“Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.”
He waited for a response but there was only silence. Uncomfortable silence.
He shifted on the hard wooden bench. It creaked loudly but he could still hear the sound of a throat clearing violently on the other end of the divide.
Father Donovan was still battling with his emphysema. He’d smoked for most of his adult life, and probably most of his teenage years. He did quit eventually but it was already too late.
“Go on, son.”
He paused again. How long had it been? He started to count on his fingers but knew immediately that he would soon run out and so he stopped. “… Jesus … too long since my last confession.”
“Right. Sorry.” He almost scoffed out loud but then caught himself. He wasn’t even sure why he’d come in the first place. He was starting to think the whole thing was pointless. As if whispering your secrets into the dark somehow absolved you of any wrongdoing.
He crossed himself. He was dangerously close to blasphemy now.
He took a deep breath and went on, even though he doubted telling the rest of the story would erase the woman’s sad and creased face from his mind. “I was in a position to help someone,” he admitted. “To really help them, and I refused.”
He waited for a sound, some small hint of some acknowledgment of what he’d just said but again, there was silence on the other end. He went on. “She was desperate and she came to me for help … and I don’t know … I guess I just couldn’t.”
“I didn’t think it would do any good … that I’d be any good. I figured it was better to not help at all than to try to help and only make the problem worse. I don’t know. Am I rationalizing?”
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
1 John 3:17. It was one of Father Donovan’s favorite verses, but it gave him no comfort to hear it now. He was having trouble finding God’s love wherever it abided, certainly not within him.
These are Stone’s thoughts from the opening paragraphs of Cat Scratch Fever, the upcoming first novel in my new series.
If you’ve read the White Rabbit Trilogy, and especially Red Herring, then you’ve heard of Stone briefly. He is Tess’ father, but by the time we meet her, he has already died. So we don’t get to meet him; we only hear his name in passing.
Because this is a new series and because Stone is the central character meant to anchor and carry all of the books in it, I spent *a lot* of time getting to know him (and that is, of course, part of the reason I hadn’t finished the book until recently). I’ve developed a bit of a process when it comes to fleshing out my main characters. Fun fact: that process partially uses astrology! Yes, astrology. Sue me. I won’t get into the whole process now but if you want to read more about it, I detail it here.
This is how the profile I created for Stone starts:
If we’re going to use one word to describe Stone, it would be stolid. A good second word is conscientious.
He’s Old Faithful personified.
It goes on like this for a couple of pages (and that’s the short version).
To read the rest, you can download it here.
Feel free to reply and let me know what you think about Stone. Does he sound like someone you’d hang out with? Does he sound like someone you maybe wouldn’t like? What kind of trouble can you imagine him getting into? I promise to let you know if any of your guesses are warm!