I’ve never posted a deleted scene from a book before. For me, scenes are usually deleted because the book took a different direction.
But this scene is an exception to that rule. This deleted scene could have stayed, but was cut for other reasons. One, the book was already really long, and two, while I part of the purpose of this scene was to show the crazy lengths the producer Lauren was willing to go to to stage Darling Investigations, in the end we decided to cut it. The scene still takes place in the book’s timeline-what takes place in this scene is briefly mentioned–but I thought you might like to see what really happened.
But first let me set the stage.
For those of you who haven’t read Deadly Summer, let me catch you up to this scene. When Summer was a teenager, she was the star of a meg-popular kids channel sitcom called Gotcha! She played a teen amateur sleuth who solved very benign cases. Now a decade later, she can’t get a job and her family’s farm is about to go into foreclosure. In an act of desperation, Summer has accepted a job on a reality TV show–Darling Investigations–which is a dig at the nickname the press gave her years ago, America’s Darling. Now she’s a real PI who solves cases in her hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama. Only her cases turn out to be not so real.
In this scene, Summer and her cousin/assistant, Dixie, go investigate a cheating husband case. This is Summer’s first day on set and her producer, Lauren, has made it pretty clear that she’ll make Summer look as ridiculous as possible to get good ratings.
Deadly Summer Deleted Scene
Dixie and I were sitting in the cab of Pawpaw’s old truck, parked across the street from the house that supposedly belonged to Miriam’s husband’s mistress.
“Okay,” Lauren said, standing next to the open driver’s window. “Earl’s inside with Becky. I want you two to snoop around the house and try to get photos.” She pointed to the camera bag on the seat between us.
I pulled the camera out of the bag. “It looks pretty easy to use.”
“You don’t need to know how to use it, Summer. You only have to pretend to use it.”
“Have you even considered solving something real?” I asked in a dry tone.
“We have two weeks to shoot six episodes. We don’t have time to investigate something real, but more importantly, you may have a shiny new business license declaring you the owner of Darling Investigations, but four years pretending to look for clues about who stole Little Jimmy’s lunch money does not qualify you to investigate a real case.”
“Ricky,” Dixie said.
“Excuse me?” Lauren snapped.
“She figured out who stole Ricky’s lunch money. Not Jimmy.” She shrugged. “She figured out who took Ricky’s father’s car and crashed it into the bike rack.”
Lauren stared at her a good three seconds with a completely blank look before she turned to me. “Have I made my point clear?”
While I knew that she was right, her arrogance and condescension made me desperate to prove her wrong about everything. “So to be clear, we snoop around the house, take photos, then what?”
“Mr. Peabody will run out of the house, and you’ll capture it on camera.”
“Okay,” Dixie said empathetically. “We’ve got it.”
I shot her a look, and she held my gaze for a second—long enough to tell me everything I needed to know. Dixie didn’t agree. She was placating our producer.
“Yeah,” I said. “We’ve got it.”
Lauren walked behind our trunk and told them to start rolling.
I wondered how they would film this, but I quickly figured it out. Tony and Bill had already started filming—Tony on my side of the car and Bill closer to the house.
“So this is Becky’s address,” I ad-libbed, wondering what a real PI would be saying right now.
Dixie pointed out the windshield. “That’s Earl’s truck. He’s inside.”
“What’s he doin’ here on a Thursday afternoon?” I asked. “Shouldn’t he be at work?”
Dixie shot me a look that suggested he should be at work, but she quickly improvised. “He has Thursdays off.”
“Huh.” I knew I should be talking about our plan of action, but I was too busy trying to reason out why Miriam Peabody had agreed to this charade. From what Dixie said, Earl was a known philanderer. Why would she want this on TV? If she knew Earl was cheating on her with Becky, why wouldn’t she handle it herself?
“So we should try to get some photos, don’t you think?” Dixie asked, trying to get me back on track.
“Yeah.” Get it together, Summer. “Sounds good.”
I grabbed the camera and reached for the door handle, expecting Lauren to yell cut, but Tony just backed up and kept filming.
Dixie and I walked across the street, moving casually, as though we were out for a stroll, and moseyed over to Becky’s house. After we made sure “no one was watching” we started to slink around the house. I had no idea which window belonged to Becky’s bedroom, so we started putting our faces to the window panes, peeking inside and finding nothing in the front windows.
We opened the fence gate and snuck into the backyard, but the yard sloped down, and it became clear right away that Dixie and I were too short to reach the windows.
She motioned behind us and whispered, “I’ll get one of those lawn chairs, and we can climb up on it.”
Grabbing a metal outdoor chair by the arms, she scooted it under the window and motioned for me to stand on it. I climbed up and peered through the window, finding an empty bedroom. I shook my head and Dixie moved the chair to the next window.
I climbed up, and quickly realized I’d found the right room. A woman sat on the bed wearing sexy red lingerie. The man sitting next to her had on nothing but a pair of jeans. The woman was leaning on the pillows stacked against the headboard, smoking a cigarette.
Feeling lower than pond scum, I lifted the camera and started to snap photos.
The only sound was the click, click, click of the camera, so I nearly jumped out of my skin when a man said in a deep voice, “Put down the camera and step away from the window.”
My heart kicked into a gallop when I swiveled around and found myself staring at a policeman. He was wearing a black uniform with a shiny badge, but at the moment, I was more concerned with the Taser he was pointing at me.
I lifted my hands, letting the camera bang into my ribs as I dropped it. Only the strap around my neck saved it from falling to the ground. “I can explain, Officer.”
“I’m sure you can. But how about you save it for when we get to police headquarters?”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Willy,” Dixie spat out in disgust. “What in the hell are you’re doin’?”
“Responding to a prowler call.”
“Prowler?” she asked in disbelief. “Just yesterday you and I were talkin’ about Summer comin’ back to town. You know doggone good and well we’re filming the show.”
Some of the arrogance left his eyes. “Just doin’ my job, Dixie.”
“Doin’ your job…” she scoffed, shaking her head. “We just started snoopin’ about five minutes ago. How’d someone call so fast?”
He looked even less certain. “I’m still gonna have to arrest you, ma’am.”
“Arrest me?” I glanced over at Tony and Bill, who were still filming. Chuck had joined them with his big overhead microphone.
Oh, my God. Had Lauren set this up?
But Officer Willy was now moving toward me with handcuffs. Those certainly looked real.
“I have permission to do this, Officer.”
“Like I said,” he murmured, grabbing my arm and clamping on the silver bracelet. “I’m just supposed to get you to headquarters. We’ll sort this out there.” Where I was sure Luke Montgomery was waiting for me.
He’d just snapped on the second handcuff—ignoring Dixie, who was swearing a blue streak at him—when the back door opened and the lingerie-clad woman appeared in the opening. “Willy Hancock,” she exclaimed with a hand on her hip. “What in the Sam Hill do you think you’re doin’?”
“Just responding to a trespassing call,” he said, his voice shrinking along with his height as his shoulders shot up to his ears. “The peeping Tom charge was a pure bonus.”
“They’re supposed to be here, you moron!” she shouted. “They’re filming that show! You’re ruining my big break to become a Victoria’s Secret model!”
“I’m sorry, Becky—”
“Sorry, my ass. Luke has a burr up his butt over this whole thing, and he’s bound and determined to make trouble.” She walked down the concrete steps, teetering on her fire-engine red four-inch stilettos and pointing a finger at him. “You go remind your boss that he works for this town and we want this show here!”
“Yes, ma’am,” Willy said, taking a step back.
“And get those damn handcuffs off her so we can finish filming! I haven’t even made my grand entrance yet.”
The officer fumbled as he removed my handcuffs. “Sorry, Summer. Just followin’ orders.”
“Your police chief’s orders?” I couldn’t bring myself to say Luke’s name.
Once the second handcuff was removed, I turned around to face him. “I don’t want any trouble, Officer Hancock. I simply want to film this show as unobtrusively as possible. Please tell your police chief that if he wants me to leave so badly, he should man up and tell me so to my face.”
The police officer’s face turned bright red before he turned and ran without comment.
Lauren finally yelled cut. We continued our snooping, and this time, Becky made a show of freaking out when she “discovered” us in her bedroom window. Then we raced to the front of the house just in time to catch Earl running out of the door, stuffing his head into his T-shirt as he went. He tripped on the bottom step and started cursing as Becky popped out of the still-open door, displaying her lingerie for all to see as she yelled at us to get off her property.
“You want me to arrest them now?” Officer Hancock yelled from his position next to his police car. He looked like he wanted someone to offer him a tub of popcorn.
“No!” Becky yelled out him. “It’s for the camera, Willy! Don’t you know nothin’?”
“I thought it was a reality TV show,” he shouted back.
She didn’t have an answer for that, just a half shrug and a look on her face that suggested he had a point.
“Cut!” Lauren snarled. “Let’s get another take from Earl running out the door.”
“I have to fall on my face again?” he asked in dismay, hugging his leg to this chest. “I think I broke my ankle.”
“Don’t be such a baby, Earl!” Becky said in disgust. She turned to Bill who was standing behind me, then cupped the bottoms of her breasts and hoisted them slightly. “This is my best side, sugar, so be sure your camera angle gets it.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Bill said in the voice of a man under a siren’s sway.
“Get up, Earl!” Becky nagged, and the man climbed to his feet and hobbled up the steps.
“Take two,” Lauren’s assistant said. She clapped the sign, and Earl ran out the door. He didn’t fall this time, but he stumbled over a garden gnome, sending it flying into the side of his truck. It shattered into pieces, and the head landed at his feet, the big eyes staring up at him in accusation.
“Oh, my God!” Becky cried out in genuine distress. “You killed Georgie!”
Those words were like Officer Hancock’s on switch. He came running over with his gun drawn. “Who? Where? Inside your house?”
“No one’s dead, Willy!” Dixie shouted. “She’s talking about the danged garden gnome.”
He lowered his gun. “Oh.”
I hated this show, and we’d barely even started.
“Why are you still here, Officer Hancock?” I asked. “Don’t you have real emergencies to attend to?”
“Not at the moment. Besides the chief told me to stay here and keep an eye on things.”
More like keep an eye on me. “And did you give him my message?” I asked in a syrupy sweet voice.
His face reddened, and he slunk back to his police car, but he didn’t get inside.
We started again, running the same scene in multiple takes, each take devolving more until finally Lauren decided Earl had embarrassed himself enough. They took multiple takes of me and Dixie running to the front of the house and then multiple takes of me lifting my camera and taking photos of nothing.
“What in the world?” Dixie asked.
“They’ll splice it in and make it look like I’m photographing Earl running out of the house.”
“This is nothing like I thought it would be,” Dixie mumbled.
“That makes two of us.”
Lauren clapped her hands together, grinning ear to ear. “Our work here is done.”
How was I going to make it through the next two weeks?