Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Women's Fiction/Chick Lit Author

Deleted Scenes from Early Daze #3

SPOILERS

In this last deleted scene from Early Daze, Jess and Gwen discuss Ben.  This one takes place after the other two.  The remaining part of this scene actually appears in the book.

~~~~

I call Gwen later.  Partly to check she’s got home safe.  Partly to talk about Ben.

‘So… you turned Ben down?’ I ask tentatively.

‘Yup.  I take it you didn’t.’

‘No.’

I half smile.  ‘It’s funny… out of all of us, you’d think you would be the most likely to… well…’

‘Cheat?’ Gwen asks shortly.

I wince.  ‘I was going to say “make a mistake”.’

Gwen sighs.  ‘You know, I do get very tired of people assuming that being bisexual means you’ll shag anything with a pulse.  I doubt I’m any less selective than you.  I’m only attracted to a tiny proportion of the people I meet.  It just so happens that some of them are male and some are female.’

‘It’s not that…’ I start.  ‘Well… I guess maybe that’s part of it.  For some people.  And I’m not saying that’s right, just that… that’s how some people think.’

Including me, not long ago.

‘It’s… you’re always telling stories about crazy things you’ve done.  Impulsive things.  Stuff most people wouldn’t do.  And I think… that gives people the impression that you’ll just do anything.’

Gwen purses her lips.  ‘You may be right,’ she says reluctantly.  ‘And I hate that.  Just because I’m capable of being spontaneous doesn’t mean I have no impulse control.  I choose to say yes or no.  I don’t cheat.’

I kick the sofa.  ‘And, apparently, I do.  Does that mean it’s your turn to judge me?’

‘I could, but well… it’s this place, isn’t it?  It’s a marathon.  And none of us trained for it, so we just fall down and struggle to pick ourselves back up.  We’ve all got our coping mechanisms.  Some people eat.  Pretty sure some drink – though hopefully not the pumpers.  Some people get obsessed with how much milk they’re making or how much weight they’ve lost.  And I run around trying to convince all the other mums that life isn’t so terrible, in a futile effort to convince myself.  Let’s face it, you’re just one of a bunch.’

That makes me feel a little better.

‘Should I tell Ryan?’

‘Dunno.  What do you think?’

‘I don’t know!’ I say, throwing up my hands.  ‘That’s why I’m asking you.’

‘Well, I don’t know him.  I only know you to a limited extent.  Morally, you should.  But it depends on what impact you think telling him will have.’

‘Like what?’ I ask, feeling uneasy.

‘Well, if you tell him, will he leave you?’

I consider this briefly.  ‘No, I don’t think so.  We’ve been together so long and now we have Samantha.  And I don’t think he’s all that keen on change.  And…well…’

‘Well?’

I shift awkwardly.  ‘When he proposed…  Well, he said he’d always known I was the one for him.  And we started going out at fifteen.  And Ryan… he doesn’t say stuff like that.  He must have meant it.’

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Deleted Scenes from Early Daze #2

SPOILERS

The second of my deleted scenes from Early Daze.  When I wrote the previous deleted scenes, I felt I needed something that would give Jess a boost to make her act on her feelings for Ben and I came up with this.  I deleted it partly because it wasn’t needed after deleting the other scenes and partly because I felt Jess would actually react more negatively than she did here.  But I include this for your interest.

Think I should have kept it in?  Leave a comment and let me know.

~~~~

Predictably, when I start needing the loo we’re miles from any shops so I have to use the public toilet.  One of those ghastly boxes with the sliding doors.

I’m mid wee when said sliding doors gently opens, leaving me in full view of a group of young lads.  Luckily, Gwen and Cassandra spot what’s happened and hastily move in front to block their view and manage to get the door closed again.  I quickly finish and get myself together.

The lads have not left when I get outside.  My face is absolutely scarlet and I want to die.

‘Keep calm and eat popcorn,’ Gwen says, thrusting the bucket at me.

‘They are never going to forget that.  Ever,’ I moan.

‘And you’ll probably never see them again.’

‘That’s not the point.’

‘Then what is?’

‘I just… I’m not comfortable, Gwen.  Some things are just private.  I don’t want people seeing… that.  I really don’t think that’s unreasonable.’

She casts a look at the group of lads, who still have their eyes firmly on us.  ‘If you want, I could do something that I guarantee will make them forget all about it.’

My brow furrows.  ‘Like what?’

‘Just trust me.’

‘Okay.’

And what Gwen does is to lean forward and kiss me.  And I don’t mean on the cheek.

I hear whoops and wolf-whistles in the background.

‘There,’ she says complacently when she pulls back.  ‘Memory erased.  That will be all they can talk about for days.  You know what men are like.’

To be fair, she’s probably right.

‘Uh… thanks?’

I’m really not sure of the etiquette in this case.

‘Have you ever done that before?’ Gwen asks thoughtfully.

‘What?  No!  Why?’

‘Just wondering.  Doesn’t matter.’

‘Have you?’ I hear myself ask.

She shrugs.  ‘Oh yeah.  I’ve been out with a few women and had one serious girlfriend.  But then I met my husband and I knew he was the one straight away.  Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t met him?  You know… you’re pretty much my type.’

I stare at her for a few seconds.  ‘I’d really like to stop this conversation.  Right now.’

She sighs.  ‘Okay, fair enough.  Enough boundary-pushing for one day.’

Cassandra, to whom this is clearly not a surprise, wiggles her eyebrows at me.  I blush.

I find myself grinning.  I’m almost buzzing.  Not from the kiss itself.  I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant.  It was gentle, the lack of whisker rash is definitely a plus and Gwen’s lip balm tastes really nice, but it wasn’t exciting.  Which, quite honestly, is something of a relief.

It’s probably ridiculous in this day and age for kissing someone to feel crazy and daring, just because they’re the same sex, but that’s what it’s done.  My whole life I’ve been conventional, bordering on old-fashioned, but I’ve finally done something my mother would be shocked to hear about.  I feel a burst of adrenaline.  I feel like I should run out and dye my hair green or get my nose pierced or something.

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Deleted Scenes From Early Daze

I thought it would be interesting to share a deleted scene from Early Daze, as I did for After Wimbledon.  This has SPOILERS, so don’t read if you haven’t read it yet.

Early Daze went through a lot of changes while I was writing it.  When I first started, I thought it might be a ‘life-changing experience makes girl leave terrible boyfriend’ book.  But when Ryan showed up, he was too good a guy.  Then I was going to do a love-triangle – but I’m a bit crap at those.  I’m just not comfortable portraying an MC being involved with two people at the same time without major restrictions (a dysfunctional current relationship that should clearly end, and no sex).  I have a bias towards fidelity, marriage and families being together.  Not to say I won’t ever deviate from that in my writing, but I felt it wasn’t right for this book.

However, before I came to that realisation, I actually wrote Jess and Ben getting “together.”  Here are the relevant scenes from the first draft for you to read.  Do you think I made the right decision to change the plot?  Leave a comment and let me know.

~~~~

‘Hey,’ he says, pulling me into a hug. ‘Look, we’ll both get through it, all right?  Life sucks now and we’re going through hell, but we just have to keep going and we’ll get out the other side.’

‘Thanks,’ I say, slightly muffled by his shoulder.  I lift my head, intending to kiss his cheek, but he turns his head at the last moment and I find his lips instead.

And then we’re kissing.  It starts off gentle, but his touch is electric and soon it’s hungry.  He lifts me up onto the table and I wrap my legs around him to pull him closer and we’re still kissing and…

 

I’m not absolutely sure what happened next.  Or rather, I’m not absolutely sure how what happened next happened.  All I know is that when my phone bleeped to tell me I needed to pump, I woke up and I was naked in Ben’s bed.  And, judging by the used condom in the bin, we didn’t just cuddle.

I extracted myself and scuttled off, first to my own room to get my pumping bag and then to the pumping room to hide.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

That wasn’t meant to happen.  That was… what?  Grief?  Hormones gone mad?  Anger at Ryan?  Passion I haven’t felt in years?

What do I say to Ryan?  What do I say to Ben?

I plug in my headphones and listen to crying babies and try to block out reality once again.

 

I next see Ben outside the hospital when I go out for my walk.  He falls into step beside me without asking.

‘So… oops,’ he says.

I stop.  ‘Oops?  That’s the best thing you can think of to say?’

He shrugs.  ‘Pretty much.’

I don’t know why I’m criticising.  I can’t think of anything to say either.  We start walking again.

‘It’s kind of nice, actually.’

‘What is?’

‘Well, we’re a bit more equal in the fuck-ups department now.’

I let out a slow breath.  I can see it in the air.  ‘I suppose so.’

‘Are you going to tell Ryan?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Are we going to do it again?’

‘No.’

‘Sure?’

‘Yes.’

‘It was good, though.’

‘Yes.’

Better than with Ryan.  At least for a long time.  If not ever.

But passion fades, doesn’t it?  You can’t maintain the excitement over the years.  It’s just that Ben is new and Ryan is old.  Familiar.  That’s all.  It doesn’t mean anything.

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Lucy on… (Deleted Musings From ‘After Wimbledon’) #2

A few more paragraphs cut from After Wimbledon.

Lucy on… Making Decisions

Showering off later, I debate the pros and cons of staying on the tour and decide I should.  Then I debate the pros and cons of staying with Joe and decide I shouldn’t.

There, that’s decided.

Then I start debating them again and come up with different answers.

How do people make these decisions?  How can I know what the right thing to do is?  I can argue both sides convincingly, so which wins?  If my feelings on two given days are directly opposed, which are the true ones?

Christ, why is life suddenly so complicated?

I run my fingers through my hair and bring a few strands round to look at.  Maybe I should dye it.  Go blond or something.  Or cut it.  After years in a ponytail it deserves a change.  Maybe if I look different, I’ll feel different too.

And maybe I’ll be exactly the same, only with different hair.

Maybe I could go see a psychic and they can tell me what to do.

Except, what if they’re wrong or just making it up?  What if I did what they said and it was all wrong for me?

Still, at least then I’d have someone to blame.

Oh, forget it.

Lucy on… Her Looks

I dry and dress in shorts and a T-shirt and then set about drying my hair.  It really does need cutting.  It grows so fast I blink and I’ve turned into Rapunzel.  Am I the only one who thinks that someone climbing up your hair would really hurt?

The wall is mirrored, so I’ve really got no choice but to look at myself.  Have you ever looked at your reflection and thought, ‘Is that really me?’  Like your inside isn’t quite reflected in your outside?  Maybe it’s just me.

It’s not hard to guess I’m a tennis player, or an athlete anyway.  5’10” in my socks and I’m far from the tallest on the tour.  Slim, but muscular not delicate.  A fusion of power and speed.  Fit and strong.  Always in trainers, hair flattened back.  Makeup rarely touches my skin, sun cream does in abundance.  Round my neck I wear a silver tennis racquet charm – a present from my dad.  Sports watch on my wrist, diamanté stud earrings.  No other jewellery.  I’m no beauty, but on court I don’t care.  There, I belong.  I look the part.

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Lucy on… (Deleted Musings From ‘After Wimbledon’)

Just a few paragraphs cut from the final version of After Wimbledon, where Lucy muses.

Lucy on… her career

I’m not a bad player.  I’ve won a few titles, made a reasonable amount of money.  I’ve won one grand slam – The Australian Open – when I was 23.  I’d been slowly climbing the rankings since I turned pro, getting further every year, and there I was: the champion.  Next stop, Wimbledon.

But I never made it.  That was my best year.  Second round at the French (always was useless on the clay courts), quarters at the US Open, fourth round at Wimbledon.  I never got any higher.  Though Christ knows I tried.

There are lots of things a champion needs: dedication, first-class coaching, incredible fitness, self-belief, mental strength.  All these things can be possessed by anyone if they put the work – and money – in.  But there’s one thing that can’t.  Talent.  That spark of brilliance.  You only get given so much.  And if it’s not enough, there’s sod all you can do about it.

I don’t have enough.  And now I have three decades of wear and tear to overcome as well.  There are too many other players – younger, more talented, less injury-ridden and more dedicated than I am these days.  It’s over.

~~~~

That’s how I won the Australian Open – luck.  I’ll be quite frank about that, to myself if no one else.  It was a bad tournament for the top players, so bad that virtually none of them were there.  Everything that could go wrong, did.  Glandular fever, a broken leg, a nasty dose of food poisoning, a positive drugs test, a pregnancy, an imploding marriage.  Close relatives dying in droves.  Suddenly, the underdogs were in with a real chance.

We took it.  By the quarters, all the seeded players were out.  The final was me and a Czech girl at only her second grand slam, who’d been playing brilliantly but went to pieces at the last minute.  I won.  I was the champion.

On paper.

Lucy on… Wimbledon

The number one event in tennis.  Grass courts, rain delays, curtseys to the Royal Box (only required now if someone from the Royal Family is there – criminal), full titles for the ladies (Advantage Miss Bennett), Pimms, strawberries and cream and umbrellas.

~~~~

All these years fans have gathered on the hill outside Centre Court to watch matches on the big screen and cheer on the players.  Its name changes for whatever player with (GBR) after their name is on Centre Court.  Henman Hill, Rusedski Ridge.  Once or twice it was even Bennett Bump, a name which in all honesty always made me cringe.  I wonder what they’ll call it for Sam:  Pennington Pouffe?

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Missing Scene From ‘After Wimbledon’ #2

Another scene I cut from the published version of After Wimbledon.  The first part of the book went through quite a lot of reworking, so this scene doesn’t quite fit into the book.  In the final version, Joe plays on Centre Court in the first round so this conversation became irrelevant.  Prior to this scene, Lucy is chatting with Sam and that conversation was absorbed into one of the book scenes.

~~~~

I’ve just got back to practising, and I’m actually starting to feel pretty good, when Joe appears.  He’s striding towards me at full pelt, racquet clenched in one hand, his shoulder-length hair swinging around his neck and dark eyes flashing.

‘Honestly,’ he says, as he approaches. ‘It’s blatant favouritism.’

Here we go again.

‘What is?’ I ask wearily, stopping practice again.

‘Haven’t you seen the schedule yet?’

Yes, I have.  That’s how I knew this was coming.

‘They’ve put me on Court 1 in the first round, while Pennington is on Centre!’

‘They’ll have wanted you both playing last up so you’re on prime time TV.  They probably flipped a coin to decide who got which court.  Why do you always have to take it so personally?’

Joe glowers.  ‘Of course I’m taking it personally, when it’s a personal insult.  When I win the tournament I’ll be world number one again and this time I’ll be staying there.’

‘Of course you will…’ I start to say, then stop.  I can’t announce Sam’s retirement, least of all to Joe. ‘…you’re the better player,’ I finish quickly.

‘Of course I am.’

Excessive modesty is not a problem for Joe.

‘Well, all you have to do is to go onto Court 1 and play brilliantly and then they’ll probably put all your other matches on Centre,’ I say, trying to sound supportive.

Christ, I’m sick of this routine.  I must be crazy to even fantasise about dating another tennis player.

Mind you, I bet Sam doesn’t get himself worked up over crap like this.

‘Of course I’ll play brilliantly.  I am brilliant.’  Joe looks quite insulted.

I have to agree about Court 1.  He shouldn’t play there, his ego won’t fit.

‘Yup,’ I say, starting to bounce the ball again.  ‘So why don’t you go be brilliant on your own court so I can practise?’

Joe isn’t listening, he’s staring intently into the distance.  ‘Did I see Pennington sniffing around you before I arrived?’ he demands, eyes snapping back to me.

I can’t help rolling my eyes.  ‘He was not sniffing around, he just said hello.  We belong to the same club, that’s all.’

Joe’s eyes are narrowed.  ‘I don’t trust him,’ he says.  ‘He’s probably trying to get to me through you.’

I doubt it would work.

‘That’s crap, Joe,’ I say, resisting the urge to bounce the ball off his head.  ‘And you know it.  He doesn’t play dirty and I wouldn’t let him.’

‘Good,’ Joe says.

‘I need to practise.  Later.’

He strolls off.

I could stay on the tour and break up with him.

I go back to serving.

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Missing Scene From ‘After Wimbledon’

I cut quite a bit from the first draft of After Wimbledon, so I thought I would post one of the missing scenes.  In this one, Lucy is helping her cousin Maddy get ready for her date with Sam – the man Lucy dreams of for herself.

####

Maddy’s bedroom looks like a tornado has been through it.  There are clothes everywhere.  On the bed, over the chest of drawers, across the chair and on the floor.  Various sparkly accessories hang from doorknobs, off mirrors and under the lampshade.

All this for a drink?  She must really like him.

‘Lucy,’ she says, flopping backwards onto the bed, ‘I’m having a crisis.  What in the world do I wear?’

I look at her.  She’s wearing black underwear with pink ribbons threaded through it, black high heels and a look of utter dejection.

‘Well, more than that,’ I advise, sitting beside her on the daisy chain duvet cover.  ‘Although you’d definitely get his attention.’

An image of Sam eyeing her slides in front of my eyes, like in one of those pairs of fake binoculars with the pictures.  I close my eyes and will it away.

What I need to do is to forget who she’s going out with.  Just focus on supporting her.  Then everything will be fine.

‘You know him better than me,’ Maddy says anxiously.  ‘What do you think Sam would like?’

It was good in theory.

‘Oh, you know,’ I say, waving my hands around.  ‘You should just be yourself.  Wear what you want to wear.’

‘But which me should I be?’ she asks, sitting up and clenching her hair in her hands.  ‘Sophisticated me?  Smart casual me?  Girly me?  Or sporty?’

I am so not cut out for this.

‘Smart casual you,’ I say, picking one at random.  I wrack my brain for what little I know of fashion.  ‘Something that emphasises your best features.’

Maddy looks worried and goes over to her wardrobe.  I’m astonished to find that it’s still full of clothes.  She turns back to me.  ‘What are my best features?’ she asks, biting her lip.

‘Legs,’ I say confidently.  All the Bennetts have good legs, even me.  Which is fortunate, since no tennis outfit will hide them.  ‘Wear a dress.’

That should narrow it down.

Maddy pulls a little black number out of the wardrobe and holds it against herself.  She looks questioningly at me.

‘Great,’ I say, giving her a thumbs up.  ‘And it matches your shoes.’

She doesn’t look convinced.  She puts it back and gets out another.  Dark blue lace.

‘That’s nice too,’ I say, nodding.  I bounce on the bed a little.  This is a really springy mattress.  Will Sam end up jumping on it?

I’d give anything not to have thought that.

Another dress is produced.  Pink cotton.

‘Also… good,’ I say.

I get the impression that this could take a while.

~~~~

Maddy has 27 dresses in her wardrobe.  I know, because I’ve seen all of them.  And which one has she decided on?  Yup, you guessed it, the original little black one.  The dress is on, her hair and makeup are done, a handbag has been selected and her taxi is here.

‘Do I really look okay?’ she asks, as she puts on her coat.

‘Gorgeous.’  And she does.  Already the best looking of all of us, she really knows how to make the best of herself.  Christ knows what she wanted my help for.

‘Have a great time,’ I say, as she climbs into the taxi.

‘Are you sure you don’t want a lift home?’ she calls out the window.  ‘We’re going that way.’

‘I’m sure,’ I call back, already a step away.  ‘I want to stretch my legs.  Bye.’

‘I’ll call and tell you all about it when I get home,’ she says and blows me a kiss as the taxi drives off.

Wonderful.  Then my life will be complete.

I trudge off in the direction of home.  The heartache starts after one step, the tears after two.

What’s wrong with me?  I’m behaving like some love-sick teenager.

Except I wasn’t like that when I was a teenager, because then all I cared about was tennis.

Maybe adolescence has finally caught up with me.  Maybe I’ll break out in acne and get into alternative dressing.  I could become an EMO, although I’m still not entirely clear what they are.

Right now I just need to get back home, get some dinner and forget all about this.

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