The scenes below are examples of ones that I played around with while writing my manuscript, but chose not to include in the final draft that I submitted to my editor. There are many, many others!

 I really liked this exchange between Josh’s sister and Becki, but since I ended up making it Anne’s bright idea that Josh and Bec pretend to be dating, I couldn’t use it:

 The bathroom door burst open and slapped against the wall. “My brother’s an idiot.”

Becki met Anne’s gaze in the mirror. “No argument here,” she said, and with that, they burst into laughter. 

Wiping tears from her eyes, Anne shook her head. “I don’t know what his problem is. Got hit on the head too many times in combat training, maybe.”

“You’re terrible.”

“No, he is. I love him, but he drives me crazy. For a big, brave police officer, he’s got a chicken heart.”

Becki laughed again. “We should talk. You wear a wedding band so men won’t try to pick you up, and I sure don’t want to end up living beside an ex-boyfriend.”

“Well, then, what do you say we have some fun playing along with my dear brother’s idea?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean…make him squirm.” Anne’s eyes sparkled. “Overplay the girlfriend role. Make him sweat.”

“I couldn’t.”

“Sure you can. He’s asked you to.”

“But he might not think I’m pretending.”

Anne’s grin spread from ear to ear. “Exactly.”

 I’d decided that at some point Becki needed to fall down the stairs and hurt her ankle. I tried a sabotaged basement step, but it didn’t seem like something the villain would do. The scene below led to it well, I thought, but just didn’t play out the way I needed it to.

Was he supposed to believe someone let himself in just so she’d know he could…at any time?

How was Josh supposed to protect her from a guy that warped?

He’d rather the intruder be a thief. Or better yet, a figment of her overactive imagination.

“So unless you left a window unlatched, whoever was in here must have had a key or is very good at picking locks.”

“I double-checked every lock before I left.” She dug into her purse and produced a second key. “And this is the only other key I have.”

“Anyone else have a key to the house?” Wes asked, scrutinizing the ceiling in the hall outside the bedroom. He caught Josh’s attention and jerked his chin to the attic hatch.

“No one that I know of,” Bec said. “The lawyer gave me—”

Josh glanced at the floor, noted a few fluffs of pink insulation.

“Where’s the hook?” Wes mouthed, motioning to the catch on the hatch for pulling down the stairs.

Bec reached behind the bedroom door. “It’s gone.” She bolted across the hall, checked behind the other door.

“We might as well head downstairs,” Wes said, projecting his voice toward the ceiling as he snagged a chair from the spare bedroom and set it beneath the hatch. “Whoever was here is clearly gone.”

“If anyone was here,” Josh said, and motioned Bec to go downstairs.

Bec backed toward the stairs, her gaze fixed on the attic hatch.

“Watch out,” Josh shouted, as Bec’s heel slipped off the edge of the step.

She flailed for the handrail, as he lunged for her arm. Missed.

 This scene conveys a backstory for Josh that I didn’t end up using due to the limited word count available. It would have been included around Chapter Twelve.

“And, and…I don’t know what to do,” Becki stammered. “Sarah needs my help, but I don’t want to give up the house. It’s all I have left of them. Why couldn’t she have married you?”

Josh jerked back. “What?”

He didn’t have to look so shocked. “I know you still care about her. You called me Sarah after the crash. Remember?”

His face went white. Whiter than white. His arms dropped to his sides as he backed up another step.

Sirens sounded in the distance.

He glanced toward the top of the ravine and absently reached across his chest and rubbed the spot where he’d been burned while serving overseas. His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. “Different Sarah,” he said softly.

His gaze returned to hers, but didn’t really. He seemed to look right through her.

“Who is she?”

Was. My fiancée.”

Becki muffled a gasp. His high school sweetheart? “What happened?”

He gave the nearest tire a hard shove, sent it spinning. “I asked her too soon. We didn’t know each other well enough. I thought we wanted the same things.”

Becki drew beside him and touched his arm. “I’m sorry.”

He shook his head. “It was a long time ago.”

“Was she from around here?”

He clenched and unclenched his fists. His gaze darted back up the ravine. “What’s taking Hunter so long?”

“Sometimes it helps to talk,” she coaxed.

His eyes flared. “And sometimes it doesn’t.”

She held up her hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”

He noisily let out a breath. “We met in Afghanistan. Kept our interest on the down-low so one of us wouldn’t get shipped off to a different location.”

At his tortured expression, she suddenly wished she hadn’t pressed him. 

“That was a mistake. If our commander had known, we never would have been allowed in the same vehicle.”He squinted up at the sky, his eyes watery. “We were arguing. I wasn’t paying enough attention to the road.”

Becki’s heart wrenched at the remorse in his voice.

“I should have seen the garbage spaced along the roadside at equal intervals. A dead giveaway some guy’s hiding in the bushes waiting to set off an IED.”

Becki rested her palm on his scarred chest. “That’s how you got burned?”

He let out another ragged breath. “Sarah died instantly.”


Dragging his mind from the desert, the taste of sand clinging to his lips, the feel of sweat prickling his neck, Josh shrank from Bec’s touch. He shouldn’t have told her about Sarah.

What woman would want a guy who drove his fiancée to her death?

He jerked at the thought. Did he want Bec to want him?

His chest burned from the lingering heat of where her hand had rested.He shook off the sensation. He couldn’t afford to let himself get distracted by what he wanted. That’s what got Sarah killed.