I can hardly believe it’s been nearly a year since KISSING SHAKESPEARE was released! And on Aug. 6, I’m celebrating the release of the paperback. In honor of that occasion, I offer here, drum roll please, a deleted scene from the book. Last year, after KISSING SHAKESPEARE made its debut, YA librarian Joy Davis published a deleted scene on her blog, BOOK LAGNIAPPE. This is a different one.
The players here are Miranda, who at this point in the story is called Olivia, Stephen, and Will Shakespeare. The action takes place near the end of the book, and Shakespeare has gone off in search of Edmund Campion. Miranda and Stephen decide to go after him. The three of them end up in a cell, but figure out a way to escape. Here’s what happens after they think they’re safe:
Slowing at the church door, we stepped cautiously out into the sunlight. From a wattle and daub building not far up the road, we heard voices and laughter. “The soldiers,” Stephen said. “Quaffing ale, no doubt.”
“Then let’s go,” I said. My adrenaline rush had ended, anxiety taking its place. When I started to walk toward the horses, Stephen grabbed my arm.
“Soft,” he whispered. “They would be fools if they hadn’t left a man here.”
So we waited. Interminably. Unable to bear it any longer, I quirked my mouth at Stephen. He met my eyes. “You’ll ride with me. We’ll leave Peg behind.”
“But my things,” I protested.
“I have your things.”
“Stephen, I can clearly see my bundle at the back of Peg’s saddle.”
“Trust me.” His voice brooked no argument. “Let’s go.”
We raced over to the horses. Will climbed up, ready to ride out. Stephen mounted Bolingbroke, but just as he leaned down to haul me up, a soldier came around from behind the church. Wearing a rapier at his side, he unsheathed it quickly as he rushed toward us. Before I had time to react, he grabbed me around the waist and said to Stephen and Will, “Dismount and walk back to the church. I have no qualms about hurting the young lady.” My pulse racing, my senses heightened, I felt keenly aware of the precarious position I was in.
I heard Stephen’s sharp intake of breath, saw the defeated look on Will’s face, but they both climbed down and headed back to the church entrance. The soldier kept his weapon drawn and his other arm around me, dragging me along. “Keep your hands where I can see them,” he said to Stephen and Will. Not that it made any difference, since neither of them had a weapon.
So fast the whole scene later blurred in my memory, Copernicus shot out of nowhere, from wherever he’d been waiting for us, and hurled his huge body into the soldier’s, knocking him to the ground. Stephen and Will immediately reversed direction and ran for the horses. Cop whimpered, and I realized the rapier had wounded him. I stood rooted to the ground, scared out of my mind that Cop would die. I kicked the blade away while Copernicus held the soldier down, growling his menacing best.
“Olivia!” Stephen yelled. “We must go.”
Still, I hesitated, staring up at him and back at Cop, who was oozing blood from his chest. Then I felt Stephen’s strong arm lifting me, dropping me onto the saddle in front of him, and we rode away, the men spurring the horses into a gallop. I hadn’t cried once all day, despite Will’s disappearance, a head injury, and imprisonment. But now tears blinded me.
“We must stop somewhere for the night,” Stephen announced after we’d ridden a few hours.
“It’s not that late, is it?”
“Vespers rang a few hours ago, and the horses are tired and hungry. In truth, I’m tired and hungry.”
Will rode alongside us and concurred with Stephen’s judgment. Personally, still feeling upset about Copernicus, I had no appetite and only wanted to be back at Hoghton Tower in my safe, warm bed.
“Will, ride ahead and see if you can find a spot suitable for us,” Stephen said. Will nodded and rode off.
“This will give us an opportunity to talk to him about his plans,” Stephen said to me. “Perhaps we can do some persuading.”
“I don’t know what’s left to be said.” I had no interest in it anymore.
“We’ll think of something. Let’s get down and walk.”
“When you say ‘whatever,’ I know you are displeased.” Stephen jumped down and then lifted me down beside him. I started to walk, but he touched my shoulder. “Stop a moment, Olivia. I am sorry for what happened to Cop. I know it has made you sad.”
I felt sweaty, dirty, and hot, with a throbbing head and a stiff, sore body. I knew if I let myself cry, I wouldn’t be able to stop. Stephen and Will would have an out-of-control girl to deal with, and I didn’t want that to be their last impression of me. So I simply shrugged, not meeting Stephen’s eyes.
“It may only have been a superficial wound. Cop came at the man so hard and fast, he barely had time to react. Let alone—”
“It’s all right, Stephen. I’m sad, but I’ll get over it. It’s just that he was such a true friend to me. I’ve never had a pet…Cop was my first pet.”
Just then, Will called to us from several yards up the road. “I’ve found a place!”
If you’ve read KISSING SHAKESPEARE, you’ll know that Will doesn’t go in search of Edmund Campion. Neither Miranda, Stephen, nor Will spends any time in a cell. When my critique group read this version, they strongly protested. They couldn’t bear knowing that the big galumphing dog, Copernicus, dies. As it turned out, I changed the ending, leaving out the necessity of doing away with the beloved animal!
Let me know what you think about this “different” ending!