“What’s wrong?”

“The condom broke,” he said, eyes wide. “The f**king condom broke. This has got to be the worst night of my life. You better not be pregnant.”


The air froze in my lungs. Apparently things could get worse.

Zach held the broken rubber out toward me. I stared down at the nasty thing, not quite believing my bad luck.

“Did you do it wrong?” I whispered. He shrugged, not answering.

“It’s probably okay,” I said after another long pause. “I mean, my period just ended. You can’t get pregnant that soon after your period, right?”

“Um, yeah, probably,” he said, flushing and looking away. “I didn’t really pay attention to that shit in class. I mean, I always use a condom. Always. They never break, not even—”

My breath caught and I felt hot tears well up in my eyes.

“You told me you’d only done it once before,” I said softly. He winced.

“I’ve never done it with anyone I loved before,” he said, dropping the broken rubber and grabbing for my hand. I tried to tug away. The mess on his fingers grossed me out, but when he pulled me in tight and wrapped his arms around me, I caved.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” he muttered, rubbing my back as I snuffled against his shirt. “It’ll be fine. We’re fine. And I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you. I was afraid you wouldn’t stick with me if you knew I’d been stupid before. I don’t care about any other girls and I never will. I just want to be with you.”

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“Okay,” I said, pulling myself together. He shouldn’t have lied, but at least he owned up to it. Mature couples worked through hard stuff all the time, right? “Um, we should probably get out of here. Your brother looked pretty pissed. I thought he gave you a key?”

“My stepmom has an emergency key,” he said, shrugging. “I took it. He was supposed to be out of town. Grab the pizza.”

“Should we leave some for your brother?”

“Screw him. And he’s my stepbrother. We’re not even really related.”


I found my shoes and slipped them on, then got my purse and the pizza. I still didn’t know where my panties were, but just then I heard the shower stop.

We needed to get out.

Zach glanced over at the bathroom, then winked at me as he grabbed the half rack off the counter.

“C’mon,” he said, taking my hand and pulling me toward the door.

“You’re stealing his beer?” I asked, feeling a little sick. “Seriously?”

“Fuck him,” Zach said, narrowing his eyes at me. “He’s a total dick, thinks he’s better than everyone else. Him and his stupid f**king motorcycle club. They’re all ass**les and criminals, and he is, too. Probably stole it in the first place. And he can buy more anytime he wants, not like us. We’ll take it to Kimber’s. Her parents are in Mexico.”

We jogged down the apartment complex stairs, then crossed the parking lot to his truck. It was kind of old, but at least the full-size Ford’s king cab had plenty of room. We’d take it out sometimes, just the two of us, and spend hours lying in the bed under the stars, kissing and laughing. Other times we packed three or four couples in, all sitting on each other’s laps.

Zach hadn’t done such a great job tonight, but that wasn’t his fault. Sometimes life just didn’t follow the plan. I was still crazy about him, though.

“Hey,” I said, stopping him as he opened the driver’s-side door. I turned him around and popped up onto my toes, kissing him long and slow. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, babe,” Zach said, smoothing my hair back behind my ear. I melted when he did that—made me feel all safe and protected. “Now let’s go kill some of those beers. Shit, f**kin’ crazy night. My brother is such a dick.”

I rolled my eyes and laughed as I hauled ass around the truck.

So losing my virginity hadn’t been perfect and beautiful and all that. But at least it was over and Zach loved me.

Too bad about the panties, though.

I’d bought them special and everything.



“Fuck, it’s my mom. I gotta grab that,” Ruger yelled across the table at Mary Jo, holding up his cell. The band hadn’t started yet, but the place was still packed, and he couldn’t hear a damned thing. He didn’t get out much since he’d started prospecting the Reapers. Earning a place in the club was a full-time job by itself, and he pulled shifts at the pawnshop, too.

Ma knew that, and she wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important.

“Hey, lemme get outside,” he said loudly into the phone, walking toward the door with long strides. People got the f**k out of his way, and he bit back a smile. He’d always been a big guy, but now that he wore an MC cut?

Fuckers practically dove under the tables when they saw the club patches on his vest.

“’Kay, I’m outside,” he said, moving away from the crowd in front of the Ironhorse.

“Jesse, Sophie needs you,” his mom said.

“What do you mean?” he asked, peering at his bike, parked down the street. Was that guy getting close to it? Oh, not gonna happen …

“So, are you going?” she said. Shit. She’d been talking.

“Fuck, sorry, Ma. Missed what you said.”

“I just got a panicked phone call from Sophie,” his mom repeated. “Stupid kids. She went to a kegger with your brother and now she thinks she might be in labor. He’s too drunk to drive her and she’s having contractions, so she can’t drive herself. I’m gonna kill him. I can’t believe he’d take her somewhere like that, especially now.”

“Are you f**kin’ kidding me?”

“Jesse, don’t use that language with me,” she snapped. “Can you help her or not? I’m in Spokane and it’ll take at least an hour to get there. I’ll start making more phone calls if you can’t do it.”

“Wait, isn’t it too early?”

“A little too early, yes,” she replied, her voice tense. “I wanted to call an ambulance but she insists it’s just Braxton Hicks. Ambulance rides cost a fortune, you know, and she’s scared of the bills. She wants to go home but I think she might need the hospital. Can you get her or not? I can meet you there as soon as I hit town. I’ve got a real bad feeling about this, Jess. Didn’t sound like Braxton Hicks to me.”

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