So, when I originally wrote Anchor Me, it was LOADED with flashbacks. To an insane degree. I loved them, because they showed a lot of Gabe. They also showed a lot of how Jillian and Mark were together, back when their relationship was untested.
However, once my editor got her hands on my manuscript and we both took a long, hard look at my draft, we agreed the flashbacks really messed with the flow of the novel. They took the reader out of the present and into the past way too often.
So we cut them. Drastically. It was hard, and I felt as if my limbs were being hacked, but it definitely made the end result better.
But…the cool thing is that I can still share these with you, right? So, for fun, I am going to post the prom scene I wrote. I really love this, because Gabe rules. Anyway, enjoy!
In high school, getting asked to the prom was a huge deal. Girls waited in anticipation to be asked, so they could pick out the perfect dress and join in the adolescent rite of passage. When Chad Simcoe had leaned against her locker, stuck a pen behind his ear, winked at her and then asked her to prom, her first thought was the humiliation of having to find that dress without her mom.
When she finally broke down and told Gabe about it, he slapped her on the back and told her with a grin that he couldn’t wait to try to peek in some dressing rooms.
Jillian had tried to back out on her date, but Gabe wasn’t hearing it. He took her to the best shop in town, Delilah’s Boutique. It was raining so he dropped her off at the door. When she walked in, her eyes roamed the sea of white wedding gowns and rainbow of formal dresses. An employee glanced at her quizzically from behind the counter and then walked over to her.
“May I help you?” the employee asked. She wore stilettos that Jillian surmised had to be a literal pain to wear all day and a khaki shirt dress. Her nametag said her name was Susan and she looked to be in her mid-20s.
“Umm… yes. I… I need to find a prom dress,” Jillian stammered.
Susan looked down her nose at Jillian, who never felt more aware of her plain clothes. “Is your mother here with you, dear?”
Jillian didn’t expect that question and her voice died in her throat. Then the door opened behind her and Gabe burst in. He shook his head a little as water dripped from his hair. He came up to Jillian and grinned widely at Susan, reaching out his hand to shake hers.
“Well hello… Susan,” he said charmingly, his face creasing with dimples as he glanced up from her nametag. “My sister here needs a dress for her prom. I’m hoping you can help her out with that.”
And like every other female under Gabe’s gaze, Susan’s face blushed in a shy smile. “I’d be more than happy to help. Let’s get your sister measured and then we can take a look at the dresses.”
Susan didn’t even glance at Jillian as she talked. Susan measured Jillian and seemed to fidget and take a while when she bent over in front of Gabe. Jillian rolled her eyes and held out her arms so her bust could be measured. Susan left them alone for a little to peruse the racks.
“So do you like this Chad guy?” Gabe thumbed through a rack of dresses with completely open backs.
“Gabe, I’m not wearing a dress that is going to show my ass crack. Quit looking at that rack, And I don’t know. Chad’s nice.”
“Oh, I was wondering why there wasn’t much fabric.” Gabe moved onto another rack. “He’s nice to you? Wow, Jill, way to set your standards high.”
“Well, he hasn’t even held my hand since you decided to be dumb and threaten him with a Texas chainsaw massacre sequel if he didn’t behave himself,” Jillian huffed.
Gabe threw back his head and boomed a laugh to the ceiling. “You have to admire my creativity at intimidation,” he said, tapping the side of his head with his index finger. He glanced over at the dress Jillian was holding up. “Hey, no slits and no zippers. If he wants it off of you, he needs to have to do more than unzip it.”
“Gabe!” Jillian glared at him. “Seriously? Quit saying stuff like that.”
“Oh chill, I’m just kidding,” he chuckled. “That dress isn’t coming off until you are home safe.” He paused and looked at her. “Remember what we talked about?”
Jillian nodded. “Knee to the groin.”
“And if your back is to him?”
“Heel to the toe.”
“And then what?”
“I call you.”
“And who will show up?”
“You…. and Mark.”
Gabe nodded with satisfaction at her answer.
“Why are you so weird about guys?” Jillian crossed her arms to look at her brother.
“Because I am one,” Gabe said, his voice momentarily serious as he looked at her. He turned back to the rack and held up a red A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline. Swirls of beading curled around the waist and over the hips before pooling at the bottom of the skirt.
“Dude. Jill. Hot. Try this one.”
Jillian frowned a little. “It’s really pretty Gabe, but don’t you think it’s a little…. much?”
“No way! You’d look fantastic in this. We just have to make sure it contains those big knockers of yours,” he said gesturing toward her chest.
Before Jillian could smack Gabe’s arm, she heard a throat clearing and glanced around Gabe at Susan. Her face was slightly flushed and Jillian knew she overheard what Gabe said. Gabe, of course, was nonplussed. He held the dress out to Susan. “Here,” he grinned. “She wants to try this one on.”
Once Jillian managed to pinch herself into the dress, she exited the dressing room to a low whistle. Gabe held out his arms for a hug and Jillian stumbled into them, the dress tripping her feet.
Gabe swayed slightly with her in his arms. “You look so beautiful, Jilly-bean,” he said, his voice softening. “Wish she could see.”
The day of prom, Chad pulled up in front of her house with his parents’ Mercedes. Jillian watched from her bedroom window as he stepped out of his car. He smoothed the front of his tux and pulled out a small clear box. Jillian turned from the window and glanced at herself in her mirror. She had studied Cosmopolitan for a full month for makeup tips and was relatively happy with her attempt at eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara. She rearranged her chest into the cups of the dress again, momentarily uncomfortable.
She made her way downstairs and heard Mark’s low voice in her living room coupled with Gabe’s excited laughter. As she stepped into the room, Gabe glanced up and caught his breath. “Hot damn, sis!” he said, grabbing her hand to spin her around. “Right, Mark?”
Mark had stood as she entered the room and he regarded her cooly, his eyes flicking over her dress. He turned to Gabe with a slight frown. “You seriously helped her pick out that dress?” he said, the disapproval in his voice clear.
“What’s your problem, man?” Gabe asked.
Jillian shifted slightly uncomfortably, feeling the straps of her heels dig into her ankle. “Mark!” she said, curving her mouth into a pout. “Do you not like it?”
Mark’s jaw clenched and then he gave her an easy smile, the one she liked. “You look beautiful, Jillian.”
The doorbell rang and Jillian dropped Gabe’s hand to go meet her date. She endured the flashing of her brother’s camera and smiled as Chad slid the corsage onto her wrist. He gave her a wink and she giggled.
“You ready, Jillian?” Chad said, reaching for her hand.
“Yes-” Jillian said and then a large body blocked her view from her date. She peeked around Mark as he glared down at Chad. She could see Chad gulp and look up nervously at Mark. Mark crossed his arms over his chest and his biceps flexed.
“Home by midnight,” he said thickly, keeping his eyes on Chad’s. “Anything uncool? She has my number.” Mark continued to stare at Chad, who darted his eyes at Jillian and then back at Mark. Jillian rolled her eyes and Mark raised his eyebrows at Chad, waiting for a response. Gabe chuckled.
“Umm… yeah. Yeah. I understand. No problem,” Chad’s smile was weak.
Mark nodded and stepped aside.
As Jillian and Chad walked to his car, he looked at her uneasily. “Who is that guy?”
“Mark? Oh, he’s kind of like my other brother,” Jillian said, omitting the fact she had harbored a crush on Mark for as long she could remember. She was so happy he had come. She glanced back at her house and Gabe waved to her from the front window. “Sorry. He’s a little… intense.”
Jillian giggled now, thinking back to prom. It was a fun time, although Chad had seemed scared of her the entire evening, thanks to Mark. And had her home by 11:30 p.m. She was sure he couldn’t get her out of the car fast enough.
Mark’s truck was still at her house and the door swung open before she even stepped foot on the front porch. Gabe looked down at her smiling, his arms crossed and a big grin on his face.
“How was it Jilly-bean?” he said, stepping aside so she could walk in the door. As soon as he shut the door behind her, she bent to take off her heels, which were killing her feet. She smiled up at him. “I had a really nice time,” she said, wiggling her bare toes on the hardwood floor. “Chad was a perfect gentleman, and everyone loved my dress. Alli told me I clean up nice,” Jillian laughed. “I’m still not sure if that’s a compliment.”
Gabe laughed and put his arm around her shoulders as they walked into the living room. Mark was on the recliner, one leg thrown up over the the side and his head leaning back, eyes closed. He was rubbing his forehead with one hand and had his phone pressed to his ear with the other. “I already told you I couldn’t do it tonight. I had plans…… Sorry,” he said into the phone.
Jillian could hear a high-pitched voice loudly on the other end. Mark took a deep breath. “Gabe’s little sister had her prom…. What?….. Well it was important to me.” He sighed in exasperation. “Honestly, I don’t give a shit….. Well then, screw you, Celeste.”
He snapped his phone shut, looked at it irritably and then glanced up when he realized Gabe and Jillian were in the room. He broke into a grin.
“Well, look who’s home!” he said, tossing his phone on the coffee table and leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “Your date behave himself?”
Jillian laughed. “Uh, yeah. He’s not a fan of bodily harm, Mark.”
Mark cracked his knuckles and smiled. “Smart guy.”
“Trouble in paradise?” Gabe said with a smirk, pointing at Mark’s phone.
Mark snorted a laugh and brushed at his shoulder. He turned his eyes back to Jillian as she sat on the couch. She hiked up her skirt a little so she could pull her legs under her.
“Oh hey! We have something for you,” Mark said, getting up and walking to the kitchen.
“Ooooh!” Jillian said, her eyes wide as she looked at her brother. Gabe rubbed his hands together greedily. Mark walked back out into the living room with a chocolate cake, three plates and forks. Jillian squealed. “I’m going to bust out of this dress if I eat that cake! I need to change. Gabe, unzip me!”
Gabe pulled at the clasps hiding the zipper along her side and then got the zipper started for her. She raced upstairs to change into sweatpants. “Don’t start eating without me!” she called. And boy, had that cake tasted good.