During the revision process for my second novel, Love Me Not, I had a momentous shift. Rather than greedily holding onto every single word in my manuscript, it became quite clear to me that the removal or words, scenes, sometimes even chapters can do as much to improve a book as adding the right word can. Good thing, because when I finished the first draft of this book it was a whopping 114,000 words. No bueno. So, I had to get down to business and chop, chop, chop–prior to the book going to my editor.
Some scenes were cut for very specific reasons. My heroine–who in the beginning was a bit abrasive because of her awful upbringing–sometimes needed to be smoothed out a little. A couple of love scenes were a bit too graphic. Or perhaps the scene just didn’t add to the story in any meaningful way. I cut the scene below prior to sending the book to my editor, simply because I needed to get my word count down. However, I’ve always been fond of the scene and the growth and vulnerability it shows in my hard-as-nails heroine. So I’m happy to share it here, and grateful to spend a little time down memory lane with two characters that still mean so much to me.
“I feel weird.” She fidgeted with the bow on the side of the dress. “And I’m terrified I’ll ruin the damned thing. I’m pretty sure I don’t own a single item of clothing that’s one hundred percent of anything found in nature.”
“Well, you look great,” he assured her, placing his hands on her shoulders. He stepped back to look at her again. “Fantastic, in fact.”
“Are you sure? Because I could put on something slightly less tattoo-revealing.”
“Jamie.” He lifted her chin, forcing her eyes to meet his. “Just be yourself. You’re not going for a job interview at a bank. We’re just going out with a few friends.”
“They aren’t friends. They’re your employees, and your boss.” She headed toward her bedroom and he followed.
“That’s right. And since I’m the boss, I don’t really give a shit what they think about my girlfriend’s tattoos, and neither should you,” he said firmly. “Besides, we’re a creative organization. We hire artists, and as you know, they tend to be a bit…quirky.” He swept her hair to the side and planted delicate kisses on her neck.
She relaxed in his arms and he smiled. “Now hurry. I’d like to get there before everyone arrives.”
Jamie tilted her head slightly and licked her lips. “That’s a shame, because you know what would really relax me?”
Miles could feel his body responding to her flirtation as she pressed against him.
“No, what?” Just stay focused.
Jamie pressed her lips against his, her fingers tangled in his hair, pulling him closer.
He’d tried to keep his hands out of the equation, but each possessed a mind of its own. One drifted down to squeeze that sweet, curvaceous ass. The other caressed the soft skin of her back, exposed by the low back of the dress.
“Jamie,” he finally managed between kisses, “we have to go right now or we’ll never make it in–”
Her fingers traced his erection through the thin layer of wool gabardine, and for a moment he couldn’t speak. In fact, he was thankful that breathing was a function that didn’t require mental focus, or he’d have lost consciousness. All he could think about was how she’d look out of that dress.
“Then we’ll keep it short and sweet.” She hooked her finger inside the waistband of his pants and pulled him forward as she stepped backward toward the bed.
He followed her, knowing he shouldn’t. They needed every minute they had for her to finish getting ready, and then fight the traffic downtown.
His brain wanted to say no. But everything below his neck was screaming a resounding Hell yeah! and he had zero power to resist.
He tore his mouth away from hers. “At least take off the dress.”
“With pleasure.” A wide smile spread across her face as she turned and lifted her hair so he could unzip it. He placed it across the chair, along with his shirt and pants, so they wouldn’t arrive at the dinner looking like they’d just taken a quick tumble in the back seat of his car.
Her bra and panties—which were more like dental floss and wedges of lace—and his boxers drifted to the floor. They’d made love and, as he suspected, neither of them wanted to tear themselves from the bed. But not going wasn’t an option. He’d promised he would be there, so he would.
“C’mon babe.” He sat up in bed, still trying to catch his breath. “We have to get ready to go now.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather–”
“C’mon, Jamie! Are you kidding me?” The tension was rising in his voice. He took a deep breath and released it. Then he looked into those seductive green eyes. “I have to be at this dinner, and you promised you’d come. I came all the way out here to get you to ensure you wouldn’t back out. Please, don’t do this.”
She frowned and bit her lip. “I know I promised, and I had every intention of going, but I just…”
“You just what?”
She lay on her back staring at the ceiling. “I don’t fit in your world. If this was just about me I wouldn’t give a fuck. Hell, I’d probably enjoy it.”
“And I wouldn’t expect anything else.” He pressed his lips into a cautious smile. “So what’s wrong?”
“This isn’t just about me anymore. If I fuck up tonight, it could affect you, too. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are. I don’t want to be the person who ruins it for you.”
“You won’t. I promise. Just, please, get dressed. I want you to be there.” He leaned down and kissed her. “And I won’t take no for an answer.”
Jamie sat up and placed one foot on the floor. “I’ll be ready in fifteen minutes. Promise.” She shuffled to the bathroom giving him one more look at her curvaceous birthday suit before he climbed out of bed and got dressed again.