#SpotlightSaturday - From the Universe to Me by Scott E. Garrison


Our #SpotlightSaturday is shining down on Scott E. Garrison and their novel, From the Universe to Me, this week!

From the Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Tobias Gavin is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. For many years, the what-ifs of coming out have swirled around his head, so he has chosen to live a lie to keep from disrupting the “normal” life he has created with his family and friends.

That is until he meets Gareth David the day he enrolls for his first semester as a college student. He feels an immediate connection with Gareth…a connection that pushes Tobias to question the way he has been living his life. When Gareth coincidentally becomes, Tobias’s History professor, Tobias is forced to confront his feelings and confront the universe.

Tobias must come to terms with his depression, anxiety, heartbreak, and his sexuality before he can even begin to heal his wounds. He believes that everything happens for a reason, but he learns that some experiences are meant to teach even if they cause heartbreak. Once he comes to terms with himself, he might find his knight in shining armor.

Tobias must learn to trust himself and those around him if he wants to find happiness.


I only graduated high school two months ago, and I’m already excited to start Ashelford University as a history major.

I’m a huge nerd and love to learn, so college has been a goal of mine and of my parents since I could form sentences. When my parents and I sat down to discuss which university would be the best fit for me, I knew that the hometown university would be a no-brainer due to funds and the proximity.

I’ve spent countless hours on campus exploring every building and classroom, including the school’s black-box theater where I performed as a chorus member in the production of Once on This Island. I pretend I’m an explorer on a new adventure every time I visit. I like to think I’m a stealthy spy, looking for a secret passage that will lead to an exciting new discovery, which I’m sure makes me seem even more nerdy, but the cherry on top of my nerdiness sundae has to be the fact I showed up for my enrollment meeting with my advisor, Dr. Helena Richards, for my freshman year a few hours early.

With my adventures for the day complete, I make my way toward the Liberal Arts Building, which towers over me like a giant about to devour its prey. As I stand on the sidewalk, my eyes climb the red-bricked exterior that seems to grow infinitely the more I stare. I feel small in its shadow. I straighten my back and confidently make my way up the front entry stairs.

My mission—should I choose to accept it—is to put together a list of classes I want to take prior to my meeting, which rests clenched in my sweaty right hand. I’ve heard so many great things about Dr. Richards, but I’m still extremely nervous to meet her in person. We have emailed since I got accepted into the university, but I still worry she might not like me because I’m an immature freshman.

As I enter the main lobby, everything looks as I remember. Everything seems to have a purpose; a reason for being placed in its seemingly permanent location. I take a deep, calming breath. This is where I will learn new, exciting life lessons that will leave me a more educated student ready for graduate school; one step closer to becoming a professor.

I’m ready to make my dreams a reality, something my parents have always encouraged.

They have such high hopes for me. My parents have always told me I could never disappoint them, but there is still that hesitation I’m sure every child has when faced with big life decisions. In the back of my mind, I wonder where those limits end. I know deep down my mother and my father are my biggest fans, but my anxiety makes me overthink every decision before acting.

Over the years, I’ve struggled to be myself around my parents, never revealing too much of myself, hiding behind masks I’ve created. I know I’m attracted to men, but I do my best to convince myself that I’m straight. I fear being different and being rejected by the people in my life. These fears feed the energy-sucking parasite formerly known as my depression. I’ve had many opportunities to reveal myself to my loved ones, but as I have done many times before, I remain silent because my fears always win.

I walk up to the front desk in the history wing where a tired-looking girl with blonde hair, wearing a white and green Ashelford University T-shirt and a black skirt, sits staring at the computer. I might think she was dead if I didn’t hear the clicking noise made by the mouse in her hand.

She has a name tag that reads Anna Pasley pinned to her shirt. She doesn’t look up at me as I approach.

“Can I help you?” she says, forcing the words out with all her strength. She looks like she hasn’t slept in weeks. God, I know college is difficult, but do they force all students to stay up for hours studying and testing their academic prowess? Like the Hunger Games but centered on academia.

“Excuse me. My name is Tobias Gavin. I have an appointment with Dr. Richards to discuss my schedule for my first semester.” Anna flinches in her chair when she hears me speak.

Anna looks at me with bloodshot eyes. She looks like she has accomplished the horrifying skill of sleeping with her eyes open. She has tons of books open in front of her, but I can see the game of Solitaire open on the computer screen, which explains the mouse clicking away as I walked up to the desk.

“Do you have an appointment with Dr. Richards?” she asks.

“Um, yes, I have an appointment. She asked me to be here at 2:00 PM to discuss my schedule for my first semester.” I am baffled by her inability to register my previous statement.

“You realize it’s 1:15, right?” Her questioning expression makes me feel like I’m a small, insignificant freshman starting high school all over again.

I chuckle and sport a half-assed grin, so she doesn’t realize I’m embarrassed for arriving forty-five minutes early. This isn’t how cool college kids behave. They arrive fashionably late, acting like they have zero cares in the world. This isn’t me, so I blush in response.

I’m annoyingly early to everything. My family and friends hate and love me for this quality. My friends like the fact I will always arrive early to help set up parties but hate when I’m adamant about getting to the movies an hour early to find the best seats, which you select when you buy the tickets. I’m smart, but my anxiety runs my life more than my common sense.

I glance at the screen. “You can move the Queen of Hearts to the King of Clubs to free up another space.” Who knows, maybe we will become good friends?

“She is with another student so you will have to wait,” she responds, ignoring my tip. “She won’t finish with this student for another forty-five minutes. You can wait over there on those couches.” She says turning her attention to the Solitaire game. She waves her hand with a small amount of effort in a random direction. Her lack of acknowledgement of my statement assures this is where our relationship ends and dies.

I notice red couches in the room’s corner, so I shuffle over to them and sit down. I glance around the room, wondering how many people have sat on this same couch. Where are they now? Did they attain their goals or fail miserably?

Failure isn’t an option for me. I have too many dreams I want to accomplish. I want to become a history professor. Personally, I don’t care what college I end up teaching at as long as I can fill the minds of my students with illustrious, educational information about our world’s history.

I would never admit this in public, but I have secretly aspired to be like some of the teachers that have encouraged my goals of becoming a professor.

I have been in this building many times before today but sitting here with the excitement of attending college makes me want to scream. I don’t because that would be very embarrassing. I’m sure Anna would fall out of her chair and give me that same “stupid freshman” side-eye from before. Maybe I should, to give her the adrenaline boost she needs to wake up. Instead, I bounce my leg in anticipation.

My phone buzzes. I pull my phone out of my jeans pocket and notice my mom’s picture on the screen.

Mom: Good luck today, honey! I hope you can enroll in the classes you picked out. They sound very fun.

I send her a quick text back.

Me: Thanks, Mom!

She is the mother who would text back over and over, asking if I got her previous text and the one before that and the one before that—a never-ending cycle. She isn’t a helicopter parent. She is not the most confident person when it comes to technology.

I love my mom for this. She makes me laugh all time, and I don’t mind showing her how to work various devices and helping her navigate the social media world even though she always places “The” before everything, like “The Facebook” or “The Twitter” or “The Snapchat.”

She must get the oldie speech from her parents because they do the same thing.

My grandparents are the stereotypical old-school traditionalists who talk about walking everywhere as children in five feet of snow to get to school, work, etc. They tell me this story all the time, which makes me think they lived in Antarctica because walking through five feet of snow plays a role in all their stories.

Luckily, my dad uses computers daily at the grocery store he manages, so I don’t have to help him with technology; however, he has zero interest in learning about social media. He thinks people should stay in contact by having a conversation over the phone or in person and not online because it is too impersonal.

I’m startled out of my thoughts when I hear doors open, but to avoid any more agonizing contact with Anna, I don’t glance over until I hear the deep voice of a man talking to Anna.

I glimpse Anna out of the corner of my eye and notice her entire personality has changed. She appears more alive and filled with energy. She twirls her hair between her pointer and middle fingers, flirting with the man, which goes unnoticed by him. He is standing there exchanging pleasantries with her. When he turns to look in my direction, my heart literally skips a beat.

He is beautiful.

Wow. Drop-dead gorgeous isn’t even the best phrase to describe the man standing before me. The stylish brown hair rising in waves from the top of his head looks natural and void of any hair products, like he rolls out of bed looking like McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy on a daily basis. His light brown skin and dark brown eyes shimmer, reminding me of silky, smooth milk chocolate. Everything with me always goes back to chocolate, which is why I can’t stop looking at him as he stands next to the receptionist’s desk talking to Anna.

He isn’t ridiculously muscular, but his biceps look statuesque underneath his tight plaid button-down shirt. Dark Levi’s accentuate every muscle and curve his lower body has to offer. My mind immediately drifts to what his legs would look like if he set them free with short shorts or even his underwear. What is wrong with me?

Without even moving, he exudes confidence I only wish I could have. My mediocre body isn’t nearly as memorable as the physique standing before me. Anyone would want to talk to him, to be near his gorgeous face…touch his toned body. This man hit the gene-pool lottery when whatever higher being or the masters of the universe made him.

“Hello… Hey…. Is somebody in there?” he asks, waving his hand near my face.

My eyes adjust to his waving hand, and I realize I have been staring at him with an open mouth, looking like a brainless buffoon.

“Uuhhhh…what?!” I say like a blubbering fool.

“I asked if you are here to meet with me,” he responds with the sweetest expression, ignoring my inability to carry a conversation, which makes my cheeks burn red.

“Hahaha… I wish.” I freeze… What the fuck did I say? Oh my god, I could die. I should run out the door and lay down in the street, praying someone will take pity on me and end my suffering. I’m positive I have turned as red as the couches I’m sitting on.

He chuckles and gives me a bright and warm grin, revealing his perfectly whitened teeth. He towers over me, holding out his hand. “My name is Gareth David. I’m Dr. Richard’s teaching assistant. Who are you?”

Suddenly, an overwhelming urge to jump into his arms and put my hand through his radiantly manicured hair skips jauntily through my mind. That is perfectly acceptable for people to do, right?

I grab his hand, applying enough pressure to give an adequate handshake, so I look less like a dope.

When our hands meet, a rush of warmth spreads throughout my entire body. He glances at our hands and back into my eyes, giving me that perfect grin again. I can’t help but wonder if he observed the same jolt of energy when our hands met. The way he is looking at me makes me feel something I can’t put my finger on, but I don’t want the erotic energy to end.

After gaining my composure, I respond, “My name is Tobias Gavin. I’m here to meet with Dr. Richards about setting up my schedule for the fall semester.”

An Adonis-like smile spreads across his face, and I melt again. “Are you a freshman? I haven’t seen you around or in any of my classes.”

I look at him confused. “Didn’t you say you’re her assistant?”

He chuckles. “Teaching assistant. However, I teach my own classes and cover her classes when she is away. I know it seems weird, but Dr. Richards has taught me well. Besides, I’m almost finished with my graduate degree. I turned in my thesis a few weeks ago.”

His voice exhibits pure kindness that sends warmth through by body, helping me relax.

“May I have my hand back?” He laughs.


My body going tense again, I realize I’m still holding his hand. I hesitate for a millisecond—my body wanting our embrace to continue—before letting go of his hand.

“I’m so sorry. I was listening to you talk and forgot to let go.” Kill me. Someone, please hire a ninja assassin to come kill me now.

“No problem. I didn’t mind. Your hand is nice and warm,” he says with a quick wink.

Is he flirting with me? Holy fuck! I think he’s flirting with me. No. There’s no way. He is being nice. Trying to make me feel welcome and less stupid for blubbering and for holding his hand for much too long. There is no way this sophisticated graduate student—soon to be professor—would flirt with me, an undergraduate freshman.

I’m a small nothing in the sea of eligible fish he must have swimming at his feet. I bet he has no issues finding a significant other, unlike me. I have never had a girlfriend or had any romantic adventures—small or big. Not that I have never wanted to be in a relationship. I’ve always told myself my lack of relationship game is because I’m so awkward, but deep down, I know the real reason I haven’t found a girlfriend is because I’m gay.

Besides, I’m positive he is 100 percent straight and being nice to help me feel less awkward for my behavior. Even if he was gay, he would be out of my league.

He is looking at me oddly, as if pondering what he should say next, so I blurt out, “What is it like working with Dr. Richards?” There I go. I found my voice again. Good job, Tobias!

He sits on the couch beside me. “She is an absolute gem in the history department. She is a genius, and I could not ask for a better mentor. She has been my rock and biggest supporter since I came to Ashelford. I owe her everything. She has been there for me and has helped me so much.”

He loses his train of thought, glancing down at his hands; emotion cascading across his face, showcasing the first crack in his demeanor since he approached me, which makes my heart flutter.

“Anyway, you are very lucky to have her as your advisor,” he continues. “She is fantastic. My best advice is to work hard and show up to class. She will be your biggest supporter and will help you succeed, as long as you put forth an effort. She believes in all her students, but she doesn’t waste her time with people who waste her time. She wants everyone to succeed, but you can only succeed if you do the work and show up to class, obviously.”

As he talks, I get lost in his eyes. I hear and register everything he is saying, but I can’t help but lose myself in the pool of chocolate. No one has ever caught my attention as much as Gareth. I want to learn more about him. I want to spend some one-on-one time with him and see what makes him happy, cry, dream, whatever. I want to know him and have him know me.

Suddenly, I register the thoughts swirling inside my mind, sending a wrecking ball swinging toward my heart. This isn’t who I am. I’m not gay. I’m straight and I like girls.

My sexuality has been a constant struggle in my life since puberty. I internally understood that I was different from my peers, but when I hit puberty, I learned what exactly made me different.

I remember my thirteen-year-old self looking at my mom’s lingerie magazines and getting slightly too aroused seeing the half-naked men posing in their underwear. Once I recognized what this moment of arousal meant, I tried to force myself to have normal, heterosexual thoughts. I don’t know how my family would react, but society has shown me being gay isn’t always accepted. I feel myself losing this battle each time I see a handsome man, especially right now with Gareth sitting beside me. I know I’m not looking for a princess to call my queen. I’m looking for a prince to rescue me and awaken me from my eternal slumber.

He must notice the change in my demeanor because he straightens and looks over at Anna, who is still staring at her computer screen as her eyelids fall.

When his head turns toward me, his gentle smile is replaced with a stern, emotionless face. In a more authoritative voice, he asks, “I assume you are studying history since Dr. Richards is your advisor. What do you want to do after you finish your degree?”

Sadness grips ahold of me like a snake coiling around its victim, but I push past it. “I want to be a professor. I don’t know where yet, but I still have time to decide. I want to teach world history and write books about World War II. I have always found this era to be interesting and haunting.”

His face softens again, and there is a slight twinkle in his eye. “A man after my heart. I wrote my thesis on political propaganda during World War II. In many regions, propaganda influenced people to encourage war. I researched which propaganda succeeded and which failed. World War II is my favorite topic. I can’t get enough of it.”

I swoon again. If I let myself feel what comes naturally, I would not be struggling so much and fall deeper and deeper into my depression. This battle is exhausting.

As I talk with Gareth, I think about what my life would be like if I let myself kiss him or any man. Would that feel right? If fireworks appeared, would I relax and let myself be gay? I don’t know, and a part of me feels like I’ll never know the answer to my questions.

“It sounds like you really enjoy history, and that sounds like an excellent topic,” I respond, relaxing into the couch. I feel my walls falling again. I want to know this man and for him to know me. As I ponder this final thought, he stands.

“Well, I should probably get to my office. I have syllabi to finish.” As he says this, a brief moment of hesitation flickers across his face, which only intensifies my desire for him to stay.

“Do you have any other advice for a simple freshman?”

He sits down, looks into my eyes, and says, “I’ve only just met you, but I know you are anything but simple.”

I blush.

After a pause, he continues, “I think the best advice I can give is to not lose focus or lose yourself. Stay true to who you are. You seem like a smart guy with a good head on his shoulders. Don’t forget to get involved, but don’t lose sight of your goals. You have a dream. Dreams can change and don’t be afraid if your dreams change. Accept it. Don’t be frightened of it. Change is inevitable, so embrace it. You may go to sleep as one person and wake up a different person. You should always let your true self be your real self. College is the time in your life to meet people that will change you. I believe the universe brings people into our lives for a reason. I believe fate brings people together. I don’t believe in love at first sight or anything like that; I’m not that kind of romantic, but I believe the universe puts people in our paths for a reason. Those people may not always affect our lives positively, but they will always help shape us. Don’t change for anyone. No one is ever worth losing yourself.”

He takes a breath and looks at me. His intense gaze digs deep inside me, and I wonder if he feels what I’m feeling right now. Even though I barely know him, I kind of wish he would kiss me, but when he continues, I push away my thoughts. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble. I wish someone would have given me this advice when I was a freshman. I think it would have helped me during my undergraduate years.”

In that moment, I feel an overwhelming urge for Gareth to wrap me in a tight, passionate hug.

His gaze glitters with anticipation.

“Thank you. That was beautiful,” I reply.

He responds, “You’re welcome, Tobias. Good luck! I truly hope to see more of you in the fall. Don’t be a stranger.”

With this, he beams, stands, and walks away. Deep down, I don’t want him to go. I want him to stay and talk to me. I want to hear more about his life. There is something about him that makes me want to open myself up to him and bask in his wisdom. I have been so afraid to tell people my secret, but Gareth made me want to do that in mere seconds, which makes me feel strange…almost happy.

“Dr. Richards is ready for you.” Anna snaps me back to reality.

As I walk toward her, I look in the direction Gareth went—seeing the empty space he once occupied.

I hope I see more of you too. 


From the Universe to Me is available on many platforms!