Monday, December 4, 2017

The Scene that Playing with Matches lost to Hurricane Harvey

The good often comes with the bad and vice versa. My newest novel was published on November 14th and we were flooded out of our house on August 28th. Writing and editing the novel mostly occurred before Hurricane Harvey impacted Houston...but not all of it.
I was traveling for work and fun in the weeks prior to Harvey and trading rewrites with #AffinityRainbowPublications' editors (and my amazing mentor Erin O'Reilly) so I e-mailed myself a scene intending to slip it in before the final edits. Harvey had other plans. I spent my first full night home after those travels putting pets, furniture, important paperwork, and survival rations upstairs instead. Things get lost in such circumstances.
So now we're back in our house, putting our lives back to normal, and I finally found the lost scene. I think it would have added something special to the book, but maybe not. Maybe fate stepped in for a reason. What do you think?

Gus flopped over in bed and picked up the phone on its fifth ring. "Hello."
Her sister's voice rang a little too joyously, "Happy, Happy Birthday, Sissy."
"Thanks, June. What time is is anyway?"
"I'm surprised you even have to ask."
Gus groaned. Of course her sister called to tell her happy birthday at
the same time every year, the exact minute she was born six forty
five in the morning, Eastern Standard Time.
June laughed. "So how goes the dating?"
Gus grumbled and shifted in bed, trying to clear her head enough to
speak with some articulation, but June rushed into the silence, "Oh, I,
uh, oh, I didn't wake you up when you had a guest. Did I?"
That set Gus laughing. "No. No. Fat chance."
"Well, given your tone of defeat young lady, I'd almost rather I had.
So the dating is going that well, huh?"
Gus grumbled, her tongue still thick with sleep and fatigue.
"Well, I know the right woman is out there for you," June said with a
pregnant pause at the end of her sentence.
"But?" Gus prompted.
"But nothing. I didn't say but," June protested, her voice hitting
false echoes of merriness.
"It was implied in your tone."
"So what being a psychologist makes you a mind reader or something."
"Sometimes I can predict behavior before it occurs, yes, but in this
case I think it is being your sister that does it. I can hear you
thinking it almost."
"But," June started and then they both laughed before she could continue,"but maybe you're being too
"I don't want someone who has never had baggage. Just someone mature
enough to have dealt with it already. Someone without any deep, dark
secrets or unsettled regrets or haunting ambitions."
"Hmm." The sceptism was clear in June's murmaration. "Honey, we all
have baggage still even if we dealt with some of it before. Even you
have baggage still."
Gus felt it too, she had to admit, but she couldn't name her own.
Maybe it was something too small to see for herself, so she challenged
June,"Like what?"
"You're scrappy."
"I'm scrappy? How on earth is that baggage?"
June sighed. "It's in everything you do. You were stuck in the middle
in our family and you had to fight for time and attention. You're
small and pert and pretty and you still have to fight to get people to
take you seriously even though you're a doctor. I don't think you can
help it. It's just a chip on your shoulder. You think you have to
fight for almost everything still."
"I don't think I have to fight for my family's love and attention."
"Granted, but you had a few decades to deal with that particular
aspect of your baggage already. What about romantic love? If someone
showed interest in you my dear sister, can you honestly say that you
would take that interest seriously if you didn't have to fight for it
first? Or would you just assume they gave it because they wanted some
thing from you?"
"What do I have that anyone would want?" Gus looked around the tiny
bedroom of her rented apartment. The hundred year old walls flaked
flat paint that probably had lead in it.
"What you have always had in spades, baby girl, lots of truly
compassionate, beautiful empathy. I'm no psychologist, but I'm sure
you feel like it is a limited and tested commodity. I know I do for
Gus shrugged even though June couldn't see her. "Maybe."
"Maybe." June echoed before adding, "I understand why you might guard
your heart, why you'd want someone already beyond their baggage. I
just think that might be a little too much to hold out for and one of
these days I'd really like my call to interrupt some sexy morning
They broke into laughter again, and as June bid her a happy birthday
one more time before hanging up, Gus made a wish closely mirroring her
sister's corny sentiment. Sexy morning gymnastics would be a great birthday present.

I'm a little sad the scene didn't make it in, but the two 5-star reviews the book has since garnered on Amazon make me think all is well that ends well. I feel extremely lucky just to be at home again and blessed that my entire family is safe, even our pet fish. Our neighborhood is rebuilding, and the reason I wrote Playing With Matches in the first place seems more true than ever: continuously challenging our own preconceptions helps us build many resilient and worthwhile relationships, including a lasting love.

Harvey arrives on our doorstep, enters the house an hour after this photo, and we spend 24 hours sheltering upstairs in the dark with the Coast Guard circling.

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