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In the final version of Saving Marilee, James is called back to Sutton Manor before Lylin and Rhys’s wedding takes place. However, in my original draft, James stayed for the wedding. There was still a wedding and a celebratory ball afterwards. The two gentlemen still vied for Marilee’s attention, becoming a little too hands on and scaring her. In the final version, it’s Lorraina that finds her afterwards, but in the original it was James. I changed it for several reasons. I felt that Marilee needed more time to come to grips with her trauma in her own way. I also wanted to highlight the strides that she and Lorraina had made in their relationship. This is the deleted version of that scene.Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.22.47 PM

My heart sped up and I could feel a cold sweat starting on my back. Several voices shouted in my head. My own voice warning me to run while Damian’s voice shouted insults. I closed my eyes against the onslaught, blocking out the playful banter of the two men who had not a clue that inside my head, a battle was being fought—until I hissed in a low whisper, “Both of you, unhand me. Now.”

The fury in my words shocked even me, and I could feel their astonishment in the tense moment before both dropped their hands.

The way they had taken hold of me, pulling me back and forth like it was a game, trying to control where I went and with whom…I had had enough of that to last me a lifetime. “I am not the same girl you knew before.” I tried to infuse the words with confidence, but I was so disappointed in myself that my eyes stung. “I’ll thank you to never handle me in such a way again.”

“Of course. We beg your pardon, Highness.” The both bowed in humility.

“Good evening, gentlemen.” I walked away. Once again I forced my breath to march in and march back out. My vision clouded as my mind entangled itself in memories best forgotten. I pushed and wove my way through the crowd, not knowing where I was going, only feeling the need to get somewhere.

A hand closed around my arm, pulling me to a stop, but I yanked it free and spun around to glare at my assailant.

James put his hands up in surrender, deep concern etched around his eyes. “I’m sorry. You didn’t seem to hear me calling your name.”

“James,” I breathed in relief as the tension drained out of me, replaced by fatigue. I reached for his arm, seeking a lifeline.

He stepped close and pressed a hand to my back to support me. “What’s upset you?”

“It’s nothing. I just…I’m not cut out for flirtation anymore.”

His lips twitched in amusement. “Good. I’d rather you didn’t flirt with anyone.”

“Including you?”

“I’m the exception.” His face was serious as he steered me out of the crowd. His answer made me smile. He’d never claimed me in any way before.

We pulled free of the ballroom, escaping into the cooler air of the corridor. When we had left most of the noise and bustle behind, he stopped and turned to look at me. “Tell me what happened.”

I sighed. “Two men were vying for my attention and became overenthusiastic about their efforts. They were each pulling on an arm.” I shook my head, embarrassed over my reaction.

“Are you hurt?”

“No. It was just disconcerting.”

“I wish I had the right to wallop them for you.” His jaw was set in anger, his eyes burning as he looked back toward the ballroom.

“And why don’t you have the right?”

He stepped back, his eyes cutting over to the tapestry-covered wall. “I am only a gentleman, not a Lord or even…”

“And you think that somehow makes you unworthy of…what?”

He met my gaze. “I care for you. But being here and seeing your life…” He pushed a hand through his hair. “The disparity of our circumstances has crossed my mind.”

I shook my head. “It doesn’t mean anything.”


“Yes, really. It used to mean something to me. It used to mean everything to me. But I daresay I am a bit wiser than I was a year ago, and I do not care one wit for titles and stations.”

“Does that mean I have your permission to flog the gentlemen who were hassling you?”

I pressed my lips to keep from smiling, though I couldn’t hide the mirth in my eyes. “I don’t think that will be necessary. They were only treating me the way they always did.”

“I would expect any true gentleman to be intelligent enough to realize that when circumstances change, so should their conduct.”

“You’re insulting their intelligence now?” I found it quite adorable to see him so worked up for my sake.

His gaze took in my almost smiling mouth. “You find my ire amusing?”

“I find it chivalrous.”

He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “Marilee?”


“Might I have this dance?”

I chuckled as I looked up at him. “You mean we’ll actually have music to dance to this time?”

“I suppose we can indulge and be extravagant this one time.” He bowed and offered his arm. “Shall we show them how very proper we can be?”

I pulled my shoulders a little straighter, lifted my chin, and placed a delicate hand over his. “Yes, we shall.”

I was fairly certain that the cough he let out was to cover a laugh.

I spent the remainder of the evening within arm’s reach of James, dancing, eating, conversing with others. I enjoyed myself, enjoyed the frivolity and the glitter with the assurance that James was at my side.