When we pick up a book from the bookshelf, we’re (hopefully) getting something that’s been through multiple rounds of revisions and edits. We don’t often get to see the early drafts and “mistakes.” I decided, for the entertainment of my readers and for the use of anyone who wants to see why certain scenes or characters don’t make it into a final draft, to post cut scenes from my published works.
A Perfect Man, which was released in May, has a lot of them because I worked on that book for a long time, off and on for three or four years. I have several cut scenes files, not sure why. Here are the contents of one of them, the original chapter five. An early version of the book had some extra characters, and others had different names. Phoebe, who I’ll bring in a later book, is a biology student who is taking classes in the MFA program. I combined Carl and Albie into just Albie. Iain turned into Isaac, Sarah into Samantha.
Confused yet? Here’s the deleted scene (warning – adult language):
Sarah sighed and put her face in her hands. This was going to be tough. Really tough. Karen might complain about her story being hijacked, but at least it meant she would have help! Meanwhile, she would discover the difference between writing what you know and putting yourself through hell to purge the wound you inflicted on yourself and your family.
“You don’t have to do this, you know.” The voice was familiar, soothing. It was also the voice that had told her, “You don’t have to feel guilty about this.”
“Fuck off,” she told it. She opened a new document in Word and started writing.
Those mesmerizing green eyes… “Are you kidding me?” she asked herself. The phone rang. It was Karen.
“I’m convening a session of the Bitch Club,” she said.
Sarah wiped the tear that crept down her cheek, smearing it up with the heel of her hand. “I’m…kind of busy right now. I’m, um, writing.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be fine. Are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are we meeting?”
Even late on a Sunday night, the coffee shop was crowded, but Phoebe had gotten a table. Or, judging from the books piled there, Phoebe had already been camped out there all afternoon.
“Work hard today?” asked Sarah. She was the first one there.
Phoebe rolled her eyes and piled stuff so that Sarah could have space for her notebook. “I’m always working. And I can’t get this damn book off the ground. It would be so much easier if humans just reproduced by splitting themselves. Damn romance.”
“I’ll drink to that.”
“Are you okay?”
Sarah sighed. Why did people keep asking her that? “Yeah, I’m fine. What do you want to drink?”
When she got back, Phoebe still sat alone. “Hey, Phoebe, question.”
“Did you ever do anything you really regretted? Like really hated yourself for?”
Phoebe frowned. “Not recently.”
“That’s a nice, evasive answer. I’m being serious.”
“I am, too. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to get past all that stuff.” She shrugged. “It’s just not worth it to drag it all out again.”
“Ah.” She wrapped her hands around the ceramic mug. The smooth curves fit her hands perfectly, and although the heat stung her skin, she found it to be comforting.
“Is there something you want to talk about, Sarah?” She saw that Phoebe was looking at her, her pretty cornflower blue eyes dark with concern.
Sarah shrugged. “It’s this writing project. It’s like I’ve got all this stuff that I need to get out, to purge, but I’m afraid of what I’m going to find underneath.”
Karen and Lillian walked through the door before she could answer. Although the two young women were close in age, they couldn’t be more different in how they carried themselves. Karen looked young but with that confident air of a woman with her whole life ahead of her in spite of the pensive expression on her face. Lillian, only five or six years older, had that certain walk that women only had after they had given birth. Not that it was any less confident, but more careful. She smiled easily, but there was always a shadow lurking behind it, a whole cache of worries just below the surface about her family, especially her three kids.
“I’m surprised you were able to get away,” Karen said to Lillian as they sat down.
She nodded. “Me, too, but Paul said to go ahead. I think he’s relieved that I finally have some female friends, even if they’re in that program he doesn’t see the point in.”
Sarah felt her cheeks grow hot. She’d never met Paul, but she already hated him. “Then screw him!”
Lillian smiled, gently. “I did. And I’ve got three kids to show for it.”
Sarah couldn’t help but laugh. “Touché. So what’s the call for the bitch club?”
Karen sighed. “Y’know, I’ve been thinking that I must be stupid to call y’all together for a mere hunch, but I think that Seth is up to something.”
“Was tonight your meeting with him?” Phoebe asked.
“How’d it go?”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate him any less, but he was way too agreeable.”
“Even to the idea that his precious Harrison isn’t the perfect man for Lila?”
“He managed to sidestep it.”
Sarah blew on the surface of her coffee. “I wonder what the other guys told him.”
Karen snorted. “Who knows?” She looked around. “Does anyone want anything?”
“The usual,” Lillian told her.
“Cool. I’ll get this round.”
When Karen left, Lillian leaned forward, and Phoebe and Sarah leaned in as well. Lillian checked behind her shoulder to make sure Karen indeed stood in line, and with a small grin said, “I think that they’ll end up together.”
“Who? Harrison and Lila?”
“No, Phoebe, Karen and Seth.”
Phoebe shook her head. “No way. I mean how cliché would that be?”
“Besides,” Sarah added, “you don’t want to shit where you eat, if you know what I mean. We’ve still got almost two years in this program. What if it didn’t work out?”
“But what if it did? They could be a cute writing team.”
“Until things go sour, then they’d be in a cute legal mess.” Sarah shook her head. “No way in hell.”
“Fine,” said Lillian. “Want to put a wager on it?”
Sarah sat back and pondered for a moment. “If we’re going to wager on our friend’s happiness, we need to make it worthwhile.”
“How about a hundred dollars?”
Phoebe whistled. “A hundred dollars?”
Lillian looked at her. “And don’t even think about asking what my husband would think. Yes, a hundred dollars.”
Sarah stuck her hand out. “You’re on! Phoebe?”
The petite blonde shook her head. “Too rich for my blood.”
“Fine, then, you can be the monitor. You can make sure that neither of us is trying to influence the outcome, that we play fair.”
When Phoebe hesitated, Sarah added, “And whoever wins has to give you twenty percent.”
Karen returned with her decaf soy latte and Lillian’s iced white mocha. “What’d I miss?”
She sat down. “So what do I do?”
Sarah opened her mouth, but Phoebe’s look stopped her from giving Karen the advice she thought she should. She couldn’t try to influence the outcome of the bet. “I think you should just follow your heart.” The words felt strange on her tongue. Look where following her heart had led her.
“That’s not exactly what I was hoping for.” Karen slumped back in her chair.
“I think Sarah’s right,” Lillian said. “We can’t decide this for you.”
“But…” Karen looked at each of them in turn. “This is why I called the Bitch Club to order! I need some advice here, ladies!”
“I think you should find out what the other guys have told him to do,” Phoebe told her. “He doesn’t seem to be able to stand very much on his own. I’m betting he went to the others for help.”
Sarah nodded. “I’m sure Carl and Albie have lots of advice for him, the young fella.” They all laughed.
“Yeah, and Iain seems to be somewhat of a smooth operator,” Lillian added. “This isn’t just your project, Karen, it’s a class project.”
“In which case you should find out where the class is steering him, at least the guys.”
Karen nodded, slowly. “In that case, each of you gets to corner one of them. I can’t because it would look suspicious. Who wants who?”
“I’ll take Iain,” Phoebe volunteered. “I’m too nervous to tackle one of the older guys. And Iain knows me from the restaurant.”
“You hang out at the Chocolate Chasm?”
“All in the name of observational research, of course.” Phoebe blushed. “And believe me, there’s lots to observe.”
Sarah couldn’t resist. “Any bodice-ripping going on?”
Phoebe blushed even deeper. “Nope, at least not there. I make predictions as to whose bodice will be ripped later that evening. Not that I, um, ever find out.”
“I’ll take Carl,” Lillian said. “He seems to like me. I think I remind him of his daughter or something.”
Sarah sighed. “That leaves Albie for me. God, what a prick.”
“But you’re the best one to be able to handle him. You’re feisty!”
“Maybe a little too feisty for my own good.” Sarah sighed again. “Fine, I’ll take Albie.” She looked at the others. “But you all owe me coffee for not having to do it yourself.”
Karen laughed. “That’s fine. We’ll meet here the same time next week, and y’all can tell me what you found.”
Sarah and Phoebe walked out to their cars together.
“It’s going to be an interesting week,” Sarah remarked.
“No kidding.” Phoebe looked at Sarah through her blonde curls. “Hey, we never got to finish our conversation.”
“That’s okay, I don’t really know if I wanted to finish it.”
“Well, if you need to talk, I’m free tomorrow morning before class.”
“That’s sweet of you, Phoebe, but I’ll be fine.” Really, she said to herself as she got in her car, I’ll be fine. She waited for the voice to argue with her, but tonight it was silent.
Why this scene got cut:
1. The book ended up being on the long end for me and Samhain as it was, so there was no room for the wager subplot.
2. I didn’t want Karen catching on to Seth’s interest so soon.
3. I wanted to pare the book down to just Karen and Seth’s points of view.
If you’d like to check out the final version of A Perfect Man, you can read an excerpt here.
Or if you’d like to buy it, you can find it at Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, iTunes, and anywhere else books are sold. It was one of About.com’s ten romance novels not to miss in May.