Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed.
Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
The library at home has the complete book. I’ve seen the missing page—the anatomy of man. An extinct creature, as far as anyone knows.
A voice from behind says, “What are you reading?”
My shoulders tense when I turn to see Mary. None of the girls at home looked like her— dark eyes, perfectly straight nose and full, round lips. Her hair brushes my cheek as she leans over. She shouldn’t be so close. I ease the book shut and try to look calm.
“We studied biology last year,” she says. “Did your teacher go over it?”
In Section Seven, we self-studied, but she doesn’t need to know that. “No.” I carry the book to the shelf.
She follows. “You should read the part on genetics. It’s really interesting.”
I slip the book between a car manual and a medical dictionary. “I’ve read the whole thing.”
“But you said you hadn’t studied it yet.”
To avoid her gaze, I stare out the window at the abandoned skyscrapers and trash-covered barriers. “Don’t you have class or something?”
“We’re on lunch break.”
I growl. “Go eat.” My voice is too husky, too deep.
“I was tryin’ to be nice.” She turns to walk away.
I grab her wrist to stop her. Her skin is warm and smooth.
“What are you doing?” She wrenches her arm free. “You’re gonna end up in the pit.”
I step away, and she hurries toward the door, shoulders back and chin high. The loose-fitting hospital gown can’t hide the curve of her figure.
I want to touch her again.
Jordan Locke lives in Connecticut with his wife, two lively daughters and a well-behaved whippet. A graphic designer by trade, his creativity spilled over into the literary world.
After years of writing, reading and learning the craft, his fifth novel, The Only Boy, brought him offers of representation from two well-known agents. Now, after the dog is fed and the kids are in bed, you will find him tapping away at the keyboard.
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Guest Post - Not Your Typical Love Story
I’ll use The Hunger Games for example. The relationship between Katniss and Peeta is complicated, to say the least. They are fighting for their lives, and on camera to boot. It makes perfect sense that their kissing scene is awkward and their relationship strained. In my novel The Only Boy, Taylor is hiding his identity. He’s lost his family and friends. He’s been thrown into an unfamiliar and potentially hostile environment. Add to this the fact that he’s never really had a girlfriend, and I’m sure you can see how new relationships would be difficult.
Mary, his love interest, is strong-willed. With only women living in her compound and with a constant fear of disease, interactions are discouraged, even forbidden. She has never even met a boy and is confused by her feelings for Taylor. This often leads to misunderstandings and, at times, distrust.
Mary and Taylor’s relationship is far from perfect. They have different upbringings and conflicting desires. They aren’t always nice to each other. Oftentimes, they act in ways that may come off as cold or even mean. In my opinion, this makes them more real.
If you’re looking for a breezy romance, where everything is flowers and fireworks from the start, The Only Boy may not be right for you. If you enjoy complicated stories, however, books in which the characters have to work through their problems and fight for their right to be together, maybe you should give The Only Boy a look.