In honor of the holiday season, I’ll be giving away one copy of the print version of Ivy & Intrigue.
Below, resurrected from the archives, are the Ivy & Intrigue outtakes. Which is your favorite?
In the original version, Amy first notices Richard’s former love from across the room. She is not pleased.
“That must be her,” breathed Amy.
If she hadn’t been so sure of it herself, the feral look on Lady Uppington’s face would have convinced her of it. Like any mother lioness, the marchioness was ruthless in the protection of her cubs.
“She,” sniffed Miss Gwen, who had obviously appointed herself Grammarian-in-Chief for the duration of her stay. “The word is she.”
The word Amy wanted was something else entirely, but, as a lady, she wasn’t supposed to be using words like that. And she had no desire to be skewered by Miss Gwen’s fan, which, she knew from past experience, contained a carefully hidden stiletto in the central slat.
Jane, more to the point, ignored the question of grammar, and simply asked, “Who?”
Appropriating Miss Gwen’s fan, Amy leveled it at the woman posing for dramatic effect in the doorway. “That,” she said. “That was Richard’s….”
And there she stuck. First love? Nemesis? There wasn’t an exactly a one word tag for the-woman-who-broke-his-heart-and-caused-the-death-of-his-second-closest-friend. At times, the English language could be found sadly lacking in crucial terms.
Miss Gwen was still looking at her.
“…former infatuation,” Amy finished weakly.
Miss Gwen was not impressed. “And this might be of interest to us…?” she rapped out.
Because Richard had once been in love with her? Because she had yanked out his heart and stomped on it?
None of that, however, was likely to be of the least bit of interest to Miss Gwen. Amy seized on the bit that would be.
“Because her maid was a French spy!” Amy gabbled hastily.
“Ah.” A spark of interest kindled in Miss Gwen’s steely eyes. “What became of the maid?”
Who cared about the maid? It was the mistress whose hand Richard was bowing over. Lady Jarard fluttered her lashes at Amy’s husband, hard enough to cause a gale in the next county.
Jane came to the rescue. “Dismissed,” she said. “Sent off without a reference.”
Amy spared a glance for her cousin. “How do you know that?” she whispered.
Jane merely smiled. Amy hated it when she did that. Not as much, however, as she hated the way Richard had placed his hand beneath the other women’s elbow.
“That was ill done,” Miss Gwen said forbiddingly.
It took Amy a moment to realize that she was referring to the dismissal of the maid.
“I agree,” said Jane calmly. “She ought to have been apprehended and questioned. But I did not have the disposal of her.”
Amy would have preferred to have disposed of the whole lot of them, Lady Jarard and maid both.
“She probably can’t even fire a pistol,” muttered Amy.
Amy is even less pleased when Richard informs her Lady Jarard will be spending the night. Here’s the original version of that conversation:
“Staying, is she?”
“Deir—er, Lady Jerard is a neighbor.”
As always, Amy spoke without thinking. “Oh, is that what they’re calling it now?”
Her husband’s brow furrowed. He looked, Amy thought with a pang, rather as he did when puzzling out a difficult escape route. Back in the days when they still had escape routes to puzzle over.
“You’re not jealous, are you?”
“Jealous?” Amy snorted. It was not, she realized in retrospect, the most attractive noise. The lovely Deirdre would never allow herself to be caught sounding like a refugee from the barnyard. Amy snorted again, with even more vigor. “The very idea!”
Richard caught at her hand, regarding her very, very earnestly. Amy didn’t know whether to go all fluttery or snarl at him. “Anything between us was over a very long time ago.”
Amy retrieved her hand. “I never doubted that,” she said loftily. Well, she hadn’t. She was just… cranky. That was all. Everyone had a right to be cranky every now and again. “Your mother wanted to know what you did with the chess pieces.”
“They’ll be gone tomorrow morning,” said Richard, in a wheedling tone.
Amy looked archly back over her shoulder. “The chess pieces?”
Jane, naturally, picks up on the fact that Amy isn’t entirely herself.
“Am I obviously disgruntled?”
Her cousin scrutinized her flushed face. “At the moment? Yes.”
“I knew that. Not now. Before.” That was the lovely thing about family. One could talk to them in grumpy sentence fragments and know that they still had to love you anyway. “When you came in.”
Jane cast her mind back. “Not that I recall.” She raised her brows delicately. “Off-key, yes. Disgruntled, no.”
Amy waved an impatient hand. “I’m always off-key.”
“I know,” said Jane, who had the misfortune to be the one musical member of a tone-deaf family. “What’s this all about?”
Amy made a face. “I wish I knew,” she said honestly. She blurted out, “Richard seems to think I’m not happy.”
Either that, or he wasn’t. Amy pulled her Kashmir shawl closer around her shoulders. It was a distinctly chilling thought.
“Are you?” asked Jane, in that calm way of hers.
Amy thought about it. There had been more good moments than bad ones in the past year, but they were all of the domestic variety. That is, if one could call a household with obstacle courses set up in the back garden, maps of France taking up most of the ballroom floor, and a butler who alternately believed himself to be Richard III, Hamlet, and an unspecified Pirate King domestic. But why shouldn’t it be? It was their domesticity, not anyone else’s.
“How would you measure happiness?” she asked Jane anxiously. “Do you measure it in little every day things, or big, important ones?”
Jane looked a bit bemused.
“Well,” she said, in the tone of one determined to be helpful, no matter how silly the question, “you do tend to live your life in the day by day, don’t you?”
Amy considered this. “That’s true,” she muttered. She looked up at Jane. “But what if the other casts a shadow?”
Jane just looked at her. Amy could see her eyebrow beginning to rise.
Not the eyebrow. She couldn’t take the eyebrow just now.
Reconciliation… such a lovely thing. Even if people– and by people, we mean Miles– do keep banging on the door.
“Nobody’s here!” called Richard.
That appeared to stymie the door panel. It was silent for a moment. Through the panels, a muffled voice called, “The spies are safely stowed. We just thought you might want to know.”
“Why would they think that?” muttered Richard.
Amy poked him in the ribs. “Thank you!” she shouted.
There was silence from the other side of the door.
“You can go away now!” called Richard.
What’s a spy couple to call themselves? It’s a toughie.
Outside, in the snowbound world, a curious rabbit paused to watch, while a sparrow pecked for forgotten crumbs on the frosty windowsill. Strange people, those humans.
They would have thought them stranger still had they heard what the woman said, as she lifted her shining face to the Christmas dawn.
“The Twin Primroses?” she suggested eagerly.
“I refuse to be a primrose. And we’re not twins.”
“How about a buttercup?”
“Happy Christmas, Amy.”
“Does that mean ‘no’?”
Which outtake do you like the best? One person will be chosen at random from the comments below to receive a copy of Ivy & Intrigue. Winner to be announced on Wednesday!