Monday, November 2, 2015

When Angel Met Jim

In the process of editing a book, things get cut. Most of the time, the cuts make the writing tighter and the story stronger.

One of the things that frequently gets cut is backstory. And, although this is usually a good thing, sometimes it's hard for a writer to let go of the backstory she worked so hard to create.

Many readers of Casting the First Stone have voiced their dislike of Angel's husband, Jim, some have even asked how a sweet girl like Angel ended up with someone like Jim.

As I prepare to release Chasing a Second Chance, I can't tell you that you'll like him any better (you probably won't), but I'd like to share a deleted scene: the night Jim and Angel met.

Angel Spencer had met Jim Alessio at a church social -- the only one she'd ever been able to drag her friend Gina to. Gina had told her over and over again to go up to him, start a conversation, ask him to dance, but even from a distance, Jim had a charm and self-confidence that unnerved Angel. He knew he was handsome -- that was obvious from the way he carried himself -- but that didn’t keep the ladies away. At least not the ones with self-confidence.

Church event or not, Gina quickly went on the prowl, but Angel busied herself filling the refreshment table, keeping cups stocked, making sure the wastebaskets were strategically placed so that clean-up at the end of the evening would be easier. She had just returned from the kitchen with a tray of cookies and was placing it on the table when a male voice made her jump.

“Did you make those?” he asked.

“No,” Angel said, fussing with the napkins before looking up at Jim, who stood nearly a foot taller than she. “They were donated by Carlini’s Bakery.”

“Are they any good?”

“I don’t know,” Angel said. “Would you like to try one?”

Even at that moment, Angel knew their conversation was hardly the stuff of romance novels, but she didn’t care. There were plenty of women swarming around him -- most more polished and sophisticated than she was -- and yet this handsome, charming man had started a conversation with her. It was all she could do to string logical sentences together, so a conversation about cookies was a relief.  

“Are you serving the refreshments, too, or would you like to dance?”

“No. I mean, yes, I’d love to dance,” Angel said.

Jim took her hand and led her onto the dance floor. “I’m Jim, by the way.”

“Angel. Are you active with the men's group? I mean, is that why you’re here?”

“Part of the reason,” Jim said. “How about you? What brings you here this evening?”

Angel smiled. “I volunteered to help with refreshments,” she said. “Actually, you gentlemen secured all the food. All we ladies had to do was set it out.”

“Well, you’ve done a lovely job.”

“Thank you.”

They danced in silence to the out of tune jazz band's rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and Angel tried not to be nervous about her sudden inability to make witty -- or even intelligent -- conversation. Jim didn’t seem to mind. He drew her closer as the song went on, but when it was over, he thanked her for the dance and put himself back in circulation.

“So?” Gina said, coming up to Angel seconds after the next song started.

Angel shrugged. “I don’t know. We had a nice conversation, and the dance was nice –-”

Gina rolled her eyes. “What a ringing endorsement. Should I even tell you what I found out?”

Angel sighed. “Do I want to know?”

“Of course you do. His name is Jim Alessio. He runs a restaurant supply company, which isn’t surprising, since his parents own Alessio’s Pizza on North Main.”

“How did you -- ”

Gina raised one shoulder in a half-shrug and smirked. “Look, I’m usually the one doing the drooling –-”

“I was not drooling!”

"Um, yeah, you were. I’m a cynic, but you’re so completely trusting I wanted to make sure you weren’t getting in over your head. Seems like the coast is clear, though. Nobody I talked to knew anything about any divorces or pending annulments. Seems your Jim is free and clear –- no ties whatsoever.” 

Stay tuned for news on Chasing a Second Chance, due out later this month.

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