Deleted Scenes: The Storm Inside #1

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Sometimes during the writing process I take a break from the actual story. I go back to an event that happened before the story and write it out. It gives me an opportunity to work through issues and get to know the characters without messing up scenes in the book. Every so often one of these scenes winds up in the story, most of them stay on my hard drive. The two chapters below come from one of these writing breaks. At the time I'd been in Eve's head for so long it was hard to work through the end of The Storm Inside. I took a break and tried to imagine what meeting Eve felt like to Jake. How did it affect him? I ended up writing a fairly involved back story that has never seen the light of day. No one has read this before. Not my critique partner, and not my editor. It is a little rough around the edges, but as I was combing through my old files I thought it might be fun to share it with you guys. So, here it is. The story of when Jake met Eve (and sort of asked her on a date):


September 10th, 1999

The house party was in full swing, music was pulsing so loud I could feel it.  There were two kegs: one on the back porch and one in the kitchen.  Both had lines, mostly because there was a keg stand competition taking place.  A ripped moron was balancing upside down with the help of his obviously drunk and wavering friend, his t-shirt hanging down in front of his nozzle filled face, showing off his six pack abs.  There was a group of three girls staring at them with their heads all cocked to the left, plastic cups in their hands.

I laughed as I made my way through the crowd of strangers and broke free into the backyard.  I was meeting a guy from my biology class here.  Other than him, I didn’t know a soul, which was weird considering I’d grown up in this town.  But we were in college now, things were a little different.  Everywhere I looked I saw the dazed drunken looks of college freshman and sophomores.

“Jake!” I turned in the direction of Stephen’s familiar voice.  He was with a group of four or five, I really couldn’t tell because standing just beside him was Eve.

It wasn’t like a movie or some shit like that.  There weren’t fireworks.  The world didn’t stop or spin faster.  My heart didn’t stop beating.  All that movie crap is stupid.

In real life, falling in love is so much better.

I didn’t see anyone else because no one else mattered.  Something clicked into place.  For the first time in my life everything felt like it was right.

“This is Jennie, Sylvia, Gabe, and Eve.”

She smiled at me and for the very first time our eyes met.  I remember that moment as clearly as I remember anything else in my life because at that very instant, I saw forever.  There is no logical way to explain what I felt, but it was peaceful, like my soul had been calmed by finding the one thing it had been missing all these years.  And I could have sworn she felt it to.  The look on her face was as excited and relieved as mine.  It was like she knew me, recognized who I was inside without having ever said a word to me.

I needed this girl.  Some sort of male instinct took over and I proceeded to act like a cocky bastard.  I took her hand, got her a drink, and whisked her off into a darker corner of the yard.  Now, I will say, she seemed to like all of this.  She smiled and watched my every move.  Thinking she liked it I kept up my cocky act.

It was part act, anyway.

“Do you like movies?”

She smiled. It was like a secret smile.  She had the sweetest lips, pink and perfect.  I wanted my lips on those before the end of the night.  The corners pulled up just a little. On someone else it might have looked like a fake smile or a smirk—but not on her.  No, it was endearing and I could have sworn it was just for me.  “Love them, actually.”

“Have you seen that M. Night Shyamalan movie with Bruce Willis?”

She shook her head, her brown eyes fixed on mine, “No, with school starting I haven’t had a chance.”

“I think it just moved to the dollar theater.  We should get everyone together tomorrow and go check it out.”

“Sounds like a plan.” She was studying me in a way that normally would have unnerved me.  If it were anyone else I would have gotten the hell out of there before they could see through me, figure out all the things that were secretly wrong inside.  But not with her.  There was nothing threatening.  In fact, I kind of wanted to let her inside.  For no logical reason whatsoever, I was convinced she wouldn’t judge me.  There was something so safe about being around this girl.

“I should get your number so we can get our plans straight.  Do you have a cell phone?”  Back then that was a real question.  They were still new enough that most people didn’t have them.  Getting mine had been one of the first things I’d done for myself—and it felt incredibly freeing.  First convincing my parents to let me live on campus in a dorm, then getting a phone with no attachment to them whatsoever.

“Yes,” she nodded, pulling a slick, black, top of the line phone out of her little purse.  It was the kind that flipped open.

She gave me her number and I gave her mine.  “That’s a really nice phone, Eve.”

She blushed and, for fucks sake, I felt myself swell a little.  I wasn’t just attracted to her—I wanted know everything about her.  Protect her.  I wanted to know what put those smiles on her face and made her cheeks flush.

“My dad likes to make sure I have every possible way to communicate.  He thinks it’s safer that way.  I have to carry a purse everywhere to hold the pager, phone, and mace.”  She opened her bag and let me look inside.

“I like your dad.  He’s a smart man.”

“I know he’s right, I just wish he wasn’t.”

The slightly sad look her chocolate brown was wrong.  They should never, ever look like that.  “What do mean?”

She sighed and shrugged her delicate shoulders.  She was wearing a simple black top with spaghetti straps.  They showed off her perfect shoulders and neck.  “It sucks I have to worry about things like that.  I wish we lived in a world where I could walk from my car to my dorm without having to worry about being kidnapped and raped.”

Her very blunt words cut through me.  If there was one thing in this life I completely and intimately understood, it was unnecessary violence.  I think I vowed—right then and there—to protect this woman from ever feeling threatened like that.  “No, it isn’t fair.  But I’m glad you’re prepared.  If you ever need someone to walk you somewhere, just call.” I smiled all proud of myself, “After all, you do have my number.  Which dorm are you in?”

It turned out our dorms were across the street from each other.  “Very convenient,” I murmured, feeling like so much of my life was suddenly starting to fall into place.

“Very,” she agreed.  That secret smile of hers made my chest ache for more.  I wanted to flash forward a year, to when I knew everything about her.

 **********

 Oddly enough, no one else could make our movie date the next day.  I was so disappointed.  It was like I had invited everyone to the movie and then conveniently called each of them and asked them to find other, better plans…

She met me at the theater.  The moment she saw I was alone, her smile faltered.  I pretty much had a full-blown thermonuclear meltdown inside my head for about three seconds.  Maybe I’d been too cocky in conveniently arranging our first date.

“Where is everyone?” she asked.

I pulled it together and threw my mask of brash self-confidence back on.  “Turns out it was a bad night for everyone.  It’s just you and me… if that’s ok.”

She stared at me for a moment and I was sure she was going to bolt.  But then, a huge smile broke out across her face, it even lit up her eyes.  “Alright then.  Let’s go get the crap scared out of us.”

I laughed. This girl had a funny way of saying things.  I liked it.  She tried to buy her ticket, which I, of course, wouldn’t let her do.  “It’s my way of apologizing for plans falling through.”

She seemed to buy my lie.  And by the time I’d also bought her popcorn, I think she was catching on to the fact this was a date.  We found seats near the back of the virtually empty theater and settled in.  There was still a good five minutes until the previews were going to start so it gave me one more chance to make a move on her.

But she beat me to it, “So, Jake.  Everyone cancelled, huh?”

I shrugged it off, still holding on to my little white lie.

“And you really felt the need to buy my ticket and popcorn out of the goodness of your friendly heart?”

I could either go all-in and confess or keep playing it safe.  But the thing was—I didn’t want to play it safe with Eve.  In fact, slow, easy, safe… none of those were words I felt had a shred of meaning when it came to her.  I wanted to go balls-to-the-wall, jump in the deep end, crazy with her.  “No.  It wasn’t out of the goodness of my friendly heart.  It was out of selfish, greedy desire to see you again.  And not in a crowd.”

She didn’t blink or move, but her breathing got heavier.  I noticed because, I realized, I was noticing every single thing about her.  It was like I could feel her even when I wasn’t looking at her.  Her chest was rising and falling, and it was taking every shred of control I had to maintain eye contact.  My hormone crazed eighteen year old body wanted to stare at her heaving chest, not her eyes.

“Me, too.”

My heart stopped for a second and I had to swallow hard to kick-start it.  What was it about her?  I wanted to rip myself in two, bare my soul to her, give myself to her completely to do as she wished with me.  And I hoped a lot of that involved some crazy, dirty, deeply intimate things.

“I really think I should kiss you.”

She smiled, “I think you should, too.”

She was going to be dangerous.  There were no two ways about that.  I was falling completely under her spell and everything she did was magic.  She seemed to have a direct line to everything that drove me wild.  Agreeing so readily to a kiss…

I took charge, turning toward her and cupping her face.  I smiled as confidently as I could, needing my cocky act to get me through this.  It was the very first time I touched her and it about stopped me right there.  Her skin was the most magical thing I’d ever felt.  But then she tilted her head ever so slightly into my palm.  That little gesture told me a thousand things about her.  One gesture in one instant.  And I can tell you, all these years later, everything I learned about Eve Daniels right then and there was true.

She was soft and kind—and craved my touch almost as much I craved touching her.  She was open and vulnerable.  And her vulnerability was a good thing.  She wasn’t fragile—Eve wasn’t the kind of girl you could easily break—but she was so incredibly open and trusting of me that she let me dive right into her life.  She was daring, especially when it came to me, while also being thoughtful and tentative.  Eve was more sure of herself than anyone I’d ever met.  When she believed in something, she believed in it whole-heartedly and with a passion unlike anything else.

I learned the truth of all of that.

But I first learned it the moment before I kissed her for the first time.

In one move I pulled our lips together.  I decided somewhere between my hand touching her cheek and my lips touching hers I needed to make this a quick, soft kiss.  Any more than that and I’d crush her.  I knew myself and how intensely I was feeling.  If I tried to kiss her any more than that, I’d be done.  I would want to consume her.

I was pretty sure, even as willing and excited as she seemed, forcing my tongue down her throat and dry humping her in the back of dark, dirty dollar theater was not the way to get a second date.

So I kissed her using more control than I knew I had in me.  Her lips were so soft and her breath was so sweet as it tickled against my skin.  She tasted like popcorn and Eve.  Even as I pulled away I wanted more.  I didn’t want to let her go.  So I pressed my forehead to hers and whispered, “That was a pretty amazing first kiss, Eve.”

She had her eyes squeezed shut and she nodded, “Yes. It. Was.”  And then she looked up at me, “But I bet you say that to all the girls.”

I looked her right in the eye. I wanted her to see inside me when I replied.  “No.  I don’t.”

The lights dimmed and the movie screen flared to life.  Eve’s eyes were wide with surprise as I pulled away from her, threaded my fingers through hers, and rested our hands on my leg.  We didn’t move the entire movie.

She agreed to hit the diner with me and that was where I discovered she could eat like a guy.  Over the course of our two hour midnight snack she ate an entire burger, all her loaded fries, a chocolate milkshake, and a pickle.

“You aren’t like other girls, are you?” I chuckled.

She blushed again and hugged herself like she felt overexposed.  “No, I guess I’m not.”  Her voice was adorably tiny when she was embarrassed.

This was where reason failed me.  How could such a beautiful, wonderful girl like Eve be shy and embarrassed around a rough loser like me?  Hell, why was she around me at all?  Yes, I sort of tricked her into a pseudo-date tonight, but she chose to stay.  She was the one who gave me permission to kiss her.  She could have taken her hand back at any time during the movie and she certainly didn’t have to agree to a late night snack.  At any point she could have left—but she didn’t.

“Can I take you to dinner tomorrow night?”

She nodded slowly, pushing back her empty plate.  “Yes, I think I would like that.  You’re not like other guys are you, Jake?”

“No, I’m not.”  I agreed.  And in more ways than she could imagine.

“You really want to see me again so soon?”

Today, tomorrow, forever.  “Why wouldn’t I?”

She smirked, “You do know the guy rule is to wait a few days… make the girl sweat it out, make her wonder if you’re interested or not.”

“I go after what I want Eve.  I don’t play games and I don’t follow some stupid set of rules to get laid.  I like you, I want to spend time with you—it’s as simple as that.”

She seemed to consider my words carefully, her eyes unfocusing for a moment and her head nodding absently.  “Good,” she agreed.  “That’s how I operate as well.  I’m sick of guys who don’t know what they want.  I’d rather not date at all than date some douche who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.  It’s nice to finally meet someone… different.”

We parked in the same lot when we got back to campus and I walked her safely back to her dorm.  What she didn’t know was that I stood outside and waited five minutes before pulling out my phone and calling her.

“Jake?”

“Did you make it back to your room ok?”

“You mean did I encounter any difficulties between the doorstep and my room?  Ummm… no.”

The sound of her voice… I wanted to hear it all the time.  “I just wanted to make sure you got safely into your room.”

She was silent for a minute.  Deadly silent.  I’d either just completely freaked her out or… “That’s really sweet, Jake.  Is that all you wanted?  Just to make sure I was safe?”

There was a little twist in my gut.  The way she said that—it was like she found it hard to believe a guy could simply be worried about a girl with no other hidden agenda.  “I needed to make sure you were safe.  I wouldn’t have been able to sleep otherwise.  Besides, it gave me an excuse to hear your voice one more time.”

She laughed, but it was deep and husky, like she was a little bit turned on by my sad excuse for calling.  “And are you safely back in your room?”

“Almost, you hear that?” The front door of my dorm slammed shut.  “I’m inside the building now.  I just wanted to make sure you got back safely. You should go to bed.”

“Or,” she replied quietly, “we could talk some more.”

“It’s almost two o’clock in the morning,” I replied, getting excited. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and jammed my key into my door.

“Do you have anything better to do?”

“Nope. I’d much rather talk to you than stare at my ceiling.”

“Good. Me too.”

“Hey Eve?”

“Yeah?” she asked with a yawn.

“Thanks for tonight.”