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SNEAK PEEK: Waiting for Ethan by Diane Barnes

Waiting for Ethan Cover ArtWhen Gina Rossi was in junior high, her best friend’s psychic grandmother got everything right—from predicting that Gina would break her arm and travel to Italy, all the way to leading police to a missing neighborhood child. The one time Gina didn’t listen to her, she almost got herself killed. So when she says that Gina will marry a man named Ethan—but she will have to wait for him—Gina believes her, and waits…

Now thirty-six, Gina’s Mr. Right is nowhere in sight—until the day she’s stranded in a snowstorm, and rescued by the last type of Ethan she expected. It’s very romantic, yet surprisingly not. This Ethan is sexy, and clearly her hero. Still, instead of her “Aha” moment, Gina’s confused. And when Ethan is happy to discover she’s single, does Gina dare tell him, It’s because I’ve been waiting for you? But the bigger question is, does she dare question destiny—by taking it into her own hands? And is she brave enough to handle what happens once it’s time to stop waiting—and start living?

Excerpt:

“Neesha Patel’s grandmother ruined your life.” That’s what my mother says when I point out the obituary. She mutters to herself in Italian, glances at the picture in the newspaper, and then goes right back to making the list of things she wants me to check on when she and my father make their annual exodus to Florida later that day. I slide closer to her on the couch and begin reading the article out loud:

Satya E. Patel (known as Ajee), 92, of San Antonio, TX, formerly of Westham, MA, died Wednesday. She is survived by her son, Dr. Kumar Patel of San Antonio, TX, her grandson, Dr. Sanjit Patel of San Antonio, TX, her granddaughter, Neesha Davidian of Canyon Lake, TX, and five great-grandchildren…

At the mention of the great-grandchildren, my mother looks up from her notepad and frowns. Finally, I think, she’s going to show some sympathy for the Patels. I even think I see tears in her eyes. “It sounds like both Sanjit and Neesha have children.” I nod, trying to picture my old friend with kids, but all I can see is a lanky fourteen-year-old girl with a long dark ponytail and a mouthful of wires. “Their grandmother is the reason I’ll never have grandchildren of my own.”

Although her words sting, they don’t shock me. I am thirty-six and single. My mother long ago abandoned all hope of me ever getting married and having a family, and for this she blames the deceased, a woman I haven’t seen since I was fourteen.

“What’s going on in here? You’re supposed to be packing.” My father appears at the bottom of the stairs, dressed in a golf shirt and holding the driver I gave him for Christmas two weeks before. He can’t get to Florida fast enough to start playing again.

“Neesha Patel’s grandmother died.”

My father raises his eyebrows. “Recently?”

“Last week.”

“She must have been well over a hundred. She was ancient when she lived here.”

“The paper says she was ninety-two.”

My father rubs his chin. “That means she was only sixty-nine or seventy when they moved to Texas?”

“Right, Dad. Your age. Ancient.”

“I’m only sixty-seven, Gina, and I feel like I’m twenty.” He steps away from the stairs and takes a halfhearted swing with his golf club. “It’s being active that keeps me so young.” He winks. “May I?” He points at the paper, so I hand it to him.

My mother sighs. “Why did they even bother to publish her obituary in the Westham paper? They haven’t lived here for almost twenty-five years. People don’t remember her.”

I glare at my mother. “Mom, everyone remembers Ajee. She was a hero in this town.”

My mother rolls her eyes. “She was a nosy old woman, Gina. That’s all.”

I stand and walk to the living room window. The Patels’ old house is directly across the street. The Murphys live there now, but someday Neesha will be back. Her grandmother said so. She said it the same day she told me I would marry a man named Ethan.

As we load the last of the suitcases into my parents’ car, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy make their way across the street. My father mutters something incomprehensible under his breath. Mr. Murphy makes a beeline up the driveway and heads straight to me.

“Gina.” He hugs me tightly as if he hasn’t seen me in ages. “Are you still on the market?” I nod. “What’s wrong with young men today? If I were just a few years younger… But don’t you worry. Every pot has a lid.” He passes on similar pearls of wisdom every time I see him, which is about once a week when I visit my parents.

Mrs. Murphy follows about four steps behind her husband and zeroes in on my mother. She waves a picture in the air above her head. “I just have to show you my grandson before you leave, Angela.” She reaches the passenger door where my mother is standing and hands her a snapshot of a newborn baby. “Born yesterday. Isn’t he beautiful?”

My mother looks at me pointedly, and I feel my stomach begin a gymnastic act. How is it possible that Kelli Murphy, the seven-year-old sniveler I babysat for, is a wife and parent, while I’m not only single but haven’t had a meaningful date in the last three years?
My mother turns her attention to the photo and then smiles at Mrs. Murphy. My father looks at his watch. He wants to be in Virginia in bed by 10 p.m. because he has a 7:30 tee time tomorrow morning.

“He’s a big boy,” Mrs. Murphy says. “Nine pounds, six ounces.”

“He’s beautiful,” my mother says.

“He looks like me,” Mr. Murphy adds. “Spitting image.”

My mother laughs. My father opens the driver’s side door.

“They named him Ethan.” By the look on my mother’s face, you would think Mr. Murphy just said his grandson was named after Bin Laden.

“That’s a great name,” I say. My mother won’t make eye contact with me.

“It’s an old name that’s come back around,” Mrs. Murphy says.

My father leans into the car, puts the keys into the ignition, and starts the engine.

“We have to get going,” my mother says. “Congratulations on your grandson.”

The Murphys wobble back down the driveway, and my dad jumps into the driver’s seat. My mother hugs me. “Strange we should hear that name on the same day we learn of Ajee’s death,” she says. But I don’t think it’s strange at all. It’s a sign from Ajee. Don’t worry, she’s saying. Your Ethan will be here soon.

As the car starts to pull out of the driveway, my mother opens her window. “Gina, if some nice man asks you out this winter, promise me you’ll say yes, no matter what his name is.”

About the Author:
Diane BarnesThough she always dreamed about being the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, Diane Barnes is a marketing writer in Massachusetts. She participates in two monthly writing groups and regularly attends novel writing workshops in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. She started “Waiting for Ethan” as a challenge to participate in National Novel Writing Month. The original story was about a character who dated a string of freshly divorced men who all had issues with their ex-wives. She won’t say if it was autobiographical.

 

In 2012, Diane was one of eight writers who attended the Boston Writers’ Studio, an exclusive four-day intense writing workshop taught by bestselling author Elizabeth Berg. Diane says having her idol read her work was a moment she’ll never forget.
When not crafting novels, Diane spends her time playing tennis, going to the beach or watching her beloved Red Sox. She completed her first half marathon last year (to combat her love of chocolate) and lives in central Massachusetts with her husband Steve; they often fantasize about moving to Turks and Caicos – for the winter months at least.

 

 

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