Chapter 1

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Meet Johnny. Baby blue eyes, great hair, fit body, and a smile that drives the ladies crazy.

I'm sure there's a boy named Johnny out there that fits that description, but, sadly, it's not me. I'm Jonnie the girl with a boy's name. My eyes are the color of mold. I have hair that feels like and resembles upside-down barren winter tree branches. I also have a figure that no matter what pair of jeans I wear, there's always that tiny little love handle sticking out on each side of my back that the jerk boys of my high school used to pinch just to aggravate me. I survived the horrors of public schooling by hiding in the shadow of the legend that was my three older brothers.

I used to think that everyone had brothers like mine. Not so. My brothers were just special breeds of maniac. Growing up, our lives consisted of 'playing' army, where our day-to-day actions consisted of our makeshift backyard boot camps and bossing me around. Army was not a game to them. It was day-to-day life, reflecting on anything and everything we did.

"I'll promote you if you go make me some lemonade."

Only I was the baby sister. That meant I never got 'promoted'. The neighbor kids would after a day, while I lived army 24/7 and still got bossed around by the newest higher-ranking neighbor kid. But it made me tough. It made me a tomboy and the subject of ridicule for most of my pre-double-digit years, but it did teach me how not to cry.

Then, somewhere along my teen years, my brothers decided I was cool. I think it was about the time all three of them enlisted and became Black-Op Delta Force. One thing you can say about the army, it sure makes you appreciate what you have. I remember having a cheating boyfriend when I was seventeen; my brothers flew down specifically to 'talk' to him. I never heard from that boy again.

After my brothers left, my house was rather empty. I went into a depressive state, having my heart ripped to shreds by the bastard that cheated on me, and having no social life. A short while later, my parents decided to up and move us to the middle of nowhere and start a church. As if having no brothers around wasn't a big enough culture shock, they had to make sure there was no one else my age within twenty miles to talk to either. It was total isolation. Freaky locals. Predictability. Parental controls. After about three years of this, I went out of my mind. Somehow, I convinced my tightly wound parents to let me move back to Los Angeles to go to college. It took me forever to convince them to let me go.

"Yes, mom, I'll locking the doors at night… Yes, dad, I'll keep the can of mace on me at all times… Yes, I'll call you every hour on the hour… Yes, my decision to become an alcoholic party girl that sells drugs and myself on street corners will pay me enough for me to get by. Don't worry!"

But even harder, was to convince them to let me take my dog with me. Vincent was a small scruffy black dog that resembled a fluffy old mop that was ready to be tossed out.

"Oh, what an adorable dog. What breed is he?"

"Pedigree mutt."

He ran like a rabbit and understood English better than a kindergartner. We found him under a house with a batch of sisters that we gave away to the pound. I fell in love with him, visiting him in the pound after school. When he was neutered at the pound and ready for adoption, I ended up spontaneously claiming him from a family of enthusiastic hyperactive four-year-old triplets that looked ready to pull his tail out. The people at the pound were all too happy to give him to me instead of the animal abuse crew.

I left my parents an eight-by-ten of Vincent and snuck his crate into the car when they weren't looking. I might as well have been kidnapping a child.

But, soon I was on my way, packed in my small white Ford that was decaled with Marley stickers, and off to Los Angeles to move in with an old friend while I attended college.

And that's where our story begins.

See, about the time me and my mop moved in with Felicia, tasting the sweet nectar of freedom for the first time, was about the time Felicia hooked up with Ralph. I mean, what cruel person names their son 'Ralph' anyway? Ralph was, needless to say, a jerk, but Felicia was not really the best judge of character, not to mention she had low self-esteem and high desperation level. That saddened me, since she was a very sweet girl whom I had been great friends with since preschool. Usually while Felicia went off with Ralph, I was stuck sitting around the dorm with Ralph's friend Jonah watching Felicia's box sets of Gray's Anatomy. Jonah was a cool enough guy, easy to talk to and strikingly handsome. The only problem was, Felicia used to date him. She stopped after three dates because she was dating someone else at the same time that she liked better. She gave up lovely, awesome Jonah for the jerk named Ralph. I was upset with her for that, then decided it was a good opportunity… for me.

Now, let me guide you in on a little secret. It's a widely known secret, instilled by all women throughout the world and passed down from generation to generation. It's called Girl Code. And Girl Code rule number 1: Never date your girlfriend's boyfriend, ex, or otherwise, without express permission in verbal or written contract.

So, as such, I brought it up in passing…

"Hey, Fee?"

"Yeah."

"You're over Jonah, right?"

"Oh, yeah, definitely. I'm dating Ralphie, remember?"

"Would you care if I went for him?"

"No, girl, go ahead! Let me find you his number."

I should have known that was Felicia code for: "Hell no, woman, you do that and I'll never speak to you again."

After I talked to Jonah for about two months, going on friendly outings, I decided to take the plunge and ask him out.

I torpedoed. The guy graciously told me that he didn't feel for me that way, and that he was truly sorry. He was wonderful about it, calling me every couple of days to see if I was okay, and hoping that it wouldn't ruin our wonderful friendship. It hurt, but I got over it.

Felicia, however, did not. I was thrown for a loop when she gave me the silent treatment for a week, not knowing what I did to deserve it. After I found out the reason through a mutual friend, I was floored. I had forgiven Felicia not three months ago for not telling me when she KNEW my bastard-boyfriend-that-we-do-not-speak-of was cheating on me, and now this. I've never understood girls as well as boys. To top it off, I had lost my oldest friend over a boy that I didn't even have a chance to date.

We fought incessantly and finally Felicia decided she was moving in with Ralph. This left me without a roommate to pay half the rent, and when I was barely skimping by on my two jobs as a preschool-substitute and cafeteria accountant, this meant I had to either find a roommate, fast, or move in with someone else.

This sent me in a large boiling vat of panic. There was NO way I was going back in that barren boonie wasteland prison that was the Mojave Desert where my parents lived.

I looked in every flier on campus. No one had an apartment that would allow dogs.

Then the lovely Mr. Jonah stepped back into the spotlight, probably feeling he owed me something for mildly breaking my heart, and told me he'd let me crash at his place until I got back on my feet, explaining that one of his half-dozen roommates had moved out, and I could have the room until they found a suitable replacement.

I lied. This is where the real story begins.

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Reviews are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Signed,
--RedRogue55