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Deleted Scene From: Where Secrets Stay

In the original manuscript of my novel, "Where Secrets Stay," the story unfolds quite differently than it does in the final version of the book. Instead of Kevan and Nathan meeting inside the abandoned house for the first time, in the initial draft, Kevan goes to her grandmother's house to mourn after her death. Upon arrival, she finds Dorothy sitting at Gammie Frances's table, reading through some of their old journals. In the preceding chapter of this version, Nathan shows up to bring Dorothy back to Ivymond, and it is here where he first encounters Kevan. The three of them engage in conversation, during which Dorothy hands Kevan a deed and a map to the abandoned property, marked with two

X's—Dorothy doesn’t disclose what they are for. Nathan offers to accompany Kevan to explore the old estate. This omitted chapter is narrated from Kevan's perspective, and the narrative resumes with Nathan assisting Kevan in locating the old, abandoned estate.

Chapter 16 (The Original)

Kevan, Early Summer

As we make our way through the tangled mess of brush and briars, which at one time was a road, I listen to Nathan talking with ease about his mother and sister. Something about being in his company feels almost comfortable—familiar. There's no awkwardness or uncomfortable silence between us. When he puts his strong hands around my waist, I have to stop myself from giggling like an adolescent schoolgirl. Being this close to him and looking into his eyes, it's hard to slow my racing heart. I wonder for a second what it would be like if he leaned down and kissed me. He has the kind of smile that's perfect—sexy and a little higher on one side than the other. The creases of his cheeks and the tiny lines at the corner of his eyes make him look kind and gentle, yet manly.

"So, is it much farther?" I step around him, breathing slowly and quietly in an attempt to calm the butterflies. This man is surely trouble. The thought crosses my mind in an attempt to keep me from getting too comfortable. I suppose my subconscious is good at that—a fail-safe to keep me from getting hurt.

We trek a short distance, and the canopy of trees opens to a clearing—I see my past displayed before me. Looking at it from this angle, it looks just like it did in my dream, only it appears lonelier, aged, and forgotten. I look towards the pond where the dock is only slightly visible now.

 "Shall we go see if we can figure out what the two X's are for?" Nathan asks.

"I guess we should," I say as I take a step forward, my eyes fixated on the pond. For a moment, I think that I'm seeing things. I squint my eyes halfway closed, then blink and repeat as confusion takes over. For a moment, I wonder if I'm dreaming. I can't be.

Standing at the edge of the pond is my dead brother Tommy. My feet seem to have forgotten how to walk because they freeze in place.


I look at Nathan and then back to Tommy and feel my throat swell, making it hard to swallow. I suppose it isn't enough that my dreams torture me in my sleep, but now I'm seeing things when I'm awake. I fear that what Gammie has tried to tell me for years is becoming a reality. She always said that I was special—I have a gift. If this is it, I don't want it.

I look away trying to avoid appearing crazy and focus on the map in my hand. I must be going insane. Why am I seeing things that aren't there? I take a few steps forward, looking out of the tops of my eyes in the vicinity of where Tommy was last standing. He's still there, looking at me, and this time he's pointing to the pond. I stop and turn my head in different directions trying to distract myself more.

This isn't a dream, so what the hell is this? I begin to rationalize with my brain as I squeeze my eyes shut, then open them again. This time Tommy is walking toward the house. He turns and motions for me to follow.

"You okay," Nathan asks. "You look suddenly pale."

I look again toward Tommy, and this time, he is gone. "Yeah." The word comes out barely more than a whisper, and I clear my throat, swallow, and say anything to divert my eyes, thoughts, and conversation anywhere besides on what I have just seen. "This place doesn't look all that different than it did when I was a child." I say the words which come out choppy and uneven.

I look one more time for any sign of my dead brother's image, but it's just like waking from a dream, it all fades quickly.

As we walk through the tall grass, I attempt to distract myself from my own racing thoughts and ask, "Did you ever hear stories about this place when you were a kid?"

Nathan pauses in his steps as though he's thinking. "I do remember someone telling my mother a story once. It was during the time when search parties were assisting with trying to find my little sister—right after her disappearance. Her tale was that the reason this place has remained abandoned all these years is that a horrible massacre took place here a long time ago. Adults, children, and animals. It was supposedly never solved as to who did it."

I'm sure I pull a face. "Wow, I never heard that one."

"Well, you know how stories get blown out of proportion over time. I don't think any of it's true. If there was something even remotely close to that happening here, it would have been brought to light when my sister disappeared. And I'm sure if there was anything of the sort, your Gammie would have told you."

"Maybe," I say trying not to laugh at the whole idea yet thinking that Gammie must have had a good reason for not letting anyone know that this was her piece of property. "My friend, Beth, and I used to think that the house was haunted. Of course, it was a game that we played trying to spook each other. We mostly played out here around the pond." I point toward the pond's direction but keep my eyes away from it.

"You want to go inside the house?"

I nod and look over the vine-covered walls feeling as if I've actually been here recently. The dream seems to come to life as I look at it and I shudder. We walk up the stone steps which barely resemble steps at all, now they are merely chunks of misshaped rocks. I hear a splash behind me and instinctively look back at the pond. For some reason, a chill runs up my spine as more of my dream plays out in my mind and I unknowingly search for the frog.

The porch seems less safe than I remember, or maybe it never was and I'm just grown now. We step through the doorway, planting our feet on the door itself that now lies on the floor. I'm suddenly hit with another Déjà vu moment. In my dream, I remember the door hanging on its hinges, still workable, and again, not that long ago.


As I step inside, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of longing from the house. It radiates from every inch of the walls, pulling at something in my mind. For some reason, a sadness for it stirs within me. I pause and realize that this house is almost identical to another. Gammie's house. Like hers, the living room has shelves on the far wall and a kitchen on the left. The back door is located on the opposite end of the house. Gammie built a replica of this house.


“Does it look as you remember it?” Nathan asks.


“Yes and no. It certainly has declined over the years. Tell me I’m not crazy. Have you seen a newer version of this house lately?”


Nathan looks around the room and then back to me. “Your grandmother’s house.”


I nod. “If she built her new house to resemble this one, then it must hold fond memories for her. Something about knowing this place belonged to her, I feel like I should look it over better now. I remember playing inside some as a kid, but didn’t really pay attention to it that closely. Now looking back, when Gammie and I did come here together, she spent quite a bit of time just standing in the middle of the house staring off into space—reminiscing I suppose.”


“Do you remember her talking about it when you were here, or showing you things about the house that may not be noticeable to just anyone?”


I search the floor, walls, and ceiling, and my eyes land on the door in the far corner of the room. “Yes, I do remember something.” I hurry in that direction as I dodge debris and make my way to a closet door. I open it, step inside and look up, then say, “this house has a hidden room.”

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