In honor of Runaway Road coming out soon, Playing House is on sale for .99cent!
And on top of that, I’m posting this deleted scene from the book. This is unedited and from my 2nd draft of Playing House. Spoilers are on the way, so only read at your own risk 😉
This scene was from Caleb’s point of view. And if you notice, Hannah and Caleb took a whole different ride in that tree house. This was my first attempt to ever write from a guy’s pov and I must say, I really enjoyed it.
So, without further ado…
I look at my watch for what feels to be the thousandth time. Why haven’t I heard from Hannah yet? What’s taking them so long?
It’s eleven forty-five and the worst is coming to mind. Lucas can be charming- I hate him for that.
I start to pace the apartment; fiddling with the pillows on the couch, making sure all the pictures are straight. I miss Hannah being here. She made this cold place feel like home. I can’t wait until this whole baby/Stacey fiasco is over. A normal life will be a nice change in pace.
Finally, I sit to watch some TV and try and take my mind off Hannah being out with Lucas. It’s my own fault for allowing this to happen. If I could just stand up and tell Stacey what I really think… I shake my head to clear it and focus on the TV. It’s on the Food Network. I smile to myself; I know why I suddenly have a thing for cooking.
My phone vibrates beside me and I all but fall over myself to check it. Chill Caleb. It’s a text from Lucas.
12:05- Just dropped off Hannah. Thanks for letting me get to know her. She’s amazing, you’re a very lucky man. She loves you.
I can’t help but smile smugly. She loves me and doesn’t want to be with him. Not that she gave any reason to make me think that, but with everything going on, could I really blame her if she left? No. I couldn’t blame her. She’s been through enough as it is; why should she stick around for my drama?
I feel myself relax a little and I settle into the couch to watch a little more of the show. I’ll give her some time to herself before begging to come over. I know she’s exhausted.
My phone vibrates again and I smile at the screen. Crazy how just seeing her name makes me happy.
12:16- Hey- still out with Lucas. Having a great time. Don’t know how long we’ll be out so maybe you shouldn’t come over tonight.”
As quickly as it came, my face falls. My heart pounds in my ears and my stomach drops to the floor. I sit up quickly to reread the text.
This doesn’t make sense. Lucas just told me to tell me he dropped her off–why would she say this? Was Lucas lying? I push that thought out of my head and stand up. I’ll be damned if I won’t fight for her.
Grabbing my car keys, I shoot Hannah a text.
12:20- I love you baby.
I decide to text Lucas as well. I’ll get to the bottom of this.
12:21- Did you drop Hannah off at home or are you still with her?
I jump on the elevator and will it to go faster. Why, oh why, do I live on the 36th floor? Once I get to the parking deck and reach my car, my phone goes off again. It’s Lucas.
12:26- I dropped her off… didn’t you get my last text?
My adrenaline is pumping. Something’s up. I can feel it. Getting in the car, my phone connects to the Bluetooth system and I call Lucas.
“Hey man! I promise, I dropped her off! What’s up?”
“I don’t know. I just got a text from her saying that she was still with you and not to come over.”
“Dude, that’s weird. No, she’s not with me. Are you going out there?”
“Yeah, something’s not right.”
“Want me to turn around?”
“Yeah, meet me at the end of my parent’s driveway. I don’t want to wake them in case everything is fine.”
“Alright, see you in about thirty.”
I hit the end button and turn onto the highway. Taking a few deep breaths, I try and calm myself down. There’s an uneasy feeling that I just can’t shake.
Relax Caleb, maybe she just needs to be alone for the night.
Alone? What reason would she need to be alone? “To think about us,” I tell myself. “Maybe think about how much easier it would be with someone not stuck in a dead end marriage?”
The realization that she just wants to be alone hits me harder than expected. I’m crazy for rushing out there like a mad man. I will look like a jealous fool when I see her, but I need to know the truth. If she has any doubts about us, I need her to know that I’ll do whatever it takes to help her decide. Even if that means leaving her alone, no matter how much it hurts, I’ll do it. I refuse to let her unhappiness come from me. I start to feel a little sick as I drive through the night.
Traffic is non-existent on 77 as I make my way to Huntersville. I reach exit 25 in no time and I find I’m only a few minutes away. It’s almost one a.m. as I pull into my parent’s drive. Lucas is pulling in behind me as I climb out of my car.
“Hey man. Hear anything else from her?”
I shake my head and look at my phone again. She hasn’t responded. She’s probably asleep, stalker!
“Come on, let’s go.” I start walking up the drive, Lucas close behind. We sneak around the building and reach her bedroom window. It’s been left open.
Lucas gives me a boost and I climb inside. The lights are on and her phone is on the kitchen table. “Hannah!” I call out quietly. I walk to the bathroom and check. She’s not there.
“What do you see?” Lucas is struggling into the window.
“Nothing. She’s not here. Maybe she’s talking to Wendy.” I walk to the door leading to the hallway and look at Miss Wendy’s door. There’s a light on so I walk over and knock lightly.
Miss Wendy cracks the door open, confusion on her face. “Mr. Caleb? Mr. Lucas? What are you doing here?”
“Miss Wendy, is Hannah here with you?”
She shakes her head. “No sweetie. I heard her come home not too long ago. Did you check her room?”
“Yes ma’am. Her lights are on and her cell phone is there but she’s not. Her window was open too.”
“Were you supposed to meet her at that tree house of yours?”
The tree house! Of course, why didn’t I think of that? If she wanted to think, she may have gone out there. She better not be there. She shouldn’t be walking these woods alone. I start to feel angry again; if I haven’t told her a million times…
“Thanks Miss Wendy, I’ll go check out there.”
Wendy follows us to Hannah’s room. Once inside she laughs and points outside. “See Mr. Caleb? She’s got a light on in the tree house. Stop being such a worry wart.” I turn to see what she is pointing at. You shouldn’t be able to see a lantern from here.
There’s a reddish light coming from the direction of the tree house and my adrenaline kicks in again. “That’s not a lantern…what is that?” I squint and the reddish light starts to flicker and dance.
Lucas’ word slams into me like a bag of bricks. The tree house is on fire? Hannah must have knocked over the lamp! What if she’s stuck in there.
“Hannah!” I bolt for the window, Lucas close behind. “Call 911 Miss Wendy!” I call as I jump out. I start running the second my feet hit the ground. I feel as though I’m running through a pool of Jell-O. No matter how fast I move my legs, I can’t reach my destination fast enough.
As we finally get closer to the tree house, I can see two shadows under the tree. Neighbors? I can see them turn in our direction, but I can’t make out their faces. “Hey!” I call out. I notice one of them, a smaller build, look to the other, who is slightly larger and facing us. Lucas and I stop about five feet away from them. With the fire behind them, their faces are shadowed.
“Is there someone in there?” I ask frantically.
The larger figure starts to laugh and turns to look at the tree. I catch his face in the firelight and I see red.
Connor is standing in front of me, an evil grin spread across his face.
“You son of a bitch!” I spit, running at him. He stops laughing as I tackle him to the ground. I pin him with one hand and punch him with the other. Over and over, pure hatred taking control.
I hear a girl scream and I’m brought back to the forest. I look over to see Tabitha running at me. Her small fists balled up, she starts hitting me, forcing me to loosen my grip on Connor. He frees himself enough to reach up for my neck. His fingers are digging into my windpipe and the world goes blurry. I feel my body falling backwards, me on the ground now and he over me.
A little voice screams in my head. Stop him, Caleb! Hannah needs you!
I can hear Lucas run over and feel Tabitha being pulled off me. Connor doesn’t look in her direction; all his energy seems focused on me. Without her hitting me, I grab Connor’s wrist and start pushing him off me. His grip loosens and my vision starts coming back. He looks scared and I can see he’s realized how much stronger I am than him.
This is all I need. I bring my other arm up and punch him square in the jaw. The power from the hit knocks him off me completely. I stand up and run at him as he struggles to stand. I kick him in the back and Connor sprawls across the ground.
“What the fuck did you do, you piece of shit?” I yell as I kick him again. Connor grabs his side and coughs. Blood is dripping from his eye. “Where’s Hannah?” I grab him by his shirt and drag him to his feet. He glares at me, lips in a straight line.
“Not so tough now, are you, asshole?” I punch him again, knocking him out. I look behind me. Lucas is struggling with Tabitha, who’s crying hysterically. I can hear people running through the woods.
“Caleb!” It’s Todd and Simon. Simon’s eyes go wide when they reach the tree.
“ Make sure he doesn’t get away!” I point to Connor as I run to the tree. Looking around the flames for a way in, I see a branch from a neighboring tree reaching the tree house. Perfect.
I start climbing. I keep my head up and stare at my goal; the branch to help me save Hannah. Finally reaching it ,I shimmy across to the tree house window.
I see her lying on the floor, her hands behind her back. I jump in and crawl over to her. The room is filled with smoke and her eyes are closed. Her face is dark with soot, parts washed away from her tears. I look down and notice her ankle is twisted in a strange way and swollen.
After I untie her arms, I grab her face and move her hair. Even in all this, she’s still breathtaking.
“Hannah, baby, wake up.” Pulling her into my lap, I shake her gently. No response. My stomach lurches. I’m too late.
No. I refuse to believe that. Fighting tears, I lean down and kiss her forehead. I wipe the soot from her mouth and kiss her again. “Come on baby, we need to get out of here. Wake up for me. Please.”
I hear the flames reaching the house, the wood crackling underneath me. I hug her tighter and start to rock. I can’t leave her. “Hannah, please, wake up. I need you. I love you.” I lean down and kiss her again, harder, begging for the life from my lips to wake her.
As I pull away, I close my eyes and say a silent prayer. Dear God give me strength to get her out of here. Let her be ok.
I look down and her eyes flutter open. My whole body wants to collapse in happiness but I don’t have time. The flames are hot against the tree house floor.
“Caleb!” I hear Todd from the ground.
“Hold on to me, Hannah. I’m going to get you out of here.”
I wrap her arms around my neck and I pull her to the window. Reaching out for the branch, I wrap one arm around Hannah, the other wrapped around a branch running parallel to the first branch. Hannah grips me tightly.
“I won’t let go, use both hands.” She whispers. I grimace; she would try and help me at a time like this.
I do as she asks, and start making my way across the branch. The flames have reached the tree house, engulfing it. I notice the embers starting to jump to the tree I’m in. I feel as though the trunk is still 20 feet away as I pick up my pace.
Finally reaching the trunk, I move Hannah to my front. I wrap her legs around my waist and tell her to keep her head in my chest. She winces as I touch her ankle but never says a word. After she’s secured around me, I start my climb down.
I can hear sirens in the distance and more people are running through the woods. We’re about ten feet off the ground now. Just a few more minutes, baby, hold on!
I hear a cracking sound coming from above me. Risking a glance, I look up and see the branch leading to the house starting to break.
It falls and I push against the tree, smashing Hannah against it to protect her. I feel the heavy, searing hot branch hit my back and we fall.
I land on the branch backwards, the right side of my rib cage breaking on impact. I feel all the air leave my body and I gasp. Todd is over to me in a split second, pushing me off the branch and hitting my back. I try to tell him to stop but no sound is coming out. I feel Hannah being lifted off my chest.
Although my eyes are open, I can’t move or talk. I can hear a woman crying and people all around me. I’m frantic as I listen to them. Is Hannah safe? Who’s there?
“Caleb! My baby!”
“Shhh, honey, we’ll get him to the hospital. He’s going to be alright.”
“What happened? What’s wrong with Hannah?”
“The branch fell…”
“…. I pulled her off and then…”
“We need to call Stacey.”
Hannah! Is anyone checking on Hannah? My mind is racing as I try and talk to everyone but still no sound. I fight the urge to close my eyes. Not yet Caleb. I see Wendy kneeling over me, tears streaming down her face.
She takes a hold of my hand. “It’s ok Mr. Caleb. Everything’s going to be alright. Hannah is in the ambulance and you’re going to the hospital too.” I squeeze her hand slightly, as a thank you. She squeezes back and smiles. “Now, just close your eyes and relax. It won’t do any of us any good for you to be stressing right now.”
I squeeze her hand again. My head is pounding and it hurts to even nod. I close my eyes and listen to everyone talking. The conversations start running together as I drift into darkness.