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.
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.
“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.