Thursday, February 2, 2017

Valentine #2 - Alex Fullerton

What is the name of today's Valentine?

Alex Fullerton.

How old is he when we meet him?


What stands out most about him?

The fact that he wants to stand apart from the grand lifestyle in which he was raised. He's more comfortable in flannel and denim than he'd ever been in a suit. He's a wise-ass, but the love for his family is matched only by how much he loathes his brother.

Nice guy or douche?

He's got a hard, douchey shell protecting a fiercely good center.

Favorite moment with him?

When, after a traumatic experience leaves Rachel phobic of water, he is right there beside her to help her overcome her fears.

Alex swam over to the side of the pool near the chaise chair in which I lounged. “Aren’t you lonely over there?” he asked softly.

I held up my book. “Never lonely, never bored.”

He smiled. “I guess it’s just me, then.” He reached out a hand but I shook my head.

“I can’t.”

“You did,” he pointed out. “Come on, Rachel. You’re not alone this time.”

I glanced over at Jonathan, who swam nearby. He nodded.

I sighed. It wasn’t fair to use my student against me, especially with this. But if I ever wanted to show Jonathan that any obstacle could be overcome, I could hardly sit idly on the sidelines, the only one who wasn’t in on the fun.

“I don’t have a suit,” I offered lamely.

Alex’s hand never faltered. “I happen to know the guy who owns the pool. He’s pretty chill on the rules.”

“Alex,” I tried again, but his eyes were sure as he sent me a strong silent message of encouragement with those amazing eyes. His hand never wavered.

With an unsteady sigh, I rose to my feet. My legs shook all the way over to the edge where he waited. I was so scared I could hardly breathe. I sat on the edge and put my legs in the water. The water wasn’t deep there, I would never sit or walk anywhere near the deep end, and theoretically I could slip right into the pool from this very spot and stand merely waist deep in the water.

But I already knew it didn’t take much depth to take a life. My throat closed up as I squeezed my eyes shut. “I’m afraid,” I whispered.

He put his hands on my legs. “No, Rachel. You’re fearless. I’ve seen it time and again.”

My eyes opened and met his steady gaze. Without another word he put his hands around my waist and guided me into the water. As I felt it creep up around my body, I felt my control slip. All I could think about was Jason, and what his last harrowing minutes must have been like. “Alex,” I breathed as panic overtook me.

“It’s okay,” he said softly. “I’ve got you.”

My fingers wrapped around his strong biceps in a white-knuckle grip as he guided me away from the wall. I could barely breathe, so I focused instead on his eyes as he led us toward the center of the pool. I felt my body go buoyant, which caused me to panic even more, but he pulled me into the strong circle of his arms as he swam us toward the deeper end.

“I’m not ready,” I squeaked as I held him tighter.

“If not now, when?” he said gently. “This is all in your head, sweetheart. I know you have it in you to beat this thing.”

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said tearfully.

“Who do you think pulled you out of the water?” he reminded. “I almost lost two people that day. And I’m never going to do that again.” My eyes searched his face as he went on. “What if there are other days, and other children,” his voice dropped, “other babies?”

My breath caught in my throat. What was he saying?

More importantly, what was he offering?

“Take a deep breath,” he instructed softly. “And believe.”

What do you love about him?

He's loyal. He's learned hard lessons in his life what happens when you're not. He's strong. He'd carry the world on his shoulders if he could make it right for someone he loves. He makes life fun. He makes life bigger than what it might have been otherwise. Unlike Drew, who could could give you the world with the snap of a finger, Alex is right there in the trenches beside you, helping you create one with nothing but hope.

What do you hate about him?

Like Drew, he's been hurt. A LOT. So he doesn't let people close. Also like Drew, he's jaded. He expects the worst from people. This makes him likely to bolt before someone could get a chance to hurt him.

If you went on a date, where would you go?

We'd ride horses to one of his orchards, where we'd stop for a picnic in the green sloping grass while we ate fresh fruit. Maybe he'd even play his guitar.

Who inspired him?

I think the reason I love him so much is because he, too, embodies my first husband. When you love someone with bipolar disorder, it can often feel like you're in love with two different people. You learn to love them both. You sometimes hate them both. But what you hate most is the war between them.

Who might play him in a movie?

Originally I saw the two Fullerton brothers as nearly identical, like twins. Drew was older, so he would be harder, but polished and refined. Alex was more devil-may-care, with longer hair and a beard. He is the "dark sheep" of the family, so he could be a little more roguish. I think an actor who may not have the same black hair/blue eyes of Drew, but captures that poetic ballet of going between asshole and hero, would be Ryan Gosling.

Do you have a special song that reminds you of him?

Alex, really, is one of my "rocker" boyfriends, in that he performs music for special audiences. He plays the guitar and, as a rancher/horseman, he really digs country music. Who else but Garth to encapsulate the rugged romantic?

The song that I refer to in the book, however, was "The Dance," so selected to honor my son Brandon.

Any "Easter Eggs" planted with this book boyfriend?

Like Rachel, I have a phobia of water. I guess that's why the scene above is so swoon-worthy to me. Like I said in the last answer, the reference to The Dance was a direct homage to my son.

Where can we find him?

You first meet him in Enticed, but you don't really get to know him until Book 2: Entangled, which is FREE today only. The trilogy ends with Enraptured, which is also on sale with a count-down deal. But get used to Alex, he pops up when you lease expect it, like my Masters series and most recently FULL-FIGURED FLOOZIES, where the Fullerton gang play key supporting characters because you know me. I can't let them go.

Enjoy getting to know Alex and tune in tomorrow for a brand new Valentine.

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