['Mr. Intense') is the classmate, third boyfriend, and later husband of Theresa Sullivan. He is first introduced along with Jack Koster in chapter 3 when Theresa goes to college.
Norman Boutin said in an interview that Steve Hartley was the most challenging character in Empress Theresa to write.
- What would the average husband do upon learning that the girl he had married turns out to be the world’s most powerful and important person? This could have gone in many directions. I decided to make Steve the loyal husband demanding nothing for himself. Isn’t that what a good Catholic man would do?
Role in the Story
Steve's role is to be Theresa's biggest supporter in everything she does. He has almost no role or personality outside of his relationship with Theresa. The quintessential underdeveloped love interest character, even though a male.
Steve is first introduced in Chapter 3 at Boston College, staring intensely at Theresa in the dining hall. After Theresa learns that she was essentially a side piece for Jack, instead of doing the right thing and confronting him, or taking Ginny aside and telling her the truth, she goes to her room and puts on a slutty dress to seduce Jack. However, Steve shows up and confesses his love for her. Theresa is immediately over Jack and starts to date Steve. One month later, they decide to get engaged (presumably to start having sex as they are 'good Catholics'.) Soon after Theresa turns 18, Steve and her marry, and he is apparently fine with his new, barely-legal wife showing off her cleavage to their family and friends just moments after tying the knot.
After Theresa is kidnapped, nearly blown up, and presumed dead for two weeks, Steve seems to be in a calm interview saying how she hadn't been missing/dead for two days and he was already getting calls to buy the rights to her story, to which he turns them down. Then he appears before Congress to say he knew nothing about Theresa's connection with HAL, then immediately saying her 'Mission: Impossible' files were connected to HAL and how she grew up unlike the other girls-intent on her being the mediator between the aliens and the world-something she never once thought about since HAL was pretty dormant for the past eight years- only giving Theresa minor abilities like strength, aim, and apparently thick hair.
From then on, Steve seems to pretty much mooch off Theresa's success, at one point saying they can never get jobs, being 'professional college students'- as they both only have one year of school under their belts and never tried going back or pursuing further educations. He also tends to be unsupportive, as when Theresa is needing to deal with North Korea, he claims it will take too long and they should just give up. During the 600 year slumber of the world, Steve and Theresa are the only two humans left awake and stay physically 19. So they get busy (in more ways than one) in their tasks for the next six centuries, including getting all the HALS in other's bodies so Theresa can be the only special 'good girl' on the planet (as Steve says that nobody will be responsible with their HALS and only use them for bad...which Theresa did multiple times throughout the book). They also have 420 children over the course of the 600 years. It can be implied that Theresa and Steve took on 'Adam and Eve' roles through those 600 years, minus the incest in order to repopulate.