Ch. 1

Nature has a funny way in the way it runs its course. I'm sure if my parents had decided to choose what sort of child I would have turned out to be, they would have chosen something replicating a child from the nineteen fifties. Anything other than what they came out with.
By the time I turned sixteen I'd already visited juvy more than once and have stood in front of a judge more times than I can count. Now, at eighteen, they've pretty much reserved a cot in the county jail for me. Because of who my father is, I've never actually served time, but I can assure you, I most likely will. I can't help it if I like to have fun.
Many have called me a spoiled brat and I guess it's true. I was born into a privileged family but that never stopped me from causing trouble no matter where I go. And no matter what I do, I never seem to learn my lesson the first time. Call me stubborn.
At pretty much every family gathering conversation on where I got my "rebellious streak" from. Eventually everyone settles on my Uncle Kyle though I very much doubt I get it from him. As much trouble as he's gotten himself into in the past, he's never seen the inside of the county jail. I don't think anyone in my family has actually been in jail, other than me. One of my many accomplishments.
My grandfather used to say I would someday shape up. That I was just experiencing life. Dad never cared for what granddad Warren said. From what my mother says, they never have gotten along. Not that I blame my dad. Granddad Warren always tried to talk me into becoming a lawyer until the day he died. He did that with Dad too, but he didn't listen. His brother Jason took on the family business however. When granddad died, he left the law firm to Jason, confirming my suspicions that he was the ass kisser of the family.
Oh, how rude of me. You're probably wondering who I am, aren't you? To hear me babble on for five paragraphs now, it would probably help if you knew who I am. My parents chose to dub me Klein Jacob Ridge. If you even try to make fun of the name I'll bust your nose. Don't think it's an empty threat. Ma named me after some fairy tale Dad told her to win her over. If I weren't so used to people calling me Klein, I would have made a nickname for myself like my sisters, Meré, Ross, and Em.
Thankfully the only sister I have to put up with now is Em. Meré and Ross are both married with careers and children and they no longer live with us. Sure, I miss them. I don't mean to sound inconsiderate or anything, it's just, being raised in the midst of women isn't exactly my piece of cake. But then, they visit pretty much every weekend, so it's not like I have much to miss. And since Ross had her first baby a couple weeks ago, Mom feels obligated to visit them rather than vice versa.
That's enough about my family. Ugh, sometimes talking about them can give me a stomachache. To me they're too perfect. It's like a page out of a storybook. Just call me the black sheep.
My friends are the best friends a black sheep could ever have. Unfortunately, they were all born a year ahead of me and have gone off to college. Danny Dunn, both my cousin and my best friend, went off to Texas A&M. He was the first in the family to go on to A&M. Everyone else had graduated from the University of Houston. But he thought he would learn more at A&M rather than U of H. His major is in engineering.
After Dan left I became close with two of my old friends Robbie Hearst and Carter McGraw. You can call them my partners in crime. At school I'm quite popular, if I do say so myself. Anyone in the Country Boys were known throughout that school. The Country Boys was a group so named for our backgrounds. The ten members included myself, Robbie, Carter, Tim Miller, Don Voss, Jack Stevens, Damien and Derek Parks, and my cousins Leo Dunn and Warren Ridge. Warren held the title of the youngest member, him being a freshman and all.
And to top it all off, I've got the most beautiful girl in school as my girl. Rene North reined the school and all the guys in it with her trim body in clothes that, when she wanted, left nothing to the imagination. She reminded him of Nicole Kidman, an old actress my aunt liked. Her light blonde hair flowed down to the middle of her back and her eyes were the blue of the oceans. We'll have been dating for a year this December.
Yep, I have it all. Good friends, great girl, good family and drink all complete my life. No way would I change it. But I had to learn the hard way that change comes with no consideration as to how you've gone about life before.
My life course changed several weeks into August, weeks after my father's birthday and my niece's arrival into the world. The day started out like any other. Carter came over around six twenty in the morning to wake me up (I'm a very deep sleeper). His remedy to wake me is by sitting on my back. Eventually, his weight will cause me to stumble out of my dreams. After he was sure I had woken up, he'd leave the room for a free breakfast downstairs.
We left the house around six forty-five in Carter's old black truck he bought when he turned sixteen. Dad took my car away from me because of my latest venture. Who knew the cops actually looked out for drag racers?
"How's your sister?" Carter asked. He thought it courteous to ask how my family was doing. You can't really blame the guy. His parents died when he was ten. Since then he's lived with his grandparents, who could fall over any minute.
"Which one? There are three of them."
"Ross."
"Oh, she's fine. I've told you before, Carter, she had a baby, that's all. She came out all right. Let it rest." I told him. Ever since Ross had her baby, questions on how she was doing came from all those I came in contact with. It was beginning to drive me crazy.
"I know," Carter responded. "It's just common courtesy to ask."
Raking my hand through what granddad called my dishwater blonde hair, I chuckled. Only Carter still believed in common courtesy. At least, he was the only courteous one in our group. That was probably why I liked Carter so much. He, unlike the other Country Boys, still believed in stuff like soul mates and fate and destiny. When anyone dared call Carter a queer, I'd kick their asses, no questions needed. One of the reasons I've gotten into trouble so much.
We continued the ride to school with small talk. He told me about his how his grandmother won some money off a scratch ticket. I told him how Dad grounded me for accidentally breaking one of the windows in the house. It's not my fault I don't know my own strength when I'm playing football.
I spotted Rene standing with some of the Country Boys as we pulled into the school's parking lot. She literally made my mouth water in a teal mini skirt and a white halter. Her hair fell to her back and my mouth twitched as I watched her pink lips burst into laughter at something Don said.
I was already out of the truck by the time Carter put the car in park.
"Hey, Rene," I greeted, smoothly sliding my arm around her shoulders.

"Good morning, Klein," She sighed.
Before I could say anything else to her, Don said, "You better not have screwed up last night. Jack's parents just went out and bought like thirty cases of beer. Tonight's gonna be a hell of a party."
"Shit, I'm there," I told him. "A party wouldn't be a party without me there, would it?"
Don agreed just as the bell rang overhead. As he scurried off to meet up with some of the other Country Boys that were in his first period, I glanced down at Rene to find a bored look on her face. What the hell is wrong with her? I wondered.
"Maybe we'll find a room to ourselves down at Jack's tonight," I suggested, kissing her neck.
Giving a tired sigh, she turned around to face me, managing to skim out of my grasp. "I don't think so," She said.
"What's your problem?"
"Look, Klein, what we had was fun and all but I'm ready to move on," She told me, studying her nails.
"Ready to move on?" I repeated. "What the hell does that mean?"
"It means I don't want to be with you anymore. Don't feel bad. I mean I like you and all. I just don't want to be with you anymore. I want to test out different waters. You know what I mean?"
"Test other waters?" I repeated.
"Thanks for understanding, Klein," She smiled. Giving me a quick peck on the cheek, she continued, "You're really a great guy I just don't see anything happening. See you later."
With that she was gone. I stared stupidly after her minutes after the warning bell rang. Did she just do what I think she just did? No, she couldn't have. But if she hadn't, then why am I staring after her minutes after she left?
As I fell into a nearby bench, realization set over me like a dark cloud. Rene North just broke up with. Me! How did that happen? Things were going fine. We were closing in on one year together. And now she wants to break it off? Did I miss something? Yesterday things between us had been fine. What caused her to dump me now? The only thing that came to mind was her meeting someone else. But who?
Don't go thinking I'm in love with Rene. God, my feelings are the farthest from it. Sure, she's hot and everything and we've got some things in common, but I seriously doubt I could have even considered myself falling in love with her. I'm not my parents. And I sure as hell will not turn into my parents.
At nineteen, my mother gave birth to my eldest sister Meredith. Two months afterwards she and my father, who was twenty-one at the time, married. This December they will celebrate their twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. While I'm proud of them for not divorcing after such a long time, I'm one to make sure I never put myself into the sort of predicament Dad did. Though he claims to have loved my mother ever since he first laid eyes on her. I've never come to believe the story he tells at how his jaw dropped when she entered the café he had been working at and how he'd done everything in his power to get her. Call me one to believe in things when I see them for myself.