Week one of my introduction of characters starts with Ethan. Emily is one of three children. She has two brothers, Hunter who is twelve and Ethan who is twenty. While Hunter makes brief appearances in all three books, Ethan is an integral part of her journey.
Emily and Ethan attend the same University, which isn’t without its challenges. While she cringes at the thought of bumping into him at a party, she’s often comforted by his loving gestures and protective nature. Ethan is warm, caring and above all present for her in a world full of new harsh realities. But, those qualities are all melded together and wrapped up with chiding and teasing as well as typical sibling rivalry.
Now, I have drawn on pieces of my personal experience to concoct certain characters, but not most of them. Emily herself is a complete piece of fiction, formed strictly from my imagination. Other characters I give a small, fractional nod of truth. Ethan is one of those characters.
For those of you who know me, you know that I am surrounded by men. I live in a house with my husband and son, as well as my dog William. I have three brothers, and just as God started to feel sorry for me, he gifted me with a sister and another little brother. So while I don’t discount the girl power between my sister Bree and I, my eldest brothers are the ones that helped guide me into the woman I am today. Ethan is a blend of Tom, Josh and Robby. In Ethan, there exists Tom’s way of turning every compliment, sentiment and practical observation into an opportunity to tease Emily and keep her safely tucked under his older, wiser arm. Together with the influence of Tom, is Josh’s ability to turn any situation into a possible rescue attempt. While Emily may be perfectly able to take care of herself, Ethan isn’t about to risk it. Package that all up with Robby’s ability to live in a world created just for him. Where common practices of caring what other people think, simple escape him.
So I raise a glass, as well as an eyebrow, to my brothers who helped bring to life Ethan Parker.
Below is the first of many exchanges between Emily and Ethan in Call Me Emily.
A New Beginning
I heard a click then a whoosh. My front door.
“Back here.” I called back.
I stood in front of the mirror holding a sweater up to in front of me. I felt suddenly ridiculous. It was late September, and it had to be at least eighty degrees outside.
“What are you doing?” He asked.
“What does it look like?” In jeans and a t-shirt I was tossing around the idea of wearing a sweater. Wasn’t it obvious?
“You must be out of your mind.” He stood across from me wearing shorts and gestured toward the sweater I was holding. Maybe I should re-think that sweater.
I grew up in a town that had hot summers, but by October the leaves start to drop and there is a sharp chill in the air. This place didn’t show any signs of a change in season.
“Orientation huh?” he asked. I nodded, still staring at my reflection in the mirror. “Maybe I’ll see you on campus. I’ve got a few books to pick up.”
“Ok.” I shrugged not really caring whether I ran into him or not. Then it occurred to me. “Why are you here?”
“To see you off on your first day.” He patted me on the back. “Later.”
Whatever, I thought to myself. I turned around and watched as he moved through my apartment on his way out. He grabbed an apple from my fruit bowl on the kitchen counter and took a bite.
“And Em?” He chewed. “Lock your door. You’re not in Kansas anymore.” He shut the door behind him and it was quiet again. I sighed.
I set the sweater down on my bed and looked out my window. If I were down on the street, I’d hear the flip flop of sandals on the sidewalk and the VW vans as they passed me with surf boards on the roofs. Southern California was a different place, but seemed almost like a different country compared to the small Northern California town I had grown up in. My home town wasn’t Kansas for sure, but the similarities were undeniable. The change in scenery alone was a jolt, but add big brother to the mix and whoa. This was going to be quite a different experience with both of us going to the same college.