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 …
Okay, it’s time to get into Alex’s head now! This is the original Chapter 12. Alex has returned from Florida with Sarah Jane to find that Layla, furious that he has betrayed her, has not only left him but also potentially sabotaged his company’s future. It’s taken a while but finally it registers it may be a good idea to find her – not only because she’s the one that can save his company but also because he actually quite misses her – the latter a feeling he’s not overly familiar with!
Standing by the floor-to-ceiling windows of his Sussex Square flat, Alex sipped absentmindedly at a generous measure of single malt whisky, Talisker, his favourite, whilst gazing at the bright lights of the marina in the distance.
He was tired, really tired. It had been ages since he’d had a good night’s sleep, the twin issues of Easy Travel and Layla constantly playing on his mind, taking it in turns to plague him.
Why the hell had she written that email? Okay, she was pissed off; he understood that, she had every right to be. But to try and bring his company down and everyone in it, that was taking things too far. He had no idea she could be so malicious. She’d never come across that way.
He should have left Sarah-Jane well alone. She hadn’t been worth the effort. Not at all. She might be young, she might be pretty, but she was dull as ditchwater once the initial attraction had worn off. Which it had, halfway through their first week in Florida. Her topics of conversation had been inane to say the least, centring round the latest boy band and what was in fashion and what wasn’t. Like he cared. At least with Layla he could hold a decent conversation. As well as being intelligent, she was funny and fiery too, bloody fiery considering what she’d done to him. If she had kicked him in the balls with steel toe capped boots it couldn’t have hurt more.
Moving away from the window, he padded over to his desk in sock-clad feet, cashmere of course, to sit at his computer. Looking at his sales figures, a permanent fixture on his laptop screen, he groaned, they were still down. Thanks to the recession most people were choosing to staycation instead of vacation, perhaps he ought to look into that market instead.
Jack wouldn’t even talk to him anymore, blocked his calls. So, you think we’re a bunch of losers do you? he had shouted down the phone at him upon his return from Florida. Alex had been expecting to discuss the agenda for their next meeting; instead he had had to listen whilst Jack went off on one. Confused, he had finally managed to extract from him something about an email. Confused further, he had quickly scrolled through a list of recently sent emails and that’s when he had found it, the email Layla had written, telling Jack Thomas that Easy Travel were no longer interested in the merger and to basically sod off.
There was no doubt Layla had written it. The Post-It note she had left on his desk alongside that bloody bracelet he had given her at Christmas proved it. But it would be okay, he reminded himself before his blood pressure shot up once again, everything would be okay, once he found her, once she explained to Jack she had been its author, not him. Regarding why she had written it, well, they’d have to make up some cock and bull story about that. The truth would not impress Jack; he was straighter than one of Robin Hood’s arrows.
Jack liked Layla. Certainly he preferred to deal with her rather than him, which was a flaming cheek considering he was the Managing Director! When they’d been in meetings together, Jack focussed his attention almost entirely on Layla, nodding enthusiastically at every word she uttered. It annoyed him, especially as Jack was never so enthusiastic about anything he said. If anyone could talk him round, Layla could; she could use his penchant for her to their advantage.
That encounter with Penny was playing on his mind too, Layla’s supposed best friend, it had been nothing short of depressing. She had looked at him as though he were something the cat had dragged in and then taken back out again in disgust. She was a hard nut to crack that one. He wasn’t used to such treatment from the fairer sex. God knows why he had ever bothered to make a pass at her.
Letting out a long sigh, he sat back in his chair. Everything seemed to be unravelling around him, his company, his love life, everything. He had never felt so low. It didn’t help he actually missed Layla, not just now and again, he could cope with that, but for quite a large proportion of every day. Up until now he’d never felt strongly about any girlfriend, had liked quite a few of them, certainly, but it was quantity not quality that concerned him. His almost insatiable appetite had been kick-started at 16 by his best friend’s mother, Kate. Hot as hell she was, 35 or thereabouts with hair the colour of a fire engine and tattoos. She had taught him a lot, had Kate, some of it barely legal, given him a taste for older women, a taste which had gone the opposite way in later years. Nowadays, he preferred not to go over the 30 mark.
Commitment was something he didn’t do. It wasn’t natural; being tied to one woman for years on end, not when the world held so much variety. But lately he was starting to think differently. He wasn’t getting any younger, he was realistic enough to know that, and, if he were going to produce a son and heir he needed to do so sooner rather than later or the kid would grow up thinking he was granddad instead of dad. Layla was perfect mother material, the right age and good looking with it, their mutual genes sure to create half decent offspring. Of all the women he knew, she was the only one he could remotely envisage starting a family with, shame he hadn’t realised that before he dumped her.
If only he knew where she’d gone. To leave like that, her job, her flat, her hometown, it was extreme to say the least. And all because of him. Looking on the plus side, at least it showed what an impact he had made.
If he had broken her heart though, he was sorry; he’d make it up to her. Riding in like a knight in shining armour, well in a shiny new black Mercedes anyway, scooping her up and bringing her back to Brighton, to live with him. She loved his flat, had been wowed by it. She’d enjoy living here. They could always upgrade to a house later, after their son had been born. He’d have to find her first though, which was proving more taxing than he thought. He had left her a message on Facebook but she hadn’t replied. In fact, she hadn’t been on Facebook since she left Brighton. She could be anywhere. Outer Mongolia for all he knew.
The final gulp of whisky not only burned his throat; it put fire in his belly too, lifting him out of the despondency he had so recently fallen into. It didn’t matter where she was, Outer Mongolia or the moon, he’d find her. He was determined. You didn’t get as far as he did in life without a healthy dose of determination. And when he did, she’d save his company as well as him – a double whammy – he liked that.
Her mother he thought, an idea forming, she might be able to help me, what did Layla say her name was? Angelica, that was it, Angelica Lewis. She lived in Italy somewhere, Rome or Florence if he remembered correctly. Layla may even be living with her although he doubted it, he got the impression mother and daughter were somewhat estranged. Still, Angelica should be easy enough to trace, at least he knew which country she resided in, which was a start. He’d get his secretary to start investigating first thing in the morning. Once he had her contact number, his secretary could call her, say it was a work issue or something; some back pay that needed forwarding to her daughter’s new address.
Closing down the sales figures at last – he was sick of staring at them, expecting them to change miraculously before his eyes – he decided to zone out in front of the TV instead. If he were lucky, it might even put him to sleep. And he did feel luckier, now he had hit on the Angelica plan. Why the hell hadn’t he thought of it before? Too het up about Easy Travel to think straight he supposed. No matter though, through Angelica he would find Layla and when he did, she’d fall back into his arms. They always did.