The Scene That Never Made It

Please welcome guest author Cathy Perkins to the Cafe.

So About the Money coverMoving into a new month, I’m taking a twist on June’s deleted scene theme. Rather than a deleted scene, this is one that never made it into the book. Backing up a minutes, after several multiple point of view stories, I challenged myself to write a book from a single character’s view point. While tough from a plot perspective—my amateur sleuth can only know what she uncovers—writing the relationship was the bigger challenge.

Holly Price’s reactions were clear—I lived in her head for months. Half the fun of writing the story was deciding what would stay inside her head and what would come out of her mouth. JC Dimitrak was tougher. Anything hitting the page had to be filtered through Holly’s perception. His internal struggles had to be revealed through his body language, especially when those “tells” contradicted his words.

I struggled with a key scene, where Holly and JC confront each other for the first time in years. (So About the Money is a reunion story.) JC refused to show up on the page as anything but a two-dimensional cutout. Not what I had in mind! I needed to know where he was coming from. Where his heart and head were coming into the scene. So I wrote a scene with JC arriving at Holly’s house—

Anyone who’s read So About the Money will recognize this scene’s counterpart. (And forgive the roughness—it wasn’t ever intended to make it into the book.

JC pulled the sheriff’s department 4×4 into the driveway of an ugly, 70s-era box, cut the engine, and struggled to stay upright. Talking to the Ramirezs, doing the notification call, had nearly killed him.

The mother had known. Not the, she-did-it kind of known, but the take-one-look-at-him-and-knew-why-he-was-there sort. He’d caught her before she hit the floor. She cried all over his shoulder before he even got his coat off.

Which smelled a little weird now—like his Aunt Antheia—but there wasn’t anything he could do about it except keep the window cracked open.

Not one of the Ramirez family members—and the entire extended family must’ve been there—would tell him anything useful. Maricella—Marcy—was a good girl. They’d blamed her murder on the gangs— malos elementos —that were moving into Pasco and giving all Hispanics a bad name.

Except nothing about the entire murder showed the first trace of gang involvement.

That part of the investigation he knew how to do. Comb the scene. Send people to interview the farmers upriver, to any of her family who might talk, co-workers, friends. Figure out where she was when she disappeared.

And grill the suspects.

Which included Holly.

Holly.

He stared blindly through the windshield.

God, he’d heard she was back. He’d sorta hoped she’d call. Must be his masochistic streak. She’d stolen his heart a long time ago and stomped it into little pieces.

But the shreds still had a thing for her—damn her hide.

And what did he do when he finally saw her today? Did he act like the complete professional, which was so fucking important to her?

Oh, no. He saw her and that tool who was most likely his suspect—the guy knew the victim and oh, yeah, knew exactly how to find her—and what blurts out?

“Anybody check to see if the body still had a heart?”

He could’ve sent somebody else to talk to her tonight.

He could’ve just asked her the questions out there in the parking lot.

But in spite of her defiant comeback—damn, that woman had a mouth on her—she looked nearly out on her feet. Once he saw the victim’s body, he was almost surprised Holly was on her feet.

So what was he doing here?

Did his stupid dick think there might be a way to start something again? That she’d see him and coming running? Throw her arms around his neck and legs around his waist like…

Jesus, don’t go there.

They’d been down this road and nothing had changed. She was still chasing a dream that had nothing to do with him. He knew what mattered in life. Family. He saw all the fucked-up ones on a daily basis and knew the world needed good families to balance it out. The ones where the parents gave a damn about their kids and tried to teach them right and wrong.

There were no guarantees. Just look at the Ramirez family. Tomas was as good a man as you’d ever want to meet. The sisters were married, had good jobs and families.

Why couldn’t Holly see that was the way to do things?

They’d argued about it constantly while they were in college. And had great make-up sex, his cock nudged his zipper and reminded him.

She was the one who killed it.

He’d graduated, come home and gotten a job. But every time they talked while she finished her degree, she’d blown up and ranted about his not having any respect for what she wanted. Pulling his ring off her finger and throwing it at him—that was the last straw. She stormed out and he told her not to let the screen door hit her on the ass.

And then he got drunk.

Really drunk.

But not so drunk his goddamn stupid cock didn’t respond to Meredith’s attempts to soothe his hurts. Why did that have to be the one time Holly came back to finish an argument?

He was never going to forget the look on her face.

Before she turned around and walked out.

Wouldn’t stop when he yelled. Wouldn’t wait until he could find his pants and stumble into them. Wouldn’t answer her phone or her door.

Goddamn unreasonable woman.

He made one stupid mistake and he was still paying for it.

He climbed out of the car and slammed the doors—on the car and the past.

He was not going to let her get to him again.