Editor’s Cut With Commentary

The scene below (from chapter two of my original draft), from the villain’s point of view, was cut from the final version at the Editor’s request. Reason: it gives away too much of the suspense plot. (so…if you haven’t read the novel, the scene below could be a spoiler. Scroll down to next paragraph in bold for additional commentary.)


Derk scraped open the patio door, and hot, humid air hit him like a brick wall. No, like a block wall. A prison block wall. The kind he’d been slammed against more times than he cared to remember. And the dank prison air had smelled just as foul.

Taking a long drag on his cigarette, Derk paced the backyard, his backyard. The crunch of brown grass under his feet mocked him. Guys like him never got the wife and kids to go with the house and yard. Business was good. Real good. But decent women took a dim view of guys with a murder conviction hanging over their head.

He peered through the shrubs at the woman hanging laundry next door, and a childhood memory of his mom tucking him into bed sifted through his thoughts. The sheets had smelled sunshine fresh, and closing his eyes, he’d inhaled deeply to block out the lingering odor of stale cigarettes from her latest boyfriend.

“I thought you’d like that,” she’d said, ruffling his hair, and his chest had swelled to think that she’d hung out the sheets just to please him.

He ground his cigarette into the dirt. Those moments had been few and far between.

His cell phone rang. He stepped inside the house before answering. 

“You seen the paper?” his partner barked.

“I saw it.” Derk folded a stick of Nicorette into his mouth and crushed the wrapper in his fist. This wasn’t how his plan was supposed to go down. If those bureaucrats wanted Hope Manor closed, he’d give them a reason to close it. On his terms.

His old buddy deserved everything that was coming to him. Twenty years he’d stolen. For twenty years, Derk had rotted in jail while his so-called buddy got married and had kids, and pretended to be something he wasn’t—innocent.

Not once did he call or write or visit. Not once did he try to make amends. Not once.

A spider dropped from the ceiling and scurried along the glass. Derk caught the web and set the little guy outside—free. His old buddy wouldn’t escape so easily.

“This could mean trouble. Our man might talk,” his partner pressed.

Derk braced a hand against the frame of the sliding glass door and looked out over the yard. “Already taken care of.”

“Taken care of how?”

“Don’t worry about it. Anything else I need to know?”

“Yeah. The manor hired a new guy. Not from around here.”


“He used to be a cop.”

A fly buzzed around Derk’s head. “The chief’s finally wised up, huh?”

“Could be.”

Derk caught the fly in his fist, glanced at the open window, crushed the fly anyway. “Email me everything you’ve got on the guy.”


“Good. I’ll be in touch.” Derk checked his watch. Two minutes until shift change. He dialed the number. If their inside man thought he had an out, he was about to get a lesson in negotiation tactics.

The guy’s cell rang five times, and then went to voice mail.

Derk hit redial.

On the third ring, his pawn answered. “What do you want?”

“You know what I want. Don’t think that these latest turn of events will release you from your obligation.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, if I were you, I’d start making travel plans, because your hold over me is dying faster than the grass.”

Derk threw back his head and laughed. “Don’t be so sure. This morning’s little accident was no accident.”


He smiled. “Yes, I think you’re getting the picture. She’s a pretty young woman. Very pretty. Be a shame if something happened to her.”

“You leave Kim out of this,” the upstart growled as though he actually expected to be obeyed.

“What happens to the girl depends entirely on you. But know this. If you go to the police, next time the car won’t miss.”


Editor’s Commentary on original draft: Elaborate more on Kim’s emotional conflicts. Kim needs a convincing motivation that prevents her from falling in love and makes her doubt love. 


The introduction of Kim’s romantic conflict following revisions:


Ginny glanced from the road to Kim. “You like him.”

Kim tried not to squirm. “Sure, he’s nice,” she said, and not wanting to admit to anything more, quickly added, “I wonder why he quit police work.”

“He told you.”

“Not really. He could’ve gotten a job on a small town police force if he just wanted out of the big city. I think something bad must’ve happened to him.”

“Of course you do,” Ginny said in her indulgent, eye-roll voice.

“I’m serious. Maybe he got shot. Or maybe he shot someone and couldn’t cope with the emotional fallout.”

“Or…” Ginny said, stretching out the word for effect. “Maybe he wants a quieter life away from the big city and nosy females.”

Kim poked out her tongue. “Your marrying a cop has taken all the fun out of our guy talks. You do know that?”

“You’re interested in this guy?” Ginny’s gaze flicked from the road to Kim. “I thought you were dating Aaron. Which is a miracle in itself considering that since Nate, you haven’t dated anyone for longer than two weeks.”

Heat blazed through Kim’s chest and flamed into her face, the flare instant and embarrassing. She dropped her foot to the floor with a thunk, cranked up the air conditioning. “Nate who? I never dated anyone named Nate. Oh…” She covered a mocking gasp. “You mean that guy who courted me for eight months and then married my college roommate?”

Ginny’s voice softened. “Kim, don’t. You don’t have to pretend with me.”

“Who’s pretending? I dated Zach for four weeks. That’s a lot longer than two. And Aaron is just a friend.”

His touch sure didn’t zing up her arms the way Ethan’s had.

“And if this Ethan asks you out, you’ll keep him around for what, six weeks? And then what, Kim?” Ginny’s eyes hardened with determination. “You can’t keep punishing yourself, and other men, because of Nate.”


Editor’s Commentary on original draft regarding the suspense: Draw out the mystery/suspense element via the addition of more threatening situations.


I obviously can’t share all the scenes I added or modified, but if you’ve read the novel, you can decide for yourself if I succeeded in addressing this request. Did you want to keep reading to figure out who the bad guy was? Were you surprised?