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The First Last Boy

By:Sonya Weiss

Chapter One

TANA



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?

Montana, no.

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. "There's enough."

"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.

"Since you paid for it, you want some pizza?" I asked, hoping he'd say no, hoping he'd say yes.

"Yeah, sure." He opened the door and stepped too close to me.

I spun around and led the way into the small kitchen and pushed Mark  back from the box where he hovered over it, shoving a slice of pizza  into his mouth. "That's nasty. Use a plate."

"Why?" he asked around a mouthful. "Mom's not here."

"Because you're dropping stuff from your mouth into the box." I set  three plates on the table, sliding one in front of Ryan harder than I  intended. He caught it before it sailed off the edge and gave me his  what-the-hell look.

I turned to grab three cups, forcing myself to take a deep, calming  breath. "You can have water or milk," I offered since that was all we  had. Tomorrow was Saturday. I would use some of Mom's paycheck and some  of my own after I picked it up and get groceries while she ran errands  and paid bills. Then we'd start the same cycle of hoping that nothing  broke down and nobody got sick or injured so we could make it another  week.

Mom worked full time at the hospital as a receptionist during the day  and then nights at the retirement home usually six days a week. She'd  dropped out of college to help support my dad's new investment business  when they first married. She'd never returned to school and regretted  it. It was one of the reasons she always pushed education on me.

Ryan reached around me, his tanned arm brushing mine, causing that  fluttering sensation in my stomach to increase and slid a cup beneath  the faucet. "Mark is thirsty." He filled the cup and gave me another  what-the-hell look from his gorgeous eyes.

"Sorry, I was lost in thought." I filled the other two cups and joined  them at the table. Thankfully, Creature kept up a steady volley of  stories and I didn't have to contribute much. I sensed Ryan's gaze on me  from time to time but kept my attention focused on the pizza. Every  bite I forced down tasted like cardboard and I'd never wished more in  all my life that I could rewind time and take back the question I'd  asked him.         

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