Rush me, p.50
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       Rush Me, p.50

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
 
Page 50

  We spiraled back down the stairs and exited onto the street. “This way. ” Ryan headed to the left, and I followed half a second later. He reached back and caught my hand. His palm felt warm against mine; his fingers wrapped firmly around my own. And when I stopped walking, our joint hands pulled him to a stop.

  He looked back. “What?”

  “Uh, nothing. ” I bit back a smile. “Where are we going?”

  “You’ll see. ”

  “Where’s your bike?” I turned my head back and forth as we continued down the street.

  “It’s in the shop. ” He pulled me left, toward the dingy and badly marked subway entrance.

  “Wait—we’re not taking public transportation, are we?”

  He looked at me sharply, alarm widening his eyes. “Why? Do you not want to? Should I have brought a car?”

  My lips split in a grin. He was cute when he worried. “No, it’s fine. ”

  “Yeah?” He angled himself toward me, never releasing my hand. “I’ll have you know, I’ve been in those ‘Just Like You!’ features for taking the subway. ”

  He had? Not that I read tabloids. Never. Unless I was in the doctor’s office. Or grocery store. Or airport. “Ha! You’re not that big a deal!”

  “Yeah?” He lowered his head towards mine. “You sure about that?”

  “Mm-hm. ” And then I couldn’t help myself. I giggled.

  * * *

  We spent the evening at Ellis Island. “You’re kidding,” I said when we emerged out of the subway at Battery Park, and stood before the ferry. “We’re playing tourist?”

  He nodded across the water. “You ever been there before?”

  “Not since I was fourteen. ”

  “Good. Besides, we’re not playing tourist. I’m giving you a history lesson. ”

  “Says the jock to the academic!”

  “No, says the military history major to the English major. ”

  The sky stayed grey as the water, and rain spritzed down, inflating my hair to epic proportions. But I didn’t care. Neither of us cared. We played historical tourists and held hands and if I’d been asked—later on about what kind of day it had been, I would have called it more beautiful than any yet that year.

  After touring the museums, Ryan pointed out his family’s names to me on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. I slid him a sly smile. “Do you know what this means?”

  He dealt me a look that said he was sure I wanted to tell him.

  I grinned at him. “You’re really a New Yorker. ”

  He snorted. “That would make you happy, wouldn’t it?”

  I laughed. “So tell me about your brothers. ”

  He shrugged. “Older, louder, meaner. I think that covers it. ”

  “Meaner?” I frowned.

  His face softened. “Nah. We were just a crazy group. You know, there’s always the quiet one—Rich was as happy at the piano as outdoors—but the twins were rowdy and everyone yelled. Dad says I was twice as loud since I wanted to keep up with all of them. The runt always does. ”

  “And do any of them play football?”

  “All of them. ”

  “But you’re the best. ”

  He raised a brow. “Was that a compliment?”

  “No. ” I flipped my hair back and walked out of the monument’s silver walls.

  He caught up to me and caught my fingers with his own. “Definitely a compliment. ”

  I smiled and squeezed his hand.

  * * *

  For dinner, when the rain really poured down, we retreated back into Manhattan and wandered toward the financial district until we found a small restaurant with gleaming wooden tables and dark stouts on tap.

  “So did you work anything out with Hart’s girlfriend?” Ryan asked after we’d ordered.

  “Who?”

  He rolled his hand. “The Bison’s QB. The girl with the book?”

  Ryan was more plugged into gossip than I’d thought if he knew of Alexa and Nate’s relationship. “I did. Here, we even started a website Monday. ” I snagged his phone and logged in to the blogging platform before spinning the phone back to him. “Obviously it’s still bare bones, but it will give you an idea of what’s going to be there. ”

  I waited nervously as he clicked through the pages. “You got all this done since Sunday?” He shook his head.

  “What do you think?” Alexa and I had been on the phone for the last three days figuring out the quirks of the site. She gave me her writings and ideas and I built the actual pages, adding my own touches and then talking them over with her. We hadn’t made it public yet, but it had taken less time than I’d expected to put the skeleton together.

  “It’s great. Have you shown your boss?”

  “Oh, not yet, no. But I will in a week or two. She might not even care, you know, but—it’s worth trying. ”

  He considered me. “You know, Couch wrote a book, and so did Dustin Jones—he was the starting QB before me. I’m sure they could get you two an editor interested—”

  “No,” I said quickly, and then amended it. “Maybe. But I want to try first—to do this myself. ”

  The waiter arrived with our meals in baskets, a corned beef sandwich for him and a mushroom Swiss burger for me. I squeezed out a heavy dollop of ketchup and dug into the fries.

  He watched me with steady attention that I would have found unnerving from anyone else. “You don’t like taking help. ”

  I shrugged. “Who does?”

  “Hmm. ” He took a bite of his sandwich. When he finished, he kept his gaze on the platter. “You want to come to Boston?”

  Actually, I kind of did. Then again, the idea of traveling four and a half hours two days in a row did something sad to my soul. “Eh. When’s your next home game?”

  “Oh, God. ” He rubbed his forehead. “We’re on bye next week, and then it’s in Baltimore. So I guess the week after that. That’ll be the Bills. ”

  “On bye?”

  “We’re not playing. Gives us a couple of days to relax. ”

  Or not relax, as the case may be. “That’s kind of exciting. It’s Halloween. ”

  He leaned back and grinned at me. “Please tell me you’re dressing up. ”

  Yeah, like I had the money to blow on a Sexy Insert-Occupation-Here costume. “I was thinking of being a Charlie Brown ghost. ”

  He sat straight up, his eyes widening. His lashes were so long I wanted to reach out and touch them. “Oh, God, you should be Lucy. ”

  I stopped, French fry halfway to my mouth. “Why do you say that so. . . emphatically?”

  “Come on. You would totally be Lucy. You’d pull the football right away from poor Charlie. ”

  I pointed the fry at him. “Not funny. ”

  He grinned, unrepentant. “But thematic. ”

  I narrowed my eyes.

  “Or you could be Dorothy. You sort of have the look down. Wholesome. Spunky. Bookish. ”

  “Oh, shut up. I’m not the Midwesterner here. ”

  “That’s your best defense?”

  “Hmph. Fine. And who would you be?”

  He grinned with a touch of lasciviousness. “The wizard, of course. Send you over the rainbow. ”

 
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ALLISON PARR SERIES:

New York Leopards