This time one year ago I saw my second novel, The Blue Lute, come to life through its publication. And today we are celebrating with a brand new cover and a treat for everyone with an alternate and deleted scene.
So first thing’s first…. Ta Da!!! The Blue Lute – NEW – One Year Anniversary cover facelift!
NOW for the Alternate and Deleted Scene
Originally, I had written this great scene where Brandon can’t stay in the same room with Lilly because he promised her he’d be a gentleman and ran off, finding himself at elderly Christine’s house, finally confronting her about their past. I really wanted it to work, but as I edited it just didn’t work. I tried to make it work but in the end I left it out. But if you ever wanted to know what really happened to Brandon the night he snuck out and met Christine, which eventually led to the Abruzzios torching Lilly’s apartment, then read this next passage to your heart’s desire.
Ooops one more thing… if none of this make sense, then you haven’t read The Blue Lute and need to get it – please do so here http://amzn.to/1daMSOg
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Alternate Chapter 18
At one in the morning Brandon opened the door to his dark apartment. A single lamp glowed toward the back and he turned the corner finding Lilly sound asleep on the bed. She looked so sweet and tired; an open book on her chest and glasses still on her face. Careful not to wake her, he took the glasses off, setting them on the nightstand, the paused liking the look of them there.
They’d never slept in the same bed before but not because he didn’t want to. He ached for her like any man would for his beautiful girlfriend. But anytime he got closer than a casual graze of her feminine curves, she backed away. He knew she protected her heart like miser guarded his millions and there was barely a thing he could do to break down that barrier. For the most part he let her keep her heart blocked because he knew he wasn’t going to be around for much longer. Instead, he counted on his years of courtesy, morals, and old-fashioned refinement to keep him grounded.
Lost in his own pensiveness, he watched her sleeping in serene peace. Her cheeks were rosy; lips slightly parted with sweet, warm breath escaping as she breathed. She’d let her ponytail out; blonde curls cascaded across the blue pillowcase like golden sunlight across an ocean.
Do I really have to go back? He thought to himself with a sigh.
Sitting on the edge of the mattress, he brushed his fingers against her cheek. She didn’t flinch at his touch. She must’ve been studying hard tonight, he surmised, and took the book from her chest. She inhaled, coming to and softly moaned. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I haven’t been here long,” he said and kissed her puckered lips.
She gave him sleepy smile and leaned up on an elbow. “Good. What time is it?”
“It’s after one. I didn’t mean to wake you.” He caught the lingering scent of perfume on her neck and an electric shiver ran down his spine, arousing him in an instant.
Lilly touched his face and he began to perspire. He gulped but watched as she sat up, unwrapping herself from the blanket.
“Where are you going?”
“Home? It’s so late.”
Brandon reached out, holding her back from leaving the bed. “Don’t go.”
Her face creased with thought. Just this one time he wanted her to stay with him. He wanted to hold her and wake up next to as they started the day together.
He stroked the back of her hand the more she shied away from him. “Please?” he whispered. “I don’t want to sleep alone.”
Lilly eyes darted to the ceiling then closed them, then took a deep breath. “I-I can’t. I’m not like other girls, Brandon. I don’t hop into bed with someone just because it’s fun. I need more than that. I have to know that I- I-, that I…”
“Won’t get hurt?” he finished for her.
She nodded. “And you’re leaving soon. Matthew is so close to figuring it out. In fact he said we should meet tomorrow night, since the moon will almost be full.”
Brandon kissed her hand, quieting her. “It’s okay. We don’t have to do anything. I promise to be a gentleman.”
She cupped his face. “You’re always a gentleman.”
He grinned and willed his lecherous urging to subside. “I can’t bear for you to leave. Besides I’m tired. I’m only thinking of sleep. You know, snoring, drooling, dreaming.”
Lilly giggled, twisting a curl from her shoulder. “Okay, I’ll stay. But I don’t have anything to wear.”
Brandon bounced off the bed for his dresser, taking out a t-shirt and pair boxers. Lilly took the clothes from him and changed in the bathroom, then slid back into bed next to him. She rested her head on his chest and yawned. Brandon wrapped his arms around her and swept away the hair tickling his chin. “Get some sleep. You looked like you were studying the whole night.”
“Mmm, I was.” Her eyes were already closing.
“Good. I’m glad you got some work done.”
When she didn’t respond, Brandon looked down. She was out. He kissed her head and held the hand that rested above his heart.
An hour later, wide-eyed Brandon was still not asleep. Maybe sleeping in the same bed wasn’t a good idea after all. He couldn’t help but be sexually stimulated with Lilly lay nestled so close to him. Her long, bare leg crooked across his, her rose-scented hair under his nose, the touch of her breath on his skin— it was too much for him to handle.
Untangling her limbs from his, he sat up breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, he was a gentleman, but he was only human. There was nothing he wanted more than to be loving her with all the desire he had brimming inside. He had to get out of there.
Grabbing his jeans and t-shirt from the bathroom, Brandon dressed in a minute flat. Then as quickly and quietly as he could took the keys to the Buick off the hook on the wall and ran down the four flights of stairs. Then outside, Brandon zipped up his leather jacket and started the car, rolling down the windows as he raced away from Chelsea.
The cold October wind on his face seemed to help him clear his head and before he knew it he was heading out of the city. The road was long and lonely though and he started thinking about what Lilly said about her not being like other girls. She was right, she would never be one of those girls who’d jumped into bed with their boyfriends after a few weeks and that’s one thing he liked about her. It made him remember the simpler time from where he came from. A time when you wooed a woman long before you even had a date. Not like today with things like speed dating and marriages ending before they even had a chance to begin.
Lilly would fit perfectly back in his time. He pictured her in strappy dress and flashy lavaliere hanging around her neck. Maybe she’d have a cute, waved bobbed hairstyle showing off the curve of her graceful neck. And maybe the dress was one of those short numbers with the beaded fringe on the bottom that played peek-a-boo with a garter on her long, tight thighs. Brandon shook his head of his once again torrid thoughts.
Squelching the lust, he started thinking about the opposite of love and no one else infuriated him as much as Christine. If she were in the same situation, she would’ve been the one convincing him to stay with her, despite how tired he might have been. Then she’d drag him to bed expecting him to do whatever she wanted. And she always got her way.
He wondered what it was about Christine that blinded him for so long. Was he so in love with her he couldn’t see what kind of a person she really was? For almost a year she’d cheated on him and he didn’t even know it.
Maybe it was fate directing him or the anger he felt toward Christine, but next thing he knew was taking the Verrazano Bridge for Staten Island. Sure, it was well past two in the morning, but he still made his way to Scarkill Drive. There, he stopped at the pathway in front of Christine’s house. He didn’t know why he was there, but then the answer crept into his thought process: he never confronted her about what she did. He wanted to hear remorse in that wicked woman’s voice for hurting him all those years ago.
Turning the engine off, Brandon sat staring ahead, gripping his hands on the wheel. The thing about Lilly and Christine was that Lilly was the good, the bright shining light in his life where Christine was the scarring dark pain. No matter how brilliant Lilly was he couldn’t get past the things Christine did. He knew, more than ever, he had to go back to his own time. He needed to stop that woman even if it meant he had to leave behind the life he made here.
There was a loud bang on his window and Brandon whipped around seeing Christine outside, a cane in her hand. He climbed out of the car irritated. “You could have broken my window!” His yelling didn’t faze her.
“Nice car, did you steal it?”
Brandon crossed his arms and leaned against the door. “I’m afraid you have me confused with your late husband.”
She cackled. “I could never confuse you two.”
Brandon’s eyes twinged at her comment and yet she continued. “So where’s your girlfriend?”
“Leave Lilly out of this. You aren’t fit to talk about her.”
“Those are some angry words, Brandon. You used to never talk to me like that.”
“You aren’t the same person you used to be, Christine.”
She raised a brow. “No, I’m not. After a life like mine, I’m stronger and as I remember Brandon, you always liked strong women. I’m not surprised Miss Little Blonde Pixie couldn’t keep you in bed.”
Angrily he pushed himself away from the car. “She’s more of a woman than you ever were.”
“If she’s so much of a woman, then why aren’t you with her now?” Christine shot back.
She hadn’t lost her quick tongue after all these years. Brandon shook his head. It was not a conversation he wanted to have with a former girlfriend, let alone an elderly woman, and especially as he maintained an abstinent relationship with Lilly.
“Oh I see,” she purred. “You two haven’t…oh, aren’t you the perfect gentleman. If only she could have known you back then.”
“I’m the same person I’ve always been. Unlike you, Christine, I never sold my soul to the devil.”
“Ahh I was waiting for you to bring him up. All right, let’s have it. Let’s hear your sanctimonious ravings on how Nick was such a bad man.”
“I don’t need to tell you how bad he was. He ruined your life just as much as he ruined mine. Oh but you had a hand in that, too, didn’t you?”
“So is this the reason you came here, to berate me? How did you even know I would be awake?”
Brandon shifted his weight from one foot to another. “I’ve known you a long time, Christine. You’ve always been a night owl.”
“Very well. So what do you want from me? Want me to quell your pretty boy mind and take away the guilt over what happened that summer?”
“Why would I have guilt?”
“Because it was your side business that made the two million Nick wanted in the first place.”
“It was the Prohibition! The whole speakeasy world was making money on homemade liquor. So what if I didn’t give a money-hungry gangster a piece of my retirement. It was Nick who destroyed the place for wanting MY money. Hell OUR money! Did you ever think about how I’d share with you whatever I made?” He studied her reaction but her expression was stone cold. “No, saving up a fortune for our future wasn’t glamorous enough for you, was it? You got bored and needed a little excitement so you turned to him.”
Brandon dug into his pocket and pulled out the pouch he carried. Grabbing her hand, he stuck the sack in her palm. “Here, it’s yours. I can’t carry it anymore.”
Christine hooked her cane onto her wrist and examined the ring inside. For a moment Brandon thought he saw tears welling in her eyes, but then she dropped the ring inside and drew the string closed.
She threw it back to him. “I don’t want it. I never wanted to marry you,” she said haughtily. “I tricked you into buying that. You knew I never wanted to be someone’s wife.” She turned, trudging up to the front porch on her cane.
Brandon followed her up the stairs and reached out his hand to help her sit. She might be an adversary, but she was still a wobbly old woman.
Christine slapped it away. “I don’t need you.”
He scoffed and perched his twenty-seven year old body against the railing in front of her as he watched her struggle to settle in the hard chair.
“So what’s it like being old?” he asked as she breathed heavily from the merest bit of exertion.
“You tell me, you’re birthday is before mine,” she snapped.
“Funny how that worked out. I never thought I could look better than you, but I guess I was wrong.”
“Don’t brag, it doesn’t become you.”
Brandon crossed his arms. “So, let me ask you, if you could go back and change what you did and not tell Nick about the money, would you?”
“He would have found out eventually.”
“That’s not what I asked?”
“But it’s the truth. He was always gunning for the Lute,” she darted the subject away from him again.
Brandon gave her a knowing glare.
“Damn it, Brandon!” she shouted. “Yes, ok, if I knew getting the money would’ve snowballed into the murderous night it did, I would’ve never told him those numbers were wrong.” She jabbed him with her cane. “But don’t you dare gloat! I would’ve left you anyway. You were holding me back, wanting me to be your perfect little wife. So how were you any different than Nick was? You both wanted me to do whatever you planned without my say.”
Brandon swatted her cane away. “I never wanted you to be the perfect wife. I just wanted you to be my wife. You could have been her in New York, Los Angeles, in Timbuktu and I wouldn’t have cared just as long as we were happy!” he yelled finally able to speak his true feelings.
“Don’t yell at me Brandon. I have a lot more firepower behind me than you think.”
Brandon sputtered. “Go ahead and threaten me. But I want you to know if I can change what happened, I’m going to, so you think about that for a while.”
“Really?” Slowly, Christine made her way to a stand and reached for the front door handle. “I don’t take threats either Brandon, so I’d run if I were you.”
Brandon questioned her warning but remained where he was, calling her bluff. What could an old woman do, he thought.
In that second, she narrowed her eyes on him and the corners of her mouth turned upwards. A shiver flew up Brandon’s spine.
The next thing he knew she screamed, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Then hollered, “HELP ME! BURGULAR!” at the top of her powerfully tuned lungs.
Right away several lights from the surrounding houses popped on and Brandon’s jaw fell.
Christine smirked. “I told you to run. My grandsons inherited Nick’s itchy trigger finger. I’m sure you remember that don’t you?”
Of course he remembered Nick’s fondness for shooting off his Colt .45 without a warning. The porch lamp snapped on and in flash he turned and jumped over the railing, making a beeline for his car. Adrenaline causing his fingers to shake and he fumbled getting the keys into the ignition. Finally, the Buick started and Brandon looked up to see a man at Christine’s door with a gun in hand. Next thing he knew the sound of a bullet piercing the body of the car echoed in his ears. That was too close and Brandon squealed away from the curb not once looking back until he reached the highway back to Manhattan.
Forty-five minutes later, Brandon came through the door of his loft and Lilly bolted up from the couch draped in the blanket. “Where have you been? I woke up and you were gone.”
Brandon held her fast to him and grateful she was in his arms. “I’m fine. I only went for a drive.” He brushed her hair and kissed her head with relief.
“A drive? At two in the morning?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” was all he said and led her to the sofa. He sat and pulled her down with him.
Lilly’s head rested on his shoulder. “I was worried about you.”
Brandon kissed her again and squeezed an arm around her. “I’m sorry. I’m back now.”
“Shh.” Brandon stopped her, wanting to forget the events of the last hour. “Let’s try to get some sleep ok. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Lilly sighed, but nodded and Brandon lay back against the cushions. Lilly snuggled against him, despite his lack of explanation and he breathed, relieved for her compliance. There would be plenty of time for confessions later.