It’s not unusual for books to change during the editing process, sometimes drastically. It’s always for the better – I’ve never been disappointed with the way one of my books turned out after my editor and I had few goes at it. Still, there are some scenes I wish I had been able to figure out a way to incorporate, and as a result, I saved them… Just in case. Well, the just in case turned out to be a page on my website, where I can share tidbits with my readers, scenes that were cut for one reason or another, but still hold a place in my writer’s heart. And so I bring you…. Teasers from the Editing Room Floor!
DRAGON HIS HEELS
What is now the first chapter of this book was actually the first chapter in the initial draft. But the deeper I dove into this book, the more I realized I needed to write a second book in this series, and Talia’s BFF, Petra, needed to be the heroine. Except she didn’t have much face time in Dragon His Heels. So I decided to add this chapter after the fact… and then my editor said I should scrap it and start with what was the original first chapter. Which, of course, makes sense. So the below chapter will never go into a book, but I still like it, which means it’s getting a place of honor here, on the “From the Editing Room Floor” page. Enjoy!
Talia Tatsuya groaned when she read the latest text message from her boss, Gabriel Wilde, a.k.a. the leader of her dragon colony.
“What is it?” her best friend, Petra Sharmell, asked from across the two-top cocktail table. When Talia agreed to meet Petra for drinks, she swore to herself she would turn off her phone, but then Gabe said he was going out too, so she knew she couldn’t. As his PR manager, her job was to be at the ready, in case he made a mess that needed to be cleaned up.
Which was entirely likely, knowing Gabe. He was an orphan, a rebel, strong-willed; a womanizer. And the bane of Talia’s existence.
“The man can’t stay out of trouble,” Talia muttered, tapping off a response to his message.
“Lousy excuse for a Reeve,” Petra said while indicating to the server that she should bring refills.
Petra wasn’t Gabe’s biggest fan. In fact, Talia could argue that her best friend loathed the man. Yes, he certainly had more than his fair share of issues, but he wasn’t that bad.
“He just needs…” What did he need?
“To grow up,” Petra supplied.
“Well, yes, but he also needs…” Her dragon was in her head, nodding her encouragement, but supplying no end to that sentence.
“To step down from the position?” Petra added.
Talia shook her head. While Gabe didn’t seem to believe it of himself, she knew he was a great leader. He just needed…
Talia snorted at her dragon and ignored Petra’s raised eyebrows. Because even if Gabe needed a mate, or should take a mate since he was their leader and was, after all, obligated to produce an heir, he made it clear on a near daily basis that he had no intention of following through on that responsibility.
Or most of his others ones, actually. Damn, maybe Petra was right. Maybe the Elders should have picked someone else when the last Reeve died without an heir.
“It’s been five years and I still cannot believe the Elders chose him out of every dragon in this freaking colony,” Petra said, echoing Talia’s thoughts. “Uncle Blake was an idiot for not naming an heir before he died.”
“To be fair, I don’t think he anticipated dying so young. Although it didn’t help that he took a male dragon to mate, either. No matter how you look at it, two sperm do not create a baby.”
“He could have named someone else,” Petra argued. “It didn’t have to be his own child. It could have been anyone from his bloodline. Someone who at least understands the concept of being a leader. Gabe has no history of rulers in his family.”
“We don’t actually know much about Gabe’s lineage. Both his parents abandoned him when he was a toddler. And he refuses to even talk about them. Maybe the Elders know something. Maybe that’s why they chose him.”
But Talia knew better. She’d been in the meeting where they debated over who should be their next leader. She’d been notes taker; wasn’t an Elder so didn’t have a vote, which meant she’d had to bite her tongue when Gabe’s name came up as a potential candidate. They had all nodded thoughtfully and someone commented that he most certainly liked women, which was apparently their number one expectation of their future Reeve. When they started debating over just how many women he’d slept with by that point, she hadn’t been able to help herself. She’d slapped the table and told them to get serious about this decision.
And somehow they’d still chosen him to be their leader.
Talia abhorred that side of Gabe’s personality, partially because her job was to make him look good, and having a Reeve who went out and got drunk and screwed whomever happened to latch onto him first—practically every night of the week—was a PR manager’s nightmare.
And maybe she was a little jealous that he’d never looked her way and considered her as an option for a night of drunken debauchery. Not that she would say yes—because abs of steel and crystalline eyes that promised multiple orgasms in one sitting were not her cup of tea. Okay, of course that was a blatant lie, but she still didn’t really want to hook up with Gabe, no matter how hot he was. She was almost positive of that fact.
She just wanted him to see her as more than the person who cleaned up his messes. That was all.
And maybe she wanted to save him. Because if he didn’t get his shit together and start acting like the leader he was supposed to be, Gabe was going to spiral into a hole so deep he’d never be able to fly his way out.
If they weren’t careful, some usurper would come along and off him and take over the colony, and who knew what sort of leader he or she would be. At least with Gabe, they knew what to expect: he went about his business of attempting to screw every female in the damn county while the Elders and Talia basically ran the colony. The unspoken agreement had worked thus far.
Unfortunately for Talia, she could tell Gabe wasn’t dealing with whatever issues he had and if left unchecked, his mind could potentially shut down. Or worse, his dragon could take control. Permanently. Dragons with no humanoid side to keep them in check were not something to take lightly. The colony would have no choice but to destroy him if that happened, and whether she actually liked the man or not, Talia couldn’t allow that to happen.
The server appeared and placed a platter of nachos between them, along with a second round of margaritas.
“Let’s talk about something else,” Petra suggested as she reached for a chip piled high with beans and grilled meat, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, and loads of melted cheese. “I’m starving and I don’t want him to ruin my appetite.”
Talia chuckled as she too dove into the shared meal. “That sounds good. Since my job is to talk about him all day long, I’m all for an evening without him.” Especially since she knew damn well what he was doing this evening—trolling his favorite pickup joint, looking for his next lay. Which unfortunately would not be difficult for him to find.
Her phone rang and Talia glanced at his screen, frowning because she didn’t recognize the number.
“Don’t tell me that’s him,” Petra said, condemnation in her voice.
Talia shook her head. “Not him.” Then she pressed the button to accept the call.m “Hello?”
“Talia? It’s-it’s Jasmine. I’m in trouble and I need your help.”
TOUGH LOVE SERIES
Delicious Deception is the third book in the Tough Love series. Each book is a stand alone happily ever after, but various characters make appearances from book to book. The primary characters from Naked Truth (the first in the series) – Jack, Cullen, Sabrina, and Kennedy – all show up in Delicious Deception. In fact, Jack plays a pretty significant role in Delicious Deception, considering his sister Emily Kate is the heroine in DD, and he’s a tad… overprotective.
I wrote the below scene in the hopes I could figure out a way to pull together all the hot guys I’ve introduced so far in the series. In the end, there wasn’t a good place to incorporate this scene, but that doesn’t make me love it any less. And, if you’re wondering, yes, I intend to write Court’s story one of these days. (Okay, it’s already a rough draft…) Here’s the scene I wish I could have kept:
“Hey y’all, thanks for suffering the heat to help us.”
“As if we had a choice,” Court muttered as he dropped onto the bench seat and slid toward the wall so Quinn could sit next to him. The four men had already done the obligatory handshake-slash-one-armed hug. They were ready to get down to business.
“So it’s true you stole one of the agents from the Dallas office and transplanted her to Detroit, huh?” Cullen asked, looking at Quinn.
“Kyra Sanders. Married her and everything.”
“Kyra, I remember her. She was smoke—Ow,” Jack said, tossing at glare in Cullen’s direction, before amending his comment. “She’s a damn good agent.”
Quinn glared at him before saying, “Yeah, she is. A damn good agent. And she’s hot as hell.”
“How come y’all didn’t do the big blowout wedding?” Cullen inquired.
Quinn leaned back against the booth and shrugged. “Her choice. I didn’t care one way or the other. She figured it would be too complicated, because she didn’t want to do it in Dallas, but most of the guests would have been from there. So we went to this resort over on Lake Michigan, with just a handful of friends—”
“I was there,” Court interrupted.
“Anyway, it was perfect.” Quinn shrugged again.
“Well congrats anyway, even if we couldn’t be there to harass the shit out of you,” Cullen said.
“They have a kid now, too,” Court interjected.
“No shit?” Cullen said.
Quinn immediately tapped the code into his phone so he could pull up pictures, and Court guffawed. “Check this guy out. Two years ago, he swore he’d never get married and have kids. Now he’s upgrading his phone because he has too damn many pictures of his wife and baby.” He shook his head, clearly mystified.
Quinn let the comments roll off his back. “You better watch out, Cullen. She just came back to work after having the baby, and Nico’s given her a bunch of cold cases. She’s already solved three. Pretty soon, she’s going to claim your “The Closer” title.”
Cullen rolled his eyes and pointed at each man in turn. “You all gave me that title. I didn’t ask for it. And if she takes it, good for the Feebies. That means we’re putting more criminals behind bars, and I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.”
The waitress appeared and took their drink orders. Jack scowled at her back when she walked away.
“What the hell did Becca ever do to you?” Cullen asked his partner.
“Nothing. It’s my sister. I’m sure she’s seeing someone, but I can’t figure out who it is.”
Court arched his eyebrows. “Why is it so important you know who your sister’s seeing?”
“She’s my sister,” Jack replied, as if that answer alone was enough.
Cullen snorted. “Jack’s number one goal when it comes to his sister: scare away every guy who might remotely express interest in her.”
“Not every guy,” Jack qualified. “Just the assholes. I liked that IT guy. Remember him?”
Becca returned with their drinks, took their food orders, and left again. Cullen laughed so hard, he could hardly get his order out.
“Yeah, I remember him. Emily Kate told me he’s dating some guy named Raul now.”
Jack’s eyes widened. “What?”
Cullen continued to laugh. “No wonder you liked him so much. He never had any interest in getting into your sister’s skirt.”
“Son of a bitch.”
“Guess this explains why she’s keeping the latest one a secret,” Quinn commented.
Jack shook his head. “Something doesn’t feel right about the situation.”
“I noticed Emily Kate had a big shit-eating grin on her face earlier,” Cullen remarked. Jack slugged him in the arm.
“Shut the hell up. I know what you’re implying. Emily Kate’s not sleeping with this mystery guy. She’d better not be.”
“If you’re like this with your sister, I hope to hell you and Kennedy never have kids. Or at least not girls,” Cullen said.
Jack leaned against the back of the booth and folded his arms over his chest. “Look, I was one of those guys, okay? So were you,” he said, pointing at Quinn. “And you,” he added, pointing at Cullen. “And I don’t know you well enough, Court, but—”
Court cut him off. “I’m not one of those guys. Want me to date your sister? She’s hot as hell.”
“If you touch my sister, I’ll rip your arm off.”
“At least he won’t rip another part of your body off,” Quinn said, looking at Court.
“And then I’ll use your arm to rip off that part of your body.”
The other three men winced in unison, and then Court shook his head. “Relax. She’s too young for me, anyway. Not to mention, she lives here and I live in Detroit, and I’m pretty damn comfortable with my bachelorhood.”
“It’s pretty damn nice getting laid on a regular basis,” Quinn stated. “You should try it. Might make you a little easier to be around.”
“You know, I don’t need this shit. I can go back to Detroit. The only reason I’m here is because you dragged me into that fucked up casino case, and Nico thought our experience might be able to help Cullen and Jack with their case. But I can call Nico and tell him you all don’t need me,” Court warned.
Change in the Light – Lightbearer #4
Before this book even got to the editor, there were a few major cuts. In the first draft, Josh financially supported the nonprofit where Rachel worked. But once I’d finished writing it and went back and did a round of edits, I realized that wasn’t going to work as part of the overall plan for the plot. So a scene where Josh shows up to Rachel’s day job and whisks her away to lunch was cut. Although it did not fit into the overall plan for the book, it is still, in my opinion, a worthy read! So, enjoy…
He picked her up at noon. They drove a few blocks to a small deli, at Rachel’s insistence. “There are plenty of nicer restaurants in this area,” Josh commented as he followed her into the restaurant.
“Yes, but I know how much they cost and this place doesn’t make me feel guilty.”
He gave her a cross look. “I invited you to lunch, which means I intended to pay for your lunch, regardless of where we go. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I can afford nicer restaurants than this.”
Rachel flushed as they approached the counter and the owner gave Josh a disapproving glare. “I promise, you’ll like it,” she said, and then she turned and ordered a salad and sandwich combo. Josh placed his order and paid the tab and a short time later, they sat across from one another at a table near the back of the deli.
“It’s nice outside,” Rachel said. “How come you wanted to eat in here?” She stabbed her salad with a fork and put a bite into her mouth.
Josh shrugged. “More privacy.” He took a generous bite of his sandwich, chewed, swallowed, and then said, “You weren’t kidding. This might just be the best corned beef sandwich I’ve ever had.”
“Told you,” Rachel said with a smirk.
“Remind me not to question your opinion in the future.”
As they ate, they talked about the nonprofit organization where Rachel worked, the weather, the traffic, and the various other restaurants in the area. It seemed to Rachel they were both avoiding the twelve hundred pound elephant sitting in the middle of the table.
After he held the door so she could climb into his truck, Josh walked around and slid into the driver’s seat. Then he leaned across the console and said, “I liked that you were jealous of Mary this morning.”
“I wasn’t–” She tried to deny it, but Josh chuckled and shook his head.
“I just said I liked it. Why are you denying it?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted.
“I want to see you again.”
“I make you nervous, don’t I?”
“You make me nervous, too.”
Josh nodded. “I was serious earlier when I said I haven’t stopped thinking about you. I can hardly concentrate on my job, and right now, I really need to concentrate.”
“Internal strife,” he said dismissively. “It’ll work itself out. In the meantime, you would be a very welcome distraction.”
He couldn’t possibly be making it this easy on her… Was he? How fair was it that she was being forced to go out with a man who was legitimately a really nice guy?
“I could use a distraction, too,” she heard herself say.
“Excellent,” he said, and he leaned closer and kissed her. It quickly heated to the point where she had one leg draped over the console and both hands twisted into his hair. He pulled away with obvious reluctance.
“I think we need to make a point of not kissing in public,” he quipped as he cranked the engine and guided the truck out of the parking lot.
When he dropped her off at work, he said, “I’d like to come to your place tonight.”
She laughed. “Your place is way more comfortable. And bigger. Much bigger.”
“We don’t need bigger. I’ll bring dinner. We’ll eat naked.”
“Oh… Okay,” she said, her knees shaking. The afternoon could not move along fast enough.
When she pulled into the parking lot of her apartment complex, Josh was already there, waiting, with a grocery bag containing something that smelled like Italian herbs. She had a fleeting fear that the man who’d forced them together in the first place would be waiting inside her apartment again, but when she opened the door, no one greeted them.
Josh walked inside and sniffed the air. “Smells like disinfectant in here.”
Rachel hung her keys on the hook near the door and said, “Yeah, I sort of went into a cleaning frenzy yesterday.” She’d tried sucking down wine after her creepy captor left, but she’d been so high strung, so full of nervous energy, that she’d ended up cleaning her apartment from the rafters to the floor boards, before she fell into bed at midnight, exhausted, but at least able to sleep without nightmares of being tied up in a windowless room again.
He walked into the tiny kitchen area and pulled plastic containers out of the bag and placed them on the counter.
“What did you bring?” she asked. She’d expected takeout, but the plastic containers indicated homemade.
“Spaghetti, heavy on the Italian sausage. I almost never eat salads, so I didn’t bring one. I hope that’s okay. My housekeeper sneaks vegetables into the sauce though, if that helps.”
Josh nodded as he lifted the lid on the largest dish and then placed it into the microwave. “Jeanine. She works Monday through Friday, which is why you didn’t meet her when you spent the night.”
“Thank God. That certainly would have been embarrassing.”
“Why?” Josh asked innocently. He pulled a bottle of wine out of the bag, and a loaf of Italian bread. “Cutting board? Bread knife? Wine glasses?”
Finally realizing she actually had to get involved in this process, Rachel stepped into the kitchen and began pulling out the items he requested.
“She’s your housekeeper. Don’t you think that would be awkward?”
He shrugged. “It’s happened before, and no, I didn’t find it embarrassing. Jeanine’s been with my family for three decades. She’s changed my diapers. I don’t think I could embarrass her.”
Rachel pulled two plates out of the cupboard. “What does she do all day? I mean, I guess it would take time to clean that massive house, but if you’re the only one living there, it can’t really get that dirty. Can it?”
After he warmed the various containers in the microwave, Josh dished pasta and sauce onto two plates, poured the wine and sliced the bread. Then he followed Rachel over to the small, two person table that comprised her entire dining room.
“Told you it was small,” she reminded him.
“I like small,” Josh replied with a wink. “And to answer your question, Jeanine is more than just a housekeeper. She’s really more of my house manager, I guess. She actually handles all the domestic bills, oversees the landscape company, makes sure I don’t wear navy socks with black slacks and ensures I eat three square meals each day.”
“She cooks for you? Every day?”
“Monday through Friday.”
“What do you do on the weekends?”
“Eat out. Eat leftovers. And Jeanine makes sure I have plenty of cold cuts.”
“Do you ever cook for yourself?”
“I make a mean ham and cheese omelet.”
Rachel rolled her eyes. “That doesn’t count.” She waved her fork at him. “You need to let me loose in that kitchen of yours one day. I’ll show you how to make a home cooked meal.”
“Deal,” Josh said instantly.
Rachel laughed. “That was easy.”
He shrugged. “It means I’m guaranteed to see you again.”
Her breath hitched and she stared at him with wide eyes. Did he really want to see her again that badly? Her heart squeezed painfully at the knowledge that she could be falling into the most perfect relationship of her life – and the entire thing was based on a lie.
After dinner, Josh stood behind her at the sink as she cleaned off the dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher and placed the leftovers into the fridge. By the time she was done, they were both distracted.
Somehow, during the course of cleaning up after dinner, she’d lost her shirt. She leaned back against him as he massaged her breasts. She rolled her hips and he pressed his erection into her backside and groaned.
He bent and nipped at her neck as he murmured, “How I’d love to take you like this, right now.”
“That sounds marvelous,” Rachel responded huskily.
He abruptly turned her around and pressed her back against the sink. “We can’t,” he said, a moment before his lips descended, capturing hers, claiming them, demanding she give him exactly what he wanted. She wrapped her arms around his neck and clung to him as he plundered her mouth, while his hands deftly stripped her of her pants and panties.
She unbuttoned his shirt as he reached for the paper bag still sitting on the counter. He turned it over and half a dozen condoms fell out.
“I had high hopes,” he said.
Rachel grabbed one of them and began urgently unsnapping his pants, even as she squirmed against him. She felt feverish and chilled all at the same time. She needed him. She needed him inside her. She needed to feel that connection with him. Only him.
His pants fell to his ankles and she grabbed his boxers and tugged them out of the way, then she rolled the condom over his unbelievably large erection. She’d barely gotten it over the tip when he grabbed her legs and lifted her up onto the counter next to the sink.
“Oh God,” she whispered as she lifted her hips to meet him. “I’ve never done this before.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Josh said, and then he pushed against her, opening her, slowly, gradually impaling her. By the time he was fully inside her, she panted and writhed, only seconds from her orgasm. He pulled part way out and thrust into her again, and she arched her back and keened out her release as she scored his back with her fingernails.
He thrust a few more times, and then he suddenly grabbed her hips and slammed into her and held himself there, as he pulsed and poured his seed, filling the condom and sending Rachel into a shuddering mini-climax. He dropped his head to her shoulder and stood there for a few moments, as Rachel smoothed her hands over the scratches on his back.
“Sorry,” she murmured.
“Don’t be. That tells me you liked it.” He lifted her off the counter and carried her over to the sofa, finally pulling out and gently setting her down before heading through the bedroom to the bathroom to get rid of the used condom.
When he returned, Rachel lounged on the couch wearing his shirt and nothing else.
“I’d say I’m disappointed that you got dressed so fast, but you look sexy as hell in my shirt.”
“Do I?” she teased as she arched and pressed her breasts against the soft, silky fabric.
“Give me just a few minutes and you’ll be out of it again,” he promised her.
He held true to his word. Then he spent the night. And insisted upon taking a shower with her, even though her tub was barely large enough for her, let alone a six and a half foot tall man as well. Still, they made do, and took turns pleasuring one another with hands, mouths, and washcloths. By the time the shower was over, they were both sated, pruned, and squeaky clean.
In the parking lot, he pressed her against the side of her car and thoroughly kissed her before asking, “Can I see you again tonight?”
“This is going to turn into a habit, Mr. Tigre,” Rachel chided.
“That’s okay. I can’t think of a habit I’d rather develop right now.”
“Okay,” she said, because damn he was hot and damn the sex was amazing, and damn he was such a nice guy. Oh, and she was supposed to anyway – remember?