Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix)

Also by Kelsie Leverich

The Valentine’s Arrangement

INTERMIX BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

FEEL THE RUSH

An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

InterMix eBook edition / August 2013

Copyright © 2013 by Kelsie Leverich.

Excerpt from
The Valentine’s Arrangement
copyright © 2013 by Kelsie Leverich.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA),

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-63917-7

INTERMIX

InterMix Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group

and New American Library, divisions of Penguin Group (USA),

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

INTERMIX and the “IM” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA)

Contents

Also by Kelsie Leverich

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Epilogue

 

Acknowledgments

Special Excerpt from
The Valentine's Arrangement

About the Author

To my husband, my Mr. All of the Above

Chapter One

There was not enough alcohol in this bar to get her up on that stage. No way in hell was she singing. She would rather strip down to her bra and panties and dance on the bar stripper-style than get up there and sing karaoke. It was like a string of bad outtakes from
American Idol
auditions, and, as entertaining as it was to watch, she was not going to partake in the self-humiliation.

Meagan Mitchell licked the salt off the rim of her margarita glass before she pressed it to her lips and took a sip, observing her girlfriends as they attempted to pick out a song for her to sing.

“Oh, what about ‘Black Velvet’?”

“Okay, first of all, that’s your typical clichéd karaoke song right there. Second, I’m. Not. Singing.”

“Meg, you need—”

“Nope,” she said, interrupting her friend Brittany, who was already two margaritas ahead of her, but Meagan couldn’t blame her for letting loose a little bit. The woman’s husband was deployed to Afghanistan and she rarely got out. What with three kids all under the age of five at home, Meagan was lucky she ever saw her anymore.

“I love you, but my singing would clear this place faster than the DJ would be able to turn the music off.”

Her best friend, Eva, was sitting next to her, so she was in clear range of Eva’s elbow to the ribs. “You’re such a chicken-shit.”

Meagan’s mouth puckered and she feigned a wince as she rubbed her side. “Nooo. I’m not scared, but I’m also not delusional—I can’t hold a note to save my life.”

“Which is what makes it fun.”

“Exactly, it’s fun to watch people make complete asses of themselves, but I for one choose not to be the ass in this scenario.” Meagan put her glass to her lips and finished the delicious tequila-induced heaven in two long sips. “I’m going to get another drink, you girls want anything?”

“No, but don’t think you’re getting out of this so easily,” Eva said.

Meagan shrugged. “Sorry, pretty lady.”

“Allie will be here soon, she’ll get your ass up there to sing.”

Meagan pushed her blond hair over her shoulder as she stood up. “Don’t hold your breath.”

Meagan sauntered up to one of the empty stools at the bar and ordered a drink from a woman who looked like she needed a drink herself.

She felt a pair of eyes roam over her body. A slither slid up her back, causing goose bumps to prickle on her freshly shaved legs—and unfortunately they weren’t the good kind of goose bumps.

Meagan’s gaze landed briefly on the roaming-eyed guy sitting a few stools down. “Hey,” he said, paired with the standard guy head-nod. She smiled faintly and turned her head back toward the rows of alcohol bottles lining the wall in front of her. Maybe if she ignored him he would go away.

The guy stood up and slid into the stool next to her. Guess the ignoring tactic wasn’t going to work. “Can I buy you a drink?”

Seriously? Okay, first of all, this guy didn’t even look old enough to buy her a drink. Even if he was of the legal drinking age, it was just barely, and she was pushing thirty.
Okay, Meagan, don’t go there again
, she thought, blinking her eyes to push aside the ever-present nagging reminder of her age that had seemed to keep popping up since the dreadful day was getting closer.

Against her better judgment, she chanced another quick glance at him. She didn’t want her gaze to linger on him and give him the wrong idea. He had some boyish charm and the build of a man, but his blunt flirting and body language when she was clearly uninterested gave him a neon light above his head flashing the word
egocentric
with an arrow pointing straight to his penis. Having had her fair share of selfish one-nighters, she knew the type. You know, the kind that were in and out. The wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am fucks—and usually the ma’am was left high and dry. Plus, he was screaming inexperience, and as fun as it would be to take a newbie to bed and teach him the tricks of the trade, she didn’t see him as being a perceptive learner.

Yes, she got all this just by looking at him. But when you’ve dated every Mr. Wrong and Mr. Bad in the book, you learn a few tricks of the trade yourself. Besides, she wasn’t here for sex, she was here to spend a night out with her girlfriends, something she didn’t get to do often now that Britt had her hands full playing the role of single momma while her husband was deployed and Allie was as pregnant as they came—Meagan was surprised she was even going to come out tonight.

“No, I’m fine, thanks,” she said, not fully meeting the guy’s eyes. It’s better if she didn’t. Sometimes you give them that little inch and they feel like they can take the whole damn mile.

She saw him smile from the corner of her eye and she fought back the urge to roll her eyes. “What’s your name?”

She should have taken her chances with the karaoke machine.

“Hey, sexy,” a familiar voice said behind her as he slid his large hands around her waist and pressed his palms against her stomach, pushing her back into his chest. His lips were hovering close to her ear, and his warm breath tickled the bare flesh of her neck.

Meagan rolled her neck to the side, allowing Trevor to nuzzle the curve above her shoulder. “Hey, handsome,” she replied. He pressed his lips to her skin and kissed it softly. Just a peck, just a single brush of his lips over her neck—but she could feel the tension start to pull between him and the young guy who was now watching intently. It was like a rubber band stretched to its max and you didn’t want to be the one holding onto it when the other let go.

“Is there a reason you’re still sitting there?” Trevor said, standing up straight and moving his palm to the small of Meagan’s back. Her body sagged back against him and she turned her head away from the pissing match that was unfolding. She pressed her lips together, trying her hardest not to laugh.

No more words were said, but she could imagine the scowls and narrowed eyes on the expression of the guys as they stood there exuding their “me Tarzan” alpha mojo. What seemed like a full sixty seconds later, she heard the sound of the stool sliding back against the hard floor.

Trevor’s hand dropped from the small of her back and she turned back around as he sat down on the now-empty stool next to her, grinning like an idiot.

Meagan leaned in and rocked her shoulder into Trevor’s. “Thanks for coming to my rescue.” Although she hadn’t needed his help and was perfectly capable of rejecting a barely legal man-child, watching a testosterone pissing match was always amusing. Besides, Trevor seemed to get the job done faster.

Trevor gave her his signature wink. “Anytime. I could feel your rejection the second I walked in the door. That kid clearly needed a
bigger
clue to back off.” Yes, Trevor was big and built and attractive. If Ken and G.I. Joe had a love child, it would be Trevor.

Meagan was sure his little public display of fake affection had broken a couple of hearts in the room tonight, although she knew he would be more than happy to mend them. Trevor was a man-whore and a self-proclaimed flirt, but never once had he tried to get Meagan into his bed. Actually, she didn’t know whether to be grateful or offended by that little fact. It just wasn’t like that between them, though—it never had been.

Meagan and Trevor went to high school together when their parents were stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Meagan always had a huge circle of friends, girls and guys alike, and Trevor happened to be one of them. He was the guy everyone wanted to be around. He was fun and outgoing, smart and athletic, funny and always entertaining. He and Meagan became close, and Trevor instantly stepped into the big brother role. It was nice, having that type of a friendship with him—no pressure to have anything other than that. Hell, Trevor had even seen her damn near naked more times than she could count—and not one of those times was sexual. He had seen her ugly-cry—we’re talking blotchy-faced sobs, snotty nose and all—and had held her hair on more than one occasion while she was taking a trip down hangover lane. He was a keeper, but just in that high-five, not-afraid-to-fart-in-front-of-him friend kind of way.

After high school he joined the army, following in his dad’s footsteps, and he and Meagan made sure to stay in touch. When she found out Trevor was getting stationed at Fort Drum in New York, she did her very own version of a touchdown happy dance in the middle of her work’s break room, and the second he got there, they picked right back up from where they had left off—nothing had changed. He was still her overprotective, big brother–like best friend.

“I think you just like to intimidate the hell out of any guy that comes around me, anyway,” she teased. “It’s like you get some twisted enjoyment out of it.”

He propped his elbow on the bar and leaned against it. “What’d I tell you, Meg? If they’re not willing to fight for you—not willing to fight
me
for you—then they’re not fucking worth it anyway.”

She rolled her eyes—she’d heard that one before. “Did you just get here?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Yeah, I came with Mike and Allie.”

Meagan turned around and looked back over to the table where her friends were sitting and waved at Allie. Luckily the bars in New York were nonsmoking, or Allie never would have agreed to their little girls’ night out. “Well, thanks again for coming to my rescue.” She stood up, grabbed her margarita that the bartender had apparently put in front of her at some point, and leaned down to kiss him on the cheek. “I’m gonna go say hi to Allie, I will leave you to hunt down your latest prey for the night.”

“Ah, you know me too well, honey—it’s scary,” he said, giving her another wink before he stood and made his way to the back of the bar.

“Did Trevor scare that poor guy away?” Allie said through her laugh when Meagan got back to the table.

Meagan groaned. “Yes, thank god.”

“He was kinda cute,” Britt said.

Meagan tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. “Uh, Britt, I know it’s been a while with Craig gone and all, but no. Sure, the kid had that puppy dog kind of thing going for him, but I’m a cat person.” Hopefully she wouldn’t end up the single crazy cat lady.

“Yeah, but when’s the last time you’ve had sex?” Eva asked.

“You mean other than with myself?” She sighed.

Eva rolled her eyes and laughed before turning her ever-present mocking stare at Meagan. “Yes, when was the last time you got hot and sweaty between the sheets with someone other than Mr. Dildo?”

Meagan’s head shifted toward her friend, her pain-in-the-ass friend who she loved more than anything, even if she liked to pry into every aspect of anything that had to do with Meagan’s sex life or love life—or in this case lack thereof. Between Eva, who thought it was her life mission to make sure Meagan had a healthy sexual appetite, and her mother, whose voice was a constant tick in her ear, reminding her of the sand in her hourglass, it was no wonder Meagan was still single.

“That would be when I dated Mr. Sexy. God, that man was beautiful.” The very thought of Jax, the last man she dated, made her chest flutter in excitement. His chocolate eyes and his smile were enough to make her hormones go out of whack, but when the clothes came off and she was staring at his hard, black body all thick and masculine . . . she was ready without even needing him to touch her. “Now that man was good in bed, I definitely wouldn’t mind getting hot and sweaty with him again.”

“Jax? Ugh, you and every other female in a thirty-mile radius. That’s why you
dated
him, as in past tense, as in no more. The man was a player.”

Meagan blushed and attempted to remove the image of Jax naked in her bed from her mind. “Yeah, MVP.” She laughed.

“Gross.” Allie chimed in.

“Oh, shut up. You know he was gorgeous. Yes, he was a two-timing asshole, but I gotta give it to the man.”

Eva bit her teeth together. “Why the hell aren’t you more pissed about his cheating ass?”

“Because I didn’t love him. It’s not like I would have married the guy, we just dated.”

Eva rolled her eyes. Meagan didn’t know what was worse: the fact that her overprotective friend was still pissed at her ex—if you could even really call him that—for cheating on her or the fact that her overprotective friend was throwing a hissy fit. “Whatever you say. Now Joey, he was a good candidate.”

“Mr. Bad? Yeah,
you
would think so,” Meagan managed to say through her sudden burst of laughter. Eva thought Jax was bad, yet at the same time thought Joey was in the running for husband-potential boyfriend? That girl had a twisted image of what good meant. Eva was always going for the bad guy, the guy with a little bit a danger to him, but unfortunately she wasn’t alone in that little area—hence Mr. Bad, aka Joey. Why did girls always want the bad boys, anyway? It was like they were bred with a specific pheromone that attracted women by one single sweep of the eyes. It was a universal bad boy trick that seemed to work 99 percent of the time—and Meagan was guilty of falling for it 100 percent of the time.

An elated smile fanned over Eva’s cheeks. “Ah yes, Mr. Bad. Tell me again why you dumped him.”

“Because dating a guy that had monthly bar fights, and who cared more about his car than he did about me, wasn’t on my priority list. Plus, I was always worried Trevor was going to kick his ass. It stressed me out.” Needless to say, Trevor didn’t like Joey either. Maybe saying that her friends were overprotective was an understatement.

“Yes, but that man was sexy,” Eva purred. Meagan could see the flush in her cheeks and could only imagine her stretching her claws out like a vixen cat, waiting to pounce.

She shook her head and sighed, suppressing a laugh. “I’m not arguing with you there, but no.”

Eva hung her head slightly, feigning disappointment. “Mm, mm, mm, that’s too bad.”

“Who did you date before Joey?” Britt asked innocently, but the question had Meagan’s hackles standing up. She didn’t want to travel down that particular road tonight. Not so close to her dreaded birthday and definitely not two margaritas in.

The mood around the table instantly shifted and Meagan jerked her head toward Brittany. “Why are we rehashing my list of failed relationships?”

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