Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix) (9 page)

BOOK: Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix)
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He watched the thin skin at the dip in her throat move as she swallowed hard. He loved watching those little subtle reactions that her body involuntarily had, because she sure as hell wasn’t going to give anything away with her eyes. “Is that why you do it? For a rush?” she breathed, the sound leaving her mouth was soft and gravely.

Reed lifted the corners of his mouth. “It’s why I do everything. If it doesn’t make you hold your breath and shut your eyes the moment before you do it, then it’s not worth doing.” He winked and turned back around and started walking toward the parking lot again. “What’s better than feeling your heart beating so hard in your chest that you can’t breathe, feeling your adrenaline pumping through your veins? It’s the unknown—it’s a rush,” he said as Meagan stepped up next to him, her body so close that it was hard for him not to reach out and touch her, just for the sake of doing so.

“So you’re an adrenaline junkie?”

Reed huffed out a short chuckle. “You could say that. I like to think of myself as more of a thrill seeker. But yeah, I’m addicted. I’m addicted to the feel of the rush. I need it.”

This time Meagan released a soft chuckle. “Mr. Thrill,” she mumbled.

He snapped his head in her direction. “What?”

She rolled her eyes and smiled. “Nothing. So what are some of these breath-holding activities?”

“Well, a few years back I took my kayak down Palouse Falls in Washington. That was a little more than three seconds of breath-holding free falling right there.”

“I knew you were crazy enough to take a boat over a waterfall.”

Reed laughed. “I also love to hang glide. The best place to go is Chattanooga, Tennessee. I go a couple times a year.”

“Yep, insane.”

His head cocked to the side, and he peered at her from the corner of his eye. He liked seeing that lighthearted smiled spread across her cheeks, and he sure as hell liked being the one to put it there. “You think that’s risky, you should see someone wing-walk.”

“Okay, and what the hell is wing-walking?”

“It’s when you’re strapped to the top of a vintage biplane, flying through the sky at one hundred and thirty five miles per hour.”

Meagan’s round eyes widened to the size of golf balls. “Oh hell no, I don’t think I could even watch that. You’ve done it?”

“Done it and loved it,” he said, making sure to drop his voice to get that little eye roll and head shake from her.

“Ok, I’m declaring it official: You’re insane.”

Reed belted out a laugh. “I’ve also been cliff diving in Acapulco, Mexico, and ice climbing in Colorado, just to name a few. There are still some things on my bucket list, though.”

“Yeah, like what?

“I would love to go wing-suit jumping in Switzerland. It’s the most intense free fall jump and the closest thing to natural flight as humanly possible.”

“I’ll gladly go to Switzerland, but there is no way I would do that.”

“What about the death drop in Zambia?”

“Oh gosh, do I even want to know?”

“Probably not.” He chuckled as he stopped in front of his motorcycle and stuffed his bag into the saddlebag behind the seat.

“Does everything you enjoy have to do with heights?” Meagan said behind him.

He turned to face her again. “Pretty much. That or water. My brother and I had plans to surf Ship Stern Bluff in Australia. It’s one of the most dangerous places to surf in the world.”

“Okay, water I can do. As long as I’m not going over any waterfalls or cliffs, I’m good.”

“I’m glad you said that.” He swung his leg over the bike and sat down, picking up the extra helmet. “Get on,” he said, reaching the helmet out for Meagan to take.

“Wait. What?” She hoisted her hands up on her hips. “Reed Porter, where in the hell are you taking me?”

He cracked a smile, he couldn’t help it—he had to tell her. She was just too damn cute all flustered and nervous, it was easy to give in. “White-water rafting, now get on.”

She blew out a long breath that caused her shoulders to slump. She yanked the helmet out of his hands, pulled her hair out of whatever it was that was keeping it piled on top of her head, and put on the helmet. “I swear to you, if you even think about taking me over some damn waterfall, I’ll kill you.” She lifted her leg and climbed on behind him.

He laughed, which he was starting to realize was something she made him do often. It had been a long time since he let loose and laughed with someone like this. It was just another reason he liked being around her. Even if she only wanted to be friends, he would try to learn to deal with that. He’d take her anyway he could have her—although, he would still have rather had her in his bed. “There are no waterfalls on the Chattahoochee River. At least not where we’re going.”

“Oh, that’s reassuring.”

Her small body slid against him, and she wrapped her arms around his waist. He wanted to laugh at the death grip she had locked on him, but he resorted to a smile instead. He loved the way she felt clinging onto him, and he wasn’t about to ruin it by making some smart-ass joke. No, she could hold onto him like this anytime she wanted to.

He turned his head over his shoulder to look at her. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Just don’t go popping wheelies or get the speedometer over one hundred and I’ll be fine.”

“I’ve got to one hundred, huh?”

Meagan tilted her head to the side, and although he couldn’t see her brows beneath the helmet, he was sure they were pressed all the way to her hairline.

“I’m kidding,” he managed to say through yet another laugh. He reached down and placed his hand over hers, which were folded together against his stomach. He peeled her hands apart and wrapped his own around them—never once moving his eyes from her. “I may like to take risks, but I would never risk your safety. Not ever.” The concern that lined her expression smoothed out as she stared into his eyes . . . as she realized he was serious. He squeezed her hands gently. “You’re safe with me.”

Chapter Seven

“So, what’d ya think?” Reed asked as they got back to his motorcycle. It was just now dark out and the night air was perfect for ride.

“I loved it.”

“So you would do it again with me?” he asked, straddling the bike. He grabbed Meagan’s hand and helped her on behind him. She had changed into her jean shorts, and his palm brushed against the top of her thigh as she lifted her leg behind him.

“Absolutely,” she said, sliding back behind him, a place her body very much liked to be. She’d loved watching Reed as he guided them down the river. It was like all the playfulness that was inside of him seeped into his expression. It gave her that little pitter-patter that was happening more and more often around him.

“All right, sugar. I’m holding you to that.”

“You do that.” She smiled. “I’m going to text Eva and tell her I’m on my way home, she probably thinks I’ve gotten lost or something.”

“Better yet, why don’t you text her and have her meet us over at the Oasis for a drink?”

“I don’t know—”

“Come on, one drink, sugar.”

“Fine, one drink . . . and food . . . then you’re taking my ass home.”

“One drink and I will take your sexy ass anywhere.”

Meagan grinned and sent a quick text to Eva but didn’t wait for her reply. Instead she just leaned forward and pressed her body against Reed. The insides of her thighs molded around his hips, and a dull throb crept through her core. She was going to have to get a handle on this effect he had on her, and quick, but some subconscious part of her didn’t care, and that same subconscious part of her allowed her to press her thighs against him, almost squeezing him with her legs as she locked her hands around his stomach again. She could easily feel every single ridge and valley of every single muscle that made up his hard stomach. If memory served her right, she could just shut her eyes, lean her cheek against his back, and picture his naked body as she felt him beneath her fingertips. But what good would that do her? Absolutely nothing.

He was hands off, well, so to speak; she wasn’t particularly hands off at that very moment, but allowing herself to go back there, to think about what had happened last night, or eight years ago for that matter, would do nothing but weaken her. Dammit, she wasn’t going to get wrapped up in Reed. She wasn’t going to get wrapped up in him, she wasn’t, she wasn’t . . . she just needed to keep telling herself that.

“You holding on, sugar?” Reed asked as the motorcycle roared to life, the vibrations rumbling underneath her.

“Let’s go.”

Reed took off, and she wrapped her arms tighter around his hard stomach. The wind was warm, and it bathed her skin in a layer of comfort as she relaxed against Reed’s back. She enjoyed feeling the flex of his muscles beneath her fingers, the subtle movement of his hips between her legs, and the faint expanse of his back moving beneath her chest as he breathed. Every once in a while she would feel him turn his head over his shoulder to look at her, but she kept her head to the side, watching the street blur past her in an array of reds and greens as the lights flashed around them.

Ten minutes later they were pulling into a sports bar. It was your typical beer, fried food, TV screens everywhere, and more pool tables than actual tables, kind of place. She just hoped like hell no one was singing karaoke.

Meagan climbed off the bike, using Reed’s shoulders for balance as she swung her leg around. “You like burgers?” he asked, tucking the keys in the pocket of his jeans as he climbed off after her. The man could pull off jeans and a shirt better than any other man she knew.

“Am I American?”

A smile lifted at the corners of that damn mouth of his. It was a smile that lit up his eyes, making them greener now. Why did he have to look so adorable and hot at the same time? “Ah, you’re a woman after my own heart. Beer?”

She tilted her head to the side. “Guinness draft.”

“I think I’m in love,” he said, swinging his arm around her shoulder. It was a casual gesture—simple—there was nothing romantic or sexy about it. Hell, it was something Trevor would do. But she still couldn’t stop the flutter that picked up in her chest.

They walked in, chatter and laughter bouncing through the open room. There wasn’t a single table available, and the seats along the bar were all full as well. “Well, I’m not sure we’re gonna be getting a burger here,” Meagan said, scanning the room.

“Nah, some of my guys are here, we’ll take over their table. That okay?” He was cute, concerned, like she might have a problem sitting at a table with a bunch of men.

She nodded. “Why wouldn’t it be okay?”

“All right.” He led her to the side of the bar—smack-dab in front of where the Cubs were playing the Braves on a large TV hanging on the wall. No wonder it was packed.

“And who do we have here?” a guy with a Braves baseball hat on said with just a little too much innuendo. He was cute, and he would be even cuter if he took off that Braves hat. Okay, so yes, they were in Georgia, but the Braves, really? She was a Cubs fan through and through, just like her dad.

“Guys, this is Meagan, my new neighbor,” Reed said, yanking the seat out from under Baseball Hat Guy.

The guy hopped off his stool before he fell to the ground and not-so-nonchalantly bounced his dark eyebrows up and down at Reed. “So this is the new neighbor, huh?”

“Aw, you’ve been talking about me?” she asked teasingly, helping herself to the now-empty stool and picking up a menu. “All good things, I hope.” She kept her eyes on the menu.

Reed slapped Braves hat guy on the back of the head. “Nothing but good, sugar.”

“Damn, brother. How in the hell you forgot a woman that looked like her is something I will never understand.” He shook his head.

“I didn’t forget her, prick. I just didn’t recognize her. Not at first.” Meagan pressed her lips into a tight line to keep from smiling as Reed tore his hands through his hair. Okay, so she gathered that he felt bad about his little memory loss, but was it so wrong for her to enjoy his inner turmoil as his friends give him shit about it? Nah, she didn’t think so.

Meagan looked up and smirked across the table at Braves guy. “Thanks.”

Dimples drilled into his cheeks as he smiled one of those I-just-one-upped-my-buddy smiles. “Hey, all I’m sayin’ is, I wouldn’t have forgotten you.”

Meagan didn’t need to turn her head to the side to see that Reed was sending his buddy a look that was lethal, she could basically feel the tension ready to snap. Mental note—sore subject for Reed. Okay, fun over . . . for now.

His buddy just laughed and shifted his head toward the ground. He obviously got the shut-the-hell-up memo from Reed’s stare, but whether or not he was laughing at the fact that Reed didn’t recognize her or if he was laughing at Reed’s reaction to his little rib to the ego, she didn’t know.

“So this pain in the ass right here is Sanders, or Luke—whichever you want to call him. Prick usually works too.”

“Nice to meet you, Meagan,” Sanders said, reaching his thick arm out for her to shake. Damn, the guy was like sex on steroids.
Big
didn’t even come close to describing him. She thought Trevor was huge, and Kale was huge, but this guy made them look like weenies. She couldn’t help but wonder if he had little dick syndrome. Someone that big had to be lacking in other areas, it just wouldn’t be fair if he wasn’t.

“You, too.”

“And this guy over here is Murano,” Reed said, gesturing to the olive-skinned man sitting across from her. He had a hard line to his jaw and a faint scar across his bottom lip that extended down his neck. He was wearing a plain white T-shirt that made his dark skin look even darker. And his arms were something to take notice of. Not only were they big and defined—just the way she liked them, okay, just the way every warm-blooded female liked them—but they were covered in tattoos that went almost completely to his wrists. He looked like your typical Mr. Bad, with his short hair and hard eyes that were so dark they smoldered. And that scar. She had seen her fair share of scars like that one, and she would bet money that it was evidence of his deployments. But she liked it, it made him even more attractive.

“Hi,” he said, and Meagan was shocked at the warmth in his voice. She had to admit, she was half expecting him to give her the guy-nod and leave it at that.

Meagan smiled back at him. She had a feeling she was going to like these guys.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she pulled it out to see a text from Eva. “Eva’s here, I’ll be right back.”

Meagan got up and headed for the front of the bar, her itty-bitty friend walking in just as she got there. Eva was short, really short, barely reaching five four, and her curly red hair was bigger than she was. The girl had a body on her, too. She looked like a gymnast with firm thighs and arms, and a tummy Meagan would kill for. If you took away her collection of push-up bras which transformed her Bs to full Cs, then she would be the ideal image of a gold medal gymnast. Her low-cut tank top showed off just how good Victoria’s little secret could be for a pair of boobs, and her jeans clung to her body perfectly from her hips all the way to her ankles.

“Hey, babe,” Eva said when she saw Meagan. “Where the hell have you been all night?”

“Reed took me white-water rafting.”

Her body perked up a little as she focused her gaze on Meagan. “With Reed, huh? And I suppose he’s here with you now?”

“Yes, and a couple of his friends. Fair warning, they look like they need to be up on stage at that Chippendales show we went to in Vegas last summer.”

A hint of a twinkle sparkled in Eva’s eye and Meagan could see her perverted mind reeling. “Really?”

“Yes, really, and I know how you operate, so keep it clean,” she warned.

Eva shook her head. “I’m slightly offended.” Meagan narrowed her eyes. One thing Eva rarely got was offended. “You’re right, I’m not. But don’t worry, I have no plans to scoop up one of your neighbor/old one-night-stand/new hookup boy’s friends. Rest assured, I will be on my best behavior.”

Meagan frowned. “His name’s Reed. Please refrain from calling him
old one-night stand
or
new hookup boy
. I’m trying to move away from that, remember?” she said, pulling a tuft of hair from the nape of her neck and twirling it around her finger.

“Honey, I don’t know why you are fighting it. He’s beautiful, he puts a cheesy-ass grin on your face, and after what you told me about last night—he does a lot more than that. I don’t see the problem.”

“You know what the problem is. He’s everything that I usually go for. Sexy, funny, carefree, silly, reckless—”

“I don’t see how any of this is helping your case. You’re just making
me
want to date him.”

Meagan sighed. She needed Eva to be on her side, to cheer her on and keep her on track. Not push her in the opposite direction. She was supposed to be her wingman. “I’m looking for stable, settled, mature—Reed’s like this giant man-boy who wants to play all the time.”

“I forgot, you are turning thirty and now you want Mr. Boring.”

“Mr. Safe. Come on,” Meagan said, changing the subject. She and Eva could go at it all night, and Meagan was hungry.

Eva followed behind Meagan, through the crammed bar and back to the table. Meagan stepped to the side, allowing room for Eva to squeeze in, and she couldn’t help the laugh that escaped from her mouth when she saw Sanders’ face as he looked at Eva.

“Down, boy,” Meagan said as she sat down on her stool, earning a round of laughter from Murano and Reed—but all it did was fuel the fire. Sanders laid on the smile, nice and thick, and introduced himself to Eva. Meagan was pretty sure Eva swooned a little, which shocked the hell out of her. Eva didn’t swoon. She gawked, flirted, and sometimes even harassed—but never swooned. She seriously swayed a little in her peep-toe pumps (Eva was the girliest tomboy Meagan knew) as she shook Sanders’ hand. He got up and offered Eva his stool and she took it, sitting down next to Meagan. Eva smiled, and Meagan knew exactly what was going through her best friend’s mind at that very moment. They might as well been speaking telepathically to each other—Eva had a new game, and it was called Sanders.

***

“Scratch the burger, I’m getting the Chicago-style hot dog,” Meagan said, closing her menu and handing it to the waiter who had finally made his way to the table. Reed didn’t like the way his eyes lingered on Meagan a little longer than necessary, and he didn’t like the smile he was giving her either. Jealously was not one of Reed’s many attributes, but he was feeling all sorts of jealous at that very moment. He chalked it up to being the result of her not wanting
him
to look at her that way—a result of the fucking “friend” title she had labeled him with. He could be her friend, hell, he wanted that—but being restrained from getting her beneath him when that seemed to be all he could think about was making that damn “friend” title a scarlet letter. What made it even worse was that he couldn’t do a damn thing about the waiter looking at her like he was picturing her naked—and Reed wanted to pluck his eyeballs out of their fucking sockets.

Sanders snagged a couple of chairs over from the neighboring table as the people left, scooting one over to Reed. “So, Meagan, you ladies coming to the cabin with us tomorrow?”

“The cabin? No,” she said as she brought the tall frosted glass to her lips. She took a sip of her beer and set it back down in front of her, her fingerprints lingering on the chilled glass.

“Why the hell not?

“Maybe because no one asked her,” Eva said, pointing her accusing stare at Reed while she arched those red eyebrows of hers. Reed was just waiting for her to start breathing fire. She obviously was also aware of the unfortunate lapse in his memory when it came to her best friend. He’d duck when the fire came—he brought that heat on himself. He threw his hands up in the air. “I had complete intentions on asking her and you,” he said, nodding toward Eva. “But I got a little distracted.”

Meagan turned his way, no smile, no typical narrowed-eye glance. She just looked at him, like she knew exactly the distraction he was talking about—almost like she hoped she was the distraction he was talking about.

BOOK: Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel (InterMix)
10.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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