From the time I get the initial idea to completion of the first draft, my stories often evolve quite a bit. I’m often amazed at how characters shift personalities and situations reverse themselves from what I originally envisioned.
My latest novella, In Time I Dream About You, had a few growing pains. The final version has Gavin as the main character. When the idea blossomed in my head, however, Cato was the main character. He was the first person to appear, the one who came up and wanted me to help him tell his story.
And that’s exactly what I started doing. But as I wrote, Gavin kept stepping in, begging for attention that a secondary character wasn’t entitled to. He was such a persistent little cuss that it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore him any longer. The story became his.
For my guest post here, I thought I’d share with you an excerpt from the story when it was Cato’s, before Gavin grabbed the narrative reins and took over the ride. The scene remains in the final novella, but in a significantly altered form.
Hope you enjoy Cato’s version.
Gavin Goode, a promising high school athlete with good grades, forfeited his future when he joined a brutal street gang called the Cold Bloods. The gang’s leader, Apache, discovered Gavin is gay and framed him for murder. Now in prison, Gavin faces rape and abuse on a daily basis as gang members there attempt to break him. When his father is critically injured and Gavin reaches his lowest point, a mysterious ally appears. Cato is much more than the guard he seems. He has come from the future, and he possesses the technology to undo everything that’s gone wrong in Gavin’s life.
But meddling in the timeline has dire consequences, and Gavin faces an impossible decision: sacrifice himself and his father, or let thousands of innocents die instead.
Gee, I’m tired.
I could drop right here on this spot and sleep for the next hundred years. That’s what Boss ordered me to do. If I was smart, I’d follow orders.
But I’m not smart. I’m crazy. I’m crazy for this guy who lives on the other side of a hundred years.
I was stupid to let it happen, to let him into my heart. To be with him, to have in in my life, I’d have to stop the awful event coming up in his future, something horribly worse than anything that’s happened to him so far. But the rules and the law are clear. I can’t change the course of history. I can’t save Gavin.
And I can’t get him out of my mind. I can’t stop wanting him.
Seems like it’s been forever since I was with him. It doesn’t matter how tired I am. I have to see him.
I look around carefully. The alley is damp, smelly…and empty. No one is around to see. Neato. On my wrist communicator, I dial in the destination I want, hit the Send icon. The alley melts away around me as the dark confines of the little prison cell bleed in to replace it.
There he is. Lying on that God-awful cot. Asleep. He’s been beaten. Brutalized. Broken. He’s fifty pounds skinnier than he was a year ago when he was a high school jock.
But he’s still beautiful. So beautiful it draws the breath out of me.
My sigh wakens him. He opens his eyes, and they settle on me right away.
“Good. You’re awake,” I whisper down at him.
He seems glad to see me; his eyes light up and he smiles. “Hey. Here, grab a seat.” He pushes himself up and slides over to make room for me on the cot. “I didn’t think I’d see you again for at least a day. You said it would be a while.”
“I’ve been gone for three days,” I reply as I settle next to him. It’s hard to keep from putting my hand on his thigh. Jeez, how I want to kiss him. “I know for you it was only a few hours, but for me it was days. My boss wants me to take some downtime after finishing the mission I was just on, but I couldn’t wait to see you again.” A sweet memory takes over my head, the memory of the day I introduced myself to Gavin and took him on a little trip through time to convince him that temporal travel is real. “When we were sitting on that roof in 1952… was it my imagination or were you… into me?”
He gives me an even bigger smile. “You’re hot, Cato, and it’s been a long time since a guy put his arm around me that way. It felt good, so yeah, I was into you.”
I sigh again. Common sense and rules be damned! I lean in and kiss his sweet, soft lips. He flinches, apparently caught by surprise, but the next moment he has an arm around my neck and is kissing me back like mad. I want him like…wow!
I pull away, look into the smoldering pools of his eyes. “The night guard is asleep at his post,” I heatedly say to him. “He’s going to miss his regular patrols tonight and won’t look in on you until 5:47 in the morning, just before his shift ends. Come spend the night with me.”
Gene Gant on Gene Gant: “If you ask me, a good book is the best form of entertainment in the world. A book can touch the human imagination at levels movies, TV, and video games will never be able to reach. It was love of reading that lead me to become a writer. I’m Tennessean by birth, a resident of Memphis for most of my life. I tried living in a few northern cities after graduating from college, but I couldn’t take the brutal winters, and I missed good ol’ southern barbecue. Now I make my home on a country lane outside of Memphis. When I’m not reading, working out, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, you can find me tapping away at my computer.”