I changed my mind a couple of times about what direction to go in with this book. My characters tend to have other ideas ...
So, I've decided to share a deleted scene which doesn't exist in the book. This is the most intact one, the other parts that I deleted are just the odd paragraph. SO DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO. :D
Carly sat next to me at the lunch bar, fluffed milk all over her face as she enjoyed her first drink in the cafe. The steamed milk was streaked with chocolate syrup, and she wore more than she had drunk.
I took photos of her with my phone, laughing as she grinned. “You have made such a mess, sweetie.”
“I finished my drink, Daddy,” she said, and tried to lick the fluff from her nose.
I shook my head, picking up a napkin and wiping her face clean in one swipe. “That’s better. Let’s go see your mother.”
Standing, I held my hands out, and my little girl put her hands in mine as she jumped off the stool.
Pushing open the door, I looked down at her, swinging my hand in hers. She was such a sweet little thing. Not looking where I was going, I crashed into someone, who dropped a shopping bag on the ground.
“Shit! I’m so sorry,” I said, bending to pick up the tins that were rolling away.
I looked up, meeting those hazel eyes I’d dreamed about so much.
“Andrew?” Rowan said, a faint smile on her face.
“Sorry, Rowan. Totally my fault. I wasn’t looking where I was going.” I said, retrieving the last can and placing it back in the shopping bag.
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. There was nothing breakable in there.”
I stood. She looked down at Carly beside me. “Is this your little girl?”
Grinning, I looked down. “It sure is. Say hello to Rowan, Carly.”
“What’s her name?” Rowan asked. I looked back at her, and she had this confused expression on her face.
“Oh, for a moment, I thought you said Charlie. I’m sorry.” She looked flustered, like she’d put her foot in it somehow.
“It was Maddy’s mother’s name.”
Carly tugged at my leg, and I bent, scooping her up and into my arms. She hugged me tight before letting go just a little and peeking out at Rowan from behind my head.
“Hi, Carly,” Rowan said, reaching out to tap her on the nose.
Carly giggled. “Hi.”
“Daddy used to be friends with me when we were your age.” Rowan smiled at me. “She’s adorable, Andrew.”
“Thanks. How’s your family?”
“We’re all well. Mia’s doing well in school, and Charlie is in pre-school. We’ve been thinking about one more, but Kyle and I can’t agree on the timing.” She laughed, and shook her head.
“Knowing you, you’ll win. That man is twisted around your little finger. You have a Charlie?” I wanted so much to ask her to go for a coffee with me, but I knew she wouldn’t. Besides, we had to get moving soon.
“Our second was a little boy. As soon as I knew, he couldn’t be called anything else.”
I nodded. “I like it.”
We stood in awkward silence for what felt like an eternity, until Carly pulled on my ear. “Daddy, we need to go to Mummy.”
She leaned over, pulling my face to hers until we pressed noses. Rowan laughed. “Mia used to do that to Kyle. So sweet.”
“I should go. I’d really like to stay and chat, but I need to pick up Maddy from the doctor.”
Her brows furrowed in concern. “I hope nothing’s wrong.”
“Maddy had an ectopic pregnancy. She’s having a follow up visit.”
Rowan frowned. “I’m so sorry. We lost one in the beginning. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever been through.”
“We’re not going to let it put us off. Once she gets the all clear, we’ll be trying again.”
She chewed her bottom lip, the universal Rowan sign for wanting to say more but holding back. I smirked, remembering that. I knew nearly everything about her, and hadn’t forgotten a thing.
“What is it?” I asked, ignoring Carly pinching my neck.
“I wish things could be different.” She twisted her mouth into a sort of half smile, half frown, fighting back tears as she said the words.
“I know,” I nodded.
“Well, I should let you go. Good luck with everything. It was nice meeting you, Carly. I have a little boy around your age.” She smiled, and I felt Carly sit up. Rowan always did have a way of getting people to react to her kindness.
“Can we go play, Daddy?” Carly asked.
“Not today, sweetie. We have to go and make sure Mummy is okay. Say goodbye to Rowan.”
“Goodbye, Rowan.” She waved, and Rowan grinned.
“Goodbye, Carly, Andrew.” I watched as she walked away, taking a deep breath. Our children could have played together, that was one of the last things she’d said to me that day in the park. I never thought in a million years that we would end up with children of a similar age who could have played together, but never would.
I swung into the car park to see Maddy standing outside the building, arms crossed defensively across her chest, her expression dark.
“Hey, babe. Sorry I’m a bit late.” Running into Rowan had delayed me, but only by a few minutes. Maddy should be okay.
She climbed into the passenger seat, barely looking at me.
“You okay?” I asked, touching her hand.
She pulled her hand away. “Fine. You’re late.”
“Yeah, Carly and I were held up. But, we’re here now, so we can go home and I’ll cook dinner and draw you a bath if you want.”
“We saw Rowan, Mummy.” The little voice from the back seat piped up, and I closed my eyes, cringing at Maddy’s reaction.
When I opened them, she was glaring straight at me. “Rowan? As is once so desperately in love you kidnapped her Rowan?”
“Yes, that Rowan. We literally ran into her. In fact, I nearly knocked her over rushing to pick you up.”
She looked back out the window, staring straight ahead. “Can we just go home now?”
“Sure thing. What did the doctor say?” I asked, putting the car in reverse and backing out of the park, trying to change the subject.
“My hormone levels are still out of whack. We need to wait a while longer before we can try again. I’ve got another appointment in a couple of weeks.” Her voice softened at the words, she knew I genuinely cared about the answer. Carly had been our little surprise, but I couldn’t wait to be a father again.
“We’ll get there, babe. Doesn’t mean we can’t fool around in the meantime.” I caught her eye, and waggled my eyebrows at her. She gave me the faintest of smiles as she tried not to laugh.
“If we have to,” she said, crossing her arms again and trying to look mad.
“What do you want for dinner, Carly?” I asked, glancing in the rear view mirror.
“Chicken nuggets,” she yelled.
Maddy laughed. “You would eat them every night if we let you.”
“Let’s let her eat them tonight, she’ll be happy and go to bed early. Earlier she goes to bed, the more time we have alone together,” I said softly.
Maddy sighed, uncrossing her arms. “You know Mr Carmichael, sometimes you make more sense than anything else in my life.”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
Ariadne Wayne is the pen name of an overworked, often exhausted mother of two who frequently turns to the internet for relaxation. It doesn't always work...