I found this today—it’s a scene from my first book, Upside Down Kingdom. But those of you who’ve read the book won’t recognize this. I wrote an entire back story that ultimately got cut–though, it helped shape our main character, Amy. This deleted scene makes me laugh, especially that last line.book

…My breathing was getting shallow and a little forced, but Brandy didn’t notice.  She kept smoking and was driving as fast as she was talking.  “A long time?  Yeah, Jack and I go way back, long before you two became an item. When we met, he took it pretty hard that I was dating another guy at the office. But then I broke up with that guy and Jack and I dated off and on for, what, two years I guess.”

He told me he never dated Brandy, that I was seeing something that wasn’t there. Unbelievable.  But there was more.  “We finally called it quits when I started dating Brad.  He and I are such a good match.  I’ve never been happier,” she waved her hand to dismiss the topic, and took one last drag on her cigarette and tossed it out the window.  “So you can imagine my surprise when I found out he was dating you.  You just seemed so different from his usual type.  I hate to say it, but I thought you were a prude.  I’m sorry about that, Amy.”

I made a noise, something between “uh” and a grunt.

“It’s silly, but I thought, you know, that you wanted Jack all to yourself or something, like you were his one and only.  But then you were cool when he went took Lilah out on Valentine’s Day, so it really wasn’t until then that I thought you and I could be friends. But, dating Brad for a few months now, and planning for our wedding–I totally get what they mean about spending time with only one person.  I’m sorry I thought you were nuts.”

I am an idiot.  The pieces started coming together.  Jack told me he had a study group on Valentine’s Day, the look that passed between Jack and Lilah when she said she’d helped him pick out my necklace, the panic that crossed Jack’s face when I mentioned Brandy at the party—he wasn’t covering for the cheating Brad, he was covering for himself so yours truly wouldn’t catch on.  And what was he doing in January for three weeks when we didn’t see each other?  Brandy prattled on but I couldn’t hear anymore.

It was all there, weeks of arguing and knowing something wasn’t quite right, weeks of feeling like an outsider looking in, only to have the simple truth revealed in the time it took to smoke one cigarette.

“You know, I would like a cigarette,” I told her.

She smiled.  “Ah!  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  I’ll join you,” she said, grabbing the pack and pushing in the car’s lighter.  “I think we’re going to be good friends!”

We smoked together, she in her reckless cigarette-swinging style and me in my don’t-drop-it-it’ll-catch-the-upholstery-on-fire way.  I fought the urge to cough until my eyes watered.  I hadn’t had a cigarette since college when my roommate and I would go out for happy hour and end up staying to close down the bar.  After that many drinks, I was a good smoker.

I now found I was an unnatural smoker when sober, my hands were shaking, and I was trying to remember whether nicotine steadied that or made it worse.  But the cigarette was something else to concentrate on for the moment, something other than all the information I now had.  One thing I could tell you, I was starting to like Brandy…

~

For the final cut of Upside Down Kingdom, click on over to Amazon.

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