Even before Pepper cornered me I decided that, if given the chance, I would let him get to know me.It was lunchtime at school, a hot early April after-noon. I was sitting by myself on a rock at the corner of campus staring out at the desert. It was a favorite spotfor me to hang out and eat junk food. School was inSalem, Arizona, a town built on sand with a lot of sweat. I had grown up surrounded by an ocean of dust, yet the sight of the desert never tired me. I was alwaysglad the city architects had put Salem High at the edgeof town, and not in the center. Downtown Salem wasabout as exciting as an empty movie theater. Thingsmay have been happening in town, but hardly anyone was there to acknowledge the fact. Even before thetransformation, Salem felt barren.Pepper suddenly appeared, standing above me withhis thumbs hooked into the back pockets of his Levi505s. He was trying to look cool, and not doing a bad job of it. He was too handsome. By that I mean I wasn't given any chance to dislike him. Everythingthat happened between us had to be. It was inevitable.His hair was brown and messy. He needed a shave.His eyes were as dark as blue prairie grass before astorm. He had a body, every guy does, but his fit him better than most. But I didn't smile at him, not rightaway. I was cool, too."Hey, Roxanne," he said, then paused. "That is your name?""It had better be." I had to shield my eyes to look athim. He had the sun behind him, which I think was astrategic move on his part. "What do you want?""Got a cigarette?""I don't smoke," I said.