Rush me, p.10
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       Rush Me, p.10

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
Page 10

  Nerves and unwanted lust collided sharply to form snarkier words then I’d intended. “You look like a shampoo commercial. ” I wished that in the middle of a crisis I didn’t notice how good he looked in his black-and-crimson Leopards jacket and well-worn jeans. I determinedly kept myself from scoping out how well-worn they were.

  He just grinned. “Nah, I only do cars. Are you going somewhere?”

  He did car commercials? He’d probably never worried about money in his life. “I’m trying to. ” I redirected my anger at him since the MTA didn’t seem to care. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be practicing or something?”

  His expression hardened and he spoke caustically, as though I’d insulted him. “Thanks. We just finished, and we’ll do better this week, okay?” When I stared at him blankly, he sighed. “Don’t suppose you watched?”

  “I was probably busy. . . washing my hair. ”

  He shook his head, and his lips curved in an exasperated, offended smile, the kind that said he needed to either smile or punch me. “Well. Tough break about the subway. Good luck. ”

  I frowned at him. “Wait. Um. Aren’t you going to offer me a ride?”

  He smirked, reaching up to ruffle his hair. I tried not to stare at his muscled arm. I’d never cared this much about arms before. “I don’t think so. ”

  I jerked my attention back to his face. But he had a speedy form of transportation that snuck through traffic! And he was my only chance of making it to Trophy Press. “Please? You have to. ”

  “Actually, I don’t. ”

  “This is important! I have a job interview downtown. ”

  He shrugged. “That’s too bad, ’cause I live just a few blocks uptown and that’s where I’m headed. Besides, what would I get out of it?”

  My eyes narrowed. “It could be your apology for being such a nasty jerk the other night. ”

  He laughed. “‘A nasty jerk?’ You were in way better form the first time we met. ”

  My cheeks warmed. “I might have made some—insulting—comments, but you were the one who accused me of trying to lure in one of your friends—” I stopped and took a deep breath. “Look, are you going to give me a ride or not?”

  He pursed up his lips like he was considering it—forcing me, totally against my will, to stare at his mouth—and then gave a little shake of his head. “Not. ”

  My mouth dropped. “Seriously? What, do you want me to pay you or something?” I started digging in my purse for my wallet.

  His laugh stopped me, bright with hard mirth. “I’m sorry, aren’t you on your way to a job interview?”

  My cheeks burned hotter. “I’m not broke. ”

  “Right, no, of course not. What’s it you do again? Publishing? And that’s such a booming industry. Bet you make a lot of money in that one. ”

  My fists curled up. Who did he think he was, to mock me about what I did? After all, what was so great about football? “Fine,” I snapped. “I don’t need the help of a dumb jock anyways. ” I started striding away, blinking hard. How the hell was I supposed to get there, now? I could call and let Trophy Press know I’d be late, or need to reschedule, but first impressions weren’t easy to shake, and late was late.

  The motorcycle purred up next to me again. “Oh, fine. I’ll give you a ride. ”

  Relief smothered my pride, and I could breathe again. He must be a good person deep down. “Thank you. ” I took a step toward him.

  And then I stopped, feeling the restriction of my tight pencil skirt across my legs, and looking down at it in horror.

  “Oh, that’s right. ” His voice was like smoke. “Your legs are stuck together. ” His smile grew broad and smug. “That’s what happens when you’re too uptight. ”

  Fury boiled up in me. He had seen immediately that I couldn’t exactly ride a motorcycle like this. I glared at him. “Too bad your lips aren’t stuck together. ”

  He laughed and saluted. “Touché. But, seeing how you’re not really dressed for riding, I better get going. ”

  “Wait,” I snapped, and he raised his brows as I considered my skirt. I could scrunch it up around my waist, but then it would get wrinkled and folded, ruining my pristine interviewee appearance.

  Of course, I had one other option. I was wearing tights.

  The voice of fashion set up shop on my left shoulder. Tights aren’t pants. And these tights aren’t even leggings, they’re just barely opaque.

  Practicality took the opposing shoulder. Plenty of people still wear tights as pants.

  You’re a failure, the inner voice whispered.

  “Sorry, Rach,” Ryan drawled. “Best of luck getting to that interview. ”

  Damn that inner voice and the voice of fashion, too. “I said, wait,” I repeated, and then pushed out the three buttons on my skirt. “I’m coming with you. ”

  His shock turned to delight at my discomfort as I stepped out of my skirt. My cheeks flamed, even though it wasn’t difficult to ignore the side eyes coming this way. After all, this was New York. We’re brilliant at not seeing other people.

  Ryan, on the other hand, watched without blinking while I carefully rolled my skirt up and placed it in my purse. He shook his head, grinning as his brows formed a disbelieving tent. “You’re insane. ” He stared at my thighs—I hoped—as he got off his bike and opened up the attached trunk. “Completely mad. ”

  “I have an interview. ”

  “Sure, sweetheart. Whatever helps you sleep at night. ”

  Jerk. I snatched the helmet he offered and pulled it over my head. I’d briefly dated an Italian boy during my junior semester abroad, and we’d blissfully zoomed around Rome on his scooter for two months. Then, of course, I freaked out by how very fast he wanted to go, and I sort of ran away. Still, he’d taught me the art of not crushing my ears under a full-face fiberglass bucket.

  I tossed my purse in the trunk, and then threw my stockinged leg over the bike. Ryan lectured as I did, irritatingly amused. “Now, don’t be shy. You need to hold onto me, and tighter is better—”

  I wrapped my arms around his stomach, sliding my hands over his jacket until they hugged the other side of his torso. My legs pushed forward until they pressed snugly against his, and after a moment’s hesitation, I flattened my breasts against his broad, corded back. I heard a harsh intake of breath, and a shudder ran through him. I smiled against his back. “I take it you’ve ridden a bike before?”

  I felt a little smug. “I had an Italian boyfriend. ”

  “Course you did. ” He revved the bike. “I bet he was just your type. Dark and handsome—took you to art museums. Maybe the opera. ”

  “Brought me bouquets and diamond necklaces, too. ”

  We bickered all the way to my interview. That was fine with me. It kept me from concentrating on how Ryan’s abs were warm and carved under my hands. He smelled like cedar and faint male musk, and his back was broad enough to block out the wind. And every part of me that touched him. . . wanted.

  I let out a tiny sigh. Fantastic. I was officially in lust with a guy I despised.

  When he stopped a block away and a street over from Trophy Press, I reluctantly peeled my body away from him, and drew off the helmet. “Thanks. ” I swapped out the helmet for my purse, and shimmied back into my skirt.

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