It’s no secret that I love Alpha heroes. The more Alpha they are, the more I love them. (I’m that .001% that actually misses the old bodice rippers.) So, in mucking out a shelf of my desk looking for my appointment book, I came across an old printed email with a mini-crit of the opening chapters of Twice Upon A Roadtrip. Silly me, I reread it, and was re-surprised by the comment that Ethan is a mama’s boy.
Excuse me? Ethan may not be the most Alpha hero hiding under my desk, but he’s not a mama’s boy. But…a big thread of the story is his relationship with his mother. His being nervous about her, and overworrying about her. His father passed away the year before.
My mother-in-law passed away when the husband and I had been married about four years. I drew a lot on his own worries about his mother for Ethan (and the husband’s about as Alpha as they come.) Now, my father-in-law passed away many years ago, and I can only imagine how my husband’s need to take care of his mother would have been amplified if he hadn’t grown up with her mostly taking care of herself.
This is a section from the scene in which Ethan and his mother first interact (unedited):
His mother was standing on a chair, stretching to hang a bright yellow valance. One end of the curtain rod was up, the other end was still in her hand. How many times had she swatted his butt for standing on chairs? It was dangerous.
â€œWhat does it look like I’m doing?â€ Her wink took the edge off the question.
â€œWhy didn’t you wait for me? You shouldn’t be climbing on chairs. You could fall. You could break a hip or something.â€
She hooked the rod on the bracket and hopped off the chair, landing on sure, Ked-clad feet. â€œI’m not ninety, Ethan. And I swear you worry more about my hips than my obstetrician did. I take my vitamins every dayâ€”the extra calcium ones. Which you know since you ask me about them every day.â€
â€œI know, butâ€”â€
â€œAnd you better not have any of those disgusting nutritional shakes in there,â€ she interrupted, pointing at the grocery bag he set on the table. â€œI’m not drinking any more of them.â€
â€œI’m just watching out for you, Mom. I don’t like you being alone.â€ Not for the first time, Ethan wished he had a few sisters. Preferably at least one with a spare bedroom. He hated her living by herself.
â€œDo you really think your father did all this for me?â€
Ethan felt a small pang in his chest, just as he always did whenever he thought of his dad. He’d passed away a year ago, and it wasn’t getting any easier.
â€œHe didn’t,â€ Debra answered for him. â€œI took care of the inside of the house and you kids. Everything else was his job. He didn’t hang my curtains, and he certainly didn’t count my vitamins.â€
Ethan gripped her shoulders and kissed her cheek. â€œI’m sorry. I justâ€¦I worry about you.â€
She smiled and patted his arm. â€œI have nosy neighbors and thin walls. And I’ve got my cordless phone and this surveillance collar of yours. I’m never truly alone.â€
Ethan laughed and started taking groceries out of the bag. â€œIt’s not a surveillance collar. It’s a necklace. If you fallâ€”â€
â€œAnd break a hip?â€
â€œâ€”you can press the button on the pendant, and the rescue squad will come. It’s better to be safe than sorry.â€
â€œI swear those were your first words. Beddah safe ven sowwy,â€ she said in a high baby voice.
Nothing wrong with being cautious, he thought. It was a philosophy that served him well. Not with his ex-wife or vice cops, but other than that, it usually worked for him.
So I’m sitting here, reading and rereading, trying to tell if I’ve crossed the line from concerned son to mama’s boy.
But isn’t taking care of the mateless females a function of the Alpha wolf? Is Ethan a mama’s boy, or is he an Alpha male trying to take care of one his pack, but being thwarted by the independent female?
I don’t know.