on my heart.
“What should we talk about?”
Uneasiness flashes in his eyes and he flicks them to Sawyer, then back to me. “You free tomorrow night?”
“Romy needs me more since she made the hip hop team. Homework never ends. Plus, her practices run late, and she isn’t allowed to drive yet. She is seventeen, but she wrecked my car, and honestly, she needs more lessons before I trust her—”
He drops his hand. “I’ve been chasing you, Serena. You want this?”
I know what he means by this. Sex. Just sex.
I swallow at the fear that swirls in my stomach.
Can I do this without getting burned?
I take a breath. “Alright. I need monogamy while we hook up. I won’t be one of a string of girls. Once you get bored or I do, we’ll end it.”
He frowns and pulls back from me. “Not acceptable.”
Cement drops on my chest, and I grapple to find the right words. All I can push out is, “I see.”
He lets out a rough noise and looks up at the sky, back at me. “No, you don’t see.”
“Dillon…” My phone pings with a series of incoming texts then rings, and I snatch it out of my purse. “What?” I snap.
“Serena, baby, where are you? I’m at your place.” Vane.
I sputter, “What? You can’t just show up…” I dart my eyes to Dillon, tempering my tone. I turn to the side and lower my voice. “Don’t do this to me.”
“Give me five minutes, baby, please. That’s all I’m asking. You owe me a conversation,” he implores. “I gave you a no-contest divorce. I did what you wanted. I haven’t seen your face in eighteen months. Am I asking so much?”
I curse. Vane can be a dog with a bone, especially if he’s driven all the way from Memphis. Just rip the Band-Aid off and get it over with.
“Who is it?” Dillon asks, frowning.
I shake my head at him and tell Vane, “I’ll give you five minutes, but not at my house. Nana…”—might find the shotgun and shoot you—“won’t like it.”
“Alright,” he says softly, hope in his voice. “The park, the one with the big trees. You remember it?”