Title: Perfectly Ernest
Author: E.J. Wesley
Published by: E.J. Wesley
Date published: Aug. 29, 2014
Genres: NA Contemporary
Book Length: 244 pages
Steam Rating: Steamy
Main Characters: Ernie & Margery
Ernest offers a smart, funny, sweet, sexy, uplifting, and oftentimes poignant perspective of one person’s difficult transition into adulthood.
A gripping story of striking out and winning big.
From a distance, Ernie’s life seems perfect—he’s a star college baseball player adored by the student body and coveted by professional teams. Up close, he is a disaster. Since the death of his mother, he’s been trapped by a promise he made and forced to live her dream instead of his own. He reaches his breaking point in the biggest game of his young career and sets off a chain of events that will either define or destroy the rest of his life.
Ernie grudgingly joins a quirky campus counseling group that empowers him to heal himself and right his wrongs. By testing old friendships, forging unlikely new ones, and exploring an exciting romance, he begins to unravel the jumbled knot his tangled inner-psyche has become. But old rivals, mental illness, and the risk of a forbidden relationship soon threaten his progress. Will Ernie’s new direction and friends be his salvation, or confirmation that he is forever doomed by his imperfections?
Perfectly Ernest is a New Adult contemporary novel with romantic elements by author E.J. Wesley. Ernest offers a smart, funny, sweet, sexy, uplifting, and oftentimes poignant perspective of one person’s difficult transition into adulthood. It is a story about overcoming the demons of mental illness and struggling with the profound burden of expectations—both real and imagined. But it’s mostly a tale of friendship, hope, and love.
We shared another laugh and continued our stroll, but no longer touching. The memory of her warmth lingered pleasantly in my mind.
“What about your folks?” she asked.
I momentarily rethought my stance on telling her everything, and then decided she was likely too drunk to remember anyway.
“Mom died when I was seventeen. Dad went to prison when I was eight. Haven’t seen him since. Don’t want to.”
She whistled. “You win the sucky life grand prize alright. Grandparents? Aunts and uncles? Siblings?”
“Grandfolks are all gone. Only aunts and uncles are on Dad’s side, and they hate my guts. Only kid.”
“You, Mr. Demps, have to be one lonely young man.”
I didn’t want to let her know how much those words really scratched me, but there was an undeniable truth in them.
“I’m so sorry.”
I must’ve stiffened or gone quiet. “Not a big deal.”
“That wasn’t a nice thing to say and—”
I waved dismissively. “It’s okay, really. But please, call me Ernie. Mr. Demps makes me sound like one of my dead grandparents. Although, Ernie is definitely an old man name, so maybe it fits.”
“Deal.” She hooked her arm around mine. “My house is at the end of the street. How did you get a name like Ernie?”
“Dad was a big Cubs fan. Ernie Banks was his favorite player.”
“Both of us were named for famous baseball personalities. And both of our names belong in a 1950s phone book. We could’ve been separated at birth, Mr. Ernie,” she said.
“Now I sound like a banker or mob boss.” I laughed.
We’d reached a break in the trees, so I stopped to contemplate the sky. “Really, I like to think I was named after Hemingway.”
“Your English teacher approves.”
Margery tugged at my arm to get me moving, but I pulled her back. A line from a Walt Whitman poem sprang to mind, and I felt compelled to share it with her.
“Then my realities; What else is so real as mine?”
She stared at me, her eyes gleaming above a bemused smile. “You memorize a lot of poetry?”
I nodded. “Mom loved poetry. After she died, I had the hardest time focusing on the field. So I took to memorizing poems and reciting them in my head. Really helped me block out my thoughts.”
“Reminds you of her, too, I bet.”
“So my psychiatrist tells me.” I smiled. “They also usually mean something. Not sure about that one, though. I guess I haven’t felt very real lately. Tonight is the most grounded I’ve been in a long time.”
We walked up the sidewalk and paused at the steps leading to her front door. The house was small and homey, a perfect little cottage with flowerboxes below the windows and a porch swing.
Margery squeezed and let go of my arm. “Ever think you maybe just need a little help? That it’s time to quit trying to do things by yourself? You’re a pitcher. If things aren’t working, time for a change up.”
She tried to take the first step up to the porch, missed, and stumbled backward. I wrapped my arms around her to keep us from falling over. Her hair was silky against my chest. It smelled of jasmine and fruit. Margery’s gaze flashed upward, her mouth open in surprise.
“Yes, I had considered I might need a little help,” I whispered.
I dipped my head. She tilted hers. Her body went limp, allowing me to cradle hers against mine. Our lips touched lightly at first, and then collided like forces of nature. There was a hidden energy underneath, an excitement, like it was the first or last time we’d touch. She moaned—
“Ernie? That you?” a familiar voice said from behind us.
Margery pushed away from me. She took the three steps of the porch in a single leap. I hung my head.
“Yes.” My lips still tingled from the kiss and my heart thumped erratically.
Luther stood where the sidewalk and street met, dangling something shiny from his hand.
“Found your keys, man. Someone said they saw you head this direction. You okay?”
The door to Margery’s house banged shut behind me. I considered giving Luther the same terse answer I’d given her earlier in the evening. After all, I was still shirtless, I’d still made a fool of myself, Junk was probably still going to kick my ass, and who knew how far out of bounds I’d stepped with Margery. She might never speak to me again once she sobered up.
In spite of all the things that could go wrong, I smiled. “For once, yeah. I think I’m good.”
Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, there were limits on the amount and types of entertainment at my disposal. Perhaps that’s why I set my imagination free. After collecting degrees in psychology and counseling, life brought me to Missouri, Texas, and Northern California–where I currently read, write, and live. I fill my spare time playing video games, watching movies, planning for the zombie apocalypse, reading graphic novels, and playing with my dogs.
My passion for New Adult literature led me to producing the weekly New Adult Lit Chat on Twitter and contributing to the NA Alley Blog. I’m also the author of the Moonsongs Books, a series of New Adult, urban fantasy novelettes.