Welcome back, darling deviants!
I have a strange love/hate relationship with the deleted scenes from my books. It’s fun to find them saved on my computer months later. They’re great inspiration for future scenes or stories. Still, even after deleting countless chapters (and sometimes full stories!), I’m always a bit sad when I’m forced to cut things from my drafts. Cuts and revisions are a necessary part of the writing process, but it’s difficult to toss out something you’ve worked hard on.
Which is probably why I don’t delete the scenes I get rid of. I throw them all into a Word document for later use. Most of the scenes are never used again, but I sometimes steal little paragraphs or lines for future stories.
Just for fun, here’s a look at one of the scenes removed from BLOODSTAINS AND BITEMARKS. As much fun as I had writing this one, it slowed down the pacing of the main story without providing any new information. Since I can’t fit it into the book, I thought I’d share it here. Enjoy!
(Note: since this scene didn’t make the final book, it also didn’t pass through my editor. Try not to hold the occasional typo against me too much!)
Dagon and I spend the better part of the next twelve hours converting the attic and one of the guest bedrooms into suitable prisons. We agree to pit the girls against each other, promising one the comfort of a private bedroom while the other is locked away in the drafty attic. I like to think Nadia will end up in the nicer room, but there’s no way to know for certain.
It’s mid-afternoon by the time we finish installing the bars over the windows and prisoner-proofing the rooms. I’m still not entirely satisfied it will hold two hunters, but there isn’t much else we can do short of hitting them with a sleeping curse. Not that I’ve ruled that option out. The witches in my circle could cook one up in no time if the need arose.
I shouldn’t give a singular fuck about seeing Nadia again. She’s my ticket to a promotion at best, another body on my hands at worst. One pitiful human life isn’t worth much when you’re cursed to an eternal existence. Mortals in her line of work tend to meet violent and early ends. Nadia is a tiny, fragile girl. It’s impressive she’s made it this long with the Dark Hunt.
Unless there’s more to Zeke’s new weapon than Lilith mentioned. I’ve always assumed Zeke and Michael collect broken mortals for expendable manpower in the war. Maybe there’s more to the story, though. Perhaps Nadia isn’t the only hunter who isn’t entirely mortal.
I lean against the second-floor balcony outside my bedroom and pop a cigarette into my mouth. Dagon bitches me out any time I smoke in the bedroom, and the late September afternoon is too warm and sunny for me to blame the weather. Waves crash against the shoreline below. Beachgoers and college kids litter the sand, tiny little ants against the massive oceanic backdrop.
Someone with a soul left might regret what has to happen tonight. Of all the things I once imagined doing to Nadia, abducting her and torturing her for information never made the list until now. Anyone but a demon would pity what’s in store for the hunter girls.
Dagon is only a step away from earning his place among the Knights of Hell. If we pull this off, it will prove to Moloch he’s ready to ascend. His lost love will fade to a forgotten memory, and I’ll take his place as General. Everyone wins.
Well, everyone but the hunters.
Zeke and Michael train their mortal pets to withstand a lot of abuse, but we have ways of breaking them down. Torture is a lot like the lost art of romance. There’s a time and place for a quick encounter, but the rush to the end is often unsatisfying for everyone involved. My style of torture builds slowly over time, putting the victim in control of exactly how much suffering they’re forced to endure before I put them out of their misery.
I try not to think about how things will end here for the hunters. With any luck, Lilith and Levi will return them to the hunt as soon as they surrender the information. But hunters are stubborn, arrogant creatures who amplify humanity’s worst traits. There’s a high chance things will take a turn for the deadly before we learn anything about the weapon.
It doesn’t help that Nadia is every damn bit as gorgeous as I remember. In a beachfront mansion crawling with demons and depraved souls, her toned curves and wide silvery eyes are bound to draw attention. Every sick fucker in the place will want a crack at her and her friend.
The glass door slides open behind me. Dagon appears by my side, his expression pensive. He glances out at the setting sun and says, “Almost time. Should we run through the plan one last time?”
I roll my eyes and flick the remainder of my cigarette over the balcony. “We’re good, D.”
“You smell like you made out with an ashtray.”
“And you smell like you gargled with tequila this morning. let’s not get into it.”
“Did you pack the zipties?”
“And the cuffs.” Whatever it takes to immobilize them long enough to toss them in the trunk. “Kroni and I will handle the little one while you and Saleos take care of the other.”
Dagon sucks his teeth. “Why am I always stuck with Saleos?”
“Because I’ll rip his throat out with my teeth.”
“Fine, but I’m driving. You can sit in the back with the hostages.”
Dagon pushes away from the railing and storms back inside. My shoulders relax. It’s easier to think when it’s just me and the waves. The mortal world doesn’t impress me much, but even I have to admire the depth and mystery of the ocean. The sea tempts so many men out to explore her, never to return. It’s a damn shame pirates went out of style. My current gig isn’t bad, but who wouldn’t rather pillage and plunder?
I missed out on a lot of the more interesting time periods on Earth. Maybe I’d find humanity more interesting if I’d been stationed topside for the Black Plague or the Inquisition. Humans in the modern era are vapid and narcissistic. Most are too busy documenting their lives for the social media echo chamber to actually live.
Not that it matters. If the war continues to escalate between our kind and the angels, it’s the mortals who will suffer. Earth is fragile and squishy in comparison to the eternal fires of Hell or the pearl gates of Heaven. It’s only a matter of time before the battle spills out from the shadows and into their world.
My lip curls over my teeth as the mortals frolic in the sand. Such wasted potential. If so many of Lilith’s creatures didn’t depend on humanity for survival, I wouldn’t mind watching all of them perish. They don’t deserve the world they inherited or the blissful ignorance they wrap themselves in. The destruction they’ve wreaked on their planet in the name of profit and greed is proof mortals are as wicked as demons. At least we’ve managed to keep Hell in decent shape.
I slide another cigarette into my mouth and stare out at the orange and pink globe sinking below the horizon. Nadia’s face springs into my mind unbidden. She’s skinnier in the pictures the Knights left, but that doesn’t stop me from imagining her slender legs wrapped around my waist. I suck down a few greedy puffs from my cigarette, attempting to banish the images of her naked and writhing beneath me from my mind.
I’ve taken countless women and creatures alike to bed since the last time I saw Nadia Gray. After she blamed me for her mother’s death and vanished, I screwed damn near anything with a pulse to purge her from my thoughts. I told myself a mortal girl could never bring me the same pleasure as a succubus or witch anyway, that thinking about Nadia was a waste of time. And it worked, at least until now.
I clench my jaw and toss the last few hits of my cigarette over the railing. Tobacco isn’t strong enough for my current mood. I shake my head and force all thoughts of the past from my mind, refocusing on the mission ahead. Nadia isn’t my problem to worry about. She’s a means to an end, nothing more and nothing less. Besides, even demons know the story about Eve and the apple. Women will ruin even paradise with their lust for more.
I head back into my bedroom, leaving the sliding glass door open behind me. My private space is one of the more minimalistic parts of the house. Where Dagon favors expensive artwork framed on his walls and furniture worth more than my car, I prefer not to clutter my space with useless shit. It’s easier to think without all the distractions.
The room is still more luxurious than I know what to do with after centuries in Hell. Our earthly lifestyle is indulgent and gluttonous, and I love every second of it. I refused to give Lilith the pleasure of watching me sweat earlier, but her threat struck a nerve. A thousand lashes bothers me less than the thought of losing everything we’ve built and returning to Hell.
But it doesn’t matter. We won’t fail. I march into the closet and retrieve a black duffle bag filled with weapons and gear. Nadia’s face dances through my thoughts once more, but I push it away and unzip the bag. I grab my favorite pistol, a custom-built 9mm fondly named Damnation, and a box of ammunition. I can only hope she won’t make me use it.