Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Good Boy - Meet Acton Wagner

Today Lisa Henry and I are introducing you to The Good Boy's villains. "Villains" always sounds so harsh--or so superhero-y. I prefer the term "really fucked up people who make some incredibly bad choices." We've got a few of those in this book.

Acton Wagner is a creep of the highest order. A (former) longtime friend of the Moredock family, he's Belleview's premier real estate agent and a millionaire who lost all his money in the Moredock scandal. And he's had his eye on Lane Moredock since Lane was...way too young. Yet from Lane's perspective, Acton is the only adult who's ever really noticed or been kind to him. And he's certainly the only one who offers to help Lane after the scandal breaks.

Unfortunately, Acton's definition of "help" turns out to be completely twisted. In this excerpt, Lane has gone to a party Acton's throwing, hoping to get some guidance from Acton. Acton takes Lane up to his study and offers him a drink or three.

Acton was smiling again. “You’re a good kid,” he said.  

Lane mirrored the smile, genuinely hopeful for the first time in weeks. He raised the glass to his lips and swallowed. The scotch went down easier this time. It spread through him, warm, and made his skin tingle. It loosened his tongue as well.

“What happened to your painting?” Lane asked.

Acton had always had a Stuart Davis hanging in his study—a modernist piece in shades of blue and steel. A cityscape.

“I got rid of it,” Acton said. He stared at the spot on the wall where the painting had hung. He waved his hand dismissively. “To alleviate a temporary cash-flow problem.”

Guilt pooled in Lane’s stomach. He couldn’t bring himself to ask the reason. 

“I can’t pay my tuition for next semester,” Lane said suddenly, wondering if it would help Acton to know he was hurting too. “Or my motel bill for now. Or anything. Shit, look at my shoes!”

Lane wasn’t sure what reaction he’d been expecting to his litany of misery, but it wasn’t laughter. He gave himself a moment to see if he felt outraged. No. And it was kind of funny, sitting here in Acton’s office in his rumpled clothes and the shoes he got from the thrift store. Lane would bet everything he had—which was what, six dollars and seventy-five cents?—that the last guy who sat with Acton in his study drinking scotch wouldn’t be able to find a thrift store with a map.

His lips twitched. It was funny. The rumors about the offshore accounts. The media making this shit up when Lane wasn’t even sure what an offshore account was.

“Another drink?”

Lane looked at his glass. He hadn’t even realized he’d finished. He nodded and held the glass out.

“Sorry, if, um—if you’re—if it’s because of my parents. The painting.” He took the glass Acton handed him and knocked back a huge swallow. It sounded strange to apologize for something he couldn’t help, but Lane often felt the need to apologize for anything that went wrong, whether he’d caused it or not. And he wanted Acton to know he was sorry.

Acton chuckled. “Take it easy.” He nodded at Lane’s suddenly empty glass. “I forget you’re not even old enough to drink.”

Lane echoed Acton’s laugh and handed the glass back to Acton. “I’ll have another, if you don’t mind.” He was surprised by how clearly the words came out. He sounded, not like his usual mumbling self, but like someone who knew what he was entitled to. He sounded like his father.

“Do you drink at school?”

The way Acton asked the question sent a shiver through Lane. Like Acton knew everything he got up to in Boston. Like Lane was in trouble.

He didn’t want to tell Acton how often he’d had fantasies like that as a teenager. Fantasies where he stood in front of Acton while Acton lectured him. Where Acton told him he’d broken the rules and would have to be—

Lane stopped himself. Something was seriously wrong with him. He’d known it for years. It was just that his parents had never seemed to care one way or the other what Lane did. But Acton noticed. And the idea of having someone notice every move he made, someone who would call him out if he did something wrong, was incredibly…hot? Definitely something the matter with him.

Lane shook his head. “No, sir.” 

And now you can go over to Lisa Henry's blog and meet the Moredocks! The Good Boy is out March 26th from Loose Id.

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