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Lost Money—Deleted scene

This deleted scene from If I Could Stay was written before I decided to have Leila leave her money and IDs in the trunk of her car. Instead, I simply had her lose them while she was with Jack, but she doesn’t realize it until after he’d dropped her off at a bus station. She had to track him down to get it back.

It took me a while to track down the police station, but once I got reliable directions, which involved a surprising number of tree street names, it wasn’t hard to find. It was on Chestnut street, just past Pamela’s Hair Styling. I walked along the sidewalk and studied the parking lot, but Jack’s truck wasn’t there. He likely wasn’t on shift yet, since he had been driving in the early hours of the morning. 

Too bad I couldn’t walk in and just ask for his address. If he was asleep, that was all the better. I’d just take a peek at his truck while it was at his house instead of while it was parked in a police station parking lot.

I really did have the crappiest luck.

I crossed the street and found a spot to sit where I could see the cars come and go without looking suspicious. Then I waited, shivering in the cold. It was a good thing the weather wasn’t even colder, but this hoodie really wasn’t meant for sitting in the snow for a couple of hours. 

It was probably more than an hour before I pulled out my disposable cell and powered it on, so that I could at least know what time it was. 9:37. When did his shift start? Noon? 1:00? Later? He hadn’t gotten into town until 7:00 this morning. Surely he’d be sleeping for quite a while. With my luck he wasn’t coming to work until 4:00 in the afternoon or something. I really hoped that wasn’t the case.

I lasted another hour before I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d come back later and hopefully his truck would be there, ripe for the picking. Until then, I was going to try to find some shops to browse in.

After winding down a couple streets, I found a little boutique filled with tea sets and other old lady paraphernalia. The amount of peach and mint coloring in the design was a testament to the owner’s love of the eighties. 

I tried to be casual while looking, but I knew what I looked like. Strange girl in sweats and a hoodie, carrying a large bag and looking totally out of place. I’d have to move on soon; otherwise trouble would find me. I mindlessly picked up china dolls and beribboned hats as anxiety chewed on my stomach. Anxiety about my money, about people seeing me, about missing my chance to get my stuff back.

After forty-five minutes, I had to move on. The cold bit at my nose, trying to convince me to find another shop to go in. I resolutely headed back toward to station, but when I spotted Gypsy Rose boutique, I let myself go in. I killed another forty-five minutes before my worry demanded that I go back to the station and wait for Jack.

My phone said 12:10 when I hunkered down to wait. I even dozed off a couple times but jerked awake each time a car would come down the street. I was crazy tired, and getting hungrier by the minute. I thought about pulling out a granola bar from my bag, but if I didn’t get my money back, I would need to ration out the food I had. This feeling of being underprepared was new to me. When I had left my father, I had been sure to take plenty of money with me, and I had kept a job in every place I lived in order to keep my stash from diminishing any faster than necessary.

Now I was reduced to stalking a cop to steal money—my money.

The rumble of his truck jerked me awake at 12:51. I watched his truck pause at the stop sign beside the station and then turn into the lot. I kept still and watched as he pulled into a spot facing the street. That was good. It would be more difficult if it were pulled right up to the building.

He stepped out of the truck, and seeing him in his blue uniform made my stomach clench. It was a conditioned response. I’d been afraid of cops for too many years.

I watched carefully as he closed his door and pocketed his keys. He didn’t lock it with the key, and the lights didn’t flash to indicate he’d locked it remotely. His brow was furrowed, a look of distracted concentration creasing his face. He zipped his jacket to his chin and walked to the double doors.

I stood, shaking out my stiff legs and crossed the street. Had he really left it unlocked. What kind of cop does something so careless?

Then again, who would be stupid enough to break into a cop’s car when it was sitting in the police station parking lot?

I mentally raised my hand.

Maybe I needed a stamp that said “idiot” so that I could mark my forehead.

I hopped up on the sidewalk and crossed the grass strip before ducking between his car and the next. 

I dropped my bag on the ground, muttering, “Please, please, please, please, please,” as I tried the door.

It opened. My heart leapt in hope and triumph as I slid inside, careful to avoid the horn as I scooted across the bench. I looked on the floor, under the seat, behind the seat. I scooted a hat aside and stuck my hand in the crack where the seat and bench back met. Nothing.

Then my eyes actually focused on the hat I had moved. It was a police hat, part of a uniform. Part of a uniform he was wearing and was probably required to wear in its entirety. Crap. What if he’d forgotten it and was going to come back to look for it?

I scooted backwards and reached behind me to open the door, my eyes doing one last frantic sweep of the interior, but there was nothing to see. I slid to the ground, keeping low as I softly closed the door. Then I bent even further to look under the car and be sure no one was headed my way. Everything looked clear.

I moved to the curb and huddled there to think, the cold cement seeping through my sweats and freezing my butt. I really needed to find some place warm to camp out.

I stood, picking up my bag and slinging the strap over my head to settle on my shoulder, then shoved my hands back in my hoodie pocket and crossed the sidewalk and strip of grass. 


I turned at the sound of my nickname, knowing that it had to be Jack. He stood by his truck, one hand on the handle.

“Hey, Officer Jack,” I said with equal parts bitterness and guilt.

His hand dropped and he took a step toward me where I hovered on the curb, debating whether to just step into the street and disappear.

“I thought you’d be a couple states away by now.”

“Plans changed.” I moved my knees back and forth, trying to keep the blood flowing.

He noticed. “You’re cold.” He stripped off his coat and closed the distance between us to wrap it around my shoulders.

It reminded me of the way he’d saved my sorry hide the night before and a significant amount of bitterness seeped out of me.

“What are you doing here? Did you need help with something?” There was an edge of hope in his voice. He wanted me to confide in him.

Yeah. Not going to happen.

“I lost something and I was just looking in your windows to see if I left it in your car.”

“Why don’t you come inside and we can talk.”

I let out a quick bark of laughter that mocked the idea. “Sorry, I can’t go into a police station. It goes against all of my instincts just to be asking you for this.”

He let out a huff. “What are you looking for?”

“It’s a money belt. Or a money pouch that you attach to a belt.”

He studied me for several uncomfortable moments, then shook his head. “I’ll be honest with you, Angel. I’m not sure you want me to find it.”

“Why not?”

He crossed his arms and I noticed how well he wore his uniform. I could see him slipping into this cop demeanor right in front of me. It was unsettling. “Let me ask you this: when I find it, and I open it up, what am I going to find?”

“Money,” I said, my voice tinged with frustration. “It has all of my money in it. I can’t buy a ticket without it. I can’t buy food without it.”

“A suspicious amount of money? The kind of money that would force the hand of a police officer to investigate its origins?”

So he was going to pull his cop authority on me? “There’s nothing illegal about carrying cash. I don’t trust cards, ok?”

“Fine. Will there be anything else in this pouch?”

I wanted to say something snarky to put him in his place, but I couldn’t. Instead I squirmed.

He ducked his head a little bit, forcing me to keep eye contact. “Like an ID or two with a name on it that won’t come up in any official database?”

I took a deep breath, trying not to let my worry show. “Come on, Jack. Just let me take a look in your truck. If I find it, there’s no reason for you to go through it, is there?”

He nodded. “I would agree with you if I hadn’t already found it.” He paused for a minute, then added, “Maggie.”

I winced at the name I had lived by for the past months.

“Or is it Scarlet?”

Crap. I’d forgotten about the new ID, the one I hadn’t used yet, the safety net ID that had been waiting for me to need it. He’d seen it, seen them both. I was caught, so I did the only thing I could. I turned and ran.

He had anticipated my reaction and had his hand wrapped around my upper arm in a matter of a few steps. His coat fell from my shoulders as I tried to yank away, angry that he had made me trust him, only to turn out to be a cop. I had terrible luck.

“Don’t be stupid, Angel. We’re right outside the police station. Do you really want people to see you running away from me?”

A few choice words ran through my head. Of course I didn’t want people to see me running from a cop and wonder why. “Fine. I won’t run. Just let go.”

He did as I asked, which surprised me. Either he trusted me way too easily, or he was really sure that he could catch me without much effort. Probably the latter.

Time to beg. “Please, Jack. I’m not a criminal and I think you know that, but I do have problems and I need my money to be able to protect myself.”

His eyes glowed with sympathy, but as he bent to pick up his coat and wrap it around me again, he shook his head. “I can’t do it, Angel.”

“Of course you can,” I snapped. “You dig it out from wherever you’re hiding it and put it in my hand. It’s not evidence. I haven’t committed a crime—”

“Those forged IDs are a crime, I can’t just give them back to you. You’re just lucky I didn’t catch you using one, otherwise I would have to, at the very least, write up a report.”


So, why did I change it? Firstly, I needed a better reason for her to lose her money and IDs than just whoops I dropped them. Secondly, I didn’t want to put Jack in the position of keeping something so vital from her. He started to be this jerky guy who was hanging this threat over her head and forcing her to do what he thought was good for her, and I didn’t like that. That’s not the sort of dynamic that I wanted to build a relationship on. I’m very cognizant of the messages that I send with my characters, so I always want the hero and heroine to have a healthy, balanced relationship.