Rush me, p.32
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       Rush Me, p.32

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
 
Page 32

  Which made it no surprise that they sometimes drove me insane, as only family could. Madison fretted like the world was ending on a daily basis. Nothing could be right. She would never find a job, never afford her own apartment, and her boyfriend—she always had a boyfriend—was always acting strange. Life was very hard for Madison.

  Life seemed easier for Carly, who had a full ride to grad school, a shiny apartment in New Haven, and a live-in, long-term boyfriend. So we probably drove her crazier than she drove us. I’d seen her ready to breathe fire when the rest of moaned about real life and wished we were still in school.

  Then there was Kate—loyal, funny Kate—with her very peculiar fatal flaw.

  We all curled up on Madison’s queen-size bed, surrounded by pillows and blankets. Kate let her upper body flop straight down, her head landing in a poof! of down comforter. “I did it again. ”

  I grinned, tucking into the plate of cookies.

  “How?” Madison asked. “Not at your parents’?”

  Kate made a horrified face. “God, no. ” She’d drawn her stick straight light brown hair into a ponytail, and now she chewed on it. “Remember how I went up to Boston for the teachers’ conference last weekend? The school put me up in a hotel. ”

  “So, tell. ” Carly stretched an arm across the bed and grabbed the hair from Kate’s mouth. Carly always said that she had to live vicariously through our romantic escapades, since she and Andy had settled into a domestic pattern. “How’d you meet? Was it another teacher?”

  Kate shook her head, and adopted her story-telling voice. “I have a lot of college friends in Boston, so I met up with them in the evening. They took me to this club in the Back Bay. ”

  The three of us groaned. Kate did notoriously badly at clubs.

  “And my friend Jo thought it would be a good idea to get those ten-shot things. ”

  Carly laughed. “You can’t do shots. ”

  Kate grinned, slightly embarrassed. “And it’s possible we’d already pregamed a little. ”

  “Bad teacher. ” I shook my head. “Bad, bad teacher. ”

  “Anyway. ” Kate shrugged it off. “You know me. When I drink, I like to dance. ”

  Madison raised her brows. “Yes. We know. ”

  Most people liked to dance when intoxicated. Kate really, really liked to dance.

  “I ended up dancing with this guy,” she continued, toying with her napkin. “And then. . . you know. . . ”

  “You made out in the middle of the dance floor?” I guessed.

  “And then he suggested you get some air?” Madison added.

  “And then you canoodled all the way home,” Carly finished, with the cadence of “this little piggy went to market. ”

  I grinned at her. “Please tell me you got his name. ”

  “Michael Wright. And I already found his profile. ”

  Carly snagged Madison’s laptop, and pulled up her app page. Three years ago, she’d invented a family tree app that took off exponentially. It wasn’t Farmville, by any means, but most people had heard of it, and enough people were curious enough that when invited to join, they accepted on the off-chance of meeting distant relatives.

  And the great thing about apps was that tricky little message they asked users in the beginning: Allow App Access to Your Profile and User Information?

  “He doesn’t have it. ” Carly sounded disappointed but not hopeless as Kate helped her locate the right Michael Wright. She clicked “Invite” and turned to Kate. “There. Now we wait. Keep going. Then what?”

  “Then the usual,” Kate said glumly. “Oh, wait, I almost forgot. As we were going upstairs, I saw these three other girls from the conference in the elevator! It was super awkward. They were all like, ‘hi!’ and I had to introduce this guy as though I knew him. ”

  “Were you skanky dressed?” Carly asked.

  “Not really. I mean, I had that black going out top on, you know the one? But we were, um, a little too close, so. . . ”

  “Yeah. ” I shook my head. “Not a good sign. ”

  “I know!” she moaned. “Why am I such a disaster?”

  “I don’t know, maybe it’s catching. ” I thought of Ryan. I tossed a glance at Carly. “Except you don’t seem to have it. Maybe you were inoculated at a young age. ”

  “Thanks?”

  “How’d you make him leave?” Madison asked.

  Kate ducked her head down and squeezed the words out. “I just said ‘I’m sorry. I can’t do this. ’”

  We all groaned, and rolled over on the bed in empathetic embarrassment as we broke into laugher. “Then what?” Madison prodded, finally grinning.

  Kate’s cheeks flamed even as she smiled. “He went the disbelief route. So I finally had to tell him that I wasn’t comfortable sleeping with a guy I had just met, because I’m waiting for a meaningful relationship, and that I’m a virgin. ”

  “Which he didn’t believe?” I managed to get out between giggles.

  “No!” She sat back upright, looking outraged. “He didn’t! And then he said he couldn’t leave because the T was already closed, and I said, ‘Then take a taxi,’ and handed him a twenty. ” She looked absurdly proud of this.

  The rest of us were in hysterics. Carly, squirming on the bed, met my eyes, her own scrunched up in warm laughter. “And he left?” she gasped.

  “Well, I kind of had to push him out. And throw his clothes after him. But he was too shocked to really protest. ”

  “Kate, you know I love you. ” I moved my head so I could place it in her lap and stare up at her. “But you’re a mad one. ”

  She shook her head, sighing. “I know. I don’t think I’m ever I going to fall in love. ”

  “Not if you keep bringing strangers back,” Madison said. “You have to be careful, Kate. What if one of them doesn’t take no for an answer?”

  That silenced us for a moment, and Kate hung her head. “You’re right. But I just. . . Ugh. I’m so bad at meeting guys. You know. Actually meeting guys. And now I’m not even going to get to hook up with anyone! What with living at my parents’ house. ”

  “Maybe you’ll meet someone at school,” I said. “Any hot teachers?”

  “No. Besides, they’re all in their thirties, anyway. There’s one cute one, but he’s engaged, of course. ” She sighed again. “Someone else talk. My love life is too depressing. Madison? How ?bout Graham?”

  “Who’s Graham?” The last time we’d had a long talk she’d been dating a guy named Peter.

  Madison let out a little smile. “Another one of these online guys. He’s an investment banker. ”

  Madison only dated rich guys, unless she wanted to provoke her family.

  “And?” our horny virgin said. “Have you slept with him yet?”

  She laughed. “Yeah. ”

  “How is he?” Carly asked.

  “He could use some work,” she admitted. “But I don’t mind teaching him. ” She snagged the laptop from Carly and pulled up his online-dating profile. He had cookie-cutter good looks and a slightly pretentious tone. “Will he last?” I asked.

 
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ALLISON PARR SERIES:

New York Leopards