Ball Peen Hammer - Lauren Rowe Page 0,1

point of his life, so I’m sure he’d say quite emphatically that Jenny’s love does, in fact, cost ‘a thing.’ He might even say it cost him his very soul.”

Hannah scoffs. “Screw Ben. He can’t blame his tortured soul on Jenny from the Block. If the mighty Jennifer Garner couldn’t fix that broken-ass man, then he’s obviously not fixable.”

“Hannah, please be serious. If you’re planning to pay for the spot, I can’t let you do that—you’re already gonna let me live with you rent-free.”

“I’m not paying for the spot.”

“Well, then, did Henn finagle some kind of favor from Reed? Because I don’t feel comfortable letting Henn—”

“Listen to me, Linda,” Hannah says, cutting me off. It’s a reference to a viral video Hannah’s become obsessed with recently in which a precocious little boy repeatedly calls his mother by her first name (Linda) and commands her to “listen to him.” “This parking spot is a gift from the universe, simple as that—completely free. Well, it won’t cost you any money, that is—nothing’s ever completely free.”

“Ha! I knew it. You sold your little sister into sexual slavery, didn’t you?”

“Well, of course. How else could I get you a parking spot mere blocks from campus for nothing out of pocket? Besides, you won’t mind your sexual servitude when you see the guy who’s giving you his spot—in fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll thank me.”

“Ooooooh. You’ve got my attention, Linda. Is he hot?”

“As hell.”

“But is he my idea of hot or yours? Because your idea of hot is some dork in a black cape, playing Magic, The Gathering.”

“Not Magic, The Gathering. I’m all about World of Warcraft these days.”

“Oh my God, Hannah. You’re hopeless.”

My sister giggles. “Trust me, Mr. Parking Spot is everyone’s idea of hot. Mine, yours, J.Lo’s, Mom’s—well, okay, not Mom’s. He’s not a total loser.”

We both snicker.

“Tell me more about Mr. Parking Spot,” I say. “I must admit, I’m skeptical of his hotness.”

My skepticism is well grounded, by the way. My sister’s idea of hotness rarely overlaps with mine. While Hannah’s always had a thing for quirky hipster-nerdy-gamer types like her adorable boyfriend, Henn, I’ve always had a near-fatal weakness for artsy-musician James Dean types (guys who, unfortunately, always seem to hand me a one-way ticket to the friend-zone before I’ve managed to string two coherent words together in their presence).

“Well, gosh, lemme think,” Hannah says in a teasing voice. “Well, first off, Mr. Parking Spot is in a band.”

“Bah-wooh?” I blurt, doing my best Scooby-Doo-smelling-a-Scooby-snack impression.

Hannah chuckles. “Yeah, I thought that’d get a Scooby-Doo-bawooh out of you.”

“What instrument does he play?”

“Guitar. Oh, and he’s the lead singer, too.”

“Santa Maria!”

“And he writes all his band’s lyrics.”

“Oh my.”

“And the lyrics he writes are deep and profound.”

I gasp. “Santa Madonna!”

“But, wait, there’s more. Guess why he doesn’t need his parking spot?”

“Oh, dear God, no,” I whisper.

“’Cause he rides a motorcycle,” Hannah says, confirming my hunch.

“Sweet Sassy Molassey!”

Hannah laughs.

“Okay, it’s official,” I say. “Fire up the engines of unrequited love to full-throttle, Johnny. I’m goin’ in.”

“And, to top it all off, he lives right across the hall from me, so you two will practically be roomies.”

I clutch my heart, anxiety gripping me. “Shit just got real—and very precarious.”

Hannah laughs again.

“Hannah, all joking aside, this is gonna end really badly for me,” I say, my voice tight. “I’m so sad for what’s about to happen to me.”

Hannah scoffs. “Why do you always think that way? You have to think positively—envision what you want and then make it a reality.”

“Banana, I’m an extremely positive person and you know it. I just don’t happen to be delusional.”

“Come on, Linda, listen to me,” Hannah says. “How many times have I told you? New city, new school, new Maddy. That’s your mantra now. You’re not shy and introverted anymore; you’re a man-eater, baby.”

I let out a loud exhale. My sister can give me as many pep talks about manifesting my reality and transforming myself into some kind of femme fatale as she wants, but we both know what’s gonna happen here: I’m gonna fall for this rock-star guy and he’s going to pat me on the head, feed me some kibble, and say, “Hey there, little buddy. Let’s be friends!” It’s just the way it always goes with me when it comes to me and the guys I find sexually attractive.

Now don’t get me wrong: hot guys have liked me—the same way they like kittens and Homer Simpson and waffle cones. “You’re awesome, Maddy!” they’ve said, if we happen to