Stories are always churning in my mind. I think because I’m always thinking what-if, always imagining characters and rewriting scenes in my mind from television shows and movies. When I rewrite those scenes, it always leads to a happily ever after.
One story that kept nagging at me to write it was Ryan and Tana’s in The First Last Boy. The characters seemed so real to me that finally, I started writing who they were. I’m traditionally published, but I made the decision to self-publish this book because I wanted to tell their story as they saw fit because in a weird way, it was their voice and not mine. So I wrote with no-holds barred and as their story unfolded, the characters took up residence in my heart.
I hope that they resonate with you.
Three nights ago I’d asked my best friend, Ryan Collins, to have sex with me. The request blew up in my face and I didn’t even have being drunk to use as an excuse for asking him. I closed my laptop and rolled over onto my back, staring at the brown ringed water spot on the bedroom ceiling.
Eighteen years old and still a virgin. There were half a dozen boys I could hook up with before heading off to my freshman year at Bayside College in Illinois, but I wanted my first time to be with someone I trusted, someone who made my heart beat faster just by being near him.
Grabbing my phone, I texted him. Hey, wanna hang?
Usually Ryan called me Tana, the shortened version of my name. The one he’s used since the day we met. He only used Montana when he was pissed off. Like he’d been ever since I’d asked him, like I’d suggested he let me rip out his nipple piercing or something. He’d recoiled and shut me out the second I’d mentioned sex.
Whatever, I texted back, trying to convince myself I just wanted company and not specifically his. I had to get a grip and stop lying to myself, stop ignoring how Ryan affected me.
It was Friday night and since my friends went to a concert I couldn’t afford, I didn’t have anything to do. Ignoring the incoming text, I rolled off the bed to see if Mom made it home yet. If she hadn’t, it was up to me to fix something for supper so Creature, my eight-year-old brother, Mark, wouldn’t starve. We called him that because ever since he’d seen the Harry Potter movies, he’d wanted to be called Creature after Kreacher in the movies. He’d walked around for weeks after seeing them muttering insults like the house elf.
Mom wasn’t home. I didn’t mind cooking or helping out when I wasn’t working my shift as a waitress at the Blue Seagull. Mom had busted her ass for us since the divorce. My father bailed three years ago when Creature was five and I was fifteen. No big loss. We were better off without his drama. He showed up hit and miss and only stayed long enough to stir up reality show type shit.
“Hey, Creature! You want some pizza?” I yelled down the hallway when none of the options at hand in the ancient, rattling refrigerator looked appealing.
He flung open his bedroom door and poked his head out, blinking, readjusting to the real world from his virtual one. “Real pizza, not the kind you make?” he asked with a mixture of suspicion and hope.
So I’m not known for my culinary skills. “Yeah, real pizza.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the change I had left. “Let me get my purse and I’ll see for sure if I have enough.”
He followed me back to my room and did a dive landing onto my bed, narrowly missing my laptop while he made explosive noises. “Where’s Ryan? He always comes over on Friday.”
“I dunno, and careful with my laptop.” I picked up my purse and dug through my wallet for the leftover tip money.
“Yay!” He leaned over the bed and plopped the computer onto the crappy carpet I thought was left over from the seventies. He bounced up to his knees, then his feet and started jumping on the bed. “Hurry up and order it before Mom comes home and does this.” He pulled his eyebrows into a frown. “You need vegetables, young man.”
I laughed at the imitation and picked up my phone, ignoring a second text message. I knew Ryan wanted to explain the reasons why sex with me was such a god-awful bad idea but I was too humiliated to deal with it. I dialed the number of the pizza place at the strip mall a few miles away and ordered a pepperoni with extra cheese.
“Mom’s gonna complain.”
“Sit,” I said after I hung up. With my hands on his shoulders, I scowled into his face. “About Mom…don’t tell her. Problem solved.”
“She might not notice anyway. She’s always working,” he said. He swung his bare feet back and forth. “Who’s gonna take care of me when you leave for college?”
My heart twisted at the worry reminder. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I’d wondered the same thing. “There’s no…c’mon…what is it?”
“Bridge to cross yet.” He jumped off the bed. “Wanna play one of my games? I’ll let you win.”
I followed him into his room that smelled like wet socks, half-eaten Cheetos, and sweaty little boy. I wrinkled my nose. “How can you stand this? It’s almost toxic in here. You should clean.”
“You’re not Mom.” He slumped his shoulders and dragged his voice out in another weary imitation of hers. “Look at this room, son. How can you find anything? It looks like the city dump. One day, you’ll get lost in here and I’ll have to call search and rescue.”
“She’s right.” I laughed and grabbed him around the neck to scrub the top of his head. His hair was thick and chestnut brown just like mine and he also had the same brown eyes. He looked so much like me that when we were out together, people sometimes asked if he was my kid. I loved him like he was. Thanks to some stuff the absentee father put him through, Mark had what his doctor called arrested emotional development. It made him act younger than he was.
He pulled away, rolled his eyes, and handed me a controller. “C’mon.”
We’d only played for fifteen minutes when the doorbell rang. That was fast. I hoped the pizza wasn’t doughy this time. “Coming,” I yelled and tossed aside the controller.
“You can’t do that! Your man will die.” Mark made a frantic grab for the controller and saved me from virtual destruction.
I hurried into the living room and yanked open the door. Under the soft illumination of the porch light, Ryan stared back at me in all his holy hell hotness. My stomach clenched, then dropped to my feet. I experienced the suspended-in-space sensation every time I saw him.
His eyes were a mix of blue and green that made my friends talk about how beautiful they were. They reminded me of the colors found in a turbulent storm. He had a hand on each side of the doorframe and leaned slightly forward. With his dark hair, handsome face, and tattooed body, he was every girl’s bad boy fantasy. When he wore the white tank undershirts he favored, like he was doing now, it showed off his well-defined muscles and made it difficult to think about anything but how good he looked.
“What?” I managed to snap out like his being there didn’t affect me at all. I was getting good at hiding the way my body had started reacting around him.
He motioned to the storm door. “Let me in.”
I shrugged and didn’t move to undo the latch. “What for?”
His lips tightened and the storm in his eyes grew more pronounced. “Come on, Montana. Don’t be like that.”
Behind him, a car with a pizza sign on the roof pulled up. Ryan jogged off the porch, paid for the pizza, and when the delivery guy left, said, “Let me in or I’ll hold your pizza hostage.”
I would have told him so what, but then Creature ran up behind me yelling Ryan’s name in an excited tone. He thought of Ryan like a brother and sometimes I think Mark loved spending time with Ryan more than he did with me.
Mark barreled past me and shoved open the door. “Gimme.” He took the box and dashed into the kitchen leaving me alone with Ryan and the most awkward question in the world hanging between us.
She’s passionate about causes that support abused animals and children. Her parents always supported her bringing stray animals home although the Great Dane rescue was a surprise.
Sonya Weiss is giving away a $10 gift card to Amazon. To enter, use the rafflecopter below.