Darwin Hastings is seventeen and his dying aunt sends him from Pittsburgh to New York to a new guardian, a famous wealthy football player. He is excited and afraid; he wants to recapture the love he knew with his parents before they died and become a doctor like his father. But in his new home of celebrities, crooks, untrustworthiness, and excessively wealthy deviants, lust and want thwart his search for selfless caring love, and in his quest to become a doctor, he discovers the altruism of health care and scientific discovery riddled with profit motivation and deficient moral standards.

Award finalist in the 2012 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and the 2021 Reader's Favorite Awards .

William H. Coles

William H. Coles is the award-winning author of short stories, essays on writing, interviews, and novels in contests such as The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Com­pe­tition, among others. He is the creator of storyin­literary­fiction.com, a site dedicated to educational material, a workshop, and examples for writers seeking to create lasting character-based fiction with strong dramatic plots that stimulate thought about the human condition. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

. . . love how [Coles] explores the relationships between the characters.
. . . overall a highly recommended drama from a very talented author.
William H Coles is a master at creating dramatic scenes and his gift for character creates characters readers quickly learn to love and to follow.
. . . the plot was simply amazing.
William H Coles is a terrific writer . . .
I loved the writing and the author’s unique signature phraseology.
. . .kept my attention throughout my reading.
. . . an entertaining literary novel with well-developed and rock-solid characters.

— Amazon Reviews

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Chapter 1

Darwin Hastings shouldered his backpack to be doing something and checked to see his ticket was still in his jacket side pocket. With the call for boarding, he stepped to the gate, walked down the covered walkway, and showed his ticket stub to a flight attendant who pointed him to his fifth row window seat. The empty tension of being homeless and alone captured him. He tried to appear confident and in control.

Minutes later, an older woman with smog-gray hair pulled into a tight bun leaned over from the aisle.

“I’d like the window seat, young man.”

The grating, demanding tone of her voice flustered him. He felt ashamed he wasn’t more resilient. He checked his ticket again.

“You need to step out to let me in,” she said. “There are people waiting.”

“This is my seat,” he said, pointing to the stub and not knowing what he should do.

“You can sit in my middle seat,” she said impatiently, ignoring his evidence.

“I like the window,” he said. He wished he’d been more assertive. The woman waved her hand toward the front of the plane. “Stewardess,” she yelled. Was this to be his new life? Ordered around by domineering strangers with him unable to succeed when he was clearly in the right?

The flight attendant arrived and examined tickets. “You’re in the middle,” she said to the woman.

“They told me they had no window seats but I could switch when I was inside,” the woman said.

The flight attendant leaned over to Darwin. “Would you mind?” she asked, her forced smile ready to disappear. Darwin climbed out of his seat into the aisle.

The old woman was already moving in to take the window seat when she turned to Darwin. “Would you put that green overnight bag in the overhead for me?”

He decided it wasn’t important enough to object. He lifted the bag easily into the overhead. He sat down in the middle seat and searched for his seat belt.

A grey-suited middle-aged man sat next to him in the aisle seat and slipped an expensive-looking leather briefcase under the seat in front of him.

The plane took off. At ten thousand feet Darwin reached into his backpack for earphone plugs and his digital player.

“You shouldn’t do that. It will make you retarded,” the old woman said to Darwin.

“That is ridiculous,” the man next to Darwin said in a deep, authoritative voice.

“A lot you know,” the woman said. “I’m a physician.”

“Well, those things make you deaf. And then you become retarded.”

“Not deaf if the volume is at a reasonable level. And never retarded.”

Darwin tucked the player and the earplugs back into his backpack. The man sat rigid with his back straight. Darwin straightened his spine.

“Is he your father?” the woman asked Darwin.

“I am not his father,” the man said. “I am dedicated to halting misleading and erroneous information, especially in matters of health.”

“I am not stupid,” the woman said.

“That’s arguable,” the man said under his breath but loud enough for Darwin to hear.

“Why are you traveling alone?” the woman asked Darwin. Darwin didn’t answer.

“Where are your parents, boy? In Pittsburgh?” she persisted.

“Dead,” said Darwin. “They died.” That should end the conversation.

“Oh, you poor boy. I’m so sorry. Are you going home?” “I’m going to my cousin’s. He’s a famous football player.” “You’re leaving Pittsburgh?”


The woman looked out the window into a cloud to ponder the developments.

The man read a medical journal for a few minutes. “Who’s your cousin?” he asked Darwin.

“Luther Pinnelli.”

“And you’re going to live with him. With Luther?” “Yes, sir.”

“What an opportunity,” he said.

The woman leaned slightly over Darwin toward the man to give him a spiteful frown. “How could living with a football player be an opportunity? They take drugs, you know. To make them play better. It’s on the television.”

“My cousin doesn’t do that,” Darwin said emphatically, angered by her assuredness without fact.

“I don’t believe it!” the woman said.

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Reviews from Indie Book Reviews:

A beautifully written and richly evocative examination of life, love, loss, and the ravages of humanity, and the different ways people react to unthinkable situations. This powerhouse of a story is equally packed with action and emotion, and is sure to please even the pickiest of literary readers. I felt a great connection with the characters, especially Darwin, and thought the narrative was clean and crisp, descriptive, but not overdone. Great writing and a bold attempt at capturing many important elements made “Guardian of Deceit” a powerhouse hit for me. I think that this book would make an excellent book club choice as there are just so many topics we can talk about and dissect deeper…There are so many different angles and subjects to talk about, not even getting to the dynamic characters who bring the book to life. I liked how Mr. Coles utilized multiple points of view so we are able to experience the different characters worlds and be really inside their heads. A long book, but worth it in my opinion. A great find… I love discovering new authors, and William H. Coles will certainly be one to watch! Hope he continues writing these types of books because he certainly has a knack for it. (5 stars)
– I found GUARDIAN OF DECEIT to be absolutely riveting! I started reading it one night after supper with every intention of reading just a few chapters for that evening and could not put it down. Not only is it an emotionally inspiring story with well-drawn characters whom you grow to care about deeply, but it is also informative on various aspects of life that we might not think about in the day-to-day….It is very impressive how Coles can so astutely put himself in these characters’ shoes in such a convincing manner, from a young boy to an elderly woman, to a country singer star, to an abusive and ruthless pro athlete… Read this book. It will open your eyes to things that you might not really think about, or even just take for granted in life Yet it is things that affect all of us and our lives, whether or not we realize it. Great, fast dialogue, profound discussions and great suspenseful action and plot twists. Awesome! (5 stars)
– This is the second book I’ve read now by William H. Coles and it is just as amazing as the first! I think that “Guardian of Deceit” is one of those rare books that will appeal to a wide range of readers, no matter what your ‘favorite’ genre is. It just tells a darn good story and comes at you from so many different angles you don’t even know what hits you…. Coles demonstrates considerable talent for penning a fabulous tale that almost anyone who reads it will connect to on some level. It has a good message, danger, action, intrigue, and amazing characters and such great energy! I chuckled at several points, and almost cried at others. I think Coles is highly creative and has beautiful, passionate narration skills and can deliver the emotional payoff when it really matters. And it’s not like a typical literary novel that is all purple prose and slow paced… this is chock full of drama and with clean, quick narrative and dialogues. Some mild language nothing too obscene. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed! (4-5 stars)

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Coles writes an All-American novel with credible, deeply flawed characters. The drama and conflict are always believable and deeply relatable as Darwin grows from a high-school orphan into a young doctor. Ultimately, Coles creates a cast of characters prone to acting on their worst traits, propelling the modern story forward with emotion and hope that they may someday learn from their mistakes to ultimately find happiness.
Nyassa -   Amazon.com

So many stories within the story, it kept me reading far past by bedtime! The different story lines in Guardian of Deceit were all based on the main character Darwin and how he handles adversity and friendship. The other characters learned a few things along the way by observing Darwin and by following his advice. He was like the smoother for their rough and misguided lives. This is a great story for many genres, one could find a little romance, a bunch of action, and even some mystery! I liked it the most because the characters all grew in their lives to better people in the end.
Jacqueline -   Amazon.com

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