Not every scene works out how you think it should when you write it the first time. Sometimes you have to attack a scene again and again until it finally lays right on the page. This happened a few times when I was working on Shiver. Sometimes I didn’t see the problem until Rinda pointed it out and others … I saw it when I was done with the scene.
In the spirit of writing and NaNoWriMo, I thought I would share the original draft of one of the scenes from Shiver. I’ll admit that I liked the scene when I was crafting it, but when I read over it the next day, I realized that Lucas’s behavior was off and that the scene shouldn’t involve Snow but rather Rowe. As a result, it needed a complete re-write.
As an author, you have to be willing to completely scrap a day’s worth of work if you want to do the story justice. But not all of the scene was lost. A lot of the description and some of the dialogue was salvaged. And… there’s something the Lucas says in the original scene … just a little comment, but I’m saving that little something for later. It’s a little part of his heart that I’m going to bring back later in either a book or a short story.
The important thing: All writing is worth your time. Even if never makes it to the final process, those words taught you something about storytelling or the characters or the plot or maybe a glimpse of a future project.
Enjoy this special snippet from Shiver.
With his arm against the window, Lucas leaned his forehead on his wrist. The glass was cool to the touch as the brisk wind buffeted the building. The local weathermen were speculating that the city could see its first dusting of snow by Halloween. It was a sad thought considering the trees were still green on the hills surrounding Cincinnati.
But Lucas didn’t feel the cold or see the shivering green trees. The world was little more than a garish blur of noise and faded colors. He lived for the irregular visits from Rowe and Hollis, updating him on Andrei’s status. Between those visits, life dragged. Work failed after the first week to distract him from his fears.
Two weeks. It had been two weeks since that afternoon in Rowe’s office. Nothing happened for the first week. Andrei contacted his associates in the fights and Lucas returned to his normal routine with a new bodyguard hounding his steps. Lucas never spoke to him. Never looked at him.
One week ago, Andrei had his first fight and Lucas lost himself in a bottle of bourbon to get through the night. When he closed his eyes, all he saw was the long scar along Andrei’s knee from where he’d had ACL surgery. The injury slowed him down, made him just a little less mobile, made that knee just a little weaker. All Lucas could wonder was if that knee injury would be what made Andrei lose.
It was dawn when Rowe appeared to tell him Andrei had suffered only some minor injuries and had come through his first two fights victorious. But there would be more. The fights would keep coming until Andrei’s body finally gave out or the bastard haunting Lucas offered Andrei a job.
Heavy footsteps shuffled down the hall, approaching his study. Lucas turned back to the desk and picked up the 9mm sitting on a stack of papers. His finger rested on the safety and he drew in a slow breath, waiting. He started to lift the gun until Snow stepped into the open doorway. Flipping the safety back on, Lucas wordlessly put the gun back on the papers and sat behind the desk.
“You can’t do this, Lucas,” Snow said without preamble. “You look like shit.”
“Leave. I’ve got work to do,” Lucas replied in a dead voice. He knew he looked like hell warmed over. He was barely getting out of bed each morning and he hadn’t bothered to shave in days. He wasn’t eating much even when Ian brought him food.
“You can’t fucking shut me out!” Snow bellowed, slamming the door closed behind him. “We’ve been through too much shit.”
“Everything is fine.”
“Bullshit! You haven’t been to the office in a week.”
“It’s safer for everyone if I work from here.”
“You fired Candace.”
Lucas flinched. That he regretted. “She was belligerent.”
“For calling you on being a maniacal douchebag. She should have been given a medal for putting up with your shit!”
“Are you done?”
Snow slammed both of his palms down flat on the top of the desk and leaned close. “I haven’t seen you in two weeks.” His low words vibrated with pain and menace.
“You told me to stay out of the hospital.”
“You abandoned me for a guy you’ve known for less than a week,” Snow growled.
Lucas jumped back to his feet, his fists twisting in the collar of the soft navy button-down Snow was wearing, holding the man so close that their noses nearly bumped. “I have never abandoned you when you needed me. Never,” he snarled. “I have been there for you every time you’ve needed me through everything.”
Snow clenched the back of Lucas’s neck, lowering his head so that his forehead hit Lucas’s. “Then why do you refuse to let me be there for you?”
Lucas shuddered and he could feel cracks forming in the wall he had built around his emotions to keep them at bay so he could simply function each day. He longed to step back and let the wall fall, but he couldn’t. He had to keep holding the wall up, to hold himself together should something go wrong. He had to be the strong one. He had to be the one to hold the line and protect his friends… his family.
“You were the one who said I was the center,” Lucas replied in a low voice. “You said I held us all together.”
“But that doesn’t mean that you can’t let us be there for you.” Snow eased his grip enough to brush his lips across Lucas’s temple in a gentle kiss. “I love you. If you’re in pain, then so am I.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
Snow released Lucas and stepped back so he could look at Lucas. He shook his head before flopping down in the chair in front of Lucas’s desk. “I just don’t understand why we’re in such pain.”
Lucas winced at his friend’s sharp words and eased back into his own chair. His eyes caught on the gun on the desk and he sighed as he put it in the top drawer. It was just an ugly reminder of how close to the edge he’d been hovering over the past week. Suicide had never crossed his mind, but he’d managed to formulate a number of suicidal plans focused on extracting Andrei from those fucking underground fights.
“Luc,” Snow said, jerking Lucas’s gaze back to him. He’d drifted off in thought and Snow had caught him. “What the fuck?”
“What about him?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake! You’ve been a fucking mess.”
“The guy is risking his life for me. He’s risking getting beaten to a bloody pulp in those damn fights. Even without that, if this asshole discovers that he’s a fucking spy, he’s dead.” Lucas could feel the tension ramping back up in his frame with each word he spoke. His leg bounced with nervous energy and it was becoming a struggle to stay in his chair.
“That’s not enough? He’s risking his life.”
Snow shrugged. “It’s his job.
Lucas pushed back to his feet, pacing over to the windows. “It’s not his fucking job to do this.” He massaged the muscles in the back of his neck. His entire body was one tense muscle and he could only find relief when he was deep in a bottle of alcohol. But that next morning he woke hating himself, knowing that if he’d been needed, he would have been unable to help anyone.
Snow slid to the edge of his chair, narrowing his eyes on Lucas. The other man flinched under his friend’s gaze, confident that whatever he said next wasn’t going to be good.
“You’re in fucking love with him,” Snow gasped. “Holy shit.”
Lucas jerked at his words as if he’d been hit. “I am not. Where did you get that nonsense?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re coming apart in front of me because he’s in danger.”
“I don’t have to be in love with him to not want him to be in danger,” Lucas sneered, relaxing a little as he mentally stepped on firmer, safer ground again. “If it was you, I’d be a mess.”
“Yes, but you love me,” Snow added with a smirk.
Snow walked around the desk and shoved Lucas until he fell back into his chair. “Stay,” he commanded, pointing at Lucas before he walked around and picked up the chair in front of the desk. Snow set it down again behind the desk and sat in it. They were so close their knees were practically touching, but now Lucas couldn’t pace, he couldn’t escape. “Talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Lucas quickly said, struggling to hold Snow’s gaze.
“So you’re making yourself and everyone around you miserable for shits and giggles.”
Those two words were softer, inviting. It was the same thing Lucas had said to Snow on so many occasions when the doctor was tied in emotional knots over work, or the few times in the man’s murky past when he’d attempted a relationship only to have it blow up in his face. The command beckoned just a flow of words with rhyme or reason. There didn’t have to be a beginning or end, or even a clear timeline. Just words tangling with emotions that Lucas couldn’t even put names to yet.
“I just keep thinking that there are things I need to know,” Lucas started slowly but there was a potent, desperate urgency to his voice. “Did you know he’s Romanian? His whole family. He speaks Romanian. He made it sound like he had a rough childhood and I keep thinking that I want to know what it was like. I want to know why he wants to hide that part of him. I want to know who is favorite author is. I want to know why he started fighting when it seems so at odds with his personality. I want to know how he always seems to know the right thing to say to Ian. Every day I think of more things that I need to know about him and every fucking day he has to fight I’m sure that I won’t have my chance to ask.”
Lucas looked up to see Snow reclining in his chair with an unreadable expression that didn’t set him at ease. His chest hurt. It seemed to hurt all the time now. He rubbed at the spot, ignoring the slight tremble in his fingers. He was exhausted, strung out from too little sleep, too little food, and too much alcohol. Snow’s eyes followed his hand as it moved over his sternum.
Taking a deep breath, Lucas slowly released it over his parted lips. “I just need him here. I need to see him safe. And then I can ask him my questions. Once I know these things, I’m sure I can let him go. I can move on.”
“Your chest hurt?” Snow asked, motioning with his chin toward Lucas’s hand.
Snow leaned forward and took Lucas’s wrist, pressing his fingers against the pulse point. Lucas tried to relax under Snow’s touch. He didn’t want the man slipping into doctor mode, but he’d learned years ago that Snow was most comfortable when he was being a caretaker. It gave the man a sense of purpose and control. He also knew that Snow was much better at taking care of him than Lucas ever could.
“Chest tight? Having trouble breathing?”
“Dizzy or light headed?”
Snow released his hand and sat back in his chair, digging in his jeans pocket to pull out a small brown bottle. He put the bottle on the desk in front of Lucas. “One a night before bed. And lay off the alcohol.”
“What is it?”
“Low dose of clonazepam.”
Lucas picked up the bottle and look at the label, frowning. “Why does that sound familiar? What is it?”
“You’re giving me a fucking anti-anxiety pill?” Lucas demanded, throwing the bottle back at Snow. “Wait! You came here with a script ready for me!”
Snow caught the pills and put them back on the desk. “Yeah, I’ve talked to Rowe and Ian. They said you’re a mess. Candace even stopped by the hospital to say that you’re a raging lunatic. And if you can believe it, Hollis has noticed that you’re unhinged. One pill each night will take the edge off. They’ll keep you from having panic attacks. Make you less of a fucking psycho.”
“Thanks,” Lucas mumbled, sliding down in his chair to glare at the little brown pill bottle. The worst part was that Snow was fucking right and there wasn’t a damn thing he could say to contradict the man. Was he going to take the pills? Fuck no. Well, probably not. Just seeing them was the wake-up call that he needed to pull his shit together. For more than a week, he’d let his fears get the better of him and he couldn’t let himself drown in those fears for another second.
With a sigh, Lucas looked over at his oldest friends, wondering not for the first time why the man put up with his shit over the years. “Do you think Candace will come back to me?”