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Authors: Nyrae Dawn

Rush

BOOK: Rush
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Copyright © 2014 Kelley Vitollo

Author photo by Cherished Memories Photography

The right of Kelley Vitollo to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published as an Ebook in Great Britain in 2014
by HEADLINE ETERNAL
An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

Cover photo © CURAphotography/Shutterstock

eISBN 978 1 4722 1963 3

HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

An Hachette UK Company

338 Euston Road

London NW1 3BH

www.headlineeternal.com

www.headline.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

About the Author

Also by Nyrae Dawn

About the Book

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Prologue

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-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Epilogue

Find out more about Headline Eternal

About the Author

 

From a young age, Nyrae Dawn dreamed of growing up and writing stories. For years she put her dream on hold. Nyrae worked in a hospital emergency room, fell in love and married one of her best friends from high school. In 2004 Nyrae, her husband and their new baby girl made a move from Oregon to Southern California and that’s when everything changed. As a stay-at-home mom for the first time, her passion for writing flared to life again. She hasn’t stopped writing since. With two incredible daughters, an awesome husband and her days spent writing what she loves, Nyrae considers herself the luckiest girl in the world. She still resides in sunny Southern California, where she loves spending time with her family and sneaking away to the bookstore with her laptop. Nyrae Dawn also writes adult romance under the name Kelley Vitollo.

To find out more about Nyrae Dawn, visit
www.nyraedawn.blogspot.co.uk
. Find her on Facebook at nyraedawnwrites and follow her on Twitter
@NyraeDawn
.

Also by Nyrae Dawn and published by Headline Eternal

The Games Trilogy

Charade

Façade

Masquerade

What a Boy Wants

What a Boy Needs

Rush

About the Book

What if you fell in love with your best friend? But no one could ever know . . .

Brandon Chase has always defined himself by one thing: football. He’s the star of the team, an idol to his teammates and surrounded by the hottest girls. But Brandon has a secret – how he
really
feels about his friend Alec Andrews. Rather than confront the truth, Brandon pushes Alec away.

But when Brandon is seriously injured in a car crash, the only person who can get through to him is Alec. Against all odds, Alec helps Brandon train his way back to fitness and prepare for the NFL draft. As they spend the summer together, the two can’t deny their attraction – the rush they feel when they’re together is impossible to deny and neither wants to walk away. Will Brandon be brave enough to face the consequences of following his heart? No matter what the cost?

This book is dedicated to everyone who’s had to fight for the right to love equally. To anyone who’s ever questioned how they feel or who they are. You’re exactly who you’re supposed to be, and that is a beautiful thing. Love is a beautiful thing. Love always wins.

Acknowledgements

My husband and children always have my back. They’re the reason I’m able to do what I do, and I thank them for their support. Thanks to the rest of my family as well. To my awesome editor Latoya who loves Alec and Brandon like I do. To my agent, Jane. As always, you’re a rock star. Thank you for everything you do for me. DJ, Jolene, Julie, Elisabeth, thank you for your insight. Thanks for reading Alec and Brandon’s story and opening your hearts to my boys. And to my readers. I think I’m probably the luckiest author in the world. Your support means the world to me and I hope you love Alec and Brandon’s journey.

Prologue
Brandon

October

After a really hard football game, my body always aches. Sometimes the pain in my muscles is dull, sometimes sharp. I have to wrap a wrist here, ice a back there. Sometimes it doesn’t faze me and I’m out with the guys, other times I’m laid up.

Every single time I feel any kind of ache, it’s always after one of my favorite football games. There’s something to be said for ramming into another player so hard, or running with such intensity that your body feels the effects of it afterward.

My whole life, that’s how I defined myself. When I was on the field or sore from a game I felt like me—the Brandon everyone knew. The guy who loves football more than anything. The one who’s good as hell at it.

The summer after I turned sixteen, I discovered a new side of who I am. It was scary because this me was realer than any other version of myself. It was the Brandon I had never admitted existed. It hid inside me, afraid and fucking weak and trying to blend into the shadows, hoping, praying to disappear.

Here, that Brandon worked his way through the maze and all that darkness to find its way to the surface. No . . . I can’t even say it was
here
. Lakeland Village, Virginia, isn’t what lured that secret Brandon out of hiding. It was
him
.

It was Alec.

The sound of wheels on rocks pulls me out of my thoughts.

Alec’s truck drives into the gravel turnout, hidden by the trees. As soon as it does, I don’t wait for him. I start to walk a little ways into the woods, to this place we started going to our third summer together as teens.
Together? We were never really
together
. It’s not who I am.

“What are you doing here, man? Why aren’t you at school? You should be in Ohio.” Alec steps up next to me. I stop walking and he stares, cocks his head a little, his hand going through his blond hair.

“How’s school going for you?” I ask, needing to talk, but not ready to do what I came to Virginia to do.

Alec shrugs. “I don’t know. It’s school, I guess. I’m a freshman at some nothing community college. How’s it supposed to be?”

“You should be playing ball,” I tell him. Alec shakes his head instead of arguing. He never tried to leave this place. Even when his best friend Charlotte moved to New York to be with my brother Nate, Alec never pretended he planned to leave Lakeland Village.

“Where would I go?” he asks. “I’m not like Charlie. I never had dreams to follow that took me out of here. I’m good at football, but I’m not as good as you. There weren’t scholarships for me.”

You could come with me. We could be together.

Stop! Man the fuck up, Brandon!

I didn’t come here to get Alec to go with me. He would if I asked, though. I know that. Even though no one except Charlotte and Nate know he’s gay, he’d go. Despite the fact that his asshole dad would disown him, he’d want to be with me.

He’s a year younger, but a hell of a lot stronger than me.

Taking a step backward, I almost stumble, but then my back comes in contact with a tree. I lean against it, cross my arms, and feel that pain, that ache I get after a hard football game.

Only this time, it’s nowhere except my chest, and I don’t welcome it.

“You’re being weird. What are you doing here, Brand?”

My eyes fall closed. I’m not strong enough to be with him, but can’t handle walking away either.

“Hey . . . what’s wrong?”

I open my eyes and Alec’s walking closer to me. He grabs my waist, stands between my legs, and looks at me. Fucking A, my eyes start to sting and I’m scared I’m going to cry or something.

That’s when I see the switch in him. The smile slowly eases off his face. His dark blue eyes storm over and he tenses against me.

He knows.

Unfolding my arms, I slide one of my hands behind his head, through his hair, while the other latches on to his waist. “Come here.” I pull Alec into my arms, his face in my neck, while I squeeze him as tightly as I can in this hidden area of trees.

My grip is so fierce, I wonder if I’m hurting him. It doesn’t make me ease up. He doesn’t either as his fingers dig into my sides.

We don’t talk, just hold each other, both of us probably knowing this day would come anyway. What’s the point in torturing ourselves if we can’t make it real?

My heart spikes when Alec leans back. I think he’s going to walk away and the urge to hold him tighter slams into me, but he just puts his forehead against mine.

I slide my hand down to the back of his neck, fisting it there, and wonder what the fuck is so wrong with feeling like this. With holding him like this and having someone who knows you in ways you’re too afraid to admit to yourself.

Or at least why I can’t be brave enough not to give a shit what my team would think about it.

“I don’t even know who I am,” I whisper, closing my eyes. Which one is the real Brandon? The college football star? The shit-talker? The one who’s dated girls he’s not interested in? Or the one who’s with Alec right now? The one who hid away with him and talked to him for the past four years?

“And I do? I listen to my dad talk about queers and I laugh like it’s funny and then I sneak away to call you. It doesn’t matter. We know who we are together.”

His lips brush mine, sending an electric current through me so intense, I jerk back. If I don’t, I won’t be able to walk away. I won’t want it to end.

Alec flinches like I hit him.

“It’s too fucking hard. I don’t want to be all these different versions of me. I don’t want to be scared someone’s going to find out and then worry I’m eyeing them in the locker room. I play college ball, man. I want . . .”
Not to be confused, or scared or worried about what someone thinks of me.
For a second, I let myself study the light trail of stubble on his face. See the cut of his muscles showing under his shirt, before I look down. “I could go to the NFL one day.”

“You’re a sophomore. We don’t have to rush.”

This time it’s me putting my hands through my hair. I latch on, trying to make sense of the thoughts that are a whirlwind even in my own head. “I don’t want to fake it anymore. The guys talk shit when I don’t hook up, and when I do, I feel guilty.”

Alec’s eyes slant, his stare going hard. “I never made you feel guilty. Maybe it’s not guilt, but the fact that it’s a lie.”

“And you’re so much better? Your whole life you planned to marry Charlotte.”

“That ended over a year ago! I’ve been honest with myself since then.”

“No, you knew you lost her to Nate and didn’t have a choice!” My body’s tight, my breathing heavy. My mind keeps repeating,
Shut up. He’s the only person who really knows you. Who understands everything he sees when he looks at you.

But right now . . . he’s looking at me like I’m a stranger. “Fuck you, Brandon.”

He turns to walk away, but instinct makes me reach out and grab his arm, to stop him. “I want things to be easy. I don’t wanna be different, Alec, and I don’t want to hide calls to you and pretend things are going to magically change. It’s so fucking hard to be all these different people. Maybe it’s just you. I mean, I felt attracted, but I never touched any other guy until it was you. Maybe . . . maybe if I don’t always have you in my mind all the time, I can move on.”

The second the words are out of my mouth, I know they’re stupid. I’m in conflict with myself. My head knows they’re a lie, but my heart’s begging them to be truth.

Alec’s eyes cut through me, his jaw tight. I don’t see his fist coming until it’s too late. It connects with the side of my face, making me stumble backward. I taste blood in my mouth as my hand comes up to cup my face. As crazy as it sounds, I’m almost thankful he’s mad. Hopefully, that it will make this easier on him.

“Maybe that’ll take me out of your head. Good luck being straight now.”

Alec walks away—that pain in my chest threatening to break me apart. To break me in half. It didn’t come from working hard on the field or from being who I’m supposed to be. It came from running like a fucking coward, and there’s no going back.

BOOK: Rush
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