"That's the worst idea I ever heard," I told Eric. Then I took another sip of beer and swallowed. "Let's do it." "Meg," Tiffany called after me. But I was already out the door of Eric's Beamer. My beer sloshed onto the gravel as I led the way across the dark clearing to the railroad bridge. Eric caught up with me. His hand circled the back of my neck, stopping me at the end of the bridge. We shared a hungry look. He'd been mad when I told him Tiffany and Brian were coming along tonight. And I knew why he was angry. If we weren't alone, we couldn't do it. If we couldn't do it, what were we hanging out together for? Now, without sharing a word, he and I understood we would do it after all. The four of us were drunk past the point of needing privacy. In the light of the full moon I searched his handsome face a moment longer, marveled at his carefully mussed black hair. He was hot. We turned each other on. We were about to screw on a railroad bridge. It was a shame we didn't like each other very much. I gazed to the far end of the bridge. "It's not long enough for those kids to have gotten killed on it. Seems like they could have run to one end or the other when they heard the train coming." "You don't believe that story," he said.
"Party pooper. Why do you want to cross the bridge if you don't believe the story? It's not a daring deed unless you think it's dangerous." "The girl got her shoe caught in the tracks," Brian said behind us. "That's what I always heard. And the boy got killed, too, because he went back to help her." "That's so romantic," Tiffany cooed. She sounded like she actually meant it. She was completely wasted on her first three beers ever, way too drunk to produce sarcasm. "And then, blammo!" I said. "Very dangerous. That's more like it." I swirled my beer in my cup. "Maybe we should take our shoes off." Despite his party pooping, Eric took his shoes off. We all left our shoes at the base of the sign that proclaimed No Trespassing and offered the number of the city ordinance we were breaking. We stepped in our socks across the railroad ties, toward the center of the bridge—Eric and me, with Tiffany and Brian behind us. Through my cotton socks, gradually T began to feel the cold, hard ties. The air seemed colder, too, as we walked farther from the riverbank. I heard Tiffany trip, then laugh. Brian probably thought tonight was The Night, and maybe it was. He'd been bugging me for months in the back of calculus class about how to take his relationship with Tiffany to The Next Level. I had told him I wasn't that close with Tiffany anymore. I wasn't that close with anyone. He said it didn't matter. He seemed to think I was an expert on sex in general. What did I expect? Good news traveled fast.
And I was pretty much getting what I asked for from Eric. I looked the part. As the only teenager in Shelby County, Alabama, with blue hair, I was everybody's go-to girl for bad behavior. Tonight I wore a low-cut T-shirt that said Peer Pressure in the hope of luring Eric into another sexcapade. As if he needed any luring. He was pretty much self-luring. As we reached the middle of the bridge, he steered me by the neck to the metal wall of the trestle. I didn't mind being held around the back of the neck, but I minded being steered. The rich, dirty scents of rust and tar made me dizzy. I was about to shake him off when he slid his hand down to my butt and parked me against the wall. I sipped beer and gripped the rusty wall with my other hand, looking down at the reflection of the white moon in the black river so far below us. Trees clung to the sides of the gorge, their tiny spring leaves glinting white with moonlight. People had said the view from the bridge was beautiful, but no one seemed to have actually seen it. Now I had seen it. Now I had seen everything. Brian Johnson, salutatorian, math team captain, had Tiffany Hart, valedictorian, yearbook editor, sandwiched against...