The Runaway Year – Alex Strikes Again

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 …

In the original Chapter 18, it was time to get into Alex’s head again.  He has finally tracked down Layla (it’s only taken six months) – but the spur behind doing so has more to do with her saving his company than anything else. However, he does realise he’s not as young as he used to be and a brood mare might well come in handy … ! Having gone to her house first, he goes to the Trecastle Inn where he know’s she’ll be working. They have already spoken but, as she needs to finish her shift, he has ordered himself a pint and is lying in wait for her.

Chapter 18

She was even more beautiful than he remembered. Her skin golden from the sun, her hair softer somehow, not as styled. She seemed to glow like a firefly in the darkened confines of the bar, a bar that was not quite up to his usual standards, but served a decent pint nonetheless.

It couldn’t be called sophisticated in here though, not by any stretch of the imagination. It was quite old-fashioned with wood-panelled walls adorned with pictures of knights and their ladies, really quite crude in execution, and a traditional spit and sawdust floor. The table and chairs were almost gothic in style and, totally at odds with the decor, a jukebox stood against a central pillar, blaring out some tinny tune. It wasn’t a place he could ever have imagined her working in, she must hate it. He hoped so.  It would make his life one hell of a lot easier if she did.

Thank God he’d found her though. It had taken awhile but finally his secretary Louisa had made contact with Angelica in Milan, not Florence or Rome as he’d initially thought. Note to self: listen more carefully to Layla in future, instead of allowing three quarters of your brain to focus on other matters not to mention other women. Angelica had fallen straightaway for the ruse; happily handing over her daughter’s forwarding address whilst mentioning her new job revolved around the local pub, a golden nugget of information. After going first to the cottage and getting no response, he knew exactly where she’d be.

Layla had been flustered to see him, he had expected that. Actually, he had expected a bit more than that. A light swoon perhaps or tears of relief that she’d been rescued. She must be bored to death here. It was pretty enough if you liked pretty enough villages but hardly one you’d want to settle in. It looked lively in summer, but in the winter it must be dire. Once he put forward his proposals, she’d be putty in his hands. Her biological clock must be ticking; she wasn’t far off 30. If she wanted kids and he didn’t actually know if she did, he had never asked her, she’d need to get a move on.

His first task, however, would be to sort out the FarScapes mess she’d got him into, but he would be careful how he approached the subject. He’d gone in all guns blazing with Penny and that had got him precisely nowhere. No, wooing would have to come first. Get her back on-side. Hopefully that wouldn’t take too long. And then he’d mention the email and what she was going to do about it. He would make her see that buttering up to Jack Thomas was to their mutual benefit, he’d be able to see his company’s profits soaring instead of falling and she’d get a promotion. That Marketing Manager of his, Hazel Smith, she was not good for morale, she treated lesser members of staff like shit. You had to play the game, get your money’s worth from people, and she didn’t. It didn’t take much, a word of encouragement here, a nod of approval there, just enough to make them want to do their utmost for you. She’d have to go in the second wave of redundancies, Layla could take her place. Sarah-Jane had gone in the first wave; Layla would be pleased about that. Managing experience would be good for Layla too, at least until their first born put in an appearance.

Whatever, it would all work out, now he had found her. That was the biggest hurdle surmounted. She was the key to everything. Meanwhile, he would wait patiently until she finished playing barmaid. Although, he had to admit she was good at it. Friendly and courteous, dealing swiftly and effectively with punter after punter. A dream employee.

Mick was coming back with another pint for them. The other two, Jim and that blonde chap, hadn’t been overfriendly. After muttering hello they’d buggered off, typical yokels. Mick was great though, with a love of the sea and everything in it. He shared Mick’s passion but there hadn’t been much time to mess about on his boat lately, moored at Brighton Marina. Costing him an arm and a leg, it was christened Molly McGuire but in his head he called it The Love Boat after that 70’s TV series he used to love as a kid. Belonged to an Irish guy before him, hence the Molly name, he’d have to get that changed though, when he could concentrate on more frivolous pursuits. Layla hated sailing, she suffered from motion sickness, which, come to think about it, could prove very handy indeed. Having a ‘Layla-free’ zone would mean he’d still have a place to ‘entertain’ if he wanted to. Not that he did want to at the moment of course, ‘entertain’ that is, but it never hurt to keep your options open.

Mick had seated himself in front of him, a wide open smile on that ruddy, open countenance of his. He’d rather be with Layla right now but talking to Mick wasn’t a hardship. He was entertaining enough. Maybe he could wrangle a trip on that boat of his at some point, head out into the Atlantic for a spot of deep sea fishing, he quite fancied that.

After clinking pint glasses, Alex glanced over at Layla again, she looked young, strong and highly capable. Perfect breeding material he thought happily.

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