I have a couple deleted scenes from The Cold Wife I plan to share over the next couple weeks. These come from the original version of the story. I have since revised the book, so the current version doesn’t have them.
This is the first one (and I’ll give the inspiration behind this scene in tomorrow’s post).
Look for Jake Mitchell (hero in An Inconvenient Marriage) and Chad Walker (hero in An Unlikely Place for Love) in this scene. At this point, Chad (Mr. Walker) is married but Jake (Mr. Mitchell) isn’t. Also, Justin Monroe wasn’t working at the bank yet, so his friendship with Jake hasn’t developed yet. Also, Carrie and Justin hadn’t adopted Ryan yet. Ryan was still living in the orphanage.
This is one of Carrie’s attempts of trying to convince Justin to annul their marriage. (They hadn’t consummated the marriage at this point, though they came close.)
Mrs. Henderson reluctantly agreed to go with Carrie to the convention. “I hate to intrude on men when they are doing business. If it were anyone but you, I would refuse.”
“This is the only time I have to take his measurements,” Carrie easily lied. “This will mean the world to Ryan.”
At the mention of the orphan’s name, the older woman relaxed. “The poor boy has been through so much. It would be nice to hear that he actually laughed.”
Carrie silently agreed. It seemed that he managed to smile at her, but she had yet to hear him laugh.
Franklin drove them to the Edwards’ Hotel and helped them out of the stagecoach. “I will wait for you, Mrs. Monroe,” he said.
“Thank you.” And if this works, you can go back to being Justin’s driver.
The two women walked through the entrance of the large hotel. She noticed that they were the only women there. This was definitely a male dominated event. It’s probably boring too. She couldn’t imagine that business meetings could be interesting. She was secretly relieved that women and men separated at dinner parties when men wanted to discuss their work. When the men and women were together, they either ate or danced. It suddenly dawned on her that she and Justin hadn’t danced since their wedding day. She frowned. Though she wasn’t good at it, she did enjoy dancing with him. She pushed aside the thought. She had a goal.
She straightened her shoulders back and ignored her brother who looked shocked to see her as she marched across the room. She stopped behind Justin who was standing in front of a table and talking to Mr. Martin. Mr. Walker was at the table to his right and Mr. Mitchell was at the table to his left.
“Oh good. You are here,” she loudly said so the people around them would notice her…if the fact that she and Mrs. Henderson weren’t the only two women in the room wouldn’t be enough to draw attention to them.
Justin turned around, obviously surprised. Then he smiled. “Carrie! Did you miss me?”
“I’m going to take your measurements,” she ordered, her tone firm. “Stand up straight and take off your suit jacket.”
She expected him to refuse but he shrugged and obeyed her. He set the jacket on the table. “What do you want to measure first?”
She was momentarily taken aback but quickly regained her equilibrium. She glanced at the other woman. “Where do we start?”
“Let’s measure around his head for the hat,” the overwhelmed woman slowly stated.
Justin leaned forward so that their noses were almost touching. “You smell nice,” he whispered as she took the tape measure and wrapped it around the top of his head. “Your perfume reminds me of the dream I had about you last night. I dreamt that we finished what we started at the Davidson’s.”
She shook off the thrill of his statement and told the woman the number on the tape measure so that she could record it on her paper. Turning back to him, she said, “Stand up straight. I need to measure your neck.”
He did as she wished. “Do you mind telling me what this is about?”
“Mrs. Henderson needs to make you a clown outfit.” She reported the number to the seamstress. She measured his shoulders. She hadn’t realized they were so broad. She recalled the way they felt under her hands when they were in bed together. She shook her head in aggravation. This convention had to be the most unromantic place on the planet, and here she was recalling romantic moments in her mind. “Now hold your hands straight out. I need to measure your arms.”
“Why am I going to be a clown?” he wondered.
“Mrs. Tobias thought it would be fun to throw a party for Ryan and the other children at the orphanage. I volunteered you to be the clown. You have to be there at seven tomorrow night.”
“But we have tickets to the symphony for that time,” he argued. “They were your birthday gift to me.”
Which was why she purposely picked that time for the clown show. She continued to measure his upper body and reported the numbers to Mrs. Henderson. She was acutely aware that most of the men in the room were staring at them. Even her brother was too stunned to stop her. He simply sat at his table in silence. Good. It’s working. After this, Justin will be begging for an annulment.
“It doesn’t matter what you want, Mr. Monroe. I am ordering you to be there at seven tomorrow night, whether you like it or not.” She hoped she sounded bossy. “Since Ryan is going to go home with Mr. and Mrs. Clark this Sunday, we thought it would be nice to throw him a party. We’re hoping you can get him to laugh. Most children can’t resist laughing when there’s a clown in the room.”
“And you wonder why I don’t want to get married?” Mr. Mitchell asked Justin.
“Well, I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Justin replied. “I’m very pleased she thought of me to perform this task.”
The other man shook his head in amazement.
That wasn’t exactly the response she was hoping for. Justin should have had the same reaction that Mr. Mitchell did. Perhaps her next statement would catch him off guard. “Yes. I think it’s a good idea too. You’re so laughable.”
“I’m glad to find that you enjoy my company.”
What was wrong with him? Didn’t he recognize a put down when he heard it? She wrapped the tape measure around his waist, aware of how narrow it was. His body was so different from hers. Broad shoulders, strong arms, narrow waist…She recalled how he looked in the moonlight as he got dressed to go hunting with Mr. Davidson. She blinked several times to ward off the sudden feeling of dizziness that threatened to take over her and quickly told Mrs. Henderson what to write down.
“What’s next?” she asked the other woman. She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized that most of the men had returned to their conversations. Her heart was pounding anxiously in her chest, and she had a nagging suspicion it had more to do with being close to Justin and touching him than it did with her intent to embarrass him in front of his peers.
“I need you to measure his hips,” the woman cautiously replied.
For a woman to be this forward with a man in public was inappropriate, even if they were husband and wife. Carrie considered asking Mr. Mitchell to take the measurement for her but he looked so appalled that she knew he wouldn’t be a part of her plan. Mr. Martin and Mr. Walker simply grinned, so they weren’t going to be any help either. She took a deep breath and nodded. She would have to do it herself.
“This is for Ryan,” she loudly stated. “He’s been abandoned by his guardian and has been very sad. He needs a clown to cheer him up.” There. Hopefully, that would make what she was about to do next a noble cause. She braced herself and wrapped the tape measure around his hips.
Justin widely smiled. “I don’t know about Ryan, but it’s cheering me up.”
Her face grew bright red as several men chuckled. She quickly gave the measurement and took the tape measure away. She couldn’t keep doing this with him smiling at her as if he was ready to throw her over his shoulder and take her to his bedroom. It was the same smile he had given her when he suggested a night of lovemaking before he went hunting. Recalling the horrible day she had endured, she forcibly turned him around so he was facing Mr. Martin and shoved him against the table.
“I love it when you get rough,” he commented.
She anxiously looked at Mrs. Henderson. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, but she had to finish it.
“Now we need to measure his legs,” the woman informed her.
Her hands shook as she rushed to perform the rest of the task at hand. He had his legs spread apart in front of her while she was on her knees to measure the length of his right leg. As she told Mrs. Henderson the number on the tape measure, she happened to catch a glimpse of Harrison and his father. Without thinking, she crawled under Justin’s legs so she could get a clear view of the two men.
“If you’re that eager for him, just take him home,” Mr. Walker joked.
She ignored the laughter around her and focused on the scene in front of her. While Harrison talked to Mr. Parker, his father put his hand in the man’s pocket. She gritted her teeth, quickly stood up and ran over to them. “Mr. Parker, do you know where your wallet is?” she asked.
“In my back pocket,” the man stated, surprised to see her there.
“No, it isn’t. I just saw Harrison Grant Sr. take your wallet. If you inspect his suit jacket, you’ll find it there.”
The man checked his back pocket and pulled his wallet out.
“That’s impossible,” she said. “I saw it in his hand!”
“Carrie, what’s going on?” Justin asked as he ran up to her.
Mr. Walker, Mr. Mitchell and a few other men followed to see what was going on.
“While I was measuring your leg, I saw Mr. Grant Sr. take Mr. Parker’s wallet while Mr. Grant Jr. talked to him.”
“But I have the wallet right here,” Mr. Parker argued.
“I know what I saw! He must have taken something from it and replaced it. Maybe he was putting your wallet back when I saw him.”
The man opened his wallet and inspected his money and keys. “Nothing is missing.”
“I didn’t imagine it!”
“Mrs. Monroe, are you feeling alright?” Harrison Jr. asked her. “You look flushed.”
“I would feel much better about this whole thing if someone searched both of them.” She motioned to the two Grants.
“I don’t need to be insulted this way,” Harrison Sr. huffed. “I came here to do business, not to be accused by a senseless woman.”
Justin frowned. “I’ll thank you to avoid talking about my wife that way.”
“Everything is here,” Mr. Parker told her.
“He must have taken something,” she insisted.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Monroe, but everything is in its proper place.”
Realizing she couldn’t prove it, especially when Mr. Parker argued with her, she didn’t say anything else.
The men slowly dispersed.
Justin rubbed her back. “I believe you, Carrie.”
Surprisingly, that made her feel better.
“Mrs. Monroe,” Mrs. Henderson began as she walked over to her, “I need to get back to work. Will you take the final measurement?”
Carrie nodded and did so. She handed the tape measure back to the woman who thanked her and left.
“Do you want me to take you home or somewhere else?” Justin offered.
“No. I’ll be fine. I need to be alone for awhile.”
He nodded and walked back to Mr. Martin.
She sighed and went toward the hotel entrance. To her surprise, Mr. Mitchell stopped her as she reached the two doors.
“Which Grant took the wallet?” he asked her in a voice that was low enough so no one would overhear them.
She blinked. “You believe me?”
“I have no reason not to.”
“It was the father.”
“Did you see him do anything with the wallet?”
“He had his hand in Mr. Parker’s back pocket. I assume he was putting the wallet back where it belonged.”
He nodded. “I’ll look into it.” He glanced at Harrison Jr. who was walking to them. “Forgive me for what I am about to say next.” In a louder voice, he stated, “Mrs. Monroe, in the future, it would be best if you didn’t disrupt these conventions.” He turned to Harrison. “I’ll see you at the bank.” Then he left.
She didn’t care to talk to Harrison, so she proceeded to walk outside.
“Carrie, is it really a good idea to dwell on the past?” Harrison called after her.
Determined that she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of responding, she ignored him.
“Are you still upset that I didn’t accept your marriage proposal?”
She paused and closed her eyes in irritation. She knew that he was trying to humiliate her. As if she wasn’t humiliated enough already! She knew if she didn’t talk to him, he would make the situation worse, so she turned around.
“I thought that might get your attention,” he stated.
“You make me sick.”
His eyes grew wide in surprise. “Julie said that you might be jealous. It’s too bad you can’t take the time to be happy for your friend. She cries about it sometimes.”
“You will make her miserable.”
“No, I won’t,” he snapped. “I love her.”
“Really? Then why were you pretending to be interested in me when you were secretly courting her?”
He didn’t respond.
“I know why. You wanted to destroy my father. You used me to gain access to his business records.”
“No, I didn’t. My father insisted that I court you.”
“How should I know? I’m just glad he finally listened to reason and let me be with Julie.”
“If what you’re saying is true, then you’re nothing more than your father’s pawn.”
He frowned. “From what I hear, you have the sexual interest of an arctic chill. It’s too bad I wasn’t willing to warm you up since poor Justin can’t seem to do the job.”
Her face grew hot with anger. “Justin is a better man than you’ll ever be!”
He remained unaffected by her words and actions. “Then why did you try to marry me a day before your marriage to him?”
“Because I was stupid.”
“Not as stupid as your husband is since he’s remarkably devoted to you regardless of the things you put him through.”
She walked away from him and sighed with relief when she was back in Franklin’s stagecoach.