More s****y First Drafts — Want to See More Ugly Writing?

Last week’s post about s****y first drafts and how different they are from the final published book prompted a slew of site visits and email. So much that I’m sharing yet another crappy first draft from a scene in Covet, Book 2 of the Past Life Series. I’m also sharing the final product from that very same scene. Amazing how different these two versions are — thanks to the help of a very amazing beta reader. 🙂

COVET
draft scene from Chapter 6

“Sahin went ape-shit when he discovered the photo was taken,” MD said. “I want to know why he had it and why it’s important to him . We’ve killed his operation but we’re not done with him yet. I want answers and until I get them, all vacation, all time off, is canceled. This is intel I need now.”

I bit down a comeback.  MD was pissed off enough. Me even more so.

“Get over it, Bellotti , because I could have done a lot worse,” MD said. “And leave the photo on the table. You don’t need it anymore.” She disconnected. End of meeting.

I strode out of the conference room, annoyed, and bypassed the admin without a goodbye. If she thought I was a hardass, this probably proved it. By the time I got to my SUV in the lot, I was furious and Galen was at my side.

He jammed his hands into his slacks and stared at me. “She most likely knows something we do not.”

I gave him a long look. “She’s playing  me and I don’t like it. It’s just a photo.”

“It’s not just a photo and we both know it. You’ll have to overcome your insecurity on this matter and move forward.”

I slid in the SUV, cranked over the engine and opened the window. “Please don’t analyze me, Galen.” I got enough of it at home and on the job. “You really have no idea what I’m thinking.”

“This is not about MD, Bellotti. It’s about you. And if you’re not careful, you’ll do far worse than what happened today.”

“Whose side are you on anyway?  You sat there and did nothing when I lifted the picture, and we both know why you kept your mouth shut.”

“You’re not understanding this,” Galen said. “Your baggage is with Lottie, not with MD, and that needs to be resolved. You won’t rest until you do.”

I turned up the heat, the October air feeling way too cold. “Remember one thing, Galen. I approved your joining my team three months ago and I can withdraw it without reason if I choose. Stick to the job and leave personal issues out of it.”

“You approved my application because you felt guilty for what Lottie was going through at the time. That isn’t something I can easily ignore.”

“What you did for Lottie back in July was helpful but inexcusable. You wanted her, you couldn’t have her, and you pretended to experience the same past life regression she did so that she would come to you—”

“I didn’t pretend that I lived thousands of years ago among the Pharaohs, Bellotti. And you’ll also do well to learn from your own regression, your past, if you let it happen.”

“Be mindful of who you’re speaking to. I’m still your commander.”  I threw the SUV into reverse and pulled out.

COVET
revised and final scene from Chapter 6

“Sahin went ape-shit when he discovered the photo was taken,” MD said. “I want to know why he had it and why it’s important to him. We’ve killed his operation but we’re not done with him yet. I want answers and, until I get them, all vacation, all time off, is canceled. This is intel I need now.”

I cursed.

“You’re in no position to argue about this, Bellotti.”

I cursed again. This time louder. If Lottie was annoyed about my getting called into work this morning, this latest news was going to send me straight into the crapper.

“I heard that the photo had two people in it,” MD said. “Lottie and another guy. Who’s the other guy?”

I was working hard to keep my temper in check, feeling like I’d just been played. “His name’s Jared,” I said.

“As in Jared Sahin?”

Galen’s eyes met mine, and the silence between us deepened.

“What the hell is your girlfriend doing with Zev Sahin’s nephew other than screwing him?”

“She’s not—”

“How close is she to him?”

“She’s not close to him!”

“Famous last words from anyone who’s ever been cheated on.”

“Lottie’s not cheating. She’s not doing anything. She was at a party, and he happened to be there. He’s a friend of her brother. She didn’t—doesn’t—know who he is.”

“And yet you stole the photo. That tells me you don’t trust Lottie. How close is she to Jared?”

“Are you even listening to me?”

“Watch the tone.”

This was total bullshit. All of it. MD. Galen. The photo. And I intended to remind MD about it. “Just because you’re at a party doesn’t mean you’re doing the guy you meet.”

“Bullshit. Think back three years, Bellotti, to the gala you attended in London. And the woman you met there. You want to run that logic by me again?”

I slammed my palms on the table and yanked the speaker toward me. “That was different, and you don’t know Lottie the way I do.”

“Chauvinistic and pig-headed. You have the little woman wear little aprons when she cooks for you and beds you, too? Open your goddamned eyes, Bellotti! Think with the head above your waist!”

“I’m not—”

“Don’t play stupid. It doesn’t suit you.”

“I think,” Galen said, pulling the conference phone away from me, “we are overlooking something that could be even more important. And that’s whether or not Lottie’s brother is close to Jared Sahin.”

“Is this your meeting now, Galen?” MD asked.

“It’s more like an inquisition,” Galen mumbled. He folded his arms over his chest and went back to examining the photo.

“Find out everything you can on Jared,” MD said. “Dig up all of it, and when you think you’re done, dig up more. And remember this. On paper he looks like a nice, respectable businessman. But he’s linked to Zev and that means nothing is what it appears. I want details in two days.”

Galen was still engrossed with the photo and I reached across the table, ready to take it back.

“Leave the photo where it is, Bellotti,” MD said. “You don’t need it anymore.” Then she disconnected. End of meeting.

I threw open the conference room doors and strode out into the corridor. By the time I got to my SUV in the lot, I was furious and Galen was at my side.

“Don’t start with me,” I said, fishing my keys from my pocket.

Galen jammed his hands into his slacks and said, “MD most likely knows something we do not.”

I sent him a look. “This is bullshit. She’s keeping intel from us, from me, about that photo.”

“It’s not just a photo and we both know it. She’s testing you to see just how personal you’re making this, and you’re failing.”

“And it’s not personal for you? You sat there and did nothing when I lifted the picture, Galen, and we both know why you kept your mouth shut.”

“You need to calm down.”

I stepped in, making sure Galen understood his place. I was his superior and I was the one who gave the orders. “Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me how to do it. And last but most important, stay away from Lottie.”

“This has nothing to do with me seeing Lottie. I stay away from her but I cannot help it if she—”

He stopped, and the suspicion that nagged at me in the conference room now turned into full-blown distrust.

I stepped in closer. “If she what?”

Galen shook his head. “I’m not getting in the middle of the issues you have with Lottie. I’m not your therapist, and MD was right. You don’t have your head on straight.”

“Remember that you work for me because I hired you, Galen. And my head is just fine.”

“You approved my application because you felt guilty for what Lottie was going through at the time. That isn’t something I can easily ignore.”

“What you did for Lottie back in July was helpful but inexcusable. You wanted her, you couldn’t have her, and you pretended to experience the same past life regression she did so that she would come to you—”

“I didn’t pretend that I lived thousands of years ago among the Pharaohs, Bellotti. And you’ll do well to learn from your own regression, your past, if you’d just open your damned eyes and let it happen.”

I clenched a fist, thinking how good it would feel to crack it against his face. Instead, I unlocked the SUV, slid inside, and cranked over the engine. Then I turned up the heat, opened the window, and stuck out my head. “And by the way, the admin’s name is Rebecca Lansdon. Middle name Arlene. Her birthday is April fifteenth and she loves Airedale Terriers. She also loved the flowers I sent her when she turned twenty-six this past year.”

I threw the SUV into reverse and pulled away.

My heart was pounding and blood was rushing through my ears, courtesy of too many thoughts jamming up my brain. I jumped onto the main road and by the time I hit the fourth light, turned, and wove through the back roads home, a plan started forming.

I called my best friend, Nat. He served on my team at PROs and was a techno-whiz with skills I dreamed about. If he couldn’t help me figure out the mystery behind the photo, no one could. When he answered the phone, I heard screaming in the background and a lot of rowdy laughter. His sons. I told him about MD’s orders for me to find intel on the picture.

“Did you take a picture of the picture?” Nat asked.

“Yeah.” I stopped at a stop sign and waited for a woman who looked liked she’d lived through the Ice Age to cross the road, and used the time to find it on my phone and send it to Nat. One of Nat’s boys started complaining that Eddie wouldn’t stop touching him. Carlos, most likely. Carlos complained about everything.

“Got it,” Nat said. “You gonna call Michael about Jared, or you want me to?”

“No, I’ll do it,” I said, watching the old lady finish crossing the street. She might have been slow but she didn’t look bothered, and I realized that was probably the point. I’d battled it out on the front lines, sat for hours in the dark scoping out the enemy, and sent men into ambush, and not once did I ever lose focus.

I’d lost focus now.

I drew in a long breath and held it, letting it all pass. The old woman turned around, waved, and smiled. I smiled and waved back. And slowly, I felt my skyrocketing blood pressure start to normalize.

“Be prepared,” Nat said. “Michael’s gonna get into deep, thought-provoking conversations about ollies and half pipes. Did he ever enter that skateboarding contest?”

“No idea.” Michael was a nice guy but an airhead. His goal in life was to spend his days at skate parks instead of the law firm where he worked. How he got the job, I’d never know.

“Weird how that photo showed up in Istanbul,” Nat said. “Any ideas at all why Sahin had it?”

“No clue.” I turned onto Samsara Street and headed for my house. “But you know it isn’t because of Lottie.” I pulled up the driveway and waited for the garage door to open.

“And there’s our starting point,” Nat said as I pulled inside and killed the engine. “I’ll cross-ref Jared against Michael Morgan. Maybe I’ll also add Lottie in the mix just for kicks and giggles. See what comes up.” Carlos started screeching and I had to hold the phone away from my head. Nat yelled for him to shut up. Carlos stopped for a few seconds then started screeching louder. The sound cut through and my ears started to ring.

“Wow,” I said. “Can’t wait to have a kid of my own.”

“I thought you wanted kids.”

“Do they screech like that all the time?”

“You have much to learn, grasshopper. Just you wait and see, D-Man. This ain’t nothing. The profundity of children lies not in their shortcomings but in the life still stretched out before them.”

“Nice quote. Who said it?”

“Me. Now let me get cracking on this pic before these kids drive me to drink more.”

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Big difference, eh? And the editing, in my opinion, was thoroughly worth it!

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Copyright © 2012-2015 · All Rights Reserved · TerriPonce.com

About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense.
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