Rush me, p.61
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       Rush Me, p.61

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
Page 61

  My jaw worked as I tried to process that she’d actually remembered things I’d said, that they hadn’t slid off her like so much water. “It was self-defense. ” And she had been terrifying.

  “It was war,” Sophie said darkly and rather overdramatically.

  It pulled me out of my confusion enough to refocus. Our past hadn’t been pretty, but I was more concerned about my brother’s future. “What about David?”

  She actually ground her teeth with frustration. “What about him?”

  “Why are you flirting with my boyfriend if you’re actually into David?”

  She looked appalled at my stupidity, and shook her head, letting out a few airy scoffs before she got enough of a grip to answer. “You’re dating Ryan Carter. What am I supposed to do, ignore him? I’m not trying to flirt with him, it’s not like I want to steal him away or whatever dumb idea you have. Just—God, he’s Ryan Carter!”

  “So you said. And what about David Hamilton?”

  I’d broken the camel’s back. “You know what?” she yelled, and the red in her cheeks was no longer pretty, but deep and furious. “I am in love with David. And he loves me. And I know you don’t like that, but I don’t care. We make each other happy. And maybe, if you’d just get off your high horse and look at who I actually am, instead of some—dumb—memory you have from high school, you’ll realize that’s not a bad thing. ”

  Well, I thought, as I gaped at her, apparently I wasn’t the only one who became more articulate with angry.

  “And if you don’t, you know what, I don’t care,” she continued, on a roll. “Because I have tried to make amends—”

  “Hey, hey, calm down. ” I held my hands up. “Truce. I mean—I haven’t actually noticed any amends, but I just—I just don’t understand you and David. ”

  “Why do you have to? Isn’t it enough that we love each other? What more do you need to understand? I’m sorry I don’t measure up to your ridiculous standards, but you’re not part of our relationship!”

  I swallowed. She looked so vivid, so passionate, not bored or cooing or slyly cruel. And maybe she was right. Maybe I didn’t need to make sense of emotions, to boil them down into logic. “Okay, I don’t understand. But—you love him?”

  “Yes. ”

  “Okay. ” I tried out a dry smile. “Sophie—did anything I said make sense to you? I mean, maybe you’re right. It’s your relationship. But—I’d really like it if you stopped bringing up the garbage incident. ”

  “Right. ” Embarrassment flickered across her face, and she shifted uneasily. “I’d like it if you stopped thinking I was some sort of devil. Your parents are never going to like me if you don’t. And I’m trying. I don’t know what more you want from me. ”

  I shook my head. “I just wish you’d be less condescending. And passive-aggressive. ” Maybe she really had thought we were at war, that I was attacking her. I tried out each word slowly, trying to format my thoughts. “If you really love David—that’s all I want. I’m not trying to sabotage you. I just want it to be sincere. ”

  “You’re also condescending. ” Her lips turned up in what might almost be classified as a smile. “But maybe we can both try to. . . stop. ”

  “Or at least call each other on it,” I suggested. “Probably better than just sitting there, boiling over. ”

  She gave a short nod. “Yeah. Also, sometimes I freak out before I see you since I know you’re going to totally be on your soapbox and I try to grin and bear it and be nice and somehow you always misinterpret it. ”

  I tilted my head and almost laughed at the absurdity. “Okay. Next time I’m pretentious and you’re passive aggressive, we’ll kick each other under the table. ”

  “Fine. ” This time I was sure I saw a smile. “I’ll be wearing pointed shoes. ”

  “Yeah, mine will have steel-enforced toes. Anyway. I should go find Ryan. ”

  She nodded and started to move away, and then turned back. “He’s really hot. And famous, and rich. I didn’t know you had it in you. ” She nodded firmly, as though she’d just paid me quite the compliment, and clipped away.

  I shook my head, smiling faintly. Sophie Salisbury. Maybe she wasn’t the herald of the apocalypse, after all.

  Crossing the room toward my friends, I noticed someone slink up to my side. Not certain it was anyone I wanted to see, I waited half a second, just long enough for a familiar voice to say in my ear, “What were you and Sophie talking about?”

  I spun. “David! What are you doing here?”

  My brother, unlike most of the khaki-clad guys, had actually donned a suit for the occasion. “I came with Sophie. ”

  “Shouldn’t I have seen you earlier?” I shook my head. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I can’t believe you’re at my high school reunion. ”

  “What did you say to Sophie? She looked upset. ”

  I muffled my immediate impulse to ask why he hadn’t run after poor little Sophie, then. “You know what? Maybe you’re right about Sophie. Maybe I haven’t been giving her enough credit. ”

  “Of course you haven’t,” David blustered. “Sophie is the sweetest, most innocent—”

  “Don’t get carried away. ” I reached up to pat his cheek, and he looked outraged. “But, you know what? I’m in a good mood. And she seems to, if not regret the past, at least genuinely want to make a fresh start. Which makes sense. It’s your relationship. ”

  “That is the most ungracious apology I have ever heard!”

  “Hey. ” I propped my hands on my waist. “Neither one of us really apologized. But we came to an understanding. ”

  “You should really apologize—”

  “Okay, Dave. ” I guessed some things never changed. “I have to go find my boyfriend. See you at home. ”

  “Try to convince him to come to San Leandro for New Year’s!”

  Shaking my head, I walked away.

  * * *

  My friends were standing in the corner of the room closest to the bar, standing in tight circles from which they safely surveyed former classmates. I popped in between Madison and Carly, looping my arms through theirs. “Hey, girls. Have you seen Ryan?”

  “Not lately. ” Carly finished her pint and set it down. “Though we’ve seen a surprising amount of decent, if boring, former tools. ” With her newly free hand, she reached across the circle and patiently plucked Kate’s drink away from her. “Not that any of us want anything to do with them. ”

  Kate blushed. “Give me some credit! This is our reunion! There is no way I would hook up with anyone. ” She snuck a look across the room. “But don’t you think Charlie Watson turned really good looking? And he’s in grad school. ”

  Madison hooked her arm through Kate’s. “No. We agreed, remember? Not happening. ”

  I laughed, and Carly raised her brows at me. “What was that thing with Sophie?”

  “What, were you guys watching?”

  Madison spoke up dryly. “I think the whole class was. And hoping it would turn into a showdown. ”

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New York Leopards