Deleted Scene : Married by June

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This is a section that didn't make the final cut for the book. It's not polished or edited so don't expect much. I think it's fun to see what changes get made to a book during the writing process. Why didn't this scene make it? My editor thought Mindy was taking too much time away from the main plot. She was a distraction and Jorie already had a female friend in the book. Why am I sad this scene didn't make it? I LOVED Mindy and had so much fun writing her. She's a bit of a devil and I don't often write devilish women. Enjoy.

In this scene, Cooper is moving into the apartment Jorie has in the basement of her house. That plot point got cut from the book during the revision when I lost Mindy.

The apartment had good light thanks to big windows in the front and back. The place was clean—she’d given it a thorough once over the day before—and it smelled fresh even though it had been standing empty for a few weeks, clean and airy, with just the faintest hint of…Chinese food? She took a step forward and noticed the champagne bucket on the floor in front of the couch and the glasses on the low table lying next to a keychain with a Cadillac logo. The apartment was freezing. Someone had stolen her parking space for their SUV, broken into the apartment, and turned the air conditioning on to deep freeze.

“Are you sure your tenants moved out?” Cooper whispered. “Because I think they forgot their champagne.”

Jorie felt chills down her arms and back, and they weren’t just from the sub-zero temperatures. What the hell? She’d make a Goldilocks joke if she weren’t so freaked out. “We should go outside and call the police.”

Unfortunately, she’d wedged the suitcase in against the couch so she had to climb over it, going farther into the living room as she did, before she could get out. She glanced down the hall leading to the bedrooms as she maneuvered. She was worried the squatters or whoever they were would come out and see her and Cooper. When she saw the bra hanging from the back of the chair near the doorway, a thought started to percolate. Cooper must have seen it, too, because he stared. She couldn’t be sure of the exact size, but she had few doubts she was looking at a DDD. Metallic bronze, trimmed in dark coffee lace, with a demure bow between the cups. It was one of the sexiest undergarments she’d ever seen.

“Wow,” Cooper breathed. “You have some really interesting tenants.”

No. The bra coupled with the fact that it was her apartment—this wasn’t teenagers on a lark or even hardened criminals in the middle of a robbery. Jorie knew who owned that bra.

“You have to be…” She abandoned the suitcase and strode toward the bedroom, passing a discarded pair of thigh-high stockings and one scary high stiletto in a shade of bronze that exactly matched the color of the bra. “…Kidding me.”

“Jorie wait. What about the police?” Cooper whispered hastily as he hurried after her, tripping on an emerald green snakeskin cowboy boot that was lying in the middle of the floor. He snagged the boot and held it up near his shoulder, arm cocked, apparently prepared to brain the bad guy with his own boot heel.

She knew it was wrong, but she really wanted to see him swing that boot.

She could hear laughter now, coming from the bedroom.

“Jorie, stop.” He got in front of her and tried to turn her around. He gestured with the cowboy boot toward the closed bedroom door. “You can’t just bust in there. Whoever is in there is trespassing at best, maybe breaking and entering. We don’t know what we’re dealing with.”

“I know who it is,” she said, edging past him.

He glanced at the a black silk shirt, large enough to fit a good-sized man, draped over the edge of the small hall table next to him. Flames embroidered in red shot up the back of the shirt. Cooper grabbed the shirt in his free hand. “You know the person who owns this shirt?”

“No.” She kicked at the other stiletto. “I know the person who owns these shoes. My sister.” She clenched her fists.

Cooper scrambled in front of her again. “You don’t have a sister.”

“I know.”

She knocked, well, banged, on the bedroom door. Someone inside giggled. Jorie opened the door and barely registered the large stack of suitcases lined up next to the wall because there was Mindy, sitting up in the middle of a mound of rumpled sheets, pillows propped behind her, dark hair tumbling around her shoulders, next to a snoring guy who was partially covered by the sheets. Very partially covered. Mindy stuck her spoon into the container of mint chocolate chip ice cream, the very pint Jorie had put into the freezer for Cooper, and gave Jorie her big, full-on delighted smile. “Hiya, sis!”

She wished she’d told Cooper to stay in the living room. Mindy belonged to the messy, disturbing part of her past, the part she carefully edited and glossed over. The part she tried so hard to leave behind. Mindy reached across her body to set the ice cream on the bedside table and based on the quick slide of the sheets on her body, Jorie was positive she was as naked as the guy next to her appeared to be. She clicked the remote to turn off the TV and beamed at them.

Perfect.

“Jorie?” Cooper, standing in the doorway, still holding the cowboy boot, looked more confused than threatening.

“Cooper,” she said. “Meet Mindy Roth. Mindy, my fiancée, Cooper Murphy.”

“Cooper! I’ve been dying to meet you!”

Mindy flipped the bottom of the sheets back, revealing her long, tan legs, but Jorie stamped her foot and said, “Stop. No one gets out of the bed unless they’re wearing clothes.”

Mindy subsided back into the pillows, her every lush curve moving, and Jorie glanced at Cooper to see what he thought of all this. He was staring, but at Mindy’s face, to all outward appearance oblivious to the shifting and almost revealing going on from the neck down. Since no man had ever been oblivious to Mindy’s body, Jorie gave Cooper points for chivalry. She slid a step closer to him.

Mindy flaunted her body, not because she wanted men to notice it but because she didn’t think anyone valued her for any other reason. She preemptively took every man she met to the lowest common denominator. She was gorgeous, but so insecure that she offered herself to anyone who showed even passing interest. For Cooper to so carefully ignore what Mindy couldn’t help herself from revealing, whether out of his own deep sense of decency or because Mindy was connected to her, well, she wanted to be closer to him just then.

“Nice to meet you, Cooper,” Mindy said. “Sorry I didn’t make it to the engagement party. I was in Rome.”

“It wasn’t an engagement party, just our families having dinner,” Jorie said. “I told you that on the phone when you asked why I didn’t invite you.” Cooper shifted his hips, tilting toward her so that his shirt brushed her bare arm. She wasn’t sure if he’d done it on purpose in reaction to her own approach, until he rested his hand lightly on her hip. He knew this was hard for her and he wanted to be there for her. He didn’t even know Mindy, but he was already working out how to solve this situation.

“You’re my family, Jorie,” Mindy said. “You know that.”

She was saved from having to answer when the rumpled guy in the bed started to make waking up noises. He peered at them and even with his eyes unfocused and his hair sticking up in just-had-wild-sex tufts, he was unmistakably gorgeous. He scissored his legs and turned over, revealing his naked backside. Cooper coughed and stepped behind her putting himself a few steps closer to the door. Apparently his chivalry didn’t extend to gazing upon the naked form of Mindy’s latest conquest.

Mindy slapped the guy on the butt. “Settle down, big guy, we’ve got company.”

The Big Guy gave a nonchalant tug on the sheet—the 400 thread-count grey and blue striped sheet she’d put on that bed yesterday in preparation for Cooper—covering the important bits of his anatomy, and then sat up, pecs rippling as he rolled tanned shoulders and yawned.

Jorie wondered how drunk she’d have to be to appear so utterly unconcerned if she woke up naked in a stranger’s bed with more strangers staring at her. No. There wasn’t enough alcohol in the universe to get her that drunk. She’d need a brain transplant or maybe a brain extraction.

“Jorie, meet…” Mindy pouted, glancing at the guy with a frown. She hesitated, and the guy seemed to catch on that she had forgotten his name.

“Chad,” he supplied. His voice was surprisingly high, out of proportion to his pecs. He didn’t seem put out or even that surprised that the woman he’d just slept with couldn’t remember his name. At least, Jorie hoped she was witnessing a faulty memory…forgetting was one thing, never asking in the first place was something entirely different.

“Ugh. That’s it. Chad.” She wrinkled her nose. “I didn’t forget, Jorie, I blanked it out on purpose—Chad didn’t work for me at all. In my mind I was calling him Hugh.” She stretched again, obviously enjoying herself.

“Jackman or Grant?” Cooper asked.

Great. He finally joined the conversation, only to encourage the insanity.

“Jackman,” Mindy said. “Please.”

Chad/Hugh ran his hands through his hair, leaving it more rumpled, but somehow looking better. He didn’t seem upset about the name change or even aware that the conversation was about him.

“Anyway,” Mindy said. “You don’t need to meet…him…because he’s just about to leave.”

Before either of them could emerge from under the sheets, Jorie turned on her heel. Cooper started after her and then said, “Hey, Hugh.” When Chad looked up, Cooper tossed him the green cowboy boot before following her out the door. In the hall, he said, “You never told me you had a sister.”

“I don’t.”

“You also didn’t tell me I’d be sharing this place with Mindy and naked Hugh Jackman.”

“I’m pretty sure Hugh…Chad…is not staying,” Jorie said. She wanted to tell him Mindy wasn’t staying either, but she had to find out why she was here in the first place.

“Well, still, it’s great that I’ll get to know her. I always wanted to meet more of your family.” Cooper picked up the champagne bottle from the living room floor and shook it, but it was empty. “Maybe there’s more where this came from?”

“Don’t ask her,” Jorie said. “There’s always more champagne where she came from, and the last thing we need is a tipsy heiress on our hands.”

“Heiress? You’re related to an heiress and you’re just telling me now?”

“We’re not sisters!” Jorie exclaimed. She bent down to straighten the area rug, tugging until it was squared with the couch. “She’s Harold Roth’s daughter. Harold was ‘Uncle Harold’ for a few years when I was a kid. We lived with him from sixth grade through almost the end of eighth. My mom actually got really close to the altar with him. He gave her a ring.”

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