The Good Luck Sister (Wildstone #1.5)(12)

Then the song ended and the music changed to a fast song, and still they stood there, eyes locked. Finally, Dylan shook his head slightly as if to clear it and reached for her.

“I’ve gotta go,” she whispered, and pulling free, walked out into the cool night and gulped in some desperately needed air.

Chapter 5

How long are you supposed to go between gym visits? Six months? A year? Just trying to get it right the first time I go.

—from “The Mixed-Up Files of Tilly Adams’s Journal”

Ten years prior:

It’d been days since Tilly had gone to Dylan’s dad’s house and she hadn’t heard from him until he finally sent her a text to meet him at the park.

Tilly climbed out her window and found him, a lone dark shadow sitting on a swing, his foot down and anchoring him to the sand beneath.

Feeling shaky with relief, Tilly sat next to him. She wanted to soak him up, but instead mirrored his position, head tipped back, staring at the stars.

“Tilly . . .” He blew out a sigh and she heard him shift and felt the weight of his gaze. She didn’t look. She was very busy counting the stars.

“Tilly,” he said again, voice low. Tense. Anguished. “I’m sorry.”

Her heart squeezed. Dammit.

“I hate that you saw me like that,” he said roughly. “I hate . . .” He paused and when he spoke, the words sounded like he had to drag them over shards of glass. “I hate that you know what my life’s like.”

Now her heart seemed swollen, unable to fit in her rib cage, and she turned to him, reaching out for his hand.

He hesitated and then took it in his bigger, callused one.

“And I hate it for you,” she whispered.

They sat like that for a long time, just watching the sky.

Dylan woke up before the crack of dawn the next morning. Actually, that was inaccurate. You couldn’t wake up if you hadn’t slept. Instead, he’d spent a good amount of the dark hours reliving the kiss he’d laid on Tilly. He’d actually forgotten how explosive their chemistry was.

Good to know that some things never changed.

But the darker the night got, the darker his thoughts got as well. Their chemistry hadn’t changed, but he had. Maybe too much.

Giving up on sleep, he got out of bed. Growing up, he’d gotten pretty good at functioning on low to no sleep, a skill he’d further honed in the military. It’d been a way of life for a long time.

Funny how fast a guy could get accustomed to relative safety and not having to spend every living waking moment worried about watching your own six.

He showered to clear his head and left, knowing he was way too early for his first flight. But he had a pit stop to make. And thanks to an angry spring storm, he was going to do it in the pouring rain.

He parked in the cemetery lot, noting that he was the only one there as he wound his way in the pouring rain through the graveyard.

As he’d never been here before, it took him forty-five minutes to find the right grave, and by the time he did, water ran off him in rivulets. He squatted in front of the gravestone and paused. “Sorry, I haven’t been.” He shook his head. “No, scratch that. That was a lie. I’m not sorry. I intended to never come, but apparently you’re still haunting me.” He took in a deep breath, let it out. “You were an asshole, Dad. But you’re dead and you can’t shape my life anymore. And you know what else? I forgive you, you sorry sack of shit. I forgive you.”

And with that, he rose to his full height and walked away, not feeling any lighter for it.

He skipped class and walked into the airport, his wet shoes squeaking with every step, and both Penn and Ric stood up from behind the front desk and began clapping.

Dylan stared at them. “Are you guys still drunk?”

“No,” Ric said. “We’re clapping because that was some kiss you laid on Tilly last night. Do you kiss all of our business associates that way? Because I’ve gotta admit, I’m feeling left out.”

Dylan flipped him off and headed to the Bell 206. Of course the idiots followed.

“You guys getting back together?” Penn asked.

Dylan thought of how Tilly had walked away last night. “No.”

“Why not?”

“No questions before caffeine,” Dylan said.

Penn went to the corner where they had a coffeepot for clients, poured a cup, and brought it to Dylan. “You still haven’t told her why you left town?”

“No, he didn’t.”

They all whipped around at the sound of Tilly’s voice. Penn had the good grace to look slightly embarrassed. Ric merely poured another cup of coffee. This one he added milk and sugar to, and brought over to Tilly.

She gave him a long look, rolled her eyes, and then took it and sipped. “Thank you.” Then she looked at Dylan. “Don’t let me stop you. Please, continue your conversation.”

“We were done,” Dylan said.

“Were you? Because it seems to me like maybe you were about to answer a question that Penn asked you.”

“I don’t think so,” Penn said, trying to look innocent, Dylan’s best friend to the end.

But Tilly wasn’t buying the bullshit Penn was selling. She didn’t take her eyes off Dylan. She wanted answers, that much was clear.

Jill Shalvis's Books