Home > Rascal (Rascals #1)

Rascal (Rascals #1)
Author: Katie McCoy



There aren’t many things in this world worse than getting your period. Unless, of course, it’s 9:00 p.m. on a heavy-flow day and you’ve run out of tampons. And chocolate.

The silver lining to that particular tragedy, however, was the 24-hour drug store around the corner from my new apartment. Cue loading my basket with all the necessary “time of the month” essentials: pads, tampons, Chunky Monkey ice cream by the pint, and tons of other snack foods that were terrible for me and my waistline. I was grabbing Advil from the medicine aisle when my phone rang.

“We’re going out,” my BFF Kelsey said as a greeting.

I put my basket down and rolled my eyes, even though my best friend was unable to see either gesture. From the heavy bass I could hear in the background, and the way she had practically shouted into the phone, I could tell that Kelsey was already out. Her PR job pretty much demanded she spend her weeknights partying with fashion people, but my job had very different demands.

“No can do,” I told her reluctantly. “I’ve got a stack of case files waiting for me at home.”

As a lowly associate at a law firm, my job meant long hours at the office and then even longer hours at home, catching up with work and trying everything I could to get ahead. The firm I worked for was one of the best in Chicago and I intended to do everything in my power to make my mark there.

I knew Kelsey was sympathetic to my plight, but that didn’t mean she was going to stop pressuring me to join her out on the town. Especially since I knew she hated going out by herself.

“Come on! You need to lighten up!” she shouted to be heard above the music. “It’s Friday night!”

I winced and held my phone away from my ear. She was right. It was Friday night, and most twenty-five-year-old single women in Chicago would kill for an invitation like this. Kelsey was probably out at one of the hottest clubs in town, surrounded by gorgeous men. Of course, since she worked in fashion, most of them were probably gay, but hey, eye candy was eye candy.

Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t include a break for ogling handsome men, at least not tonight.

“I’m sorry, I have to work,” I said. “But have a drink for me, OK?”

Kelsey groaned. “You’ve been so boring ever since you landed this job!”

“You mean since I landed my dream job?” I laughed. Kelsey might look like a party girl, but she was a party girl with ambition. That’s why we were friends. She had big dreams too.

“Yeah, yeah,” she said, but I could hear the smile in her voice. “Well, tonight your dream job is seriously cramping our dream social life.”

“Right now, my dream social life involves a bath and Netflix,” I countered.

“Like I said,” Kelsey said. “Bo-ring.”

“Depends on the movie,” I grinned. “I’ve got a set of trashy chick-flicks all lined up. You keep your party, I’m snuggling up with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy tonight.”

Kelsey laughed. “OK, you win. Just remind me how much longer I’m going to be without my wing woman. When does this silly competition end?”

“It’s not silly,” I said. “Three people vying for one position is the complete opposite of silly.”

“They should just make you all fight it out to the death,” Kelsey suggested. “Might be more fun.”

“More fun for you,” I laughed. “Though, I bet Bryce and Lucinda would be down for hand-to-hand combat.”

Bryce and Lucinda were the two other junior associates at the firm. And all three of us knew that only one of us would be asked to stay at the end of the summer. We all wanted that slot. We all wanted it bad. Maybe a Hunger Games-style death match wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. I might have been slighter than frat boy Bryce, and less graceful than elegant, posh Lucinda, but I was scrappy. And scrappy usually won battles like that. Because we had to. Because we don’t have the option to fail.

“Come on,” Kelsey begged. “Just come out for a drink. Or two. Three, tops.”

“I can’t,” I told her. “Besides, even if I didn’t have work, Auntie Flo just came to town.”

“Your aunt is in town? Why didn’t you tell me?” Kelsey demanded.

“You’re having a blonde moment,” I teased her.

“You know I don’t have an Auntie named Flo because Auntie Flo means . . .” I gave her a moment to catch up.

“Oh right!” she laughed. “Well, fine. As long as Chris and Tom don’t mind. Next time, though, you and me are going out!”

“It’s a deal. Good night, Kelsey,” I told her.

“Good night, Alex,” she mimicked playfully and hung up.

I smiled, picked up my basket of precious supplies, and headed to the beauty supply aisle to grab a bag of bath salts. My new studio might have been lacking things like space or windows, but it did have a cute old claw-foot tub. And my case files could wait a half hour or so while I tried to soak my troubles away.

But thoughts of cramps and baths and literally everything else flew out of my head as a guy walked into the store. A hot guy. A really, really hot guy.

Forget about Chris and Tom, my Netflix boyfriends, this guy had them both beat. He was tall and gorgeous, with dark brown hair that fell boyishly across his forehead. He was wearing a plaid shirt that fit him perfectly, emphasizing a narrow waist and a broad chest, and a pair of well-worn jeans that clung to his thighs. He walked past, and I quickly averted my eyes, knowing that I had been full on staring. Gawking. But I couldn’t resist taking a peek at him as he walked away.

Damn. The back of him was just as hot as the front, with those faded jeans cupping a perfect ass . . .

I was suddenly reminded exactly how long it had been since I had touched a guy’s butt, or a guy had touched mine. It had been a long, long time. No wonder I was staring at strangers in the drug store. I grabbed some more chocolate—a poor substitute for what I was now craving—and went to check out.

The line was long, so I entertained myself by checking email and scanning the headlines of the various tabloid magazines that lined the checkout line. All of them were talking about the recent engagement of a rock star to his childhood sweetheart. I might have considered it cute, if I believed that any of those stories had any truth to them.

I had been a romantic once. But then I turned four, and my dad walked out on my mom and me. Left us to start a new family with someone else. I found it hard to believe in true love after experiencing that.

But that didn’t mean I wasn’t open to romance. Or sex. I was definitely open to sex. Unfortunately, my current life-work balance was leaning heavily on the side of work. Getting this job was the most important thing to me right now, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way.

Someone bumped into me from behind.

“Sorry about that,” a male voice said.

I knew who was standing there before I even turned around. It was him. The hot guy. Because, of course he was. And of course, he had a sexy voice.

I glanced back to confirm what I already knew. Yep. Hot Guy was standing there, looking delicious in plaid, his basket full of extremely masculine things like beer and peanuts. Was that beef jerky as well? He couldn’t have been more manly if he tried.

“Don’t worry about it,” I told him.

He smiled, and I was nearly blinded by a row of perfectly straight, white teeth. He had a dimple in his left cheek. Heat rushed downward, pooling between my legs. It had been a really, really long time since a guy had smiled at me like that.

Calm down, Alex, I told myself. He’s just some guy. Yes, he’s drop dead gorgeous, but is he any cuter than the rock star that just got engaged to his childhood sweetheart? No. Ok, maybe a little bit, yes. It had something to do with the plaid. How it made him look all touchable and cozy. But in a sexy way.

“You’re up,” he said.

I didn’t understand until he looked past me, and I realized that the line was gone and the cashier was waiting for me.

Feeling a little foolish, I hurried to the counter, putting my basket down.

Hot Guy followed me, and even though I now had my back to him, I could totally sense his presence. His sexy, manly presence.

The cashier was a bored-looking teen who started scanning my items and tossing them haphazardly into a bag. I was painfully aware of Hot Guy standing behind me, especially as the cashier got closer to the bottom of my basket where the most personal items were. I said a quick prayer that the pads and tampons would get rung up as quickly as the other items—too fast for anyone to really notice—but luck was not on my side that evening.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The cashier scanned the huge bag of pads over and over again, getting a harsh beep each time. Grabbing the intercom, he punched a few buttons and his voice came in loud and clear over the store speakers.

“Price check,” he said. “Price check on super-ultra-heavy-flow pads.”

I wanted to die.

I felt my face turn tomato red, and I pulled the collar of my light jacket up to try and hide it. I know, I know: periods shouldn’t be shameful, they’re a glorious part of womanhood (as my sixth grade Phys Ed teacher tried to tell us), but still, you just try being a glorious woman when a dude is screaming to the whole store about your super-heavy flow.

“Ultra-heavy-flow pads,” the cashier said again, trying to scan the next item.

Of course, it didn’t go through either.

“And a price check on super-absorbent tampons with applicator. Super-absorbent,” he repeated, just in case the entire state of Illinois hadn’t heard him. Hot Guy was standing a couple of feet away from me; there was no way he hadn’t heard that. If a sinkhole had opened up right there in front of me, I would have gladly disappeared into it.

Finally, the cashier got the correct prices on my ultra-heavy and super-absorbent items. Of course, when he finally rung everything up, my card refused to work. All I got were those same obnoxious beeps every time I tried.

“Come on!” a woman said from behind me, clearly annoyed at the delay.

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