Page 83 of I Promise You

Something rich and complicated flares to life. Oh, it’s always been there, but now I can barely breath. The air itself sizzles, and my chest hitches. My soul, my heart, the very essence of me… It’s connected to her, a fragile string that’s never been broken, not even by three years.

I said make love. “Are you freaking out?” I’m tense and swallow.

A gust of air comes from her. “This is happening fast.”

“You want to run from us?” Please don’t.

She shuts her eyes, then opens them. “Kiss me.”

I kiss her. Again and again, lingering, drugging kisses, my hand in her hair, hers in mine. We make love in the meadow where we met and it feels like nothing in the world could ever come between us.25See you tonight is the text that comes from Dillon as I scurry around the bedroom two weeks later. In a fit of annoyance, I toss the phone on my bed and dart for my closet. Torn between his team’s superstition and me, he dreads the Fall Ball with Ashley, but the night is here, and there’s a knot of anxiety in my gut. I keep reminding myself that this is a commitment he agreed to in May before I even met him. So why am I stomping around my apartment?

My head goes back to last night when he cooked chili for me and Romy and Nana. Later, after we were alone, he wanted to make sure I was okay with the dance. Trying to be mature, I told him I was.

The university catering service asked me to work the formal, and I can’t turn down the extra money. Snatching my black skirt and a white button-up shirt out of my closet, I dress. After getting my hair up in a knot and makeup on my face, I slide my boots onto my feet.

My reflection in the mirror is harried. I shut my eyes and remember the meadow, the tender way he touched me, with reverence, as if every single caress counted. The deeper he sinks into my heart, the more I think about him, the more I need him, the more I…

My eyes fly open. Love him.

My heart drops.

I love his spontaneity, his stark masculinity, the way he understands grief. My hands cling to the sink, deep breaths coming from my chest. My eyes close. He’s dug deep roots in my soul little by little. Like the dandelion, he grew in hard soil, finding the path to my heart.

Romy bounces into my room wearing a black skirt and a white polo. The only positive is I begged Zena to add Romy to the list of servers.

“I’m ready for my first catering job!” Her hair swings around her shoulders. “Mo money, mo money!”

I push aside thoughts of Dillon. “Want me to put your hair up?”

She scrunches her nose. “Can’t I wear it down?”

“Do sorority girls want to find hair in their chicken?”

She gags.

“Exactly. Come in the bathroom.”

My phone rings and I snatch it up. “What?”

“Dandelion.” Dillon’s deep tone washes over me. Normally the nickname makes me melt, but now… “You didn’t reply to my text.”

“I’m getting ready. Aren’t you? Don’t you have to go pick up your date?” I check the clock and see he should already be on his way.

There’s a long silence on the other side. “It’s part of the tradition, yes. We’re riding with Sawyer and Troy. They’re waiting on me now.” He pauses, lowering his voice. “You okay?”

“Super. Got to go. See you soon.” I click off before he can reply and glare at my cell.

Romy arches her brow. “Trouble?”

I don’t reply as we head to the bathroom. I busy myself brushing her hair and pulling it up in a high ponytail.

Her hand grabs mine. “Hey. Stop whatever you’re thinking. Dillon isn’t going to do anything with that girl.”

I pause, meeting her gaze in the mirror, then stare at myself. My makeup is heavier than usual, bronze eyeshadow, my lashes long and thick, but nothing can hide the fear in my eyes. It’s not about Ashley entirely. It’s just… Falling in love with a man as charismatic as Dillon wasn’t part of my plan.

“Trust your choices,” Romy adds.

“And him?”

Her small shoulders shrug. “Has he done anything to make you think you can’t?”

Not yet, a voice says in my head.The sounds of a DJ spinning music drifts into the kitchen as I fill a tea pitcher and hand it off to a runner. So far I’ve managed to hide out in the back and help with prep. No way am I stepping out there to see them together. Anger simmers—at her, at him, at the team, at myself for being annoyed. This should be a no brainer. I shouldn’t be jealous over this. This night is a job to him.

Like those groupies were to Vane?

Tags: Ilsa Madden-Mills Romance