Okay, we had to stop ourselves from laughing long enough to get this exclusive excerpt of Rush, by Shae Ross, live! If you love amazingly snappy dialogue, this one’s for you! Rush is out now!
I’m going to kill my sister. Strike that. First, I’ll shave her bald, then I’ll kill her.
White ruffles billow around my legs. I’m following my best friend Jace to the entrance of the Rathskeller bar. It’s the night before Halloween and thanks to my sister Cate, who stole my badass ninja costume and left me hers, I’m dressed as Little Bo Peep. Despite the fact that I haven’t worn a dress in years and Cate doesn’t wear anything unless it’s fringed, feathered, or sequined, she thought this “stripper on her way to a carnival” look would work for me.
Double doors burst open, blasting the night air with riotous sounds from the crowd within. Anxiety bubbles in my swampy stomach as we sidestep the gang of sweaty men that are laughing and stumbling out. “Hey, look, it’s Cinderella,” one of them calls in a tone of drunken euphoria.
I locate the source—a stocky cowboy, grinning at me from under the brim of his Stetson. When I pass him, he turns and walks backward, opening his hands over an impressive beer belly. “Aw, where ya’ goin’? I got your Prince Charming right here.”
Jace loops her arm through mine and nods to his gut. “You need to reacquaint yourself with a mirror, my friend.” His buddies roar, nudging him toward the parking lot. I blow out a breath then instantly suck it back as Jace reaches for the door handle.
“Wait!” My palm slaps the door, and she pauses, staring at me with an expectant look. “I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I thought I could but—I just can’t.” I spin and lunge toward the parking lot but she catches the hem of my dress with a firm stomp. My corset tightens, pinching my ribs, and I jerk to a stop.
“Priscilla! Get your ruffled butt back here.”
I grab a fistful of fabric and yank. It springs loose, sending me staggering. I’m trying to make my getaway, but it’s like moving with a tent strapped to my waist. No wonder Little Bo Peep couldn’t find her sheep—she couldn’t fucking move. Jace pivots, squashing my split second of freedom with her other foot. Frustration rumbles up my throat and I glare at her, but she’s unfazed. Reddish-blonde bangs sweep low on her brow, enhancing the twinkle of victory in her blue eyes.
I twist and thrust my palms out. “Seriously, do you know how humiliating this is for me?”
“You oughta be owning that corset like Madonna in the eighties.”
I sigh and flick a string off the faint rise of cleavage. “I’m going to lose more than my sheep in this get-up.”
“Exactly. This is your big chance. When’s the last time you kissed a guy? Suck it up, Buttercup, we’re goin’ in.”
Jace has been my roommate since freshmen year. We play soccer for South Eastern University in Detroit and in the time I’ve known her, she’s managed to pull me into every weird, hysterical, creepy, slightly dangerous scenario known to mankind.
“Oh, come on, Sil. This is one of our last chances to have fun before the qualifying games start. It’s an off-campus bar. It’s not like you’re going to see anyone you know.” She turns her wrists down, making puppy eyes, and hops with each begging word, jostling her glittered frame. “Please, please, please.”
The anxiousness in my stomach melts into a heavy feeling. I swallow hard. I can do this for her. Little Bo Peep might hurl all over her dress before this night’s over, but I can do it.
I pound my shepherd staff on the pavement. “All right, but stop jumping. You’re blinding me with shimmer.” Excitement lights her round features, and she hustles me through the door, reinforcing my decision by gushing about Ian’s smoking hot friends.
Jeering voices mix with laughter, spiking intermittently above the drone of hard rock. We trudge deeper into the bar, passing three hockey players, a woman in John Deere overalls, a creepy mime, and a caveman, when Jace flinches. “There,” she yells, pointing to a zombie wobbling out of a circle of men. Mr. He’s The One moves toward us, his eyes glowing like Christmas bulbs against the putrid gray of his face paint.
“Hey, you made it.” They lean awkwardly, attempting to reach each other around the Spam can, then he dips his head to the side and plants a kiss on her cheek.
“Ian, this is my bestie, Priscilla,” she shouts. He nods and smiles, motioning us toward his friends and signaling the bartender with two fingers.
After an hour of drinking and laughing, I excuse myself for the bathroom, waving off Jace’s offer to accompany me. My skirt dents and reshapes like a cotton ball, sweeping over bodies as I hold my shepherd staff out, clearing a path. This thing is actually kind of awesome. I turn into the bathroom hallway, and I’m contemplating what Little Bo Peep does with her dress when she pees, when the door to the men’s room opens, and a sleek creature slides out.
“Oh,” my slightly stunned voice echoes softly.
He raises his tawny head, and his gaze fixes on me. He’s wearing a Chewbacca costume—furry mask, black button nose, and perma-smile lips. His head tilts, and he scratches his temple. I’m a parachute of white, filling the hallway from waist down—there’s no way for him to pass in the narrow space.
“Uh…sorry.” I grab a handful of skirt and back into the wall. I lean, preparing to shimmy around him, but an odd sound escapes from behind his mask—a low Wookie-like murmur. Amusement or maybe…appreciation? His gaze is angled down, unmoving, and I drop my head to see what he’s seeing. Without realizing it, I’ve lifted my skirt high enough to expose the lacy tops of my white hose and, worse than that, my pink underwear. Nice, Priscilla. Heat rushes up my neck. I huff out a nervous laugh, shove the fabric down, and hold my breath, waiting for him to pass.
He sidesteps, easing by slowly with his back to the wall. I should stop staring—look down, or up, anywhere else— but I really want to see more of his eyes. My sweaty grip tightens around the staff as his shaggy feet skim the toes of my Converse high tops. A swirl of blue gray settles over me. Holy shit. His eyes are…mesmerizing…and I’m completely absorbed. God. If I react this way to just having seen his eyes, imagine what his face must look like…and the rest of him. My gaze drops to his chest. It’s broad and his stance is firm and my hearts jumps at my next realization. He’s taller than me—by more than just a few inches. I raise my gaze to his and match the smile I see spreading under the mask again. He nods slowly, as if he’s reluctant to break the connection.
“Peep,” he says.
p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>“Chewie,” I respond. Another smile. Another breathless beat. I straighten, turn, and step slowly toward the women’s restroom, my skirt rustling a faint swoosh over his furry legs. I’m listening for movement behind me, but there’s nothing—just the distinct feeling of his presence. I pause in front of the door and give in to the urge to look back.
He’s centered in the hallway where I left him, watching me. I smile, and his torso leans left, as if he’s going to fall over. He lifts a paw and thumps his heart twice. Moaning echoes, filling the hallway with an animalistic groan. I smile, push the door open, and disappear through it, erupting into a fit of laughter. God. I must be drunk—I’m flirting with a mohair galaxy rebel, but he seemed kind of hot to me.
I’m taking the long way back to Jace, searching the bar for the tall shag carpet when a draft of air flutters over my arm. Someone’s propped open a side door and the temptation of cool air prickles the sweat on the back of my neck. I’ll just hop out for a minute, and then I’ll get back to my wooly Jedi fantasy. I step gingerly over the rock that’s wedged under the door and emerge in the shadows of an alley.
The temperature drop seduces a welcome rise of gooseflesh, and I lift my hair, stretching into the night breeze, just as an angry voice chops the night air. Peering cautiously down the alley I see two men dressed as pirates. They’re growling at a third man who is half hidden behind a dumpster.
A grunt erupts, followed by swinging limbs. Ice floods my veins, and my heartbeat suspends as the shadowy figures curse and struggle. Jesus! Thick punches land between sharp gasps, and I grit my teeth harder with each sound. I need to get help. I spin for the door, but a flash of tan fur stops me. Chewie? I squint at the dark silhouettes. It is him. My pulse fires like an assault rifle.
“Hey!” I yell. They either don’t hear me or they’re ignoring me. I lunge for the door, step into the hallway, and fumble with the lever on the fire alarm. The siren pierces my senses like a blade, and I dive back to the alley with the deafening howl pounding around me.
Adrenaline surges as I run. Chewbacca is on his knees, pulling one of the guys down, but the other pirate is angling a leg, about to slam it into his head.
“Hey!” I wind my staff and let loose a full-force swing. My elbows jerk to a painful halt as it connects with the taller pirate’s upper arm and he stumbles.
“What the fuck?” He snarls. His arm lifts, and I watch it descending in slow motion. It cuffs the side of my face, and a blowtorch of pain explodes in my jaw. Owwwch!
My body half buckles, and I blink at the pavement, running my tongue over my teeth, but all I can feel is a hot tingling sensation. I spear him with an exorcist look as he’s making his way back to Chewie. “I’m not Mary Poppins. I’m Little Bo Peep, asshole.” My grip tightens, and I flip the staff like a ninja stick. It’s the one move I remember from the martial arts lessons my brother used to drag me and my sisters to.
I wind up like I’m teeing off and let loose. It nails him in the forehead, echoing a sharp crack. Blood runs fast, veining down his nose. Holy shit. My heart thumps wildly. “Bitch!” he yells, springing forward. I jump, but he catches my damn skirt and the fabric tears from my right hip. He’s pulling me closer, drawing me in. My scream fades into a whimpered croak, but it’s quickly smothered by Chewie’s violent groan as he rises to his knees and tackles the pirate at the waist.
Air whooshes past my ears. Someone bumps my hip. I bounce and stumble, caught by another hard knock to my shoulder as patrons stream out of the bar yelling. My legs feel boneless and I trip and land on my hands and knees. It’s all I can do to crawl to the edge of the building as the adrenaline leaves my body. Minutes of forever pass before I hear the distant strain of police sirens. Thank God.
The fighters are gathering their friends and hustling toward the far end of the alley. I look left and right, trying to decide if I should run or wait in the shadows as the scramble of bodies dissolves. My vision passes a pair of furry feet, sticking straight up, and all other thoughts screech to a breathless halt. Chewbacca is lying motionless in the middle of the alley. Dear God. Please tell me he’s not dead.
Priscilla Winslow has a mouth that spits fiery sarcasm faster than I can throw a touchdown. But I’ve wanted her ever since I saw her in that Bo Peep outfit on Halloween. Yep, I’m a sheep who will follow that little hottie anywhere. There’s one problem…she hates me. Just because we ended up in jail and quite possibly ruined both our futures…
They’re changing the rules…
College Quarterback Preston Rush is living the dream. He’s leading his team to the National Championship and days away from earning a ‘first round draft pick’ label. When he meets Little Bo Peep at a Halloween party, he thinks he’s scored big. Instead, he wakes up in a jail cell with the corseted beauty. Because of him, she’s in trouble and when he discovers her true identity, he realizes, his nightmare is just beginning.
The always shooting-for-perfection Priscilla Winslow can’t believe her good deed has cost her a soccer career. Even though she knows it isn’t Preston’s fault, she can’t forgive him for the disaster that is her life. She just wishes her damn body would get the message. Every time she sees him, it’s all she can do not to kiss him.
When everything crashes down around him, Preston will have to decide if doing the right thing is worth losing it all.
Shae Ross was born and raised in Ferndale, Michigan. After graduating high school, Ms. Ross attended Michigan State University and continued her education at Detroit College of Law. Prior to 2014, she spent the majority of her career practicing corporate law, running a successful business and engaged in entrepreneurial ventures. After having one too many stressful days at the office, Ms. Ross began to consider pursuing her lifelong dream of writing. Armed with an English degree, an interest in historical settings and a huge collection of romance novels, Ms. Ross put pen to paper and began converting the characters in her head to ink. She soon found herself happily immersed in a new working world that included heroes and heroines, agents and editors, and a multitude of secondary characters. Ms. Ross debut novel, Pretty Smart Girls Lace Up released in January of 2015. The second book in the series, Pretty Smart Girls–Fearless will release in July of 2015. She currently writes in the new adult and contemporary romance genres and lives with her husband and three children in Holt, Michigan.