Beloved Deleted Scene

Deleted Scene – Takes place between talking to a pimp and going to the woods

“Cade, do you have any….hmmm…” 

Tally paused and looked at her cards intently. She was the most serious, competitive Go Fish opponent Cade had ever faced, and that included his niece and nephew. Even though she was only four, she took her time with every turn, making sure she asked for the best card. In between her turns, she watched him and her aunt with an intense gaze. 

If he didn’t know any better, Cade would’ve thought she was watching for tells, the minuscule movements that might give away the fact they had a card she needed. It was a tad bit unsettling if he was honest, but then she’d let out a high-pitched giggle, and he’d forget all about the stare-down she’d given him only seconds before. 

“Okay, Cade, do you have any kings?” Tally finally asked.

He looked down at his hand, then back up at the little girl. Her blue eyes sparkled in the light from the sun shining through the large window in the front room. She thought she had him, so he raised an eyebrow, then looked back at his cards, wanting to prolong her waiting just a little longer. They were only halfway through their second game, and the little girl was kicking both of their behinds after already winning their first game.

“Here you go,” he said as he pulled out his lone king card and handed it over.

Tally squealed as she put her new card with the others, then pulled out her matching pair. “Okay, since I made a catch, I get to go again…hmmm. Auntie Sloane, do you have any threes?”

Sloane smiled over at Tally and shook her head. “Nope. Go fish.”

“Ugh. Darn it.”

Cade bit back a laugh as Tally grumbled and picked up a card from the deck. She huffed again as she sat back against the couch and watched him. It was his turn, and he wasn’t sure what the heck to do.

“Hey guys, can we take a quick break so I can get something to drink? Tally, would you like some juice? Cade, can I get you anything?”

After putting in their orders, Sloane made her way to the kitchen while Tally and Cade sat in silence. He could only handle it for a minute until her piercing stare made him uneasy.

“So, Tally, are you excited about the wedding planning? Your aunt told me you’ve been looking at wedding dresses with your mom.”

“We are going to look sooooooooooooooo bootiful. Mommy and I are going to look like princesses and Auntie Sloane too. Are you coming to the wedding so you can see us in our princess dresses?” 

Cade looked back toward the kitchen, wondering if Sloane could hear the conversation. When he realized she looked distracted enough that she wasn’t paying attention, he turned back to Tally.

“I’m not really sure,” he told her.

“Why not? You like Auntie Sloane, and you want to be her boyfriend, so you should be there. My boyfriend will be there. You could even sit with him since Auntie Sloane, and I will be with mommy.”

If only it were that simple. Cooper and Emily’s wedding wasn’t for another few months. Who knew where the hell he’d be in October. And more importantly, who knew if he and Sloane would still be a part of each other’s lives. There was a lot he was hiding from her, and odds were she’d hate him once she found out about his real reason for being in San Francisco. As much as he’d love to accompany her to the wedding and see Tally in her princess dress, Cade didn’t think it was likely to happen.

“Tally, you can’t just invite people to your mom and Cooper’s wedding,” Sloane said as she rejoined them.

As she passed out their drinks, Cade wondered how much of the conversation she’d heard and whether or not she was thinking the same thing he was. Neither of them could predict the future, no matter how much they might want to.

“But he’s not people; he’s Cade, and you guys like each other a whole lot. Why wouldn’t he come?”

“Well…” Sloane started, then thought better of it. “Cade, isn’t it your turn?”

“Oh yeah, Tally, do you have any threes?” he asked, hoping that getting back to the game would get Tally’s mind off of the wedding and his relationship with her aunt.

Tally grumbled again as she handed over her three, but in the end, it didn’t matter. By the time they finished their second game and then a third, she’d handily beaten them both each time. She was a Go Fish card shark; either that or Cade was worse at the game than he thought.

As he and Sloane cleaned up their mess, Tally went back to her room to grab a few coloring books and crayons. They washed dishes side by side in relative silence, then returned to the living room to wait for Tally.

“You know you don’t have to stay with us the whole time Emily and Cooper are gone,” Sloane told him, though she wouldn’t look at him. Suddenly she seemed a bit shy, unsure of herself, and he knew it was because of the conversation he’d had with Tally.

“I know, but didn’t you hear? I like you a whole lot, and there honestly isn’t anywhere I’d rather be than here with you and Tally. Even if she did kick my ass at Go Fish.”

Sloane turned to look at him, a smile on her face. “Well, I like you a whole lot too, and I’m glad you’re here. I know we have no idea where we’ll be or what we’ll be in October, but I would love for you to go to the wedding with me. If that’s something you’d be interested in.”

He smiled at her, his heart picking up a rapid pace in his chest. “I would love to.”

Cade just hoped they’d have the chance and that whatever happened between now and then wouldn’t ruin them or, worse yet, kill them. He had to believe they’d make it out of the situation alive, and they’d be able to get over the secrets he was keeping from her. Otherwise, he was in for a world of heartache, and all of it would be of his own making. He opened his mouth to say something else, but the rumble of feet hitting the floor as someone ran down the hallway stopped him. What he had to say could wait, but not for much longer.

“Okay, who wants the princess coloring book, and who wants the troll color book? I’ve got dibs on superheroes, but maybe we can trade in a little while,” Tally said as she joined them, a stack of three color books and two boxes of crayons in her hands.

“I’ll take princesses,” Cade said quickly, then winked at Tally, making her giggle.

He grabbed the stack that was tipping precariously forward from the little girl, set it on the table, and then looked over at Sloane. She was looking at him like she wasn’t sure what to make of him. It was a little bit dreamy, a little bit wary, but it made him smile. Maybe if he could show her who he truly was, she wouldn’t hate him in the end.

And maybe whoever was behind the killings would turn themselves in before he ever had to tell her the truth.

One could only hope.