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 …
Joseph is the last of the male characters to speak in the original Chapter 26. This scene takes place after the storm of Chapter 25. Layla suffers from brontophobia and so, in her panic, calls Joseph to come over in the dead of night as thunder crashes overhead and lightening strikes. The two have barely spoken for months but alone together again, find their attraction to each other as strong as ever. One thing leads to another but Joseph puts a halt to it, after all, he has a girlfriend and Layla is back with Alex. This is what’s in his head after he has left her.
Instead of going home straightaway as he’d intended, Joseph walked down to the beach, needing more time to think. Now that the storm had passed, the night was quiet; even the wind had died down, leaving nothing but a gentle breeze to caress his cheek every now and then.
Staring out at the sea, which shimmered where the moonlight touched it, he shivered from the cold October air. Gull Rock was barely visible. A black shape in an even blacker night. Winter was coming round fast, too fast; it meant she’d be leaving soon unless there was something he could do to stop her. But what?
Hunkering down on the sand, he wondered again why Layla had kissed him tonight. She had made it crystal clear in the past she didn’t want him, not in that way. So why kiss him again? Why now, when he was beginning to accept it? Had even got himself a girlfriend. Why stir things up?
Jesus, she’s getting married, he thought in despair. Well, that balding twit had asked her to marry him anyway and she was contemplating it. She said she had no choice. He wasn’t a man given to religion, but at this moment Joseph prayed to whatever God was out there to make sure that she could see that she did. But was he, a humble carpenter, much of a choice? Not compared to Alex Kline with his brand-new Mercedes Benz (which had to be worth at least fifty grand) and his Platinum Rolex watch. He couldn’t compete with that, didn’t want to compete with that. He was happy with his lot – well he had been until recently.
Could there ever be a future for him and Layla? He doubted it. If she could love a bloke like Alex it was because she wanted certain things, a certain lifestyle. Funny though, because she didn’t seem that sort. She seemed like him, simple at heart, able to see beauty in the landscape that surrounded them, in the ocean, the moor, the villages lost in time. But as much as he knew she loved it here, Trecastle had only ever been a holiday destination to her. Although she’d been here for some time now, a holiday was all it would ever be, albeit an extended one with a bit of pub work thrown in. At the back of her mind, she must have always known she’d be going home, to another world; to Alex’s world. Where she had come from and where she belonged. The thought twisted his heart.
Strolling along, hands in his jean pockets, hunched against the cold, he supposed it was karma, the way he was feeling. His inability to love Hannah the way she had wanted him to coming back to bite him on the bum.
He still felt bad about Hannah. Bringing Clare along to that barbeque was a risky decision, one that had backfired on all fronts. He’d hated seeing Hannah so upset, drinking heavily to numb her pain. He had tried to love her, really he had, month after month, and he did, but as a friend, nothing more. He had had to admit that in the end, despite knowing how much it would hurt her. And then there was Jim, smitten with Hannah right from the start. An awkward situation all-round.
What if, just if, Layla chose him over Alex, how would Hannah feel? Layla was her best friend. He’d hate to come between them. He’d only remained such good friends with Jim because Jim was uncommonly laid-back. Not only that, he was generous in spirit was Jim. He’d forgive anyone, anything. When he’d told Layla earlier that his mate was one of the best, he had meant it. There was none better. He wished Hannah could see that too, transfer her affections entirely and in doing so, set him free.
Finally, he accepted it was too cold to stay outdoors any longer; the thin T-shirt he had pulled on quickly after Layla’s distressed phone call was no barrier against the cold. He started for home, hoping that Clare was sound asleep, that he could crawl into bed beside her; pretend he’d been there all along.
He liked Clare, he really did. When they started going out together, he had hoped she’d take his mind off Layla. She hadn’t though, not one bit. But she was sweet enough; he couldn’t deny it. Although how much longer he could stand her sexual antics he wasn’t sure. She was getting kinkier by the minute. He blamed the book she was reading, ‘Fifty Shades’ was it? Every time she started reciting large chunks from it, quite colourful chunks to say the least, he knew he was in trouble. She always wanted to put into practice what she was reading, even bringing along a couple of her uncle’s ties once so he could tether her to the bed. The fact that they were her uncle’s ties, ties he had actually seen her uncle wearing, had put him off big time. How he managed to perform that night, he’d never know.
Standing outside his cottage as the sun began to rise; the sea birds singing a raucous rendition of the dawn chorus, he looked achingly next door. She must feel something for him, surely? That night they had spent together she had wanted him as much as he had wanted her. And tonight, where would that kiss have led if he hadn’t stopped it? Perhaps he should have let it run its natural course. But no, he had had to stop it; Clare didn’t deserve that.
Damning Alex to hell, the obstacle that had always stood between them, he let himself in as quietly as possible and tiptoed up the stairs.