Little, Brown and Company
An extraordinary portrait of true love that will move anyone who has a first love story of their own.
Axi Moore is a "good girl": She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn't tell anyone how all she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson—who she also happens to be madly in love with.
When Axi spontaneously invites Robinson to come with her on an impulsive cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life. But the adventure quickly turns from carefree to out of control after the teens find themselves on the run from the police. And when Robinson suddenly collapses, Axi has to face the truth that this trip might be his last.
A remarkably moving tale very personal to James Patterson's own past, FIRST LOVE is testament to the power of first love—and how it can change the rest of your life.
Little, Brown and Company
OKAY, I MAY NOT BE PUTTING MYSELF IN the best possible light by admitting this, but let me say right at the start that I was such a straight arrow, such a little do-gooder, that skipping my last two classes that day (AP physics and AP English) made me so insanely, ridiculously jittery that it actually occurred to me this whole crazy plan wasn’t going to be worth it.
Looking back on it now, I can’t believe I was this close to backing out of the most beautiful, funny, painful, and life-changing experience I will ever have.
What an idiot I was.
I was at Ernie’s Pharmacy & Soda Fountain, and I had about five hundred butterflies throwing an epic party in my stomach. The toes of my vintage Frye cowboy boots kept knocking against the counter, until Ernie—who’s about a million years old and pretty much a total grouch—told me to quit it. Ernie is one Nickelback concert away from complete deafness, though, so I took my boots off and kept knocking away.
I was glad he didn’t ask why I was sitting in his ancient shop, drinking a giant coffee (which I needed like I needed a hole in the head), instead of two blocks down the street at Klamath Falls High School, listening to Mr. Fox blather on about the space-time continuum. Because what would I have said?
Well, Ernie—Mr. Holman, I mean—I’m waiting for a boy I could never date, and I’m about to ask him to do something so major that it’s going to either save our lives or completely destroy us.
Ernie doesn’t care much for teen angst, which is probably why practically no one I know ever comes to his shop—that and the fact that all his candy has dust on it and the Snickers bars are hard enough to use as crowbars.
But I don’t mind. And neither does the boy I mentioned. Ernie’s is our place.
That boy had sent me a note earlier in the day. He’d somehow gotten it inside my locker, even though he doesn’t go to my school anymore and we have Navy SEAL–type security guards to protect us against God-knows-what (rioting due to sheer small-town boredom, maybe).
So, you got earth-moving news, huh? I’m shocked you think you can surprise me—or surprised you think you can shock me.
Or something like that.
You’re the word nerd.
Well, anyway, can’t wait to hear it.
Yeah, that means cutting class.
—Your favorite “scalawag”
That’s Robinson for you. I’d jokingly called him a scalawag once, and he’d never let me forget it. He’s almost seventeen years old. My best friend. My partner in crime.
I heard the front door open and could tell he’d arrived by the way Ernie’s face perked up like someone had just handed him a present. Robinson has that effect on people: when he walks into the room, it’s like the lights get brighter all of a sudden.
He came over and clapped a hand on my shoulder. “Axi, you dope,” he said (affectionately, of course). “Never drink Ernie’s coffee without a doughnut.” He leaned in close and whispered, “That stuff will eat a giant hole in your guts.” Then he straddled the stool next to me, his legs lanky and slim in faded Levi’s. He was wearing a flannel shirt, even though it was late May and seventy-five degrees outside.
“Hey, Ernie,” he called, “did you hear the Timbers fired their coach? And can we get a chocolate cruller?”
Ernie came over, shaking his grizzled head. “Soccer!” he groused. “What Oregon needs is a pro baseball team. That’s a real sport.” He put the doughnut on an old chipped plate and said, “On the house.”
Robinson turned to me, grinning and pointing a thumb at Ernie. “I love this guy.”
I could tell the feeling was mutual.
“So,” Robinson said, giving me his full attention, “what’s this crazy idea of yours? Are you finally going to apply for your learner’s permit? Have you decided to drink a whole beer? Are you going to quit doing your homework so religiously?”
He’s always getting on me for being a good girl. Robinson thinks—and my dad agrees—that he’s such a bad boy because he quit high school, which he found “insufficiently compelling” and “populated by cretins” (cretins being a word that I taught him, of course). Personally, I think he has a point there.
“I’m probably going to fail everything but English,” I said, and I wasn’t exaggerating. My GPA was about to take a nosedive, because finals were coming up, and with any luck, I wasn’t going to be around to take them. A week ago, knowing that would have kept me up at night. But I’d managed to stop caring, because if this plan worked, life as I knew it was about to change.
“Knowing you, that seems highly unlikely,” Robinson said. “And so what if you’re a little distracted and you—God forbid—get a B plus on something? You’re busy writing the Great American Novel—ow!”
I’d swatted him on the arm. “Please. Between school and taking care of dear ol’ Dad, I haven’t had any time to write.” My dad hit a rough patch a few years ago, and he’s been trying to drink his way out of it. Needless to say, the strategy isn’t working that well. “Can we focus on the matter at hand?” I asked.
“I’m running away,” I said.
Robinson’s mouth fell open. By the way, unlike yours truly, he never had braces and his teeth are perfect.
“And FYI, you’re coming, too,” I added.
Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Little, Brown and Company