The First Last Boy

By: Sonya Weiss

“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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