Blog Tour: Ethan by Ryan Loveless

We're happy to have Ryan Loveless make her first clubhouse appearance today!

Hello everyone.  Thank you to Boy Meets Boy for hosting me today. I'm excited to share "Ethan" with you.


Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.

But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.
Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.

Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind. 

Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

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“Cuh cuh cuh-ca—” I stopped. Not this. Not now. I took a breath and lowered my eyes from the barista’s wince. She was probably seventeenish, small-statured, with a russet brown skin tone and logic-defying hairstyle. Framed by her visor, her hairdo involved a few hundred thin, dark brown braids twisted on top of her head into a loose bun that had no business staying in place from what I could see. But I didn’t know much about girl hair. She had better things to do than listen to me make an idiot of myself, but apart from the wince, she didn’t rush me despite the line. I tried again. Café au lait. The air was hot around me; my throat strangled the consonants and didn’t give the vowels a chance.
“Maybe you could just point,” came a woman’s not unkind voice from behind me. I squeezed my eyes shut. I hadn’t dared a glance behind myself, but I could hear as the rumblings got louder and knew that the line had increased while I’d stood there. The barista drummed her nails against the side of the register. They were three inches long and each painted with a different immaculate flower. I recorded the absent rhythm. Tap scrape tap tap scrape and twitched, neck and shoulder, to it.
“Just give him a coffee,” a guy said. “Come on.”
I shook my head. Caffeine, no, bad. That would tighten me up even more, make it impossible to unwind, make the tics worse. “Duh duh de deca—”
“Decaf?” the barista asked.
I nodded. I hated having my sentences finished; it reminded me even more that I was the one slowing everything down. Getting stuck on sounds was one of my suppression tics, meaning I only stuttered when I was suppressing the tics my TS really wanted to do, and also my mind was too fast for my mouth, but no one saw that part of it. They simply thought I was stupid or, if I was lucky, shy, which was another reason for my stuttering.
She held up different sized cups. Humiliated, I pointed at the smaller one.
“What are you, a moron?” A different voice this time, the angriest one yet. I folded in on myself, shoulders scrunched and head down. Get your money out. Get ready to go. I had it in hand already: a five dollar bill clutched from the start of this debacle. The barista emerged from behind the counter and stormed past him.
“N-no, p-puh please.” I didn’t think I could ever come back here as it was; if she came to my defense—oh God, was there anything more humiliating?—I wouldn’t be able to talk myself into leaving my house. She was five feet tall at a generous guess. What was she going to do? Head-butt the guy in the stomach? I turned around, using the motion to hide a tic that started from my side and jerked up to my shoulder, to watch the carnage.
I froze as I took in the tableau. The man who had yelled stood red-faced and arguing with his hands; the barista faced him, pissed off and waving back, and off to the side, my new neighbor held a dripping towel. His hair wasn’t dark as I had thought. Rather, it was a deep orange-ish red. It stuck up from his head in thick tousled points that went every which way. I was right about him being tall. He was a comfortable six feet at least. He wore an apron that matched the barista’s over a white long-sleeved shirt. I followed the trail of drips from his towel to the table that the customer stood beside. The relief I felt when I realized the man’s outburst hadn’t been directed at me ended the moment I saw my neighbor’s fragile expression.
“I’m sorry,” my neighbor said.
“Ethan, do not apologize for someone else being a jackass,” the barista said.
“He knocks my coffee over and I’m the jackass? You get what you pay for when you hire re—”
The barista stepped into the man’s space. “You finish that word, Ned, and I’ll ban you for life.”
“You can’t do that. You’re only—”
“The owner’s daughter,” she snapped.
Ned closed his mouth.
“For now, you’re banned for today. Get out.”
Ned looked at the overturned cup on the table as if he were considering taking it with him. Glancing at Ethan, who stood squeezing the towel and staring at the floor, he left. For a moment, no one spoke, although everyone pretended not to be looking. The barista had a quiet conversation with Ethan. When they finished, Ethan stepped over to the table and wiped up the mess. People resumed talking.
The barista returned to the counter. She sighed at me, as if settling in for another challenge. “You want milk?” she asked.
“Yes.” I was too shaken by the distraction of what had happened to notice I hadn’t stuttered until the transaction was over. I had started for the door, coffee in hand and change in my pocket, when I switched my course and headed for Ethan. I could at least introduce myself. We were neighbors, after all.
Ethan looked up. He’d polished the table to a shine. Now he held the towel in front of him like a shield.
“I’m Carter. I just moved in next door to you.”
“I know. I saw you. You have a lot of stuff.” Ethan talked faster than me, but each sound seemed selected with care. Instead of making him sound robotic, the effect was musical. He had a warm voice, softer than I had expected from his size.
I laughed in agreement. We’d unloaded a lot on Catholic Charities before we left Jackson, but there was still a lot that came with us. I’d wanted to leave a larger portion of my things behind, but Molly and John had interfered. They’d said, “You never know when you’ll need a….” and dropped in the name of the item I wanted to toss. “I saw you too. You were in the yard with another man. Was that your—?” I hesitated, not wanting to say “boyfriend” in case Ethan was in the closet.
“My dad,” Ethan said. “I was showing him the music in the clouds. But he doesn’t always understand it.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t sure what to say. I’d never met anyone who heard music in the sky. “Your name’s Ethan? I heard her—” I pointed at the barista “—call you that.”
“Yes. She’s Vera.” Ethan peered at me. “You’re talking better.”
“I… guess I’m more comfortable with other freaks.” I grinned; I felt good and safe talking to Ethan, but Ethan’s smile disappeared. Too late, I realized what I’d done. “I didn’t mean—”
“I’m not a freak,” Ethan said.
No, no, no, I’m sorry. I flailed my hands, trying to catch the words before I tensed up too much to say them.
“You’d better go.” I turned to see Vera standing beside me and, again, the line of people oriented toward us. This time, her sharp glare burned into me.
“Yes, I’m sorry, I…. Ethan, I didn’t mean….”
But Ethan had already shut down. His face flooded with hurt that I couldn’t bear to see.
“Now,” Vera said.
Silent and shamed, I retreated. Outside I took my first sip of coffee. I winced at the sharp taste and threw it away, the wasted $2.50 a bitter reminder of my stupidity.

Carter was a symphony. He tapped his feet when he stood still and drummed his fingers on his leg. His eyebrows rose above his dark glasses in undulating movements, and I bet if I could see behind them, his eyes would have rhythm too. I wanted to tell Carter I could see his music, but then Carter called me a freak.
“You all right, honey?” Vera asked.
“I’m not a freak,” I said.
“That’s right; you aren’t.”
I liked that she agreed about that. I tried to keep working, but my stomach hurt. I didn’t want to show it, but I couldn’t help rubbing it and moaning, which made the customers look at me funny. A few asked me if I was okay and tried to get me to sit down, but it was against the rules to sit when I was working. I’d have to go into the back for that. After a few more minutes Vera took a break and put Andy in front of the register, which meant now there was no one to deliver food to the tables.
“Do you want me to take you home?” she asked.
“Yeah. I’m sorry.” Now Andy would have to do my work too.
“It’s okay.” Vera rubbed my back and helped me untie my apron. I didn’t need help, but I let her do it anyway. Lifting it over my bowed head, she handed it to me. “Go hang this up and meet me at my car.”
“Okay.” Taking it, I stumbled toward the back room and hung my apron on my hook. I changed out of my work shirt and put my T-shirt on before finding my time card and punching out. Elliot had given me the T-shirt for my birthday. It was yellow and said “Likes Boys” on the front in pastel colors. I had loved it. Mom and Dad hadn’t wanted me to wear it outside the house, but I asked and asked until they said I could wear it to and from work, as long as I was getting a ride from someone.
“Ready?” Vera came into the back with her keys in hand.
“Yeah.” I held the exit door open for her. In the car, we listened to Vera’s Tori Amos CD for the millionth time. Vera sang along as I watched out the window. Carter’s bike sat in his driveway when we drove past it. I turned to the other side of the street where the Radlington kids ran around in their swimsuits, jumping over their sprinkler. They waved. I waved back.
Vera pulled into my driveway. She walked up to the house with me. I took her elbow to climb the three steps up to the porch. “Do you want to call your parents?” She asked as we stood in my living room.
“No.” I wasn’t going to hurt myself or burn the house down. I wondered if I should offer her a drink or something to eat. I was supposed to offer guests something to be a good host, but this wasn’t a normal visit, so maybe I didn’t have to. I wanted to be alone anyway, and if I gave Vera food, she’d stay longer.
“All right, sweetie. You call me if you need anything.” Vera kissed my cheek. I bent almost in half for her to reach. After she left, I crawled into bed. I could see Carter’s house from my window, but I turned my back so I didn’t have to look at it. I’d had plans for Carter to be my new friend. Now, I didn’t want Carter to be anything.

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Twitter: @ryanloveless

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