CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE AND ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
The Ego Trip--Deleted Scene 1
Author's Note: In an early draft, Beau and Lori first meet when he catches her trying to break into his sister Marie’s bed and breakfast—in a skimpy nightgown, no less. This scene takes place back at the county jail. I ultimately decided to take the story in a different direction, which ramped up the surprise and drama when they met for a second time in Marie’s kitchen. You'll also note how I changed Lori's personality. Here she's a wise-cracking city snob, and I decided I didn't like her very much!
Beau looked down, to the side, anywhere but at the curvaceous blonde who was staring straight at him. “Ah, would you like a dry coat or something? You’re probably cold, with just the tile floor and cinderblock walls and all.”
“What I would like,” she seethed, “is to call the owner of the B&B so that I can wake up from this nightmare.”
He let out a long sigh. Maybe he’d made a mistake, bringing the woman in for questioning. But Marie had told him just a couple of days ago that she wasn’t booking any guests until after Dad’s party was over with. And there had been those two unsolved break-ins on the other side of town last month.
“Okay, fine.” He got up and fetched one of the spare winter parkas they kept on hand for emergencies, and pushed it between the bars without looking at her. “Put this on, and I’ll let you out to make your call.”
He unlocked the cell and kept his eyes on the floor until she walked through. They drifted up of their own accord, and there was about ten feet of shapely leg before the hem of the jacket made an appearance.
“Thanks. I was cold.”
“You’re welcome.” He had to nudge her aside to latch the door, and really couldn’t help taking in the fragrance of her damp hair. There was so much of it, and it fanned out all along the collar of the oversized parka. Some kind of flower. Gardenia, he thought. Sophia had a gardenia in the sun porch when he was growing up. Until he killed most of her plants out of neglect.
“Um, over here.” He gestured to a phone on the counter. He lifted the receiver and poised his index finger above the buttons. “Listen, do you want to call a lawyer, or a relative, maybe?”
She closed her eyes, and he got the impression she was counting to ten or something to avoid saying anything that would land her back in that ten by ten. “I just want to call Marie’s Bed and Breakfast. I don’t have the number.”
She opened her eyes—they drilled into his with a silver-blue brilliance—and stared him down.
“Right. I know the number.” He pressed the seven digits and held the phone out to her, already hearing it ringing.
“Hello, Marie? It’s Lorelei Keller. I just checked in this afternoon…Well, because I’m not upstairs. I’m being held by what passes for law enforcement in these parts about fifty miles away from your place—”
Beau motioned for the phone, but she ignored him.
“—I left to get something from my car and the front door slammed shut…I know…There was no point in ringing the doorbell because you and your daughter had left for the evening.”
He had his hand over hers, now, trying to wrench the phone from her grasp.
“Excuse me! This is my phone call!” The hundred-watt glare was back, eyes narrowed this time.
“Miss Keller. I think I can clear this whole thing up. May I please,” oh, how it grated on him to ask permission from a detainee, “have the phone for a minute?”
She huffed and turned away. “Marie, I’m going to hand you over to the gentleman,” her tone indicated she thought the exact opposite, “responsible for tonight’s adventure.” She turned back and gave him the receiver, a smirk spilling across those pouty lips.
He held the phone a few inches from his ear, and they could both hear the fury of his older sister. Man, he was going to get an earful at dinner tomorrow night.
A minute later, he replaced the phone in its cradle. “I’ll, uh, drive you home.”
“Thanks but no thanks. Her daughter’s already on the way. I might hang onto this jacket if you don’t mind.”
“No, I uh—”
“I’ll leave it on her front porch and somebody can pick it up tomorrow. I doubt anyone would be stupid enough to boost a Sheriff’s Department uniform, but I guess here in Hicksville anything is possible.”
He was just starting to warm up to her, wronged maiden and all. But you don’t come into his county and mock the area or its citizens. He hoped her visit to this part of Maine would be brief. Even briefer than that skimpy negligee.
He thought about road kill until the tightness in his pants receded.