Porter Guffrey was a character who drew a lot of interest from my beta readers when I sent them an early draft of Colony One. He also intrigued me as a creator. As I was writing the first draft — and the second draft and the third draft — I could not figure out whether Porter was a good guy or a bad guy. I’m still not sure. Here’s a little about where he came from…
Porter Guffrey was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Maisy Nell Stevens. His father was Lucas Guffrey, but Porter and Lucas never met.
Before Porter was born, Maisy was a graduate student at Yale University, and Lucas was a chef at a trendy restaurant that had just opened in New Haven. Maisy was studying philosophy, and she had a part-time job waiting tables at the restaurant. She had never waitressed before, and the owner of the restaurant often came down hard on her. Lucas, who was friends with the owner, told him to lay off Maisy.
They started spending more and more time together. Maisy was immediately drawn to Lucas. He was a bad boy — and a brilliant chef — but Lucas had a temper. He drank heavily, and when he drank his outbursts became worse. Maisy knew that the relationship wasn’t sustainable, but a few months after they started seeing each other, Maisy learned she was pregnant.
When she told Lucas, he told her to take care of it. Maisy was horrified. Having a child certainly wasn’t part of her plan, but she wanted to keep the baby.
She told her parents, hoping for support, but they wanted nothing to do with her. They were very conservative Christians and a prominent Connecticut family, and they were horrified that their daughter had become pregnant out of wedlock.
Lucas left her, and Maisy and her parents stopped speaking. Still Maisy was determined to complete her graduate program and raise the baby herself. She finished her degree when she was eight months pregnant.
Maisy was a bright student and a wonderful teacher, and her professors encouraged her to get her doctorate after the baby was born. But Maisy was in debt, and she needed a new job. She could hardly stand to be around Lucas at the restaurant, and her unpredictable work schedule and late nights weren’t conducive to having a child.
She landed an adjunct position at the nearby University of Bridgeport and rented a room from an older couple in a red colonial that was walking distance from the university. She gave birth to Porter in Bridgeport, scared and alone, but he was everything she could have ever wanted.
Maisy practically raised Porter at the university. When he was four, she started taking him with her when she taught. Porter would sit in the corner, quiet as a mouse. Maisy gave him all the love and books he could want. She took him to museums, and they would often visit her alma mater in New Haven so that they could walk around the grand old campus together.
But Maisy had a secret: She was desperately broke. The older couple she’d rented from had moved to a condo, and she’d had to find a new place to live. She’d moved into a crappy apartment near campus, but the noise and the wretched old building made her feel like a terrible mother. She didn’t make enough money as an adjunct professor, and Porter was a sickly child.
One winter he caught pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. The medical bills from his stay almost buried Maisy. She started picking up extra work wherever she could find it: Bridgeport, New Haven, or even Woodbridge. Porter was only seven, but even he could tell that his mother was run-down.
Sometimes Maisy didn’t have money for a sitter, and she would slip out for her shift after Porter went to bed. He wasn’t always asleep, and it scared him to be left alone. Porter knew his mother didn’t have a choice. He never told her that he knew she left, but he promised himself that he would never be poor. He told himself that he would find a way to take care of himself and his mother so she wouldn’t have to work so hard.
One night, on the way back from pulling the graveyard shift at a diner, Maisy fell asleep at the wheel and crossed over the center line. She was killed instantly.
Porter waited for Maisy all morning and finally walked down the street without her to catch the school bus. When Maisy was identified and the police tracked down her next of kin, her parents had no idea where she had been living or where their grandson went to school.
They finally found Porter at his elementary school that afternoon. He met his grandparents for the first time, and they agreed to take him in. But his grandparents were cruel and wanted nothing to do with Porter. They sent him away to a strict Christian boarding school, and he grew to hate them for it.
After his grandparents died, Porter was again in need of a guardian. His grandmother had a sister who was still living in New Jersey, and he went to live with her. His great-aunt was poor and backward, and she didn’t have the money to send him away to school.
He went back to public school, where the preppy and cultured Porter was bullied mercilessly. He was fifteen years old, and his sexual identity was ambiguous. He spent most of his time hiding in the school library and graduated with a full ride to Yale.
Porter returned to his mother’s old stomping grounds and took his father’s surname. His mother’s family was well-known in Connecticut, and he wanted nothing to do with them.
Porter felt at home with the smart East Coast kids. His tasseled loafers, pastel pants, and sweaters were cool again. He graduated with honors and got accepted into a graduate program at Stanford.
It was in California that he met Tripp Van de Graaf, who’d just joined the board of his father’s company.
Porter had been hired as an intern at Maverick Enterprises. His job was to go on coffee runs and handle dry cleaning, but Porter had never forgotten his vow to be rich. He’d seen how his mother struggled, and he was convinced that it was due to her lack of connections. Porter was determined to make the right connections, and he knew the Van de Graafs were going places.
One day he overheard a group of senior-level employees plotting to sabotage one of Tripp Van de Graaf’s pet projects. Tripp was only twenty-three years old, and as the CEO’s son and the youngest board member, he was having trouble earning respect.
Porter didn’t know what to do, so he told Tripp. Tripp was extremely grateful for Porter’s help. He hired Porter full time, but he did not fire the scheming employees. He carefully circumvented the trouble they’d been planning to cause, and his project was a huge success.
One by one, Porter noticed that the employees who’d schemed against Tripp started to have problems. At first, it wasn’t obvious, and he could never prove that Tripp was involved.
One employee received an offer from one of Tripp’s competitors — a company that went under just eighteen months later after Maverick announced that it had developed a groundbreaking new design for a space shuttle. Another employee was brought up on charges of insider trading, and a third was caught cheating on his wife and became entrenched in a costly divorce.
Porter grew to adore Tripp, and Tripp treated him well. But it was Tripp’s ability to solve problems under pressure that Porter admired most. Tripp never lost his temper or made an embarrassing public blunder. He was usually one step ahead, and he was quiet and methodical when he took his revenge.
Porter became his eyes and ears at Maverick. He was loyal to the core. He had an innate ability to make himself invisible — a trait that had come in handy in high school. He lingered outside of doorways after meetings and reported back to Tripp everything he heard. This allowed Tripp to foresee internal problems and overcome them with ease. He thrived at Maverick.
Soon Tripp began to earn the respect of his employees, and Porter knew Tripp would take him to the top. Tripp hired Porter as his personal assistant, but Porter was really his inside man.