Rush me, p.21
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       Rush Me, p.21

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
Page 21

  Ryan stared at me like a lion had reared up when he was expecting a kitten. “What’s wrong with you?”

  “I don’t have a fucking clue, okay? But obviously something, otherwise why would I jump in bed with a guy I don’t even like that much who has a girlfriend? God!” I drew my knees up and buried my face in them. “Haven’t you ever regretted sleeping with someone?”

  There was a moment of silence.

  “Okay. ” Ryan lowered himself into the seat next to me. “You know what this calls for?”

  “No. ” I spoke grumpily to my knees. I’d humiliated myself, I was tired, and my head and stomach hurt. It made me petulant.

  “It calls for Larry’s Diner. ”

  “That’s a dumb name. ”

  “Doesn’t matter. ” Ryan looked amused. “It will make you feel better. ”

  “No,” I said again, quite definitely. “Nothing will ever make me feel better again. ”

  “Uh-huh. Okay, I have your phone with me. Me and your phone are going to Larry’s now. Are you coming?”

  “Don’t treat me like a child. ” I snapped my head up. “Ugh. Do you have any ibuprofen?”

  Ryan smiled temptingly. “Larry does. ”

  “Fine. ” I stood shakily. It took a lot more effort to get up than it had to sit down. “Let’s go to Larry’s. ”

  Chapter Nine

  Larry’s was a small, packed diner with red Formica tabletops, olive-green booths and servers that were, without a doubt, of Eva’s ilk. Even at one o’clock on a Monday afternoon, half the booths were crowded with a mix of tourist families, parents with young children, and high school skippers.

  Customers ordered at the counter, so we lined up there, behind a huge glass display of muffins and cakes. I craned my head back to view the numbered entrees, which all seemed to be variations on carbs and protein, with sugar and fat thrown in for good measure.

  “This is hangover food. ” I stared at the pictures of plates stacked high with pancakes, eggs and toast, bacon and hash browns.

  Ryan looked confused. “You are hung-over, aren’t you?”

  I scratched my head, rumpling my already messy hair. “Maybe. ” In fact, I could feel myself entering Stage Two of hung-overness. Stage One was grouchy and ill and pissed off. Stage Two was a lot sleepier.

  Ryan stepped up to the counter. “Two number fives, please. ”

  “I don’t want number five. I want the special. ”

  Ryan looked up at the words scratched in pink chalk. “Cocoa pancakes with strawberries covered with chocolate sauce and whipped cream?’” He shook his head in disgust. “You are such a girl. ”

  “I am a girl. ” I almost stomped my foot. “So? And I’d like a chocolate milkshake, too, please. ”

  Ryan sighed and handed the girl a twenty. “Come on. ” He put an arm around me and tried to propel me toward a small booth. “Let’s sit down. ”

  “You can’t always pay for everything!” I instantly regretted my shrill tone as vibrations echoed through my head. I hardly protested as he pushed me down on the cracked plastic cushions.

  “Haven’t we gone over this before?” Ryan sounded terribly long-suffering from his side of the booth. “I can. Because you are poor, and I not. ”

  I aimed a sneaky glance his way. “Are you really a millionaire?”

  “Don’t you think it’s pushing it to ask me my income?’

  “I thought we’d already established we’re allowed to be rude to each other. Where’d all the money come from?”

  “Jesus!” he exclaimed, thudding his head back against the wooden backboard topping the booth. “I’ve won the Heisman and MVP. I’ve taken my team to the Super Bowl. Why is this concept so hard for you to grasp?”

  I supposed that meant he was worth his multi-million dollar contract. And maybe he did endorsements. “Did you say you did commercials?”

  He tilted his head. “Yeah, like a week or two ago. ”

  “Give me your phone. ”


  “Your phone. ” I stretched my hand across the table. “You’re a millionaire, so you have a smartphone, right?”

  “No. ”

  I lunged for his jacket, yanking it across the table and toppling the ketchup and mustard. Ryan tried to grab it back. “What are you doing? What is wrong with you?” I scrambled through the pockets until I found what I was looking for: a sleek, black cell with a screen the size of my hand.


  “Give that back. ” Ryan glared at me. “Rachael. You’re acting like a five year old. ”

  I pulled up the browser and typed in “Ryan Carter car commercial. ”

  “Give that back!” He half fell on the table as he lunged across it.

  I raised my brows. “Who’s acting like a five year old?”

  Letting out a frustrated sigh and rolling his eyes upward theatrically, he came over to my side of the booth. When I held the cell to the opposite side, he slid into the booth next to me.

  “Personal bubble,” I reminded him, clicking on the video and waiting for it to load. “Come any closer and I’ll yell ‘Ryan Carter’s right here!’ and that family filled with like five twelve-year-old boys is going to storm over and you’ll never be safe. Oh, look, it’s loaded. ”

  Ryan groaned.

  A shiny, sleek car zoomed around corners, while slow-motion shots of Ryan throwing passes were interchanged with a sickeningly adorable home video of him running around in an overlarge jersey and shaggy hair.

  “Oh my God, you’re adorable. What happened?”

  “I am? Oh. Yeah. Pfft. I’m still adorable. ”

  He was too surprised. Clearly, he’d been worried I’d watch a different commercial, so I clicked the next link down.

  My lips parted in shock. Here, he wore a three piece tuxedo, slid around in the same fancy car to clubs, and was surrounded by a bevy of longhaired women with very short dresses. He looked very, very good. “This is disgusting!”

  He slumped in defeat. “You sound like my grandmother. ”

  “Your grandmother saw this?”

  “I know!” Ryan sat up straighter and sounded as shocked as I was. Then smugness took over his voice. “She was appalled they made me work with such reckless young ladies. ”

  I started laughing, and clicked replay. “What did they do to your hair? It’s so. . . wavy. ”

  “I know,” he said sadly, leaning in closer to see. “I’m pretty sure there’s enough gel in it that pieces could have been snapped off. ”

  I snickered despite myself. “And look at the face this girl’s making. Ah! Look at your face!”

  “What’s wrong with my face?” Ryan tried to snatch the phone away. I held on tightly.

  “What did they tell you to do, glare smolderingly? You look like you’re trying to set something on fire with your mind, Mr. Jedi. ”

  “The director thought it was a good face!”

  The laughter kept bubbling up. “You look like you’re trying to think, and it’s not going too well. ”

  “You think I look bad?”

  I propped my head up, elbow on the table, giggling. “Ryan, we all know you’re beautiful. But next time don’t make it look like it takes you so much effort to use your brain. ”

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