AL: Thanks for having me!
AL: Well, I’d like to talk about bad boys vs good boys.
The Good Boy
By Amy Lane
I think the general consensus is that bad boys are more fun.
The guy who dots his I’s and crosses his T’s and checks all his punctuation, laboring over a kitchen table or the den desk every night—seriously, how sexy could he be?
Well, that depends.
There’s two kinds of those guys in this world—the guy who does what’s correct, and the guy who does what’s right.
The guy who does what’s correct is usually not sexy—he’s the middle-manager from The Incredibles—the one who sees the helpless victim of a mugging and hopes his company doesn’t insure the poor man. He’s the idiot police chief from Die Hard who says, “We’re gonna need more FBI guys.” The guy who does what’s correct is the guy who is so busy following the rules he doesn’t see where they lead.
See, people tend to like rules. They often say they don’t, and very often they bitch about how bad the rules are and what they’d do to change the rules—but the rules give them comfort. When I was five I was once sentenced to the corner for five minutes, and told not to speak, no matter what. (I don’t know, something about talking too much—you know. Adults.) While I was in the corner I looked out the window and saw that the brush near the opening of our driveway had caught fire.
I wasn’t supposed to talk, so I didn’t.
Somebody noticed it eventually and my dad said (silly grownup) “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Because I wasn’t supposed to talk!”
“That’s a bullshit copout—sometimes it’s more important to break a rule than it is to follow it!”
And yes, my parents did use the words “bullshit copout” to a five-year-old because it was the seventies and they were busy breaking a whole bunch of other rules, some of which have been legalized by now and some of which will hopefully never be.
But I did learn the lesson—common sense was way more important than actual rules.
This lesson has gotten me into more trouble than I can possibly recount in one little blog post. I cannot think of one major moment of difficulty in my life that didn’t come with its share of what was right versus what was correct.
And the good boy—the sexy good boy? He knows the difference too. The sexy good boy, the boy scout we love and trust, he loves the rules and he’s not ashamed. He loves that they give people safety, and that good policies can help make the world a better place. He loves that if he dots his I’s and crosses his T’s, he has gone one step further to knowing he’s accomplished something important.
So the rules have their uses, and the good boy can see that—but the thing that makes him sexy? The thing that makes him not the irritating middle-manager from The Incredibles?
Is that the sexy good boy knows when rules stop serving us, it’s time to break them and change them. When what’s correct isn’t working for him, the sexy good boy knows what’s right.
Sexy good boys can be our undoing. Captain America, Falcon, King Arthur, Spock—those are our sexy good boys, and we will follow their rules any day.
In the classical heroic archetypes our sexy good boy is usually the Romantic Hero—not the American Romantic hero, like the sexy bad boy, but the original aristocratic Romantic Hero, who is trying to balance being good—following the rules—and being heroic–which usually means breaking a few rules. The sexy good boy is going to be the boy who tries to resolve the issue without violence, who wants even the bad guy to have a better ending, and who wants his romantic interest’s happiness over his own.
Even if it means bossing his romantic interest into accepting affection!
Ellery is the good boy in Fish Out of Water. He was educated in a prep school, groomed to be a lawyer (cause he can’t stand blood) and believes that being a defense attorney is part of making the system work.
When he realizes that Jackson’s friend has been framed by a corrupt system, his first go-to is to make the system work. But when it’s not working fast enough to protect Jackson, Ellery needs to break a few rules.
Ellery is going to seem very much like a cold fish at first. He needs to check his boxes, put his ducks in order, make sure his pencils are in a row.
But once all that’s done?
He’s actually less of a fish than a dog with a bone—a hot blooded dog who needs Jackson’s tomcat self to come to heel.
of Del Paso Heights—and he doesn’t trust cops, even though he was one. When the
man he thinks of as his brother is accused of killing a police officer in an
obviously doctored crime, Jackson will move heaven and earth to keep Kaden and
his family safe. Defense attorney Ellery Cramer grew up with the
proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing
on street-smart, swaggering Jackson Rivers for the past six years. But when
Jackson asks for his help defending Kaden Cameron, Ellery is out of his
depth—and not just with guarded, prickly Jackson. Kaden wasn’t just framed, he
was framed by crooked cops, and the conspiracy goes higher than Ellery dares
reach—and deep into Jackson’s troubled past.
Both men are soon enmeshed in the mystery of who
killed the cop in the minimart, and engaged in a race against time to clear
Kaden’s name. But when the mystery is solved and the bullets stop flying, they’ll
have to deal with their personal complications… and an attraction that’s
spiraled out of control.
as he got off the elevator on the fourth floor. Pfeist, Langdon, Harrelson
& Cooper was one of the best criminal defense firms in Sacramento, and it
didn’t get that way because its employees neglected details.
partners so bad.
of opening his own practice, but no. His sister had run numbers on that—she was
an actuary—and had determined that his best chance for financial success lay
with hooking up as a junior associate and working his way up to partner.
Harrelson & Cooper, he was one of their most trusted trial lawyers, and he
was conscious of the honor.
although it didn’t complement his dark hair and eyes at all, did make
him look severe and imposing, and he was all for that. He’d spent two hours
cross-examining a witness that day and had enjoyed making the guy—a police
officer, no less—crumble like a cookie.
officers on the stand, he wouldn’t ever mess with Leonard Pfeist’s secretary.
Nope—Ellery was very good at knowing who to toady, and the
secretary was the heart of the firm.
was greeted with a heavy-eyed scowl in return. Ellery gaped at her, uncertain
of how to respond. Granted, he and the firm’s legal secretary weren’t close.
Jade was a little too rough around the edges for Ellery to really warm up to.
He got that Leonard Pfeist, the most junior of the partners, did the hiring,
and he seemed to rely on Jade’s street-smart, tart-mouthed
presence, but Ellery had been brought up conservatively. Between Jade’s
unapologetically vibrant appearance and the female sexuality that rolled off
her like perfume, her whole presence made him very uneasy.
someone’s head off with her bare hands, and that was the way she was looking at
your schedule not say you were supposed to be in the office an
for coffee and probably to schmooze that judge you’re always trying to flirt
with. What you needed to do was to be here because
you’ve got someone here who needs your fucking help!”
closing in surprise. Smart-mouthed, yes, but never insubordinate—never rude.
that had nothing to do with the man’s looks. Dark blond hair, green eyes, and a
square jaw—if the remains of an adolescent acne problem hadn’t roughened his
skin, he’d look like a movie star. As it was, he appeared weathered and
capable—stringy, no-bullshit muscle and an uncompromising glare. Jackson was
the law firm’s head PI, and while the job was not supposed to be as glamorous
as television made it look, Ellery had always wondered if maybe Jackson Rivers
didn’t break a few rules to be so goddamned good at what he did.
there. But he was there with the dirt—the stuff that made the
witness unreliable, the stuff that Ellery could use to keep a client out of
goddamned beautiful. That broke a rule or two that Ellery really
loathed. Jackson was good-looking and personable. He and Jade had history and
kinship; they seemed to speak a different language sometimes. Jackson would
swagger into the office and shake hands with Leonard Pfeist and flirt with the
other secretaries and face the clients, confident and unafraid….
Exceptionally singular, unexceptionally alone.
problem didn’t end up on his lap,” Jade snarled, making Ellery wince. Well,
he’d always thought she harbored sort of a dislike for him, and she certainly
wasn’t bothering to hide it now. “Are you sure this is the guy
Ellery had to remind himself that Jackson was a PI—he had no say in
how the firm was run or who got which cases. Leonard Pfeist might think he
walked on water, but there were three other partners who had a say in things,
and Ellery was in good standing with all of them too.
pinning Ellery hard with a green-eyed glare. “Everyone else worked at the DA’s
for a few years—they’ve got ties. This guy doesn’t give a fuck about anything
that was fair.
as he wins for K?”
better to cut and run. He’d better not bail on my brother—he needs us, Jacky!”
intensified. Ellery’s hands were sweating, and he hated himself desperately for
wanting this man’s approval. He drew himself to his full six foot two and
pulled his lips back in disdain. “Whatever your little family matter is,” he
sneered, “I’m sure you can deal without me. What makes you think I evenwant this
stress yourself, Pinstripes. If you’ve got the guts for it, you’re going to
want it. No self-respecting shark would turn this one down.”
mean they wouldn’t have pressed the locks on their doors for reassurance if a
man who looked like Kaden Cameron had approached their car.
and a head shaved bald, Kaden dominated the small bare conference room of the
county jail. The bandage taped behind his ear didn’t make him look the
slightest bit vulnerable either. He had craggy, ageless features, a scowl that
could shake mountains, and shoulders that looked like they wouldn’t fit through
a door. He appeared to be every inch a badass, from his Lakers sweatshirt to his
black Converse, but his file told another story.
he took a quick sip of water and set his cup back down on the plain steel
he said, because the first order of business was always making
It’s a duplex. I have a renter on the other side—”
Kaden interrupted, but the look Jackson shot him wasn’t annoyed.
grumbled. “Seriously, Jacky, did you hear him arguing against
Kobe Bryant being one of the greatest ever?”
Jackson said, rolling his eyes. “You two had to be threatened with a potato
gun—and your own wife did the threatening. You remember that?”
Rhonda was pissed.”
face when he was trying hard to be your friend. He was playing with your
children—he won’t even talk to his own kids. Just because he
doesn’t like your pick of basketball players doesn’t make him a racist. And you
have a daughter, K—do you really want Kobe Bryant to be a hero?
Mike’s a good guy.”
evicted because you gambled his home on me,” Kaden said, and Ellery made a
because—like a lot of Ellery’s clients—he was in denial of how much trouble he
was in, but that wasn’t the case at all.
run. And you know what? Even if you did run, I’d rather get an
apartment than know Rhonda and the kids were out on the street.”
was obviously capable of meeting reality. “They’re going to be on the street
anyway,” he said. “If I can’t work during this bullshit, we can’t make
wanted to. He must have made some sort of noise, though, because Jackson sent
him a glare that was probably meant to shrivel Ellery’s manhood, root, stalk,
and berries. Ha! Little did the man know he put on Kevlar undershorts in the
Ellery back from the shoring up of his self-esteem. “She’ll help Rhonda with
the payments until you can. Don’t worry, K, your people gotchu.” Jackson
glanced back at Ellery. “You got anything else to say?” he demanded.
hearing is tomorrow, first thing in the morning. I need something to give the
judge besides just who’s going to help with the payments.”
wife and two kids and a fuckin’ dog who thinks I invented the morning crap. I
own a house and part of a business. I’ve lived my whole life in this city. I’m
not a flight risk, and I didn’t kill no fucking cop!”
looked at the anemic file, which featured the single crime-scene photo. That
alone was weird, because there shouldn’t have been a photo in the file at this
juncture anyway. Even if he normally did have photos at this
point, the fact that there was only one bothered the crap out
of Ellery. Jesus, a hundred CSIs in Sacramento, and they get one lousy photo
and some even blurrier pics of fingerprints? Something horribly wrong was going
evidence. The image was of Kaden slouched down against the counter of the gas
station franchise he owned a piece of. His eyes were closed, and a trickle of
blood leaked from under the black stocking cap he’d been wearing.
outstretched hand, pointed in the direction of the police officer who lay
sprawled dead with a hole the size of Texas in his chest. A blood pool spread
luridly over the floor.
to get you out on bail, but I think it’s that last part that we’re going to
have trouble with.”
Kaden’s hard look of resignation that punched him with the most grit. No—it was
Jackson Rivers’s blistering look of accusatory fury that made him think that
Kevlar undies just weren’t going to be enough.
happened,” he said deliberately. “And don’t leave anything out.”
Ellery wasn’t imagining the hostility there. “There isn’t much to leave out,”
he said, voice flat. “Because I don’t remember crap.”
make things so much more difficult.
chair back and fidget. “This is going to be a real short meeting.”
figured that was the wrong thing to say.