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Cliff Top Reunion—Saving Marilee Deleted Scene

Saving Marilee Deleted Scene


Cliff Top Reunion

Lylin and Rhys would be married in four days’ time, and we were all escaping the castle for the day.

It took four carriages to get us all to the seaside cliff. It was a spot I had only been to a couple of times, but one that was very well suited for our family. There was never anyone else around, and that gave us the chance to relax and be ourselves.

I stepped down from the carriage and practically ran to the cliff edge, letting the wind whip my cloak behind me. I had missed this, being able to see forever, to look over the endless expanse of water reaching all the way to the endless expanse of sky on the horizon. I sucked a breath of cool wind into my lungs and blew it out as a smile crossed my lips.

A hand touched my elbow, and I turned to see James looking at me with a soft and curious light in his eyes.

“What is that smile for?” I asked.

“You put me in mind of a fairy again. Only this time it looked like you might fly away.”

I put my arms out to my sides as another gust tugged on my hair. “Perhaps I will.”

“Fly away if you must, but it looks as if your sister is looking for someone to hold her baby.”

I immediately caught sight of Kalina crossed back to my family. James had obviously noticed the way that I had confiscated my nephew at every turn since Kalina and William had arrived the day before. I was more than happy to collect the wriggling five month old from my sister now. She handed baby Heston over, tucking his blanket around him before allowing William to claim her attention. The moment her back was turned, Heston pulled free of his blankets so that he could attempt to grab my nose.

I sat cross-legged on the blanket that was laid out and did my best to keep hold of Heston as he squirmed and twisted, reaching for everything that caught his eye. He giggled when James sat beside me and started making faces.

Ella and Gavin sat close, and Guin flopped down in Gavin’s lap. They watched me wrestle with Heston for a bit before Gavin turned to Ella. “Are you sure you’re ready for another one?”

Ella just sighed with a smile. “Yes.”

“Wait,” I said. “There’s another one on the way?”

Ella’s grin just widened.

I reached over and gave her a heartfelt but awkward hug as I tried not to squash Heston between us. “I’m so happy for you!”

“At least it didn’t take so long this time,” she whispered so that only I heard. I knew that it had taken more than two years for her to conceive her first, so I was thrilled to know that they hadn’t struggled as much the second time around. Ella sat back, radiating happiness. “I only just realized last week.”

“And you’re still galloping across the countryside?”

She laughed. “No, I’ll be stopping for the time being.” She would hate not being able to ride, but it was clear that she didn’t consider it a sacrifice.

“Are you hoping for a boy this time?”

“I’ll be thrilled either way.”

Guin sat up in her father’s lap. “I want to go for a walk,” she proclaimed.

“Perhaps we can go after we eat, dearest,” Ella suggested.

Guin stuck her lip out, but didn’t argue.

I glanced over at Lorraina and saw her climb to her feet. She walked over and held out her hand to Guin. “Guin is welcome to go for a walk with me, if she’d like.”

“Are you certain?” Ella asked.

“Yes, of course. It will be good for me to get away from all you doting lovers for a bit.” She said it with a smile, but her eyes revealed the truth of her statement. I suppose it was bound to be a bit awkward for her when she and Lord Fallon had been promised to marry before he met Lylin. Not only that, but she had lost Tobias. From what my sisters had told me, Tobias was no saint, but she still mourned him.

Guin jumped up and took Lorraina’s hand. They walked off, Lorraina pointing to the seagulls gliding above and the waves crashing below. Her guard trailed behind, and I was struck once more by the change I saw in her. Her lack of criticism and her willingness to step up when she saw a need made me wish that I had tried to know her better before leaving home. But then, I suspected that even if I had made the effort, it would not have been welcome then. Losing Tobias had changed her. And though my heart ached for what she’d gone through, it had made her better.

A sharp inhale filled my lungs as I saw the blatant correlation between what I saw in Lorraina and what James had seen in me when he said that he believed I was better for what I’d been through. Perhaps in addition to losing parts of myself, I had gained something as well. I turned to face him, searching his face with an intensity that might have embarrassed me if I hadn’t been so intent on putting the pieces together in my mind.

He noticed my scrutiny, but didn’t shy away from it. His gaze was curious and open, hiding nothing. “What is it?” he asked.

“Back at Bridgefield,” I cast about for the right words. “You really saw me, didn’t you?”

His face relaxed and his eyes softened. “I always saw you.” There was something achingly profound in his declaration.

“How is that possible when I couldn’t even see myself?”

“I don’t think that’s such a mystery. I think we always see others more clearly than we see ourselves.”

I looked away. “I didn’t see Damian clearly, or Edmund.”

“That was their fault, not yours.”

Silence settled over us as I wondered if that were actually true. I knew that Damian had masked his true character, but I couldn’t believe that that left me blameless.

James reached over and let Heston catch a hold of his finger. “Shall we take this little one for a stroll to see the sights?”

I agreed, not because I thought Heston needed a tour, but because strolling with James sounded most appealing. We didn’t go far, keeping close to the group. Most of the sights that I took in were my family.

Lylin and Lord Fallon were sitting with everyone else, but were clearly off in a world of their own. There was no pretense about their actions. Instead of sitting side by side, they sat facing each other, their knees almost touching as they talked and ate. Lylin leaned in with a conspiratorial arch of her brow, and Rhys bent forward to catch her words. I had no idea what those words might have been, but they made Rhys smile.

I was distracted from my observation by James, who pushed my hair back over my shoulder before lifting a tiny bundle of wildflowers and tucking it behind my ear. “Unfortunately I’m not creative enough to weave you a crown befitting a fairy queen, but I do what I can.”

“If a fairy queen wears a crown of flowers, what do you suppose a fairy king would wear?”

His mouth and brow twisted comically. “Weeds?”

“I think we can do better than that,” I insisted. “Perhaps vines or leaves?”

“Good heavens, what have I gotten myself into?” James said as Heston reached out, trying to grab a hold of his coat, so James just took him from me. “You have an interesting collection of brothers-in-law.”

I almost laughed as I thought of the circumstances that had brought each of my sisters into their marriages. “Yes, I do.”

Heston let out a squawk and reached for me. James laughed and handed him over. “Seems he’d rather be held by a beautiful woman.”

I tempered my smile with a shake of my head and we headed back toward the picnic. Once I was seated on the blanket, James excused himself to fetch us some lunch. I admired the way he made his way through the little crowd of my family. He seemed already comfortable around them.

I caught sight of Lorraina wandering back hand in hand with Guin and smiled. Guin was skipping, completely oblivious to nearly everything, as Lorraina seemed intent on a conversation with her guard who now strode at her side. She was looking at the ground in front of her, but had her head tilted toward him as he talked. A small smile lit her face as she listened.

“It’s remarkable, isn’t it?”

I turned to Kalina as she sat beside me. Her eyes were fixed where mine had been, on Lorraina.

“She’s changed so much,” I said as Heston lunged for his mother and Kalina caught him easily, tickling his neck with her nose. He let out a trill of baby laughter.

“I honestly didn’t know what to think of it when I showed up,” Kalina admitted. “I thought maybe it was an act, but Lylin tells me that ever since Mr. Fallon died, Lorraina has been acting less and less like the exacting tyrant we all know and love, and more like the sister we always hoped she’d be.”

“Having her visit with Mother and Father was a godsend.” I let out a breathy laugh. “Who would have thought that Lorraina would turn out to be a comfort to me?”

“Or that she would form such an attachment to little Guinevere?”

“Is it strange that I almost miss Ella and Raina’s fighting?”

We both stifled our laughter. “It was entertaining at times,” Kalina admitted. “But I much prefer this.”

Both of us watched as Lorraina delivered Guin back to Ella and Gavin with a smile. Before she could turn away, they invited her to sit and eat with them and she obliged, allowing Guin to cuddle up to her side as she gathered food for both of them.

My mother joined us, her hands reaching for Heston. “It’s my turn to hold that little angel,” she said as she gathered him out of Kalina’s arms. Then she turned to me. “And it is your turn to sit and eat.”

“I am sitting,” I called after her retreating back, but she didn’t seem to hear me. She was too focused on adoring her grandson. She sank down next to my father, who greeted her with a kiss on her cheek before attempting to take Heston from her. My mother would have none of it.

James and William approached, both carrying two plates of food. A servant followed with four goblets. When James settled beside me, I couldn’t resist teasing him. “You were gone for quite some time. Did you get lost over the ten paces it took to get to the food?”

“I place the blame squarely on your brother-in-law’s shoulders. He has been regaling me with the tale of his meeting your sister.”

“Which one?” I asked with a laugh.

“Precisely! Which one indeed. The one he kidnapped, or the one he married.”

I laughed at the disbelief clouding his expression.

Kalina let out an exaggerated sigh. “You make it sound so dramatic.”

I shot Kalina a look of disbelief. “Are you going to try to claim that it wasn’t dramatic?”

She gave a little shrug before wrapping her arms around William’s neck and giving him a cheeky grin. “It was worth it.”

“Glad you think so,” William said, before giving her a quick kiss.

“Who knew the royal family would have such scandalous stories to tell,” James observed.

A noise of disgust escaped my throat. “Yes. Because we all know the Winberg Duchy has nothing at all scandalous in their past.” It wasn’t until the words were out of my mouth that I heard the bitterness that soaked them. I fought for something to make light of my comment. “Apparently since I was not part of any of the Dalthian scandals, I had to go elsewhere to find my infamy.” I lifted my goblet, forced a smile and took a drink.

Kalina came to my rescue. “Did Jensa or Mia have any scandals?”

“As I recall, they were blessedly scandal free.”

“They are the oldest, aren’t they?” James asked, but though his question was directed to Kalina, I could feel his eyes on me.

“Yes, and they should both be arriving tomorrow or the day after,” Kalina said. “They’ll be here for the wedding, of course.”

Conversation turned to talk of the wedding, which eventually included everyone as we discussed schedules and arrangements still to be made. I leaned back, content to sit atop this cliff, enjoy the breeze on my skin and the company of people I loved.


  1. Jensen Jensen

    I now understand the phrase dying of happiness. You should be more careful. So much loveliness and wonderfulness in one passage! It’s enough to make a person explode with emotion.
    P. S. I and all of the friends I have recommended your books to request more delightful stories! Please!

  2. Ema Lee Ema Lee

    GAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Why was this deleted?! It’s sooooooo beautiful! I’m dancing with joy at the moment; you made my day posting this. I love all of them so much. Your stories and characters are awesome! awesome! awesome!

    Also. I KNOW you are mega-busy and have story ideas stacking up around you by the carriage-load, but maybe, maybe possibly if you have some free time . . . you could consider writing a teensie-weensie itty-bitty non-time-consuming short story about Kalina and William. Like a chapter or so . . .
    ‘Cause I’m way curious about them, and their personalities and their love story and all that beautiful stuff

    • Glad you liked it! It was deleted because although I liked it and it was a nice, happy scene, it didn’t propel the story forward at all. So when I took it out, I knew that it would be one that I could share later on.

      I’ll have to put Kalina and Williams little story on my list of to-dos. 🙂

      • Mary Davis Mary Davis

        I was thinking the same thing (I know this is 3 years later, haha!), that I’d love a story or scene (or two) with Kalina and William’s romance. 😀

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