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With Good Behavior (The Conduct Series #1) HERE.
I'm thrilled the third and final book of The Conduct Series (On Best Behavior) will launch 9-24-13. We've been editing like madwomen (not much of a stretch for me) and I'm pleased with the result.
One scene that got the axe was this flashback from Grant's sixteen-year-old nephew Ben. If you've read my books, you know I love to write therapy scenes and flashbacks.
In this part of Ben's therapy session with Dr. Hunter Hayes, he remembers when he was five years old and spent the night at his father Logan's apartment:
His tummy hurt. He’d woken up on the sofa an hour ago, and he’d tried to wait for Dad—he’d watched “Spongebob” on the small TV—but he still hadn’t come out of his bedroom. His empty tummy growled like a tiger.
Ben padded over to the bedroom door. “Dad?” Nothing.
“Dad?” he tried again. Still nothing. The tiger roared in his belly. He sighed. He tiptoed into the kitchen and tugged open the refrigerator door. Other than an open can of beer, a bottle of mustard, and a carton of strawberries, the fridge was empty. As he reached for a strawberry, he looked over his shoulder, but his dad’s door was still closed. Ben was about to pop the strawberry in his mouth when he noticed white fuzz growing on it.
“Euhya.” Shuddering, he tossed the berry back into its carton. After closing the fridge door, he glanced up at the cabinets. They were really tall. One time Dad had some cereal up there? With a grunt, he heaved himself up, throwing his leg over the counter’s side to scramble up on his knees. His breaths came quick and short. When he opened the cabinet, all he found was some black stuff in a plastic bag that smelled like Mom’s afternoon coffee.
He hopped down from the counter and the tile stung his bare feet. As he neared the bedroom door, he called “Dad?” All he heard was a soft voice, like a hum, drawing him closer. Expecting to find the door locked, he twisted the knob and just like that he was inside the bedroom. The covers shifted and rolled, then there was that hum again, this time louder and more urgent—that definitely wasn’t his dad’s voice—was there someone under the covers with him? He took a step forward. “Dad?”
His father whipped the comforter off his shoulders and his bare chest shot up from the mattress. “Jesus Christ, Ben! Don’t you knock?”
“I-I-I…” As he stumbled backward, a woman with messy black hair and eyes full of rage popped up from beneath the covers.
She screeched, “Get out of here, kid!”
Ben raced from the bedroom and parked himself on the sofa, squeezing his hands together in his lap. When he heard the mattress shift and his dad mutter “Christ”, his eyes widened. Dad sounded mad. Ben took off for the front door—he had to jump a few times to undo the chain at the top of the door—then flew out to the hallway. It was colder out here than in the apartment, and he covered one icy bare foot with another as he squeezed his arms around his thin pajama top. As he panted, all he could think was I want Mom. I want Mom.
When he heard his dad shout his name inside the apartment, he scrambled toward the stairs. He’d reached the stairwell railing when the sound of a door flinging open erupted behind him. “Stay right there, Benjamin!”
His feet betrayed him when they froze in place. He felt the hulking presence of his father behind him a second before his dad’s big paws grabbed hold of his arms. “Don’t you ever leave the apartment!”
"I’m sorry,” Ben whispered.
His father spun him around, leaving Ben to stare at the hem of his plaid boxer shorts. “Look at me!”
Ben forced his eyes to trail up the big, bare chest to find his father’s scowl, his mouth in a firm line. “Why’d you come in my bedroom?”
“Because…I'm hungry,” he squeaked.
His father’s eyes fluttered shut as he blew out a breath. “Crap.” He opened his eyes and gave Ben’s arms a shake. “I’ll take you out for breakfast, okay? You just need to wait!”
“I did wait.” Ben felt his lip tremble.
As one big hand unlatched from his arm, Ben flinched and cowered. His hands flew up to cover his face.
“Christ! I’m not going to hit you, okay?”
Sissy tears collected in his eyes, and all the sudden he was in his father’s arms, his cheek pressed against a hard wall of flesh. He felt his father’s hand ruffle through his hair. “I’m sorry, son. Sorry I’m such a shitty dad.”
He shivered as he snuggled into his father’s warmth, and inhaled the familiar scents of aftershave, sweat, and cigarettes.
“C’mon, let’s get you dressed for breakfast.” His father’s long strides took them back inside. Then he paused. Ben swiveled his head to see the scary dark-haired lady with her hand on her hip, staring at them from the bedroom doorway. She wore underwear and a sparkly pink top, and her voice was husky.
“Did you bust the pervert’s ass for spying on us?”
His father clutched him tighter. “No. It wasn’t his fault—he’s hungry and there’s no food. I’m taking him for breakfast.”
“So I guess we’re done then?”
“Yes, you should leave.” His father collapsed into the scratchy sofa, still holding him, and reached for his backpack.
She snorted. “You’re so romantic, Logan. Did you leave me some money on your bedside table?”
His father bristled. “Not around the kid, okay? Go give someone else a hard time, Tina.”
“Go f--- yourself, Logan.”
She must’ve returned to the bedroom because she didn’t respond when his father muttered, “No need when you do it for me.” He unzipped the backpack and dug around for clothes. “Here we go,” he said, shifting him on his lap as he held up a red Chicago Bulls t-shirt. “Let’s get you dressed.”