The Good Luck Sister (Wildstone #1.5)(9)

But Dylan had been the only one of them to almost not make it back. “It’s not what you think,” he said. “Tilly’s not into me like that anymore. She’s still really angry.”

“You could change that by telling her what happened to you,” Ric said.

“No. The past is staying in the past,” he said firmly.

“You sure about that?” Rick asked. “That’s what you really want?”

Those were two very different questions.

Ric rose and came close, poking a finger into Dylan’s chest. “Look man, you’ve led with your head for years and it saved all our asses on more than one occasion. It also kept you sane. But you’re back now, we’re all back, and we’re safe. It’s time to try a different tactic to life than just surviving.”

Dylan looked at Penn, who nodded his agreement, and then Dylan let out a rough laugh. “Are we, three hardened assholes, seriously having a discussion on our feelings?”

“Sounds like it,” Ric said, still serious, still not playing. “But to be honest, there’s only one of us here who’s still burying his.”

“Hey, just because I haven’t been fucking my way through my contacts—”

“Because you haven’t let anything go deeper than fucking around,” Ric corrected.

“This is a ridiculous conversation and I’m done having it,” Dylan said and headed out.

Tilly had sent a group email to class. The Town of Wildstone’s tourist committee had put out a contest for the design of a local billboard meant to bring tourism traffic through town, and Tilly thought as a class they could win the design hands down. She wanted everyone to get a look at the actual billboard in person before they worked up their submission. Showing up today was entirely voluntary. His worry was that no one would show up and that it would hurt her feelings.

The billboard was located on a two lane windy highway road between the freeway and the ocean. He got there a few minutes early and was surprised to see students there. Getting out of his truck, he moved closer, counting heads. Literally everyone had come. He turned and found Tilly’s eyes on his.

He smiled.

She didn’t. But . . . she didn’t look as irritated at the sight of him as she had the day before yesterday. Progress. He listened as she enthusiastically told everyone her plan for the billboard.

“As you know, town’s looking for a design to attract tourists off the freeway and into downtown to bring attention to the local commerce. The art gallery is sponsoring the billboard,” she said.

“Hey,” one of her students said, eyes on his phone. “I just looked up the art gallery. You’re having a show there in a few weeks,” he said. “Cool.”

“I am,” Tilly said, cheeks flushed, looking happy.

It was a good look on her. He knew she wasn’t making much. She’d done a few shows and sold some of her art. She also put in weekly shifts at the café she and Quinn still owned.

And now here she was, off the clock, doing this for the love of it, and watching her, Dylan saw what an amazing teacher she really was.

“Everyone take out the sketch pads I asked you to bring,” she said. “Just off the cuff, show me what comes to mind for the billboard.”

She walked around, taking in what the students were drawing, smiling and encouraging each. She saved Dylan for last, stopping at his side and silently looking down at his sketch pad.

“What’s that?” she asked.

The only thing he could draw. “The schematic of the inside of the Bell’s engine compartment.”

Her eyes met his and there was a very slight hint of amusement in them. “Interesting design,” she said.

He had to smile. “You’re humoring me because I suck at drawing.”

“Yes.” She patted his hand and walked away. But . . . she’d touched him.

More progress.

Chapter 4

I said I was smart. I never said I had my shit together.

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

Ten years prior:

In hindsight, Tilly would’ve said she wasn’t good in an emergency of any sort. She tended to panic first, think later. And in a way, that’s just what she did at Dylan’s dad’s house. She panicked. Didn’t think. Just hit him over the head with her glass soda bottle.

He went down like a sack of rocks.

“Dylan,” she said on a sob as her legs finally gave way. “Oh my God.” Her vision wavered.

When she blinked the cobwebs clear, she was outside, Dylan tugging her down the street. A hundred yards from the house, he finally stopped.

Trembling all over, she sank to the wild grass. Dylan did too, on his knees in front of her, still bleeding and looking pissed.

“I told you to stay away,” he said grimly. “I told you I didn’t need you or your help.”

“But you did need me,” she said and reached out to touch the cut over his eye.

He flinched away. “How did you get here?”


“Christ,” he muttered and swiped his arm over his bleeding lip. “You’re going to have to go back the same way, and do it now in case anyone calls the cops.”

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