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Jul. 28th, 2006 @ 09:45 am Ryan--Another surprising character
Current Location: Oberon, California
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: O-Town ~ All or Nothing

Today I want to continue my discussion of surprising characters by talking about Ryan Henderson.

Ryan made his appearance in A Sight to Dream Of, where he had a small, but pivotal, role. I don't really remember at what point it occurred to me to cast him in the role of hero in Sound of a Voice That Is Still, but, since I wrote the third and fourth books in the series out of order, I suppose it was sometime during the writing of A Taste of Honey.

After writing the character of Dan Cavanaugh, I figured I was home free. Surely no other hero would give me so hard of a time. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Don't get me wrong. I love all my heroes and Ryan is no exception. He's a great guy. A total sweetheart. A man who definitely knows his limitations and makes no excuses for his own shortcomings. It doesn't hurt that he's big and strong and a total hottie, either. ;)

Ryan is stoic, taciturn, and prone to obsessions. He's possessed of a quirky sense of humor that sometimes surfaces at inappropriate times. He'd be the first to admit that he has a bad habit of jumping into situations before he's really looked at them...but, on the other hand, he probably won't tell you that, because talking tends to get him into so much trouble!

Nick regards Ryan's ability to keep his mouth shut as a good thing. Siobhan...not so much.

The first time I realized that Ryan was not your run-of-the-mill character was when he first kissed Siobhan. See, it wasn't supposed to happen. Not then and definitely not like that! He's also the only character who ever made me change FIVE WHOLE CHAPTERS when he got a bright idea and I let him run with it, only to realize that he was leading us all into a huge, stinking mess!

By the end of the series I had his number: pretty much any scene he was featured in stood a pretty good chance of running off track--just because!

The second of my three cop heroes, Ryan is the only one to get injured on a regular basis. Odd, when you consider that he's also the only one of the three who appears to be playing by the rules. Ah, but it's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for, isn't it?

I don't know if it was payback for all the grief he'd given me, but, in retrospect, I have to admit that I was--at times--a bit hard on the boy. But he's tough. he can take it.

Here's an excerpt from the very beginning of Sound of a Voice That is Still.

In this scene, an injured Ryan is getting ready for another day...

The day was dark gray and cold when Ryan finally pulled himself out of bed. The rain beat a steady tattoo against the windows of his apartment and the damp knifed through his leg like steel as he limped to the bathroom. He could hear his puppy whining with mournful impatience from her kennel in the other room. He must have been out of his mind when he got that dog, he thought. Which was pretty much the same thought he had every morning now.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like having a dog, or that his apartment wasn’t big enough for her. The dog was a sweetheart. And his apartment? A lingering feeling of satisfaction sifted through him. His apartment was great.

In fact, with its high ceilings, gas fireplace and sweeping view of the bay, the apartment was damn near perfect. But it was also three floors up from the street, the dog was an Irish setter, and he was a cripple.

Just temporarily, he promised himself again. But it was getting harder to believe that all the time.

He’d gotten the dog last autumn. He’d grown lonely and bored during the weeks he’d been laid up following his injury, and it seemed like a good idea to give himself a reason to take long walks at least twice a day. But that was when his leg looked like it was healing properly. Before the rain set in.

He’d been back at work less than a month when the pain had flared up again, and he’d been sidelined once more. But even though just sitting at a desk for more than a few hours at a time was agonizing, not working for very much longer was going to make him crazy.

He winced as he pulled on some sweat pants and a windbreaker and shoved his feet into a pair of running shoes. By the time he finished dressing, he was breathing hard.
The pain was always at its worst first thing in the morning, he reminded himself, ignoring the fear that it was just getting worse, period. Just as he tried to ignore the sweat prickling at his hairline, and the bottle of painkillers which beckoned from the medicine cabinet. He didn’t know which scared him more, the idea of getting addicted to the pills, or the thought that this debilitating pain was something he’d have with him for the rest of his life.

"Okay, girl, come on," he said as he slipped the choke collar over the dog’s head. At least he’d been smart enough to avoid saddling himself with a really young puppy. The dog was young enough to have no idea on how to walk on a leash, which was bad enough. If he’d had to deal with paper training her as well, they never would have made it. Now, if he could only come up with a name for her. It bothered him that he hadn’t, but, so far, nothing he had thought of had seemed to fit for more than a day or two.

They headed out into the hallway, the dog pulling impatiently at her lead. He had to grit his teeth when she pulled him off balance and forced him to put too much weight on his injured leg. But once they were outside, she changed her mind, peering reluctantly at the rain from the shelter of the awning that shielded the building’s entrance.

"Come on!" he ordered again, stepping out into the storm and giving the lead a sharp jerk. The dog stepped gingerly out after him. With both her head and her tail dragging she looked just as miserable as he felt.

"Just to the corner and back," he promised, and then felt guilty about that, as well. He had to go downtown to the station later this morning, and then he had an appointment for acupuncture therapy in the afternoon. She’d be locked up for most of the day. Maybe this evening, if the rain let up a little, he’d take her for a good long walk.

At least he could count on his leg feeling better by then--and for the next couple of days, as well. Of course, if the acupuncture hadn’t seemed like it was helping, there wasn’t anything in the world that would have kept him going back for more.

It wasn’t the needles that bothered him so much, or even the tingling currents of energy they unleashed, and which continued to flow through him for hours afterward. It was having to lie there, immobile for an hour of more; prey to all the memories, the thoughts and the feelings that the treatment seemed to stir up.
Memories of things best left forgotten, feelings he’d rather not explore, thoughts he usually did his very best to repress.

His leg was throbbing by the time he got back to the apartment. But he dried the dog’s coat off first, and then wiped the mud from her paws and made sure she was fed before he allowed himself the luxury of a long shower. The hot water eased a little of the ache from his leg, but stepping out of the warmth and into the chill morning air, he felt it all seep back again, anyway.

He dressed quickly. Heated a little of last night’s coffee in the microwave. Checked that the dog had enough water. And left his apartment. Fast. Before the pills in the medicine chest could start calling to him any louder.

©PG Forte 2006, All Rights Reserved.

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