My first novel, The Runaway Year is told from three points of view: Layla (the main heroine) and her best friends Pennie and Hannah. HOWEVER – dun dun na – originally we had some chapters from the hero du jour, Joseph as well as the villain of the piece, Alex – 4 in total, 2 from each of them. During the editing process with Omnific Publishing it was decided to cut the male scenes in order to make the book more ‘streamlined’. I was reluctant to do so at first (especially as all my beta-readers beforehand protested against the decision too) but eventually conceded. Although I think in the end their decision was the right one, I’m still fond of the deleted chapters and thought I’d include them on my blog for anyone who wants to read them. I won’t include them all at once (even thought they’re quite short), I’ll put each one up for a few days or so. Be interesting to see what you think …
Here’s the first – Chapter 7 – which takes place just after Layla and Joseph’s first ‘proper’ meeting at the pub. Earlier that day, she had knocked him off his motorbike whilst trying to locate her new home in Trecastle.
Chapter 7 – Joseph
What a day! thought Joseph, as he made his way back to his own cottage.
It had started off like any other. He had got up early and, despite the fact it was Saturday, taken himself off to work. He had oak window frames to make for Rob Yeates, something of a big noise around here, eighteen of them to be precise and the deadline, as usual, was tight.
Around three thirty he had popped home for a quick shower, had a bite to eat and then headed back to his workshop in the high street to carry on with the frames. En route he had bumped into Layla; well crashed into her more like. An impressive introduction when he thought about it.
Throwing his keys onto the kitchen table, he filled the kettle and flicked the switch, standing idly by as he waited for it to boil. Despite playing it down earlier, he did feel a bit the worse for wear in places, down his right side mainly, but he’d be okay, he’d soak in a hot bath before bed, that should ease things up a bit. And the bike had taken quite a battering too, but that didn’t matter either. It was nothing more than a toy, something he threw around the lanes every now and then for a bit of fun. His main transport was a Land Rover Defender; currently in residence at Dave’s, the local mechanic, having some bits and pieces seen to. Both vehicles had seen better days and, as far as his Land Rover was concerned, he ought to get himself a newer model; it wasn’t as if he couldn’t afford it. Work was thriving. It was just that here, material things seemed so much less important than they did in London. And the car was reliable enough, only reluctant to start on the coldest of mornings.
Sipping his coffee, strong and black with just half a teaspoon of sugar, he thought how strange it was that living in another part of the country could change you so much. When he was living in London, whatever he’d had had never seemed enough. Like so many of his friends he’d always wanted bigger, better and more. Down here, he didn’t even own a TV, let alone the latest LED-LCD HD TV with 3D Kit and Blu-Ray Player, but somehow he was more content because of it.
He had wondered what he was playing at though when he first arrived to sleep on Jim’s sofa. No stranger to Cornwall, it had still felt alien to him, as though he’d landed on another planet entirely. But he’d grown used to it. He had a sofa of his own now, just as comfortable as Jim’s, in a cottage of his own. He couldn’t imagine living in London again. He’d been back a couple of times since of course, to visit friends, and found its neon energy jarring. The friends too after a while. No, Trecastle was home now and would remain so for the foreseeable future. Even if it was wall to wall with wannabe rock stars, new age artists and surf dudes, he thought affectionately.
Standing up to stretch, he grimaced at the soreness in his limbs and then gingerly made his way upstairs. Entering the bathroom, he turned on the hot tap, intending to put a splash of cold in later. As he started to peel off layers, his mind once again returned to Layla. How pretty she was with her long dark hair, wavy not straight, the way he preferred it. Her eyes were beautiful too, a lovely clear green with yellow flecks, unusual. Perhaps that’s why he’d been so captivated by them, just now, outside her front door.
Smiling to himself, he wondered what that was all about, the two of them, standing there; staring at each other for what had seemed an age. That had never happened to him before, that ‘staring’ thing, not even with Tara. It wouldn’t do to take it too seriously though. Not at all. She had made it perfectly clear she was off men at the moment and that was fine by him. He wasn’t looking for anyone either. He was happy on his own. It would be awkward hooking up with someone in the village anyway, he tried to avoid that now at all costs. Life was simple at last and that’s how he wanted to keep it.
Lowering himself into the bath and thinking he should have added a bit more cold before doing so, he sincerely hoped he could be friends with Layla however. She was funny, she made him laugh. She also seemed quite sorrowful. Something to do with an ex-boyfriend, Jim had told him earlier in the week. That’s why she was down here.
Breathing a sigh of relief as the water soothed his aches and pains; he couldn’t help thinking what a coincidence it was that her move to Trecastle, like his, had been prompted by a broken relationship. He hoped she wouldn’t stay broken for long though and that whatever she was looking for, she’d find it here.