Hello. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, promoting Anthem #1 while writing Anthem #3. I’m about to go on holiday (a cruise – yay) but to add to the chaos I decided it would be a good idea to have a new kitchen fitted while I was away. So, as well as the usual rushing around trying to get ready for a trip, I’ve been emptying cupboards and packing up the kitchen utensils this weekend. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it next week, when the old kitchen is ripped out and I’m sailing far away from the mess, but at the minute it’s a stress.
We’re taking a seven-night trip around the Isles of Scotland, which I’ve never done before. I’ve only been to Edinburgh and Dundee before, so it’s exciting to see more of the beautiful coastline and islands around Scotland. I’ll share some pictures when I get back.
I’ve scheduled some posts to go live while I’m away, including cover reveals and guest posts from other authors.
Today I’ve got another deleted scene from Anthem of the Sea. Yes, another one. As I’ve mentioned before the book was heavily cut after the first draft, mainly for reasons of pace and fitting within the word counts of the genre. Like all edits, we have to sacrifice some good stuff along the way. With this book, that included a lot of minor characters and subplots. Originally, I had Daniel and Elijah meet a number of other passengers. These included Rula and Marianne, a mother and daughter traveling together. As you’ll see if you read the following excerpt, these women had a lot going on, themes that were explored across the book. This scene takes place on the first night when Daniel is invited to the captains table for dinner. All that remains in the finished version is a mention that dined with captain while Elijah was on stage. Unfortunately, Marianne and Rula are excised completely. But, characters rarely leave a writer until their story is told in one way or another, so many they appear again someday. Until then, join them for dinner with Daniel and the dashing Captain Rassimov.
Helen arranged for a tuxedo and shirt to be delivered to Daniel’s room and it was just as well. He’d feel badly under dressed at the Captain’s table without it. Though it was not an official formal night, when all the passengers were obliged to wear their finest, those chosen to dine with the Captain had gone to town. The men al wore tuxedos while the women dazzled with their best gowns and jewellery.
Around half the people at their table of twelve recognised Daniel as soon as he sat down, and it was only a few more minutes until those unfamiliar with his name were brought up to speed. He dealt with it gamely to begin, but it soon became an ordeal to answer the same questions he was always asked.
What’s it like to be rich and famous?
“Believe me, I am neither of those things.” Sort of well-known and doing okay was not the answer most people wanted to hear.
What kind of car do you drive? Where do you have your houses? Have you met this or that celebrity?
Thankfully the Captain sensed his discomfort and drew their attention to himself at the top of the table. Daniel was grateful. He was paid by Royal Atlantic and had a duty to behave as they wanted while he was on the ship, he didn’t object to that, it was part of the job, but it could get weary, playing to the public all the time.
He knew other performers who refused to leave the crew areas of the ship when they were not working. He would never be that stuck up.
The novelty of having him on the table soon wore off as the guests remembered the real honour was dinning with the Captain.
An honour for him too. He wouldn’t forget that.
There was a lot he could learn a lot from Captain Rassimov. His people skills were exception. As they exchanged names and got to know each other over glasses of chilled champagne, Rassimov made sure he spoke to and acknowledged everyone.
They were a diverse and interesting bunch of people. Mainly couples, though Daniel sat beside Rula and Marianne Hench, a mother and grown-up daughter from Devon. Rula was well on the way to becoming drunk, much to her daughter’s embarrassment, but a happy drunk – not causing any problems. Next along was Larry and Chuck, a fulsome American couple. Larry was black, Chuck white but they seemed completely alike in every other way. Both around fifty, they shared a cheeky sense of humour and often finished each other’s sentences.
Next to the Captain sat a very attractive young couple from England. In their late twenties, athletic and healthy, a picture-perfect model of a successful pair.
An older couple from Germany sat on the other side of Rassimov. They appeared a little overwhelmed by their surroundings and company, but enjoyed themselves just the same.
After the champagne, they were served with a fillet of sea bass with roasted cauliflower, pea puree and caper vinaigrette. The starter was paired with a glass of Chablis 1 er Cru. It was phenomenal.
“This is nice,” Rula Hench said, overlooking the food in favour of another helping of wine. Her mouth started to droop at the corner, suggesting she’d had a lot more to drink first appeared.
“Mother, eat something, please,” her daughter quietly implored.
“Try the sea bass,” Daniel encouraged. “It’s really special.”
“Oh, alright,” Rula said vehemently, picking up her fork. “Seeing as it’s you.” She winked.
The Captain told them about his early days at sea. As the first course plates were cleared away, Larry and Chuck asked Daniel is he’d ever played in Las Vegas. The answer was no. They’d been five times, they told everyone, to see Britney Spears.
“It’s become something of a pilgrimage,” Larry declared.
“He’s hoping Britney will cure his arthritis,” Chuck roared and the rest of the table laughed.
Main course was a confi beef with truffle jus, stuffed morels, curried brioche, beetroot jelly and smoked pate. It was served with a large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Daniel hadn’t eaten so well in a long time and the wine was among the finest he’d ever tasted. Better than the supermarket specials he bought at home. The beef was slow cooked to perfection, precisely how he liked it. Food snobs might despair but he couldn’t stand any kind of meat on his plate that was raw or bleeding.
Rula spilled some of her Cabernet across the table and when a waiter arrived to deal with the mess, she asked for another glass of Chablis instead.
“Mother, have some water,” Marianne insisted.
“I don’t want water. I want wine.”
Daniel took pity on the girl and tried to draw her into a conversation away from her mother. She was around twenty-five, pretty but for the worried expression on her face.
“Do you enjoy travelling by sea,” he asked.
“This is my first time,” she said, pushing her food around the plate. “It’s not like anything I’ve done before.”
Rula leaned across, her crepey bosom hanging low. “I booked the cruise with her father but he couldn’t come,” she jeered.
“Mother, Daniel doesn’t want to know about that.”
“Tell him why,” Rula said.
Poor girl. He could see she was embarrassed enough.
“Work commitments?” Daniel offered brightly.
“No, he’s in jail,” Rula said defiantly. “That’s why Marianne is on holiday with her mother. To make sure I don’t chuck myself over the side because my husband is a dirty bastard. A teacher who took photos of his pupils in the changing room. That’s what he did.”
Daniel put a gentle hand on top of Marianne’s. She was close to losing it.
“It’s okay,” he said softly.
“But she need not worry about me,” Rula pressed on undeterred. “I’m not going over board because the man I married turned out to be a pervert. No way.”
It was a conversation stopper. Around the table open faces stared at Rula in astonishment. The German couple must have understood most of it – they looked shocked enough. Even Captain Rassimov was lost for words.
“Did anyone see the show tonight?” Daniel asked at last. “I caught the act before dinner. He was really very funny.”
Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/anthem-of-the-sea
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/anthem-of-the-sea-thom-collins/1126384702?ean=9781786515681