Rush me, p.72
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       Rush Me, p.72

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
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Page 72

  He smiled. “That’s because she’s real. ” He led us outside under the darkening sky, and then knelt, looking up with me with bright humor, his face flushed with good health. “Ready?”

  I slipped my foot into the stirrup his hands formed and he tossed me up. “Whoa!” I shouted as my right leg swung over the horse’s rump, and then I was sitting high above, tucking my feet into the real stirrups. “Okay,” I breathed once I was settled. “Wow. This is high. ” Much higher than I’d realized, actually. I shifted, looking down at Ryan. “And this stretches my legs much further apart than I’d expected. ”

  He raised a brow and smirked.

  “Shut up. So. What do I do now?”

  “Press your heels into her side. ”

  I did. Lightly. Bailey didn’t move.

  He grinned at me. “She’s a big girl. You can press a little harder. Don’t kick, but a little more. Show her you mean it. ”

  “You know, at the carousel I would already be halfway through the first circle. ”

  He laughed. “Come on. You can do it. ”

  A little less tentatively, I pressed my heels in, and Bailey set off at a happy walk. My jaw dropped open, white air puffing out before me, as she carried me across the ground, her ears quirking about attentively. “Aren’t you a sweetheart. ” I reached forward and stroked her mane. She let out what could only be a nicker of agreement, and then decided it would be a smart idea to go faster.

  As we trotted around the track, the world whirling by, snow started to fall. I couldn’t help it; I laughed and leaned my head back, catching melting white stars on my tongue. We came to a stop before Ryan, who had snow glistening like diamonds in his hair, and he lifted me down with steady, sure hands.

  “Maybe you’re right,” I told him as we led Bailey back to her stall, taking off her tack and brushing her down. “There’s something almost magical about riding a real horse. ”

  “Mmm, I thought so. ” He reached out and stroked his hand down my hair. I leaned into him. “You’re beautiful, with snow in your curls. ”

  “You’re always beautiful. ” I rested my hand on his chest as I leaned up to press my lips to his. His arm went around my waist, and I fit snugly against him. “So what now?”

  “Now?” he murmured, twirling a length of my curls around his finger. “Now. . . you publish Alexa’s book and make a name for yourself, and I go on and win the Super Bowl again. And then after a while I’ll retire and we’ll go travel around Egypt and Greece and maybe we let Eva redecorate the apartment, because last time she was there you both spent the entire time talking about how it wasn’t me or green. And then when we come back I’ll become a history teacher and I’ll coach on the side, and you’ll sweep in a new era of snarky academia, and we’ll go to your parents’ for Passover and my family’s for Easter, and then we’ll go home and make love until the sun rises over Central Park. ”

  “I meant right now. ”

  “Oh,” he said, eyes dancing. “Well, soon, I suppose we should go in and let Mimi fuss at us and feed us hot chocolate. But right now—right now, we should do this. ”

  And he leaned down and kissed me.

  And that’s what happened.

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New York Leopards