Rush me, p.5
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       Rush Me, p.5

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
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Page 5

  He raised a skeptical brow and left a long pause, where the giggles and glances from other girls in the hallway stood out against our silence. “That’s right. I’m not your type. What is your type, again?”

  “Definitely not self-centered, arrogant jocks. ” I wanted to kill the satisfaction on his face but it didn’t work. Instead, he kept looking at me like my protestation was inconceivable enough to be laughable. But for God’s sake, just because he was beautiful didn’t mean he was attractive. “I like intellectual types. You know—people who went to college for academics, rather than coasting through on a football scholarship. ”

  His brows slammed together, and understanding spread through me. That was his weak spot. “You think you’re a hell of lot smarter than me, don’t you?”

  “It’s not your fault—I’m sure getting knocked on the head all the time messes with your grey matter. ”

  He shook his head, incredulous. “You’re kind of a bitch. ”

  Having never been called a bitch in my entire life, I wasn’t entirely sure how to respond. I swallowed the instant desire to apologize and experimented with a tiny, Gallic half-shrug. “At least I’m not a professional Neanderthal. ” I raised my chin, and then I turned on my heel and left.

  Chapter Three

  The next morning, Eva gaped at me over our bagels and lox. We ate them curled up on either end of the couch, pillows propping up our plates. Eva’s brown eyes, slightly red, stretched wide. “You walked away from Ryan Carter?”

  Apparently telling my roommate about last night had not been the best idea. I’d managed to find her after I left the football party, but she’d been three sheets to the wind, and I’d been in a bad mood, so neither of us spoke much on the subway ride home. Now, at noon the next day, we were finally getting around to sharing our tales.

  “How do you even know who he is?” I asked. “He’s a jock!”

  She banged her head sideways onto the couch in symbolic frustration. “Rach. He is like one of the most famous quarterbacks ever. Don’t you ever look at tabloids when you’re grocery shopping? And the gossip blogs love him. He’s gorgeous. And, like, a millionaire. ”

  My stomach dropped. “He was an ass. ”

  Eva waved her hands with her usual flippancy. “So what? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a single, straight, employed, and sane guy in this city? I get that John had questionable morals, but you can’t just keep tossing them back out. You should have at least slept with him! I bet he’s great in bed. ”

  For a moment, the image of Ryan’s golden, powerful body flashed through my mind, and I shivered. Not my type. I liked them a little more slender and a little less aggressive. “It’s not my main goal in life to find a guy, you know. ”

  Eva dealt me a deadpan look.

  I scowled at her. “It’s not! I mean, it would be nice. But not one like Ryan Carter. ”

  “But just think how perfect he’d be to bring to your high school reunion!”

  “You spend too much time in theatre-land,” I reminded her, picking at the crumbs on my plate. “He wasn’t my type. Why are we even talking about this? Seriously, it’s not like I’ll ever see him again. ”

  * * *

  An hour later, I realized I’d left my cashmere scarf at the party.

  Right. So. I could either forget about an expensive present from my parents, or I could suck it up and go back to Malcolm’s.

  Which is why, at four o’clock on Saturday, I stood outside the Village brownstone, buzzing up to M. Lindsey.


  “Hi. Malcolm? It’s Rachael—I was at the party yesterday. ” I couldn’t remember if he’d ever learned my name. “I left my scarf there. ” I winced. Why did I feel awkward? This wasn’t awkward. People forgot things all the time.

  “All right. ” Despite his disbelieving tone, he buzzed me up. I considered that as I climbed the stairs. Did girls ever pull the “silly-me-I-forgot-my-bag” thing to see him again? Maybe this was awkward.

  Comical surprise crossed Malcolm’s features when he answered my knock. “You’re Rachael?”

  I squared my shoulders. “Last time I checked. Have you seen my scarf?”

  “We haven’t cleaned yet. ” He held the door wider. Without bodies crammed from wall-to-wall, I noticed the high ceilings, the polished floors and bright sunlight. Eva’d said the apartment her party took place in was a bare two rooms, while this one took up two floors.

  Still, it was a disaster. Empty beer bottles teetered on the edges of tables and lay sideways on the floor. Couches and tables lined the walls, pushed out of their usual places. I could smell stale alcohol, even though the windows had been shoved open. Hats and sweaters sprawled across couches and peeked out from under chairs.

  I didn’t see the deep red of my scarf anywhere among the uniform blackness.

  “Hey,” a different male voice said, and I realized we weren’t alone. Oh, no. Was Ryan here? What should I say? “Are you the girl who walked in on Ryan getting some?”

  I blinked. Well.

  I turned to find four guys built like brick walls staring at me, and I felt like I’d walked into a boys-only clubhouse. They gathered around a low table, poker hands held before them. Great. Football people. They wore baggy shorts and sweatshirts, and muscles lined their tree-trunk legs and rocklike arms. I had never seen a group of men so across-the-board big.

  They all looked under thirty, though one open-faced boy with springy dishwater hair looked even younger than me. He guarded his cards more carefully than the ginger he sat next to, who was studying me with naked curiosity. Across from him, a player with a trimmed goatee propped his arms on the table. Tattoos sleeved his biceps, so dark they almost blended into his skin. The last had closely shorn his head and studded his ears with diamonds. All of them regarded me with amusement.

  “Uh, yes. ” I cleared my throat. “That kind of happened. ”

  They all laughed. I tensed, and then forced my body to relax. The laughter didn’t sound mean, and even I would have found the situation funny if mortification hadn’t reached me first.

  I turned to Malcolm. “So. . . I’ll just go check the closet. And your room. ”

  The guy with the goatee and tattoos leered. “His room? What were you up to Friday?”

  And just like that, the little taunting monster reared its head again, and I smiled slowly. “You know, people keep trying to convince me you jocks aren’t dumb, but really. What do you think I was doing?”

  They all hooted as I walked away, and I smiled to myself, even as my heart pounded. These guys didn’t know I was quiet and almost tediously good, and it was kind of fun that they might think I was gutsy and ribald.

  Well. As long as I didn’t slip up and actually say things like “ribald”. It might out the English major in me.

  I found my scarf puddled in a corner of the bedroom. I slung it around my neck before stepping back into the living room. “Well, thanks. ” No one heard me, busy as they were on their game. Unable to suppress my curiosity, I stepped up and eyed Malcolm’s hand. Standard five-card-draw, and his cards weren’t good. After a few minutes he discarded a six, making it clear he was aiming for a straight I doubted he’d gain.

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New York Leopards