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
BUT WHETHER IT WAS LUCK OR FATE OR Robinson’s driving skills, we didn’t die. We rode for hours along twisting back roads, until I felt like I’d molded myself to Robinson’s back. Like I’d become some kind of giant girl-barnacle he’d need to pry off with that screwdriver of his.
At lunchtime we finally stopped in the town of Mount Shasta, California. It was tucked into the lower slope of a mountain, a giant, snow-streaked peak that’s supposedly some kind of cosmic power center.
Yeah, you heard me right.
If you believe local legend, it’s home to an ancient race of superhumans called Lemurians, who live in underground tunnels but surface every once in a while, seven feet tall and decked out in white robes. In other words, Mount Shasta is totally unlike Klamath Falls, which is the world’s capital of monotony and is home to guys with names like Critter and Duke.
Also, UFOs have allegedly landed on Mount Shasta. And that’s just the tip of the bizarro iceberg.
Even the smiling attendant at the Shell station was wearing a giant amethyst crystal around his neck and had a chakra diagram on his T-shirt.
Robinson returned the attendant’s blissed-out grin, but his didn’t come from Mount Shasta’s cosmic power rays. It came from the Harley. He struck a pose, one hand on the gas tank, a thumb hooked in his belt loop, and offered me a goofy Hollywood sneer. “Am I James Dean or what? Rebel Without a Cause?”
I squinted at him. Though I would never admit it, Robinson kind of looked like he could be a movie star. Sure, he was a little on the skinny side, but that face of his? It belonged on a poster tacked to a tween girl’s bedroom wall.
“James Dean died in a car crash. You know, because he was speeding,” I said. My legs were trembling so much I could barely stand. The thundering rumble of the engine had burrowed into my bones.
“I only sped once,” Robinson countered. “I had to see what this bad boy could do.”
“Once was plenty,” I shot back, trying to sound stern. I’d loved it, sure. Because ohmygod it felt like flying. But I was pretty sure that—like paragliding or jumping out of an airplane—going 110 on the back of a stolen Harley was the sort of thing you only needed to do once.
Robinson walked into the station to pay for the gas and emerged with two Vitaminwaters and a Slim Jim, which, if you ask me, is like eating a pepperoni-flavored garden hose. But Robinson had loved horrible food for as long as I’d known him.
We took a little stroll into the town center. There was a guy wearing a sandwich board that read ARE YOU SAVED? But instead of a picture of Jesus or angels, there was a drawing of a green-skinned alien holding up two fingers in a peace sign. Robinson stopped to talk to him. Of course.
I ducked into a health food store that smelled like patchouli and nutritional yeast and got some vegetables for our dinner. When I came outside, Robinson was reading a flyer that the man had given him.
“We could go on a spirit quest,” he said. “Meet our Star Elders.”
“No way, Scalawag,” I said, snatching the pamphlet from him and tossing it into a recycling bin. “As fascinating as that sounds, I spent months planning this trip, and last I checked, communing with our so-called Star Elders was not on the to-do list.”
“Well, neither was stealing a motorcycle, and look how well that turned out.”
He looked pretty proud of himself for that comeback.
“Okay, fine,” I acknowledged. “It’s been great so far. But we can’t ride a hot bike across the country. For one thing, we’ll get caught. And for another, I don’t think my butt can take it.”
Robinson laughed. “You actually look kind of annoyed right now. Are you?”
“No,” I lied. “But next time, I pick the ride.”
“Oh, Axi—” he began.
“I don’t want this trip to be a huge mistake, okay?” I interrupted. “I’m not interested in jail time.”
Robinson leaned over and plucked a swirly glass orb from the sidewalk display in front of the Soul Connections gift shop. He waved it in front of my face. “By everything that is cosmic and weird and awesome, I banish all doubts from your mind.” He glanced at the price tag. “Only five ninety-five. A bargain!”
He dashed into the store and a moment later reappeared with the orb nestled in a purple velvet bag. He placed it in my hands. “This is magic,” he said. “It will keep you from ever being annoyed at me again.”
“Don’t count on it,” I said drily. But I couldn’t help smiling at him. “Thanks. It’s really pretty.”
“Axi,” Robinson said, his voice softer now, “if this trip is a mistake, it’s the best one we’ll ever make.”
And somehow, by the look he gave me then, I knew he was right.
Copyright © 2014 by James Patterson
Audiobook (Unabridged CD)
Little, Brown and Company