Rush me, p.62
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       Rush Me, p.62

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
 
Page 62

  I laughed again. “We are way too mature for that. Obviously. No, we were just sorting out. . . old wounds. I feel kind of cleansed now, actually. ”

  “How Zen. ”

  “I don’t know if that’s Zen, exactly. ” Kate still eyed Charlie Watson. “I mean, I think that kind of forgiveness is a tenant of Buddhism, but I think Zen’s more mediation. . . Though now that I think about it, maybe I don’t really know. . . Would it be that wrong if I just sort of struck up a conversation with him and got his number? That’s all I’d do. I swear. ”

  I laughed and hugged them all. “I love you guys. Don’t let Kate do anything too crazy,” I told Madison and Carly. “I’ll be back, but I have to go find Ryan now. ”

  Kate glanced back my way. “I am never crazy. And good Lord, that man is stunning. ”

  “Thanks. ” A grin split my lips. “I tend to think so. ”

  I ran into a handful of former jocks that had chatted with Ryan, but they told me he’d left in search of me. Bemused, I walked away from that clump, having just talked to them more in five minutes than I had in all of high school.

  The first rule of being lost in the woods was that one person has to stay still, but I decided that didn’t apply when the woods made up a fairly small inn. I checked the rest of the public rooms, and then headed outside. There were a limited amount of places he could end up, even if he also searched each nook and cranny. Hopefully we wouldn’t pass over each other. I checked out the gazebo and the tennis courts, and then headed for the pool area. There was a small pool house with showers, but Ryan wasn’t there either. Then I remembered the inside pool, and headed back through the halls.

  I passed Thomas on my way, and he caught my arm. “Hey, where are you going?”

  “Oh, hi, Thomas. ” I peered past him distractedly. “I’m looking for Ryan. Have you seen him?”

  Thomas sounded skeptical. “Seriously? That guy again? Rach, I don’t get what you see in him. ”

  I switched my attention to Thomas. What kind of thing was that to say? “He’s my boyfriend. Obviously I see a lot of good in him. ”

  “Really? You don’t just see a rich celebrity?”

  “Hey. He’s more than that. ”

  “Uh-huh. He gets obscene amounts of money for playing a stupid game. ”

  “Football isn’t stupid. And it’s not like he just keeps all that money. ”

  “Oh, really? Wasn’t that a Jag you guys drove up in?”

  “He did a commercial for them. They gave it to him. ”

  “Yeah? And how do you know his other millions don’t go to the same way? You ever asked him about that?”

  I dealt him a hard glare. “For God’s sake, Thomas, he started the Jean Carter Foundation. ” I sighed. “You don’t get it. I don’t even need to ask him. I know him. ”

  I almost surprised myself by how fervently I meant that. But other than the Manhattan apartment—which even I would buy if I had that sort of money—he didn’t spend money obscenely. He had a bike and a car, but not two or three. He ate at local diners, not five star restaurants with two hundred dollar tabs. He wore jerseys and T-shirts half the time. The only time I’d seen money spent on appearances was for the Children’s Gala—and I’d also seen the check he’d signed for them.

  But that was the thing. I didn’t need to see the checks.

  “Why are you doing this?” I asked Thomas, tired of the whole thing. I started past him, heading for the pool house and giving the door a half-hearted twist. To my surprise, it was unlocked, and I stepped in, peering about in case Ryan had taken a very wrong turn.

  Lights came on automatically. The still indoor pool cast rippling blue shadows against the white walls, and potted plants stretched up between the lawn chairs. For a moment, I flashed back to junior year of high school, when the entire class crammed in here for Casey’s sweet sixteen.

  But Ryan wasn’t here, so I turned to go.

  Thomas blocked my way. He looked terribly earnest, but something in his languid posture irritated me. “Because. ” He shook his head so that a dark forelock fell over his forehead. “I don’t think you should be with him. I think we should give it a go. ”

  What.

  No.

  I stared at Thomas Brewer, high school dreamboat, and could not believe my luck. Seriously? How had this just happened? And why did I feel like it was a comedy of errors?

  “Thomas. ” My irritation died down a bit in light of his earnest wooing. “That’s sweet. And, you know, I was madly in love with you in high school. But. . . ” I shrugged, wanting to laugh. Honestly. What was the likelihood an old crush would actually profess interest?

  Too bad I no longer had any romantic feelings for Thomas Brewer at all.

  “You did?” His face lit up, and then in a heartbeat he crossed the space between us and pressed his lips to mine.

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Thomas’s lips were warm and insistent, but unfortunately, all I could think about was how they were Thomas’s lips, and it was really too bad I wasn’t seventeen and delirious anymore. I took a quick step back, and when he followed, I brought a hand up and gently pressed him away.

  I sighed. “Oh, Thomas. You should have tried that five years ago. It’s not going to happen now. ”

  For just a moment, his expression reminded me of a small boy throwing a tantrum, before he morphed into a concerned friend. “Are you kidding? Come on, Rach. What are you doing with him? Are you going to become one of those girls who just follows her boyfriend around and lives off his money?”

  I could feel the dig twist my stomach. “Don’t be disgusting. ”

  He grabbed my arm. “You’re not part of that world. You don’t want to be. How many of his games have you gone to?”

  I wrenched my arm away. “A handful!”

  “Yeah? Not Thanksgiving, though. ”

  “I was with my family. ”

  “Cause obviously he’s not important enough that you actually wanted to be with him! And you’ve never been interested in sports. You’re lying to yourself, Rachael, and I don’t know why. ” His face softened, and he reached up to brush my cheek. “You’re only going to get hurt. ”

  And then, just as loud as my pounding heart, footsteps echoed across the pool house and Ryan appeared. I caught the cold anger etched on his face, the barely restrained emotions, before he took my hand and wedged himself between me and Thomas. “You want something, Brewer?”

  Thomas jutted his chin out, despite being a good head shorter and a small person lighter than Ryan. “Yeah, I do. ”

  Ryan’s arm tensed. It was powerful enough to launch a ball three quarters of the way across a football field. Or to break a man’s face. I tugged on his hand, feeling unnaturally helpless. “Ryan. ”

  Thomas leveled a look at me even as he took a hasty step back from Ryan. “This is who you want to be? Attached to some jackass?”

  “Get out,” Ryan said.

  Thomas stiffened his shoulders. “Come on, Rachael. Let’s go. ”

  Beside me, Ryan froze.

  I jerked my chin at the door. “You go on. ”

  Thomas shook his head stubbornly. “I can’t leave you here. He obviously has anger issues. ”

 
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ALLISON PARR SERIES:

New York Leopards