Rush me, p.33
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       Rush Me, p.33

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
Page 33

  “I don’t know. I might keep him around for the reunion. ”

  Kate groaned. “Ugh. Do you think most people are going to bring dates?”

  “Yes,” Carly and Madison chorused.

  Oh, I hoped not. “That’s dumb. This is not Hollywood. We do not need some guy to show off that we’re succeeding in life. Having a good job and being successful and independent is more important. ”

  Madison pressed her lips together and lifted her brows. “But it is something of a consolation for those of us who don’t have a job or success. ”

  I shook my head, exasperated. “You know what I mean. It’s just so. . . 1950s. It drives me crazy. ” I looked around at my friends. “Doesn’t it drive you crazy?”

  They all looked back at me. “Yeah. ” Carly didn’t sound too enthusiastic. “But I don’t think anyone really feels like you need a boyfriend. ”

  Except for, say, my mother. “Maybe not. It’s just—sometimes I get sick of the world acting like even if I am successful—not that I am—but that even if I have a job, and a great life, and fantastic friends, that I’m still supposed to be lonely and incomplete because I don’t have a boyfriend. Like that’s the most important thing. Like if I got a boyfriend, that would be the end of my story, and more important than if I got a great promotion. ”

  “I don’t think people think that,” Kate said. “I think it’s more that—romance is fun, you know? Love’s sort of a unifying theme. Because everyone, in every culture, can relate to it. I mean, just look at literature—Shakespeare, obviously, and Homer. And Virgil’s Aeneid, Dante’s Inferno. Even the Bible—it starts with Adam and Eve, and there’s Abraham and Sarah, Esther and King What’s-His-Name. And all the myths—King Arthur, Robin Hood—they’re all romances, too. Oh, and what’s it—Layla and—and—Majnun! Persian story, early medieval? And it’s still around today. ”

  Kate majored in anthropology before getting her education Master’s.

  “But aren’t those also about adventures?” Carly asked. “The Greek myths, and Robin Hood and King Arthur. Quests and stuff. Not just falling in love. ”

  “Yeah, and what about Gilgamesh?” The Mesopotamian epic was the earliest literature I could remember, and I couldn’t recall any love story there.

  “Sure,” Kate said easily. “There’s adventure. But I think that’s the point. My point. If I have one. That while we might give, oh, monogamous relationships a little too much status right now, love really is important. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it shouldn’t be dismissed, either, as silly or useless or fluffy. It’s not. It’s beautiful. God, I have stupid standards. No wonder I won’t sleep with anyone. As for Gilgamesh—Well, the theory’s that he was in love with his best friend. ”

  Dammit. Even Gilgamesh had romantic elements.

  Madison shifted, clearly finished with ancient fictional heroes. “So, just to check—does this mean you haven’t met any amazing New Yorkers? Besides the scumbag?”

  I didn’t answer.

  Everyone’s heads swiveled. “Well, then. ” Kate sounded pleased. “I guess occasionally love is a little bit interesting. ”

  “Just you wait. I am also going to have an adventure-war story. There’s going to be sirens, and shipwrecks, and thieves and all sorts of things. ” But maybe a bit of a love story wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

  “Uh-huh,” Carly said. “Who’s the boy?”

  I toyed with the blanket covering my lap. Sunflowers spread across a pale green background. “Well. Uh. It’s not a thing. I don’t have a thing. Or a boy. ”

  They all leaned a little bit closer.

  “But. . . ” I let the vowel draw out, “I have been having a rather long flirtation. ”

  “Really? With who?” Madison asked. “I thought you said it was impossible to meet any guys besides gay theatre ones?”

  “Yeah. But. You know my roommate Eva, who brings me to her parties? Well, we went to one in the Village and I got a little lost, and ended up going into a different party. ”

  Carly motioned for me to go on. “Where you met a guy. ”

  I nodded. “Yeah. And then I left my scarf there, and I went back the next day, and since it was his friend’s place, he showed up. And then I ran into him one day and he gave me a lift. ” I grinned. “On his motorcycle. ”

  “Ugh!” Madison groaned, flopping over into her pillows. “You always get the ones with the motorcycles!”

  I wiggled my brows at her. “You should have gone to Italy, not England. ”

  “So is this actually a thing?” Carly pressed. “Do you like him?”

  “I don’t know. I freak out about relationships. Stephen joined the Church, for God’s sake—”

  “No pun intended?” Kate slot in.

  I ignored her. “—and I messed up things with Antonio in Rome, and John, this guy I dated for a millisecond—I should never even have gone out with him. It’s like I sabotage myself. ”

  “Okay, but do you like him?” Madison asked.

  I shrugged. “I feel looser with him. With John, I always wanted to put my best foot forward. But I think since I disliked Ryan so much at first, I honestly didn’t care what he thought of me, and now. . . It allows me to be snarky, or dorky, or bad-tempered. I feel really comfortable with him. I mean, not to say that he doesn’t drive me crazy and piss me off—but it feels like he’s been doing that forever, you know?”

  “No,” Madison said flatly.

  “I know. ” Carly rolled her eyes.

  Kate laughed. “So have you guys hooked up?”

  “I kissed him on Saturday. ” I gnawed on my lip and made a face. “I really like him. ” I only allowed it to hit me now, here, safe with my oldest friends. “I guess I’m just scared. I don’t want this to tear me apart. ”

  Even with the lows, there’re all those highs. And isn’t that better than a life of mediocrity?

  “Maybe,” I whispered, and looked up at the warm, concerned faces of my friends. “But maybe I should go for it?”

  “If you like him that much, yeah,” Carly said. “And you want someone you can be that comfortable with. Especially if he gets past the rest of your impossible standards. ”

  “So tell us about him,” Madison demanded.

  “Oh. Well. You might have heard of him.

  “Excuse me?”

  I grinned sheepishly. “He’s kind of famous. ”


  “Good for you!”

  “Who is it?”

  Kate grinned widely, hazel eyes sparkling. “I bet it’s an author. Scruffy. Hipster. ”

  “No, she didn’t meet him through work,” Carly said. “I bet rock star. ”

  “This is New York,” Madison countered. “Lawyer? CEO?”

  I rolled over and grinned at the ceiling. “Actually, he’s a football player. Quarterback for the New York Leopards. ”

  They all looked absolutely flabbergasted.

  “You are not dating Ryan Carter,” Carly sounded utterly shocked. “No freaking way. ”

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