Tall, Dark, & Troubled

Ethan Harrington in Seasons of Darkness

This handsome guy is the inspiration for Ethan Harrington in the scenes with his beloved horse in my latest novel, Seasons of Darkness.

I felt he was perfect for the part ,and I’ve proudly added him to my Character Gallery.

What do you see when you look at this picture? A young man and his horse?

This is what I see:

A boy just on the verge of becoming a man – and this is the summer of his awakening as love comes knocking.  For shy, lonely Ethan, it’s his first – and one that he is bent on keeping.  Finding that nothing else matters when he’s with Mary, he immerses himself in their relationship, being content to lie to her when it comes to holding on to his family’s secrets.

Look closer.  I’ll tell you more.

Behind those dark, piercing eyes of his lies a realm of bitterness and pain that he will not allow anyone to touch.  His innocence was lost seven years ago when his mother took her own life.  Now sixteen, and still ravaged by her death, he struggles to live among the shattered remains of a family that was never functional to begin with.  Unable to cope, it isn’t long before he turns to what he has seen his father take comfort in time and time again – thus giving rise to an inner demon that will not turn him loose.

Intrigued?  Here’s a special excerpt from chapter 1 just for you:

The bottle dangled carelessly from Ethan’s fingertips as he sat gazing out the small window of the loft.  The sun was beginning to sink behind the tree line, painting the entire horizon in a soft orange.

A gentle breeze fluttered around him carrying with it the sweet smell of honeysuckle.  He Seasons of Darkness by Belinda G. Buchanansettled back against an old bale of straw and breathed in deeply, enjoying the silence.

He found himself wishing that he could be as excited about summer vacation as his sister was.  Although he liked being older than her, there were times he longed to be a kid again, as her days off would no doubt be spent playing with friends and going swimming at the public pool in Manchester.  For him, it meant interning three days a week at his father’s company.  He took another sip from the bottle and sighed.  It was going to be a miserable summer.

He was jarred slightly by the sudden sound of metal hitting wood, but knew what the noise was without turning to look.  The wind had stirred the pitchfork that was hanging on the wall behind him.  He listened as its tines clanged softly against the slats of the barn.  It reminded him of a bell—the kind that you heard on the water.

When he was a boy, his mother would take him down to the canal to see the boats.  They used to stand on the cobblestone sidewalk and watch the ships pass by one after the other.

He sank farther into the straw and closed his eyes, letting his mind drift.

The ship’s enormous bow sliced through the water in front of him as he leaned over the rail.  He watched it intently, certain that its massive hull was going to hit the edge of the concrete wall and send it crumbling into the depths below.

The ends of his toes curled up inside his shoes as the ship loomed beneath him.  It was so close he could count the wooden planks on the top of its deck.  He tightened his grip on the rail as he braced for impact.  He watched with both fascination and disappointment as the captain of the boat guided the craft safely through the narrow opening with master precision.

With danger averted, Ethan pushed himself away from the railing and grinned at his mother.  “When I grow up, I’m going to be the captain of a big ship.  Just like that one.”

She looked down at him and smiled.  “Is that so?”

“Yes, and when I pass by here, I’ll be sure to wave at you.”  He squinted up at her.  “Will you come and watch me?”

“Of course I will, love,” she said, cupping the side of his face in her hand.  “But I shall miss you terribly while you’re gone.”

“It will just be during the day.  I’ll come home every night like Daddy, I promise.”

She arched her eyebrows.  “Promise?”

“Promise.”

“All right, then.  Come on,” she said, making her way over to a park bench.  “Mummy needs to sit down for a moment.”

The shrill horn of a boat sounded in the distance, indicating it was about to pass underneath the bridge.

He sat down beside her and watched for it.

“Here,” she said, reaching into the folds of her purse.  “I’m sure the pigeons have missed you.”

Ethan took the brown paper sack from her and opened it up.  The birds heard the crinkling and immediately began gathering at his feet.  He pulled out a handful of breadcrumbs and tossed them onto the sidewalk.  Within seconds, every morsel had been devoured.  The birds looked up at him, cocking their tiny heads from side to side, waiting for more.

His mother sat forward.  “Where’s Stubby?”

“There he is,” he said, pointing to the bird with the missing toe.  He’s standing next to Fatso.”

“Ah,” she said, smiling.

“Which one shall we name today?” he asked, searching out one to pick.

“Oh, I don’t know, love,” she answered, slumping against the bench.

He held his hand out in front of him and blew the crumbs from his fingers.  “Mummy?”

“Yes?”

“What did you want to be when you were little?”

She shielded her eyes from the sun and looked out across the canal.

“Did you always want to be a mummy?” he prodded when she didn’t answer right away.

Her lips wavered slightly.  “For as long as I can remember.”

He eyed her stomach for a moment.  “Is that why you’re having a baby?”

“I suppose so.”  Her voice was distant.

The big tug slowly came into view as thick black smoke billowed from its stack.

Ethan sat back and watched it glide silently across the water.  He wasn’t sure about all this baby business.  His parents had told him repeatedly that nothing was going to change.  Yet, last week, he had been relocated to the bedroom at the end of the hall in order to make room for what they kept calling his little sister.

His mother put her arm across his shoulders and drew him close.  “Did you know that I asked the angels to send you to us?”

An absurd image formed in his head as he pictured winged beings with halos bringing him down from the clouds.  “Did they put me in there?” he asked, touching her belly.

She laughed.  “Yes, I guess they did.”

“Did you ask the angels for this one?”

“No,” she answered as her smile slowly faded.  “She was a surprise.”

Ethan turned the sack upside down and emptied it, sending the pigeons into an ecstatic frenzy.

“You and I will always have a special bond,” his mother said, squeezing him tightly.  “No matter where you go, or what you do, I’ll always be thinking of you.  And no matter how old you get, you’ll always be my little boy.”

He rested his head upon her shoulder and closed his eyes as she began stroking his hair.

“I will never stop loving you,” she whispered.

The tug sounded its horn again, drowning out her last words.

Ethan opened his eyes and looked up at the darkening sky.  He figured heaven must be somewhere past the clouds.  There were times he wondered if she ever thought about him now, or even knew how old he was.

He pressed the bottle against his lips and took two long swallows, hoping to wash away the lump that had formed in his throat.  His shoulders involuntarily shook as the liquid heat traveled through him.

“Ethan?”

He bolted upright at the sound of his father’s voice.  “Yeah?”

“I need to speak to you for a moment.”

“Coming,” he said.  His fingers trembled as he screwed the cap back on the bottle and stashed it in the hay beside him.

“What are you doing up there?”

“Nothing,” he replied, making his way down the wooden ladder.

His father looked up at the loft for a moment before letting his eyes settle upon him.  “You must be doing something.”

“I was just thinking,” he said, being sure to keep a safe distance between them so he wouldn’t smell the scotch.

“Thinking about what?”

“Nothing.”

His father took a deep breath and sighed.  It was exaggerated, and meant for Ethan to know it was a sign of his frustration with him.

“Greta will be here tomorrow afternoon,” he said.  “I need for you to keep an eye on your sister until she arrives.”

Ethan secretly hid his delight as he nodded.  If he had to watch Renee, that meant he wouldn’t have to go to the office with him in the morning.

“I expect you to help Greta get her things upstairs and be mindful of her,” he said in a stern tone.

“I will,” Ethan answered, irritated that his father thought he had to tell him that.

The last of the sun’s light began to fade, casting a dark shadow inside the barn.  Silence soon followed.

Ethan stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and shifted his feet.

His father finally turned and walked over to one of the empty stalls.  “This place is cleaner than the house,” he said, taking a moment to look inside.

Ethan remained silent, uncertain if that was a compliment or complaint.  He watched as he ran his fingers along the leather saddle that sat astride the stall door.

“This weekend, I’m going to go see a man about a horse.”

Ethan blinked as his mouth fell open.  “Really?” he asked, uncertain if he’d heard him correctly.

His father’s mustache turned up at the corners.  “Really.”

Ethan could not contain the smile that consumed his face at that point, and it brought forth a small chuckle from his father as he turned and headed towards the door.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  You can read more chapters for free by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

*Photo courtesy of dreamstime.com & cynoclub

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