Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix) (4 page)

BOOK: Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix)
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“All right. Well, it was nice to meet you,” he hollered after her.

She stopped and turned back around. Her eyes looked over him again, like she was studying him, before she frowned. “It was nice . . . meeting you too.”

***

Seriously? Reed Porter? Of all the people she could have possibly run into, she ran into him. And to top it off she looked like she had just walked out of the homeless shelter. Her yoga pants should have seen the rag pile more than a couple of washes ago and her hair was piled on top of her head in a massive case of truck-bed-head. Running into the sexy bad-boy charmer that she had her first one-night stand with years ago wasn’t ideal. Oh, and he didn’t even remember her! That was an ego-bruiser right there. Didn’t say much for the impression she had left on him.

And of course he looked good. Better than before. Funny how age made men better. He’d had that boyish thing going for him back when she had met him before, but now he had the sex appeal of a man. His face had a five o’clock shadow and the angle of his jaw was a little sharper, but his dark hair had that same short cut, and his eyes were that same riveting color that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be brown or green or gold. They were a little bit of all of the above. Light brown, ringed with green, and flecked with gold—beautiful. And his mouth. Dammit if that wasn’t the sexiest mouth she had ever seen on a man in her life. The sharp angle of his top lip made her want to bite it, and his bottom lip was slightly fuller than the top. That mouth sure knew how to lay on a smile too—and she was pretty sure he knew the effect that smile of his had. Damn, Reed Porter was her neighbor.

Meagan opened the patio door, walked in, and sat Harry down inside.

“I was just getting ready to come on the hunt with you,” Eva said, rounding the corner from the hall that led to the bedrooms. “I snatched Weasley and locked him in the bathroom until we get done bringing our stuff in.” She nodded toward the black fur ball that was now sniffing out every square inch of the living room. “I’m glad you found him.”

“Yes, found and retrieved by our new neighbor,” Meagan said, plopping down on the empty living room floor.

“You met one of our neighbors already?” Eva asked, taking a seat on the floor across from her.

“Yep, our next-door neighbor, but I’ve met him before. Actually, I’ve more than met him.”

“Okay, you’re going to need to explain a little better than that.”

“His name is Reed Porter, and I met him the night he graduated Officer Basic Leader Course when I was at Fort Leonard Wood with my dad, gosh, almost eight years ago.”

Eva pulled her hair back into her hands and wrapped her long curls into a ponytail, pulling the mass of red hair out of her face. “And I’m guessing by the way your face is turning into a cheesy grin right now that you did more than just meet him?”

“Yes, he flirted his way into my bed. Well, actually, he flirted his way into his motel bed with me in tow.” Meagan huffed out a breath through her mouth and tilted her head toward the ceiling for a moment before looking back at Eva. “We had a one-night stand, a really good one-night stand.”

Eva laughed. “How perfect is this? You already have a booty-call and we haven’t even been here an hour—bonus that he lives next door. What did he say when he saw you?”

“Oh, that’s the kicker. He didn’t remember me.”

Eva’s face fell and her eyes bugged out of her head. “You’re fucking kidding me.”

“I wish I was, my friend. He even checked me out like I was a new piece of meat. And get this, he invited me back to his apartment for a drink.”

“And you didn’t tell him who you are?”

“What was I supposed to say, ‘Hi, remember me? You fucked my brains out eight years ago in your motel room?’ No, it’s embarrassing enough that he doesn’t remember me. I don’t need to feed the humiliation fire by adding his own embarrassment to it.”

“Good point. So what’s the game plan? Revenge sex? Best friend revenge sex?”

Meagan laughed. Leave it to Eva to start scheming. “No, I’m not plotting anything.”

“You’re no fun. Come on, let’s at least torture him a little. You need to get him all hot and bothered again and then shut him down. You said he was checking you out. Play with him a little. Give me some fun.”

“You’re cruel, you know that?”

“Guilty. But seriously, you need to tease him until his memory comes back in full swing.”

“That’s not really my style, Eva.”

“I know, but it’s my style and I need to live vicariously through you. Will you just think about it?”

“Yes, in an attempt to shut you up I will agree to think about it. But don’t hold your breath. And on a serious note, what the hell are we going to sleep on while we wait for our stuff to get here?”

Eva pulled her legs underneath her and stood up. “I have air mattresses in the truck. I’ll go get them,” she said, walking to the patio door.

Meagan quickly got up and followed her. “I’ll come with you. And this time, don’t let the cat out.”

Chapter Three

Reed hadn’t seen his sexy new neighbor around the apartments all week and it wasn’t for lack of trying. She had lit a fire under him. There was something about her and he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was just . . . something. Like a word on the tip of your tongue. Like an itch you can’t scratch, but you needed to so damn bad. That was what the small amount of time he spent with Meagan the other night had done to him, given him an itch. She had crawled under his skin when she gave him those narrowed-eye stares that were challenging him in a way she couldn’t possibly even know. She didn’t seem like a woman who liked to play cat-and-mouse games, and it wasn’t his thing either. He liked a challenge, there was no doubt about that—but he didn’t do the chase. However, he just might be willing to chase after Meagan—if she would let him catch her—and as of right now, that hadn’t yet been determined.

It was the final day of Jump Week, the last time his soldiers would jump before they graduated Airborne School. He loved jumping out of a C-130 aircraft at twelve hundred feet in the air, feeling the rush of the fall before landing, and he loved jumping with his soldiers. The fun part was the first jump. He loved listening to the other jumpmasters tell their horror stories—trying their damndest to put the fear of God in each and every one of the jumpers, especially the young, cocky sergeants who thought they had something to prove. The instructors would tell stories of how they broke legs or how they thought they pissed themselves. He got a morbid thrill out of watching his instructors scare the shit out of the soldiers as they went around, checking off each soldier on their Kevlar with chalk once their equipment was cleared, giving them hell. Fuck, they all had to go through it, it was fun to dish it back out. It was tradition.

The last jump was his favorite, though. The first-jump jitters were all but gone, and the thrill of the fall vibrated through every soldiers’ bones as the plane took off the ground. By jump five the men knew what to expect—that small ounce of fear still lit up behind their eyes, but at that point the men got to enjoy it for what it was.

Reed also enjoyed watching his jumpmasters in action. It gave him a sense of pride watching the non-commissioned officers of his company do their job. Reed wasn’t your typical company commander—he didn’t just sit back in an office somewhere running the groundwork behind the scenes, wishing like hell he was out with his men. No, he made sure to be with his men. He made sure to form those relationships with the soldiers who were there for school. He made sure that they knew just who the hell their CO was.

The plane had just taken off and Reed’s eyes circumnavigated around him, taking in all the soldiers who were sitting, waiting to reach the drop zone to jump for the last time before their wings were pinned.

“You still getting that cabin this weekend for the Fourth?” one of Reed’s first sergeants, Murano, asked as they stood at the back of the plane.

“Yeah, I’ve got it Sunday and Monday night. I took a four-day pass. You still comin’?”

“Yeah, unless Bridgette comes in town.”

“Really, man? You’re still hung up on her? Life is too fucking short, move on. You’re acting like a whiney-ass girl.”

“You say that because you’ve never had anyone stick around long enough to care about. I’m tellin’ you, you find that one and she leaves you high and dry—you’ll be crawling back to her every chance she gives you too. No fucking lie.” Murano stepped forward. “Two minutes!” he shouted through the plane, and the words ricocheted back to him as the soldiers repeated it.

The large door at the back of the plane opened up, and Murano hooked into the plane and leaned out to check for the drop zone and to ensure there was nothing on the aircraft that would cut the static line when the soldiers jumped. This was all true, but he also did it to show off in front of the soldiers.

“We all good?” Reed asked as Murano pulled himself back into the plane.

“Yep.”

“Good.”

“Stand up!” Murano shouted over the sound of rushing air that now filled the plane.

The soldiers all stood and faced the rear of the plane.

“All right, hook up!”

Everyone took the static lines that were attached to their parachutes and hooked them up to the retention wire above their heads, including Reed, who, since he was the company commander, was always the first one out of the aircraft. Each soldier checked his equipment, then did the same to the guy in front of him—checking reserve chutes and Kevlar.

“Thirty seconds!”

Reed looked back and drank in the moment like he did before every jump. Everyone’s adrenaline was pumping—the feeling of knowing that you were about to do something completely crazy, but knowing it was completely worth it, was humming through their minds. It was the best fucking feeling, and seeing it across every single soldiers’ face as they stood waiting like little kids ready to tear open their birthday presents never got old.

The green light turned on and a wicked smile pulled on Reed’s lips. “See you on the ground, Murano,” he said, right before his NCO shouted, “GO, GO, GO,” then Reed was soaring through the air.

Reed pressed his feet and knees together as he rolled his head to his chest. The warm air that pricked against Reed’s face was soothing and comforting as he counted,
one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four,
to the sound of the static line pulling his chute open.

Reed looked up and checked his chute. All was good—it was open, and he was able to enjoy the twenty-second ride back to the ground. He looked around, deciding the direction of the wind and looking for the smoke pits that indicated the drop zone. Unfortunately, there was never a soft landing, but Reed knew how to anticipate the vibrations that ricocheted through his body from the impact—it was that good kind of hurt, that addictive pain.

Reed landed on the ground and rolled to a stop and within seconds was packing up his chute.

“Hey, CO!”

Reed turned his head toward the smoke pit to his left where a big silver truck was parked. Standing next to it was a cocky, arrogant jumpmaster who just so happened to be Reed’s best friend. He gathered his bag into his hands and jogged toward the truck.

“Hey, Sanders,” he said after he threw his bag and Kevlar in the bed of the truck. “Weren’t you supposed to be with the next plane?”

“Nah, not today, I’m on ground duty, and I come bearing gifts.” Sanders tossed Reed a Monster. Fuck, getting up at 3:30 in the morning on jump days, he needed something a hell of a lot stronger than an energy drink, but he wasn’t going to complain.

“Thanks,” he said, popping the tab and taking a couple of swigs.

“Fuck, we got a cigarette roll,” Sanders said.

Reed snapped around and sure as shit one of his soldiers’ chutes hadn’t opened. He absentmindedly held his breath. His body straightened and his hands clenched and unclenched at his sides.

Reed could see the soldier kicking his legs like he was running in the air, just like he was supposed to, as he spun around and around. A lot of times the chute would catch wind and open up, and Reed prayed like hell it would, but as the soldier got closer and closer to the ground, it wouldn’t matter anyway.

“Fuck, pull your reserve,” Reed said out loud.

“He’s gonna hit hard, Porter.” Sanders reached in through the window of the truck and grabbed the handheld radio. God, Reed hoped like hell they wouldn’t have to use it.

“Dammit, pull your reserve!” Reed yelled, knowing good and well the soldier couldn’t hear him, but the need to do something, anything, to help the guy out was clawing at him.

Just as the soldier was reaching the top of the trees, his reserve chute shot up—but it wouldn’t do much to soften the land.

Reed and Sanders both sucked in a breath in unison, cringing as they watched the soldier hit the ground.

“Oh, fuck,” Sanders said as he released the breath he was holding.

They both stood there for what seemed like forever when it fact it was no more than a second or two, waiting for the soldier to hit his knees, to give the “All okay, jumpmaster.” But he didn’t.

“Let’s go!” Reed said, jumping in the truck. Sanders tossed him the radio and then hopped in behind the wheel.

“We need a medic on-site, now. Soldier’s chute didn’t open; reserve was pulled at about two hundred feet. We are on our way to him now, about one hundred and forty yards out,” Reed said into the radio. His words were calm, even, and completely in control—the complete opposite of what he was feeling inside, but he was the company commander, it was his job to stay in control.

The truck pulled up next to the solider and Reed was out of the cab before it rolled to a complete stop. There was blood covering the guy’s pants across his thigh and Reed didn’t need to cut through them to know that he’d broken his femur. The way his leg was bulging through the material and the way the fabric was stained crimson was evidence enough.

“Hey, Sergeant,” Reed said, the level of his voice lowered to a tone you would use to sooth a child. “You’ll be fine, my man, we gotcha.”

The young soldier was in shock, his screams turning into moans, but there was nothing Reed could do but wait for the medics to pull up.

***

It was Meagan’s second day working in the emergency room at the Martin Army Community Hospital on post. She was lucky to even have this job. She didn’t know what the hell she was thinking when she up and quit her job at Fort Drum to move here. Sure, she’d wanted a change of scenery, but it was kind of reckless. Thankfully they hired her on and she was able to start immediately. She loved being a nurse, and working in the ER was going to be a nice change from the clinic back at Drum. She was just
rolling
in the changes these days.

“So, Meagan, how’s your second day treating you?” Zoe, a tall voluptuous brunette with legs that went all the way up to her eyeballs, asked as she leaned against the nurses’ station.

“It’s going really well.”

“Yeah, the staff showing you the ropes okay?” An extremely tall, dark, and handsome doctor said as he walked up and leaned against the desk next to Zoe. Okay, so if this were an episode of
Grey’s Anatomy
she would have most definitely been staring at McSteamy or McDreamy—she never remembered which one was which—but it didn’t matter because this doctor was all of the above. He was tall and lean, but what she could see of his arms gave her a clear idea of how chiseled his body was underneath his ACU pants and his scrub top and let’s just say she was fighting back the heat that was threatening to rise in her cheeks.

“Yeah, they’ve been great.”

“Good. I’m Dr. Ryan, by the way,” he said, reaching out his hand to Meagan. “But please, call me Jason.”

Well damn, the blushing came. “Hi, Jason, I’m Meagan,” she said, smiling like the band nerd who just got asked to prom by the star quarterback.

Somewhere in the midst of the ten seconds of the McDreamy introduction, Meagan missed the phone ringing at the nurses’ station. It wasn’t until Zoe rushed around the desk and stopped in front of them that she registered it. “We’ve got a soldier coming in with a broken femur.” Dr. Ryan instantly dropped Meagan’s hand and they both turned to Zoe as she continued. “Airborne student, his chute didn’t open and his reserve went up at tree level. He has a lot of blood loss. The medics gave him morphine.”

They were all rushing to the ER doors, and it took Meagan a second to realize it. She was so caught up in the moment that she was unaware her feet were even moving.

“Zoe, call OR and have them prep room one.”

Not even a moment later, the ER doors were opening and two medics were pushing a now unconscious soldier into the hospital—and behind them was Reed.

The medics started talking to Dr. Ryan as they set up the soldier in one of the empty ER rooms. Another doctor and another nurse came to assist Dr. Ryan, and Meagan stepped out of the room to where Reed was pacing the hall.

“Hey,” she said calmly, placing her hand on the back of his shoulder. The soft touch of her fingers startled him and he spun around to face her.

“Meagan, hi,” he said, almost surprised. “I didn’t know you worked here.”

“It’s only my second shift,” she replied, but it was like she was talking to a wall. He wasn’t paying attention to her. Sure, his eyes were looking at her, but it was as if none of the words that she said reached his ears. His head was elsewhere at that moment.

“Reed. . . ,” she said again when he picked back up his task of wearing down the hall floors.

“Is he going to be okay?”

“The doctor is taking him up to surgery as soon as the OR is ready. We’ll take good care of him, I promise.”

He stopped back in front of her and shoved his hands down into the pockets of his ACU pants as he threw his head back. “Fuck, surgery? I need to call his parents.”

He lowered his head and his eyes landed directly on Meagan’s, which hadn’t left him since he stopped moving. “Can I see him real quick?”

“Reed, you know you can’t—”

“Captain Porter?”

Reed looked to the side of Meagan as Dr. Ryan spoke from behind her.

“Yes?”

“We’re taking Sergeant Brewer to the OR now. We will contact your battalion when he’s out of surgery.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Dr. Ryan turned and headed back down the hall. There was nothing that Reed could do other than wait. She was actually surprised that he came with the medics at all. It wasn’t typical for the company commander to ride in an ambulance with an injured soldier—but she had a tugging inkling in the back of her mind that he was anything but typical. He might have lost a handful of brownie points when he didn’t recognize her, but she tossed a couple back. He cared about his solider, he was worried, and the sight of this sexy, strong man going out of his way for his solider earned him a few gold stars in her book.

“Look, Meg. . . .” Her nickname coming out of his mouth reminded her of Trevor, instantly flipping her switch and pissing her off. It was genuine, sweet almost, which made it worse, because he didn’t even remember her. Her friends called her Meg, the people she were close to called her Meg. Neither one of those things described the man in front of her.

BOOK: Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix)
6.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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