Deleted Scene from Just Breathe

Author's Note

Often times in the final editing process an entire scene can be cut. In this case although the scene worked it didn’t actually present any new information. And since all scenes need to do something to move the plot forward this one was eliminated. However, it’s a wonderful Charlotte moment, and so, although it’s not in the book, it’s still in my files.




“Oh, no, thank you.” Charlotte shook her head vehemently. “I can’t eat melons.”

Firelight flickered against the smoke-stained walls of the heuriger. The little restaurant had a home-spun feeling. Benches flanked gaily clad, candle-topped tables. The muses sat clustered around one table, a veritable smorgasbord of food spread out in front of them.

Chloe smiled at the little group. They’d spent an enjoyable morning touring the monastery at Klosterneuburg, and now they’d settled in for a nice long lunch.

“Why ever not?” Irma looked over at her friend, reaching for the fruit salad in question.

“Because melons make my lips smell.” Charlotte spread some cheese on a piece of bread.

“Smell?” Chloe bit back laughter.

“Oh dear, did I say smell? I meant swell. Melons make my lips swell. It’s been that way my whole life. Makes me look deformed.” She took a bite of the dark bread.

“Actually, I was reading just the other day that fat lips are in.” Willie reached for her wine glass.

“Fat lips? Surely you misread it.” Irma actually traced her bottom lip with her index finger.

“Well, I think the exact words they used were bee-stung.”

“Imagine wanting to look like a bee stung your lips. Not a very comfortable sounding prospect.” Thomas added, his lips pursed protectively at the mere thought.

“It isn’t easy to be beautiful,” Charlotte said firmly.

“Looks to me like it’s pretty easy for this group.”

“Matthew. We were wondering when you were going to join us.” Willie smiled up at him as he stood by the table.

Chloe felt her heart begin to hammer. They’d only been apart for a couple of hours, but it felt like eons.

“Hello, angel.” He slid onto the bench next to her and leaned over to kiss her, his lips sending shivers of pleasure racing through her. “I missed you.” Even his voice seemed to caress her. He turned his attention to the rest of the ladies. “How was the monastery?”

“It was quite beautiful. Especially the cloister.” Willie reached for the roast pork, helping herself to several slices.

“There were drunk monks there.” Charlotte smiled.

“Charlotte, there was a winery there. The monks used to make wine,” Irma said.

“Well, what’s the point of having a winery if you aren’t going to drink the wine?” She eyed them all as if she had just solved a major conundrum.

Thomas grinned, tipping his wine glass in her direction. “I don’t see how you can argue with that.” He turned his attention to Matthew, his face growing somber. “How was your meeting?”

Chloe shivered, thinking of Sabra. The wonder of last night with Matthew and the busy morning with the muses had put it all out of her mind, but the mention of Ben brought it all back clearly. Matthew put an arm around her, pulling her back against him.

“There’s nothing much new to report. Ben’s people searched Sabra’s apartment, but there wasn’t anything concrete. So all we have is her confession. He is sending some papers that were found on to Langley. They might turn out to be useful.” He shot Chloe a telling glance.

She wondered if they’d ever know the truth about the package she’d found. Probably not. If it was Andropov’s list, it would be beyond top secret. Something the CIA would want to handle internally. And if it wasn’t. Well, then nobody would care.

“The point is, it’s all over.” Willie laid a hand over Chloe’s, her eyes meeting Matthew’s. “At least as far as Chloe is concerned, right?”

“Yes. It’s over.”

“Then I say we relax and enjoy the time we have left here.” Willie smiled at them all, reaching for the bread basket. “This afternoon Charlotte and I are going to a spa. We’ll be pampered, coifed and curled. Add a little makeup and our ball gowns and we’ll be ready for an evening of Viennese waltzes.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to come with us, Irma?” Charlotte asked.

Irma laughed. “I don’t think that even a spa could make me look anything more than just what you see.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Why, thank you, Thomas.” She smiled at the little man. “I think I’ll head back to the hotel for a little nap. Then I’ll be ready to go to the gala.”

“How about you, Chloe?” Willie asked. “Interested in some pampering?”

Chloe opened her mouth to answer, but Matthew was quicker. “I have my own version of pampering in mind for Chloe.” His hands were warm on her shoulders.

Charlotte raised a hand. “I think I’d like that kind of pampering, too.”

“Charlotte.” Irma poked her in the ribs.

“Well, I may be old, but I’m not dead.” She grinned, wiggling her perfectly penciled eyebrows at them.

“Why is it that every time I’m around you all I feel like a slab of beef?” Matthew asked.

Beefcake is more like it.” Charlotte was still grinning.

Matthew grimaced.

Chloe smiled up at him. “Hey, Charlotte’s just calling it as she sees it.”

Thomas cleared his throat. “Well, if you ladies are finished ogling Matthew, I’d say it’s time to see about turning some pumpkins into princesses.”

Charlotte actually giggled. A coquette through and through.

“I think the pumpkin turned into a carriage, Thomas.” Willie raised one eyebrow. “And, I’d like to believe we’re starting with a little more to work with than that, thank you very much.”

Matthew leaned forward, his breath warm against her ear. “I think my princess is perfect just the way she is.”

 

Excerpt from JUST BREATHE by Dee Davis, Copyright ©2001 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from author. Please contact .