Here’s the second special behind the scenes look at some of the chapters that hit the cutting room floor in Slave to War. These are unedited and raw bits of the story that were cut for the sake flow of the novel.
So without further adieu, here’s the deleted chapter. Yet again it was cut for the speed and continuity. I decided that there was enough scenes between Cain and Sierrenna that it wasn’t necessary when the entire book was finished. But it’s still a cute and funny scene, so take a read.
WARNING | SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ WAR MACHINE OR SLAVE TO WAR… CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK…
Right now I sat on the back terrace, still silent after forty five minutes of sitting. Cain had attempted to talk to me, but I had yet to respond. Instead, he had spent the hour calling up all of his buddies, in the service and the associated press alike, and cajoling them into bombarding Rogee junior’s office with phone calls about my status and also to spread the word outside of the base. Surprisingly, most hadn’t needed much prodding at all. There was much congratulating, especially when he informed them he was not only my boyfriend, but we were married. There had also been a great deal of laughter and jeering directed his way. Some thought he had been joking.
He turned to me after the latest one (who had laughed for three minutes straight and proclaimed that hell had frozen over if he was indeed married), seeing me watching him. “Have we come back to earth yet? Come out of shock?”
I decided to be humorous and skirt the issue of my past history. “So you have a lot of friends. Now I know why we get along. They ridicule you just like I do. But your mother is going to love this ‘announcement’, I’m sure.”
He grimaced. “She’ll probably be disappointed I haven’t knocked you up and won’t be getting a grandkid out of this. That’ll be the first question as to why I’ve suddenly gotten hitched and kept it a secret.” He chuckled as I shook my head. “Nah. I’m not bothered with rumors. Right now I’m about ready to jump out of my skin, itching to take Rogee on. But I know better. For tonight, we wait while Argon and the others research how to get that damn kill switch out of you. Then I can focus on bringing him down once you’re out of the crosshairs. And since Michael is spearheading an attempt to free Tanya and the rest from Xorratti’s clutches, I have you all to myself for a bit. Walk with me?”
I nodded and took his hand as he led me out of the back gate. We said nothing to each other as led me to the furthermost corner of the property. I glanced around as he stewed in silence. We were at the edge of the bubble oddly enough. It was also the same entrance that should have gone up in a fiery inferno from a nuclear blast. This was the one that opened directly up into the desert.
I peeked back over and saw him staring at me concernedly, anger diminished. The ‘general’ facade had faded it seemed. I saw the real emotions flitting behind his eyes instead of the hard front he put up normally.
Abruptly he put his arms on the top of the small chain link fence and leaned against them, looking out at the desert. Maybe he was frustrated, but I couldn’t understand why he would be with me. Our situation was screwed up, that I knew. But whatever was on his mind was troubling him. And so I waited. He peeked over at me after a few moments. “You never initiate conversations, do you?”
“I haven’t spoken in months, Cain. I am unused to talking without my hands. I’ll find my voice again, even if it does not sound like mine,” I admitted. “Plus speaking first always gives some power away to the other party. It’s a decade old habit, nothing meant by it. I was confused anyway. You seem perturbed by something, so I thought it would be best not to disturb you.”
“Nah. It’s best never to leave me alone in my own thoughts. It usually results in some crazy ass scheme that nearly gets me killed but works out in the end.”
I looked down with a chuckle. “I must suffer from the same affliction.”
He sat beside me, watching me scan the horizon. The clouds had shifted, creating a red hued sky. God’s vision wavered in my eyes with the strength of the sun. Even more beautiful was the half rainbow stretching over the remaining cloud. I found myself smiling.
“This reminds me of the mountains. I used to climb the peak and watch the sun rise. It was cold, but very worth it.” I got no reply. But after a minute he huffed and muttered something under his breath. “Is something else troubling you?”
“Uh… Yeah. Though I doubt it would be very well received at present.”
“Try me,” I murmured curiously.
“You don’t like it when I put my arms around you I’ve noticed.”
That was completely untrue. “I usually jump because I am not expecting it, nor am I used to it. It’s not a derogatory reaction at all. On the contrary, I prefer it.”
They were around my shoulders immediately and he spoke in my ear. “Good. It is a nice reassurance I haven’t dreamed your return up and you aren’t still M.I.A.”
I returned the affection and leaned my head against his shoulder. “It is for me, too. I would stare out the window and wonder where you were, what foreign place you had traveled to on mission. I doubted you would find me any time soon. And when you did…”
“And when I did?”
The words stuck in my throat. “It would not matter any longer.”
“Are we talking mortality?”
“A lack of interest and feeling was more what I was thinking of, but the death is apt all the same,” I admitted.
“I’m hoping the lack of interest was a reference to me and not you. It wouldn’t do to have me show up and have you hate me again. And as for me, I will never lose interest.” I shivered at the vehement tone in his voice. He meant it for now. Snuggling deeper into his embrace, I watched the sun disappear. But he wasn’t willing to let the subject go. “You don’t believe me, do you? This is the same old story from my summer house again, isn’t it?”
I attempted look away but he tipped my chip up so I had to look at him. “I fail to see how that affects this conversation.”
His eyes widened. “You’ve convinced yourself that I didn’t mean what I said; that I don’t love you. Before I had thought you knew and were uncomfortable with the fact. Now I see that you… You don’t believe. This is why you were so uncomfortable with our discussion that night.”
I closed my eyes, not entirely pleased with the turn our discussion had taken. With everything that was happening, I still wasn’t sure what to do about my relationship with Cain. Between the danger I posed him from Rogee and dealing with the plot Rogee had for the city, I was still uneasy. “Cain, all I did was suggest we give our relationship some time. I never rebuffed your affection, did I?”
That did nothing to satisfy his yen to argue this point. He kept talking as if I hadn’t spoken. “And you said it back to me that day. Unless… You didn’t mean it then, did you?”
The crestfallen way with which he said that had me worried, not to mention how completely untrue it was. “That is not factual in the slightest.”
He growled deep in his chest exasperatedly. “Then what the hell is it you are thinking? You said you loved me, and then you implied you didn’t. I’m not a mind reader! Talk to me!”
Looking up into his eyes, I lost my nerve at the last second and tried to worm out of his grip. He wasn’t having any of it. My eyes bulged out of their sockets as he grabbed the back of my tunic and pulled me back to him. “You know, running away doesn’t work with me like it does Dantenn. He’s content to sit on his ass and let what he wants flaunt itself in front of his face. I’m not into waiting. If I want something, I go and get it. And if you insist on running, I hate to inform you but I play tag very well. There is no telling what I’ll do when I finally catch you.”
That probably should not have sent a thrill down my spine. It certainly didn’t do my nerves any good. Further betraying my disquiet was the fact I spontaneously developed a bad stutter under his eyes. “I – I still say we should give our relationship some time.”
“Time for what?! Is that about proving something to you? Giving you time to get over your fear? I’ve managed to get over mine considering I believed I would never even entertain the thought of keeping a relationship going for more than a few weeks, let alone chasing a woman all around the globe!”
I bit my lip, entirely unsure what to do. “We still barely know each other.”
He groaned. “How is it you’re willing to walk into fire for me and yet won’t tell me how you feel? But I can read the meaning between the lines. You do love me; you just don’t want to admit it.”
To that I said nothing. He chuckled and then sighed. “I’m not worried. I’ll get it out of you eventually. I figure if I never let you go, you’ll have to accept it. ”
I didn’t debate that one.
His hold on my waist tightened. “Just checking. I had to make sure you weren’t planning on bunking with lover boy Michael and using him as a shield again.”
“Not a bad idea,” I teased, chuckling as he grumbled in my ear. “Perhaps Argon would fill in for me. After hearing both of your extracurricular activities, I think you two would make an adorable couple.”
“You are a tease,” he said, trailing his fingertips over the skin right underneath my ear.
I turned my head and came nose to nose with him. “And you aren’t?”
“Nope. I follow through with what I offer. You don’t. I’m still waiting for-” He trailed off absentmindedly, picturing whatever it was. “I believe it was a discussion on desks that I am thinking of.”
We had indeed returned to his less serious state of mind. “And I am still waiting for a return on my prized tomatoes. You never ate them, did you? No?”
“Naw. I was too busy trying to figure out how to flush you out of the tunnel system and then there afterwards consequently having dreams of naked women trying to drown me in a bathtub. That made my irritation with you a bit more pronounced. Dreaming of someone you despise in real life appearing in your dreams and liking it. Come to think of it, I still have dreams like that, minus the dislike.”
“I don’t have to guess what action you were dreaming of I suppose,” I drawled, earning myself an unrepentant squeeze around the waist. “You still owe me dinner.”
“Consider it a date,” he agreed happily.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the moon rise. With our active discussion on how things stood, we had neglected to watch the sun go down. The stars glinted at us, shining bright. But unlike usual, after watching the required amount of moon, I relaxed my neck and leaned back into him. He must have liked that considering the warm reception it got. I turned my head to the side to look up at him. I blushed when I realized he was watching me instead of the view. “You’re not watching the stars.”
“Who says? There’s a mark right under your chin that looks like one,” he said playfully.
I didn’t question it. I remembered how I had gotten it and didn’t want to share. Smiling, I closed my eyes again. They rocketed open again when I felt a tentative kiss pressed to the spot. I quivered under his touch. His icy eyes were warm despite their color. “I’d like to kiss you now, but you don’t seem open to the idea.”
He stopped as I put a finger to his lips. “Don’t speculate. Find out for yourself.”
I was surprised with my uncharacteristic wave of self-assurance, but didn’t question it. I didn’t have time to. He didn’t hesitate now, leaning in to close the deal. But then to both of our intense irritations, the phone rang, making us jump.
“What?!” he snapped into it and then listened. “Fine. Meet you there.”
He tossed the phone down below and I heard a dull thud as it hit the sand. He growled at it irritably. “I swear he has radar for whenever I am trying to romance you. Damn timing he has, Michael has gotten everyone together.”
“That’s great,” I said, trying out my new found confidence. I pulled on his lapels bringing him back to where we had been a second before. His eyes widened. “But whoever said you had to answer the phone the exact second it rang?”
I giggled as he went in for the kill again. And then laughed as the commlink predictably went off, causing his teeth to grind together. “Sergeant stuffy pants, I would get inside. Rogee has instituted a curfew. Get your girlfriend indoors.”
The line went dead and he sighed. “Looks like we need to go.”
I disappointedly rose from the roof and jumped down into the sand. I picked up his cell phone and sauntered towards the truck. A loud thunk and then a grunt of pain caused me to turn around. Turns out Cain had decided to copy me by jumping off. Upon landing however, he had lost balance and fallen back onto the sand but first. I covered my mouth, stifling another laugh.
He stood, collecting his dignity without much success. “At least I am good for a laugh. Just promise me you won’t go back to ignoring me in front of others. Michael will take that as encouragement and I will take it as a challenge. And when I am challenged, there a few lengths I won’t sink to get what I want.”
Clapping my feet together to rid them of excess sand, I turned to him. “Consider it done. We are married after all. It would not be right for me to go off with someone else unless we had enacted a ‘divorce.’”
I knew he liked the fact I had said that just by the way he smiled in response. He took his phone as he passed, heading towards the fence. I eyed something funny as he went.“Oh, and Cain? What should I tell everyone when they ask why you wet your pants?”
As soon as he put his hands to the seat of his slacks, he knew what I was talking about. The sand where his rear had landed had been wet. He looked glumly at his butt and then at me, disapproving of my mirth. “Let’s go. And stop laughing!”
– Copyright 2018 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel
Hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the writers desk! If you loved this, I bet you’ll love STILL DEATH, the prequel to the Destiny in the Shadows series! It’s free for anyone who signs up for my email newsletter. I frequently email freebies out to my readers, so make sure to grab your copy here by signing up!