A Friend Indeed – Character Introduction #5: Trish

Trish moves into the story just as Emily is starting to really get into her design classes. She is introduced in Call Me Emily but her character becomes even more integrated in Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. Trish is one of those deeply evolved friends you meet when you yourself have far to go. She’s cool, calm and collected and always seems to make good decisions. (Something Emily longs to do.) Trish is older than Emily, but only by about four years. She’s from the East Coast and is attending California West University to get her second Bachelors degree. Trish is quite beautiful; model-like in fact.  But it’s not her beauty that invites you in, it’s something else. She’s warm and caring, but sarcastic and funny at the same time. Trish is supportive of Emily and wants her to date and have fun. But she also has a little bit of big sister in her, and keeps a close eye on Emily and her relationship with Graham.

When I created Trish I didn’t base her on any one particular girl, but instead I thought back to several of my college friends that helped guide me during those fairly tumultuous years.

Below is an excerpt Call Me Emily and one from Emily’s Calling. The first is an early exchange that Emily and Trish have that lends itself to a deeper friendship than the kind that simply passes once a shared class has ended.

The second excerpt…fast forward a few years and it’s graduation day. Trish and Emily have become great friends and are now about to enter the “real world.”

Call Me Emily

Chapter 13

The Balancing Act

Thursday was a busy day in Design 101.  Midterms meant projects for design students, so although it was a relief not to study in the traditional sense for this class, the project was intense. Trish and I were partners on an office building. Everyone was paired up that day painting and gluing. I wondered if the white paint would ever come out from under my nails.

“So this Graham, he’s good to you?” she asked in a way only someone with a few years on me could ask.

“Yeah, of course.”

“You’ve never felt like this before?” She held a balsa wood column in place.

“I don’t know, it’s early.” But the truth was I hadn’t felt this way. The intensity was unparalleled. Trish smiled. One that came from experience. Then she moved our conversation back to the project.

Emily’s Calling

Chapter 1

A New Day

“Good morning graduating class of 1994.” Trish lifted her cup in my direction. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a ponytail and in even the most casual shorts she still could easily have passed for a model: tall-thin-beautiful. A combination you would hate about her if she weren’t so completely likeable.

“It is a good morning, isn’t it?”  I said as I approached the kitchen. She handed me a cup and rested against the countertop. I poured quickly and lifted it to my lips. It was a ritual that started my first day of college which now seemed long ago. Trish rolled her eyes as she usually did at my morning ritual but did so with a smirk.

“So when is the family getting in?” she asked holding onto her cup with both hands.

“Mom, Grandma and Hunter should get to Ethan’s house…” I looked at the microwave clock. “In a couple of hours. What about your family?”

“You remember. I have to pick them up at the airport.” She looked at her watch. “Now! Crap!” I heard the slam of the coffee cup as she grabbed the keys from across the counter, then the door shut before I had a chance to say anything.

“Bye,” I called after the door closed. Then I heard a knock about two seconds later. At her fierce pace I was sure it wasn’t Trish.

I opened the door and fresh beach air rushed over and past me. “Joel. Hey.” I moved aside for him to enter. He was dressed in his running gear.

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Joel: Just Friends? Character Introduction #4

Character introduction #4 is dedicated to Joel. Fourth to appear in the story,  Joel could be mistaken for Emily’s love interest. And to speak to that, I’d have to say, you’ll see. Joel is a character that appears throughout the first three books. He’s Ethan, Emily’s brother’s best friend. He and Emily cross paths regularly in Call Me Emily and even more frequently in Emily Calls It. And don’t forget his regular appearances in Emily’s Calling. Joel is the quintessential nice guy from the south. He’s tall and muscular but also smart as a whip, and he passed on an athletic scholarship to accept an academic one. While Ethan is fully submerged in Southern California life, Joel still maintains his southern character and charm.

As the story progresses and Emily gets involved with Graham, you wonder if she’ll ever see the potential relationship that lurks in Joel. And if and when she does, was she right to make that leap? The presence of Joel and the introduction of new male characters makes you question who will be the guy for her, and if she will make the right choice.  Here’s an excerpt from Joel and Emily’s first meeting. After the first day of school, Emily starts decorating her apartment to make it hers. She begins by painting the kitchen. Just when she’s finishing up there’s a knock at the door.

Chapter 4

Joel

Cleaning up, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the microwave. What was that on my forehead? I leaned in closer to see a big streak of green paint. And the spatters across my shirt and down my right arm. How did I do that? As I pulled down the last of the tape, there was a knock at the door. Great! Who could that be? And furthermore, I was not dressed for visitors. I set down the big mess of tape and went to the door. Through the peephole I saw a couple of guys faced away from the door. Oh, no, neighbors. I opened the door and decided to get it over with.

“Hey Em. What’s up? You renovating or something?” My brother moved past me, not waiting for a response.

“No, just painting the kitchen,” I said looking up at the second guy.

“Hey. I’m Joel,” he said with a slow, deep drawl. I immediately paid attention.

“Oh, this is my sister Emily,” said Ethan, turning back to us.

“Come in. Oh, and forgive the mess.”

“We were just heading out for a run and decided to stop by. Want to come?” Ethan asked.

“I need to finish cleaning up,” I said, looking down as I tried to smooth out my shirt. It was a hopeless attempt.

“Wow, Em, this looks great,” Ethan said.

“Thanks.” He walked toward the wall. “Oh, be careful, it’s still wet.” I warned him.

“Yeah, you’ve got yur-self a nice place. My apartment’s plain,” Joel added. With every word I wondered about his possible hometown. It definitely wasn’t Texas, but where? I didn’t ask.

“You’d have to know my sister. In no time she’ll completely change this place.”

“I could use some tips,” Joel said.

I smiled not really knowing if he was posing a question or stating a fact.

“Well,” Ethan said looking from me to Joel then back to me, “we better go.”

“It was a pleasure Em’ly,” Joel said leaning up against the front door.

“Nice to meet you too,” I translated to California style.  Then I glanced at my brother, whose sober frown indicated he didn’t approve of our little flirtation.

“Bye Ethan. Maybe I’ll see you on campus tomorrow.”

“Actually, did you want to see that new Tom Cruise movie Saturday night?” he asked. I wanted to reply with something smart like, Saturday night? With your little sister? But I figured he was going for nice, and so far this alone thing wasn’t that great.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Cool, I’ll call you with the times.”

“OK, I’ll see ya,” I smiled a smile only he would understand and shut the door. OK, I knew three things for sure:

First, my brother didn’t like it when his friends flirted with me – despite the fact he’d been doing it for years with my friends. And, I liked it a little that he was so annoyed with me. Second, it was nice to have someone flirt with me when I was covered in paint splatters. And third, I knew Mom must be on his case to not leave me alone too much. But alone I was and I had plenty to do. Back to my reading assignments I went.

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That One and Only New Love – Character Introduction #3: Graham

If friends are like cupcakes then what scrumptious dessert would that new, intense and special love be? Humm. I’ll leave that up to you.

Ah Graham. Week three of my character introductions continues with Graham. Emily meets Graham almost immediately when she starts University. He charismatic, chivalrous, persistent and above all, hot. It’s obvious upon meeting him that his experience outweighs hers by leaps and bounds; which let’s face it, is extremely sexy at her age. The way he looks out of the corners of his eyes at her with a sly and flirtatious smile drives her crazy.  And his ever so often rescues from her ridiculous clumsy streak only endear him more to her.

After numerous advances, Emily agrees to go out with Graham, sending her down a fast and turbulent path that leads her to question a great many things that she has come to know in her life.

So to address the endless question about who I based Graham on. It’s funny actually. Graham has always stood completely on his own two feet for me. I see no ex boyfriend or past crush. I only see him. I picture his face, his now typical smirk and the fast black car he drives, and he seems like a real person to me. And I can honestly say, I fabricated him completely out of thin air. That said, he absolutely lived in my life when I wrote Call Me Emily Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. There were days when I knew I was about to write a twist and turn with Graham and I dreaded it. I didn’t want to taint the connection I felt to him. I know, crazy talk right? Well who knows, but that set of feelings I felt for him helped me to create an amazing character that I think all women will fall in love with and all men would want to hang out with. I could go on and on about Graham – and I have. But I think this example from Call Me Emily will give you a nice little picture of THE GUY. The one that turns Emily’s world upside down. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes not.

To pick one excerpt that sums up Graham is like picking one pair of shoes. And if you know me, that’s almost impossible. So after reviewing about twenty Graham scenes, I decided to include the scene that shows the intensity that is Graham. The moment when Emily’s life stands on end.  It’s a pivotal scene for a few reasons. See if you can pick them out.

It’s Emily and Graham first date. While they’ve spent time flirting in Spanish class, this is the first time he’s taken her out. Over dinner they discuss her love of art history. And the evening takes off from there. Oh, and yes, there is the kiss. THE KISS that says much more than “I like you.”

The First Kiss

“My parents have a Toulouse-Lautrec. Maybe you’d like to see it sometime?” He moved his thumb across my fingertips. It wasn’t surprising that his mother would own exquisite paintings, but to get your hands on an original Toulouse-Lautrec was no small feat.

“I’d like that.” The thought of meeting his parents was kind of nerve-wracking and seemed an early topic, but I really wanted to see the painting.

“Actually,” he paused and looked for a second like he might not say anything else, “they are out of town previewing colleges with my brother, and the house is just a few blocks away. What do you think?”

My instinct was to say no, but I couldn’t help myself. I was having such a nice time with him and I was curious about seeing a real work of art. “I’d love to see it.” That also meant I didn’t have to meet his parents right now, and that was a relief.

When we drove up, the place was black. Not one light was on, so I knew they must be out of town. Again he placed his hand in the middle of my upper back to lead me to the front door. The way he did this made me wonder if it was a typical posturing for him and his dates. But I didn’t dwell on that thought.

He reached inside the door and turned on the porch light and the entry light, or rather the chandelier. There were several lights across the front  that illuminated the long house. I would describe it as a beach house, but there was nothing quaint and beachy about it. It was big and illustrious with heavy white shutters and a sweeping roof that came down and ended in thick eves. It was monumental, like the rich grandfather of all beach houses. I was impressed.

“Come on.” He passed me in the entry and took my hand to lead me to another room. I followed along, but looked up at the chandelier as I passed under it, mesmerized by the light as it danced across each of the cut glass pieces. He paused in front of the open door to the next room and flipped on a series of light switches. Against the far wall was the painting. I knew it immediately. It was smaller than I thought it would be, and framed in a heavy gold-tipped frame. It was placed with nothing around it, and three lights above that were probably installed specifically for viewing it. I walked straight over, not waiting for Graham.

“See the way he used the brush? The strokes are so unique.” I reached up and hovered my fingers above the painting, not wanting to get too close. I traced the brushstrokes in the air above the painting following every loop. I heard him come up behind me.

I looked out of the right corners of my eyes without turning around, trying to see how close he was to me.  Then I felt the buttons of his shirt graze my back. I stopped talking; his closeness had stopped my train of thought. I felt his breath caress my back. Looking over my shoulder, I met his eyes. Without breaking our eye contact, he turned me around taking a step to the side of the painting and me with him.

I stood with my back against the wall questioning him without saying a word. He never took his eyes from mine as he wrapped our hands together.  He leaned into me touching his lips to mine. It was a gentle and quick kiss. When he pulled away, I was surprised at my reaction; I followed his kiss wanting more. I kept my eyes with his, trying to figure out what he would do next.  As he pulled back from me just one corner of his mouth turned up into a smile; I think he knew I wanted him to kiss me again. He lifted his hands to my face and pulled me closer. This time his lips parted mine softly. He moved his hands from my face along my neck as his kiss became deeper. His body pressed against mine pushing me further into the wall behind me. I pressed my hands against the wall to brace myself.  His kisses slowed, soft again but rich with pleasure. As he pulled away, he swept a few strands of hair from my face and tucked them behind my ear.

“I guess I can’t call you Spanish Girl anymore,” he said as another smile snuck out of the corner of his mouth.

“I guess you’ll have to call me Emily.”

“I guess.” He leaned into me again and swept his lips across mine. I moved my hands from the wall along his chest, up to his face and kissed him back. It was divine.

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