I’ve been immersed in book 2 and I feel like I’m just a few days away from having the story “done”. After that, there will be daaays of editing. In my head, I’m already reviewing sections that are “iffy” and will probably get cut. Some just don’t feel right, others might be a bit too racy and need to be toned down or removed altogether while others just don’t move the story forward. Siren was much longer before editing. It’s still long. It’s far too long for most conventional publishers in its current form. I had to make a lot of tough choices.
I thought it might be fun to share a few sections I agonized over removing. Today, I thought I’d start with the morning after from Elise’s perspective. If you’ve read Siren, you remember that Gilles had to do some quick thinking. Elise had her hands full with Anna.
”My Lady?” Anna asked cautiously.
”Yes?” Elise slowly settled into the hot water, trying not to make her relief too obvious.
”Have you started your courses? You’re not due for a few weeks.”
”I don’t feel like I have? Why?” Elise reached for her soap and began washing an arm.
”I saw blood on your thigh when you stepped into the tub. I don’t see any on this gown though. I’ll check your bedding.”
Once Anna left the room, Elise bit her lip and rubbed her thighs beneath the water. She had no idea where it was or how much there was. She swirled the water with her hands and lathered the soap furiously. Would the blood show in the water? Did the soap have a color that could hide it? Elise quickly went back to soaping her arms and tried to appear calm.
”Everything looks fine in there. Did you injure yourself? Do you want me to see if there’s anything that needs treating?”
Elise shook her head and attempted a relaxed smile.
”I feel fine, Anna. Perhaps you just thought you saw something.”
”I don’t think so. I’m going to run downstairs and get some salve in case we need it when you get out.”
Elise smiled and nodded. Once she was alone, Elise became frantic. Should she warn Gilles? She smacked her head, sending water flying over her shoulder. He was probably already up and waiting for her. What if there had been blood on him or his bed? What if someone saw it? Elise felt herself blushing. She was mortified. If she had told him before he might have taken measures to prevent a mess. Was there a way to prevent that sort of mess? In the tub? At the thought she felt a flush spread across her neck and chest. She spread her arms as far as she could under the water. She slouched down and stretched her legs. Could it be done in a tub? She shook her head, dismissing the thought. She washed her legs, feet and chest before rising on her knees to wash between her legs. She groaned. She was rather tender there. Settling back into the tub, Elise heard Anna approaching and told herself to act normal.
”Anna, could you do my back? I’ve done everything else.” She held the soap in her maid’s direction.
”There’s an interesting choice of words.” Anna said from behind her. Elise stiffened. “Do you know, his lordship ordered a bath this morning?”
Elise acted unaffected.
”I suppose that’s his prerogative.”
”It seems he injured himself last night.” Anna sounded accusative.
Elise’s first reaction was concern. Had he had another dream and she’d slept too heavily to hear?
”Was it serious?” The alarm in her voice was real.
”A minor accident during the night. His valet says he’s fine now but his person and his bed were bloodied.”
”Oh.” Elise bit her lip as she rose from the tub. “That’s terrible. But you say he’s fine now?”
”I’d wager he’s better than fine though his man says he has a cut on his stomach.” Elise heard Anna’s smile.
”A cut?” She became more urgent. “I can’t believe how long I’ve kept his lordship waiting. We need to hurry.”
”He has inquired after you a few times this morning.” Anna fastened the row of buttons up the back of Elise’s gown while she tried not to fidget too much. “It will do him some good to wait, dear. I feel he doesn’t do enough of it at times.”
Elise knew that wasn’t a random comment. She blushed again.
”Anna. I’m going to tell you something but it needs to stay between us.” She whispered and felt Anna draw closer. “I have accepted his lordship’s offer. He’s going to make an announcement when His Grace arrives.” She felt her maid’s arms squeeze her shoulders and she kissed the top of Elise’s head.
”That’s wonderful news, my child! And me the first to know!” Elise wasn’t sure but she thought her voice sounded unsteady. “Dear me, we’ll need to get started on a dress!”
”I don’t know if you’ll have a lot of time. He says it will be as soon as possible.”
Anna laughed as she brushed her hair. She quickly twisted it into a tighter style.
”I bet he does, considering the state of his bed.” Elise made a pained expression and Anna softened. “Your secret is safe. Are you alright? There was all that blood. Is there anything you need, dear?”
Elise shook her head. She was touched by Anna’s concern. She had questions but she didn’t know if she could ask.
”He didn’t hurt you too badly, did he?” She whispered. “He wasn’t too rough?”
”No!” Elise shook her head emphatically until she recalled the second time. “Well, it did hurt but not for long and then the rest of it was wonderful.”
Elise felt Anna relax. She patted Elise’s hand.
”That’s good! Is there anything you want to ask about? I know you didn’t have your mama and I can’t see Lady Martha telling you much.”
It was Elise’s turn to relax.
”Is it normal for there to be so much blood? It hurt terribly for a few minutes but once the pain went away I didn’t feel tender at all.”
”It varies. Some women barely bleed. Some, you’d think they were dying. I think it was because you’re a tiny thing and I’ll wager he’s on the large size.”
Elise felt her face turn warm.
”I don’t know what is considered large, though he did say he was.”
Anna laughed heartily.
”I don’t know a man that wouldn’t say that!”
Elise thought for a moment and then tested her forearm. She nodded.
”About as long as this.” She pointed from the base of her hand to the inside of her elbow.
”Dear lord! No wonder!” Anna began lacing boots onto Elise’s feet. “I’m just glad your first time was good, though I imagine you’re properly sore.”
”All three times were good. I’m sore in places that don’t make sense but it was worth it, Anna! How long will the soreness last?”
She heard Anna sit. Elise cocked her head. Anna never sat.
”Three times! The beast! It’s a wonder you can walk. Are you sure you don’t want any salve or padding? It shouldn’t last more than a day or two. But three times, I don’t know…”
”Anna, I assure you, I chose to go to him and he wouldn’t have done any of it if I hadn’t wanted him to.”
”Still! You couldn’t have known what to expect and he should have shown a little restraint.”
”I suspect a woman has no right to expect any quarter when she wakes a man in his own bed.” Elise toyed with a ruffle on the front of her gown.
”You little fool! You’re lucky he didn’t hurt you worse.” Anna rose and placed a shawl around Elise’s shoulder. “You best not keep him waiting. I almost feel sorry for him now.”
Elise smiled and nodded.
”Oh, you definitely should!”