Read The Art of Ethan Online

Authors: Cara North

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General

The Art of Ethan

Tease Publishing LLC
www.teasepublishingllc.com
Copyright ©2006 by CaraNorth
First published in 2008, 2007
NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.
The Art of EthanByCara North

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Art Of Ethan

A Tease Publishing Book/E book

Copyright© 2007

ISBN: 978-1-934678-05-3

Cover Artist: Stella Price

Interior text design: Tonya Nagle

Editor: Heather Spence

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

Tease Publishing LLC

www.teasepublishingllc.com

PO BOX 234

Swansboro, North Carolina 28584-0234

Tease and the T logo is ã

Tease Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

Acknowledgements

The Art of Ethan is a very special book to me. I have to thank many people for their time and comments. Diane Osepchook—if it were not for you this would have been a lot more difficult and a much lonelier journey.

Jenna Sherman, Rita Hunt, Jennifer Greir, Jen Mitchell, Amy Underwood, Michelle Le Drew, Tina Harper, Paula Kight, Nana (Jane Weyts Pallman), Kitty Nagle, Lynn Weyts, Joyce Lickteig, Renee Chenault, Miranda King, Crystal Jones, Angela Seevers Bushey, Mary Elizabeth Giglio, Joy Buffington, and the “Lab Ladies at Coastal,” Jeanette Blouse, and the people in my Yahoo group, also a special thank you to the great ladies at BookJunkies who I met through my love of Lori Foster novels and who have been very kind to me.

Thank you to the ladies at the Chesapeake Romance Writers—I miss you all!!

Thank you to Debbie Stevens, Diane Smith, Debi Harrison, Charlotte Smith, Joyce Sullivan, Brandi Hubbuch, Lori Huftey, Anne Putnam, and Stephanie Beil for being so supportive.

My publisher, Tabbitha Norris—thank you for all that you do. You are an amazing woman and I am happy to be in business with you but I am proud to call you family!

Stella Price—What can I say? I adore you—heck I love you to pieces you crazy lady! I bow down to your amazing art work and feel lucky to have you as a friend. Audra—say something to me—anything—just call and talk Scottish to me. LOL!

Chapter 1

Beaufort, North Carolina

Grace McPherson sat looking at the blank screen on her computer for at least a half hour before she began typing. Now that summer had arrived and she was no longer the cheerleading coach, there were no more excuses. During the school year, she barely had time between teaching and coaching to even think about starting her novel. Now, alone in what was once her mother's bedroom, she mustered up two words for the screen ... Chapter One.

"Now's a good time for a snack,” she said aloud and pushed away from the desk. Luckily, the phone rang as she entered the large country kitchen. Another distraction, exactly what she needed.

"Hello."

"Hey, Grace, it's me.” An excited voice came through.

"Megan? What's up?"

"Well, I wanted to see if you would like some company next week. Chase and I are free, and I would love for you to actually meet him in person before the wedding."

"Yeah, are you kidding? That sounds great.” Grace opened the refrigerator and scrunched her nose. “Uh, what do you guys like to eat?"

Megan laughed through the phone as she thought about how her cousin lived like a college guy, instead of a southern lady. Though a southern lady she was.

"What? Why are you laughing?"

"You better go shopping, I know you. I can't live on Oreos and chocolate pudding."

"I've been working, thank you.” Grace protested as she pulled the cup of chocolate pudding from the refrigerator.

"On the great American novel, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am nearly finished.” How could she possibly tell her otherwise? She had been lying about working on the book for over two years. Thankfully, Megan was always too busy to offer to read it.

"Well, maybe I can read it when we come down."

Grace pulled back the seal on the chocolate pudding cup and thought for a moment.

"Maybe, we'll see."

"Okay, I gotta go. I will e-mail you our flight schedule.” Megan hurried “love ya” and hung up.

Grace looked at the phone receiver and snickered, Megan always hung up on people. What if she had something important to say? She would never get a chance to say it. Faced with visitors only a week away, Grace had to prepare the house. The book would have to wait.

Walking through the house, Grace felt a sense of relief and comfort. Everything was familiar and easy. It looked the same as it had all her life. The only changes she could remember were adding a piece of furniture or buying a new mattress. Grace couldn't bring herself to move one thing or paint one wall. This was her mother's house, and though she was dead, if nothing changed, it felt like she could come walking through the door at any minute. Grace liked that feeling. She was secure here. Her memories kept her from being lonely.

Megan hadn't been home since the funeral. Grace remembered how distraught Megan was. It seemed like a blur. Evelyn was there, her best friend from college, but she hadn't heard from her in awhile. The thought of Evelyn crying at the funeral made Grace shut the whole memory out. She hadn't cried at all and hadn't cried a day since then.

It was easy to occupy time pulling out all the stops for company. Megan sent an e-mail saying they had decided to bring Chase's brother and cousin along. Joshua, Chase's cousin, seemed like a nice enough guy to spend time with. Megan said he was very sensitive to women. He was finishing up his degree in education after six years on the police force. The man wanted to become a teacher; now, that was something Grace could talk about.

Ethan, Chase's brother, was another story entirely. Megan wrote about how he had nothing but trouble when it came to women. He was on a thundercloud, shooting lightning at any woman who dared walk by to scare them away. All Grace could hope was that Joshua would save her from the beast. Megan would no doubt be neck deep in Chase at every moment. Surely, her fiancé would be no different than any other guy Megan dated.

* * * *

"Okay, I am all set to go,” Chase said as he entered the bedroom. Taking one good look around he knew Megan was definitely not ready to go. She was sitting on the bed amongst two piles of clothes with one suitcase packed and another open in front of her.

A few long brown curls had escaped the ponytail and hung defiantly in her face. She kept blowing them up refusing to drop the items up for debate in her hands. “I thought we were just going for a few days, babe?"

Megan swung her head up to look at him directly, the loose curls bounced right across her left eye causing it to wink.

"I know, but you never know what we will do. What if we want to go out somewhere nice? What if we want to be at the beach, but then it rains, then what?” Her voice began to rise as she held up two bathing suit options. “And how do I know if I will want to wear this Donna Karen two piece or this Calvin Klein one piece? Huh? You tell me, Chase, Mister I already have my suitcase packed because three outfits and a pair of swim trunks can get me anywhere!” She blew at the stray curls in frustration.

"Well, then,” he said calmly. “I'm headed to see if Ethan is still going. Be back in an hour.” He walked over to her and pushed the stray brown curls behind her ear as his lips touched her forehead. “You will be the best looking girl on the beach, babe, no matter what you wear."

He smiled his boyish smile. He loved Megan and all her little quirks. He appreciated the fact that she always went all out to look her best, probably because he did the same. The difference was that Megan looked just as good to him when she woke up, with no makeup, as she did with a full face. It was her job to look good. Her promotional clients depended on it. Somewhere along the line, she started depending on it, too.

"That's sweet, honey, but you've never met Grace before.” She sighed then tossed the suits in the bag with the others, grabbed the stack of clothes she had already decided on, and closed the case. Thinking of Grace and how she missed her reminded Megan of where she was going and why.

"See, all done.” She smiled devilishly up at Chase. She didn't want to give Ethan any chance to back out. It was bad enough her first pick to lure Grace had canceled.

Megan thought about her cousin on the way to Ethan's loft. Grace was barely a year older though she acted like she was an adult most of her life. Megan always had to drag her out to have fun, but once she got out, she was awesome, full of life and spirit.

The year Grace spent taking care of her mother, Megan's aunt, changed her drastically. Grace was always serious and driven, but now she seemed so withdrawn and distant. Megan made several attempts to get her to come to New York, but Grace wouldn't budge. She wouldn't even visit. She was stuck in the house she grew up in, alone, living in a retirement community at age 30. It just wasn't right. She had goals, dreams. Megan was determined to pull her out of her slump one way or another.

"You thinking about Grace again, princess?” Chase stroked his fiancé's knuckles with his thumb. Megan spent a lot of time stressing out over her cousin.

"I hope this works. Without Joshua, I just don't know.” Megan smiled a half smile.

"Well, Ethan won't be good for a relationship, but he knows how important this is to me, so he will behave. Besides, if Grace is looking to remain single after that fiasco with what's his face, and Ethan is only coming to get away from the women in New York, they may just hit it off and be friends.” Chase reassured her.

"She needs a friend. I won't risk intervening personally. I can't lose her, Chase. She's all the family I got.” Megan nodded.

* * * *

"Wow, you're really going!” Chase was relieved.

Ethan had become a bit reclusive after his fiancée ran off to Los Angeles. Ethan always had women after him, so it was easy to get over Emma. He never really wanted to marry her. He wanted to please his mother, and Emma had all but begged him to say yes. When he finally submitted, it backfired, proving his theory that all women want him to commit and move away. His work, his gallery, his life was New York.

Chase shook his head. Hopefully, Ethan would be on his best behavior in North Carolina. Grace was a redhead, perfect for Joshua. Ethan preferred brunettes but was content with solitude for the time being. He wanted nothing to do with any woman who wasn't related to him, anymore.

"Of course, I'm going.” He walked around the room as if taking an inventory. “Mom said if I didn't go and keep an eye on you, she would be here keeping an eye on me."

He shrugged as he visually checked the loft, slowly looking around taking in every item and every detail. It had been awhile since he had gone anywhere longer than over night. He had to trust everything would be right where it was now when he got back. “Though, why I have to look out for a grown ass man is beyond me."

"Because she doesn't want us to elope. She feels it is her right as a mother to be there, and you are the security net.” Chase had called their mother and told her to act concerned. Ethan needed a vacation, and everyone knew it.

Joshua had actually suggested it, figuring it would seem less awkward for Grace to have more company and not feel set up. Unfortunately, Joshua ended up having to cover for another officer at work at the last minute. That left Ethan.

"If we end up anywhere near a courthouse, you are to tackle me and ship me right back to New York.” Chase bent over as if he were hiking a football at Megan. “Isn't that right, babe?"

She rolled her eyes then went to the refrigerator.

"Doesn't look like I have much to worry about there.” Ethan smiled. He knew Megan. She had dated his brother for two years now, and there was no way his little brother was going to get that princess down any aisle without a Vera Wang dress and a Cinderella carriage ride. Megan had been in full bride mode for the last six months. The wedding planner cost a small fortune and so did the wedding. Chase gave in to every one of Megan's demands. It made Ethan sick.

In his mind, he was half curious to see where this little princess came from and wondered if her cousin, this Grace character, was going to be as big of a pain in the ass. “So, it's off to the airport, and into ... where are we going again?"

"New Bern, New Bern, North Carolina, but she lives in Beaufort.” Megan used a country accent and put on her best Daisy Duke theatrics. Ethan rolled his eyes and grabbed his luggage while Chase ate it up. “Let's go boys. We have time to eat if we leave now."

"You heard the lady.” Chase headed for the door.

"I'm going to kill Joshua.” Ethan grumbled.

If Joshua came along, at least they could go surfing or occupy themselves. Now, he had a woman to deal with, and if she was anything like Megan, he would be in a living hell. One more conversation about plumping, surgery, or waxing, and he would die.
When did women get so insecure? Doesn't anyone appreciate the natural body anymore?

JOHN F. KENNEDY AIRPORT, NY

Megan walked and talked on her cell phone like the PR person she was. The airport was busy, but nothing seemed to slow Megan down. At five three, she walked through crowds like she was a giant. Maybe it was her attire or the crazy high heels, but people always cleared the way when she walked through.

"Gracie ... yes, we are just arriving at the airport, so we will see you in a few hours. Yes, we had sushi for lunch. Don't worry ... seven, okay.” Megan made her way back to where Chase and Ethan were waiting.

"Okay, Grace will pick us up at the airport. I am so excited to see her. I just can't wait.” She lit up with a new energy.

"When was the last time you saw her, babe?” Chase asked as he grabbed half her luggage and saddled Ethan with the rest. Ethan grumbled under his breath, but Chase ignored it.

"Her mother's funeral. Like four years ago.” Megan went quiet for a moment then smiled again. “But this is a celebration.” She grabbed Chase by the arm and looked over her Channel sunglasses. “And we southern girls like to celebrate."

"So, I can expect to be toting around a drunken cousin?” Ethan interrupted the fun. “Fabulous."

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