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
THIS WASN’T ANYTHING LIKE THE MOPED I rode once. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever felt before. We weren’t even on the highway yet, but already it felt like we were flying.
Then above the roar of the engine I heard Robinson’s voice. “I don’t want a tickle/’Cause I’d rather ride on my motorsickle!” It was an old Arlo Guthrie song. I knew the words because my dad used to sing them to me when I was a little girl.
“And I don’t want to diiiiie/Just want to ride on my motorcy…cle,” I joined in, even though I can’t carry a tune to save my life.
Robinson leisurely steered us past strip malls on the outskirts of town. He was whistling now (because if you ever want to blow out your vocal cords, try singing loudly enough to be heard over a Harley). He was acting like it was no big deal to be zipping away on a stolen motorcycle.
My God, what in the world did we think we were doing? We were supposed to be on a bus, and instead we were on a stolen motorcycle that cost more than my dad made in two years. Escape was one thing, but robbery took it to another level. Suddenly I couldn’t stop picturing the disappointment on my dad’s face when he posted my bail, or the headline in the Klamath Falls Herald and News—GOOD GIRL GONE BAD—next to an unflattering mug shot that washed out my blue eyes and pale skin.
I tried not to imagine a cop around every bend as we headed south of the Klamath Falls Country Club, where my mom used to go for sloe gin fizzes on Ladies’ Poker Night. And I kind of freaked out when were actually acknowledged by another motorcycle rider, heading into town. As he passed, the biker dropped his arm down, two fingers angling toward the road, and Robinson mirrored the gesture.
“Don’t take your hands off the handlebars!” I yelled. “Ever!”
“But it’s the Harley wave,” Robinson hollered.
“So it’s rude not to do it back!”
Of course, manners are useless when you’re flat on your back in the bottom of a ditch.… I didn’t say that to Robinson, though, because I had to admit, Robinson was driving the motorcycle like he’d done it a thousand times before. Had he? Didn’t a person need a special license to drive a motorcycle? And what about the hot-wiring? It would’ve taken me that long to figure out how to start the motorcycle with a key. Yeah, we had a few things to talk about, Robinson and me.
Past the Home Depot and Eddie’s 90-Days-Same-as-Cash, Robinson yelled something, but the roar of the engine swallowed his voice. I think it was “Are you ready?” I didn’t know what he was talking about, but whatever it was, I was probably not ready. Then I noticed that the speed limit went up to fifty-five, and Robinson pulled back on the throttle.
This may be obvious, but the thing about being on a motorcycle is that there is nothing between you and the world. (Or between you and the hard pavement.) The wind roars in your face. The sun shines in your eyes like a klieg light. There is no windshield. There are no seat belts. We were going sixty-five now, and the little white needle was rising. I tightened my arms around Robinson’s waist.
“What are you doing?” I yelled.
Eighty, and the roar of the wind drowned out the sound of my screaming.
Ninety, and tears were streaming from my eyes. I clung to Robinson for dear life.
One hundred, and I might as well have been on a rocket ship blasting into the stratosphere.
Adrenaline coursed through us like liquid fire. We were charged. Dangerous. The motorcycle shuddered and gained even more speed, and the wind was like a giant’s merciless hand trying to push me off the back of the bike.
My life flashed before my eyes—my small, sad life.
The fear was electrifying. It was terrifying and amazing, and if I’d thought I was having a heart attack before, I was definitely having one now.
And I was totally, dizzyingly, thrillingly loving every second of it.
In those brief moments, I shed my small-town good-girl reputation like an ugly sweater, and I burned it in the flames of the Harley insignia. We were runaways. Outlaws. Me and Robinson. Robinson and me.
And if we died in a fiery crash—well, we’d die happy, wouldn’t we?
Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Little, Brown and Company