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Outtakes from the Grave (Night Huntress #8), Page 1

Jeaniene Frost




  Copyright

  This ebook is licensed to you for your personal enjoyment only.

  This ebook may not be sold, shared, or given away.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the writer’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Outtakes from the Grave

  Copyright © 2015 by Jeaniene Frost

  Ebook ISBN: 9781943772346

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  No part of this work may be used, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

  NYLA Publishing

  350 7th Avenue, Suite 2003, NY 10001, New York.

  http://www.nyliterary.com

  Table of Contents

  Copyright

  Also by Jeaniene Frost

  Foreword by Jeaniene Frost

  Chapter One

  Original Beginning of Halfway to the Grave

  Chapter Two

  The Hair Salon Incident

  Chapter Three

  Bones’s Point of View after Their “First Time”

  Chapter Four

  After the Morning After

  Chapter Five

  Death and Taxes

  Chapter Six

  The Missing Girl Who Called Home

  Chapter Seven

  Sound Medicine

  Chapter Eight

  The Other Renfield

  Chapter Nine

  The Short Story That Never Was

  Chapter Ten

  Original Beginning of One Foot in the Grave

  Chapter Eleven

  When Cat Met Belinda, aka Sunshine

  Chapter Twelve

  Cat and Noah: Her Greatest Mistake?

  Chapter Thirteen

  Alternate Version of Cat and Bones’s Reunion

  Chapter Fourteen

  Bones Discovers Cat’s Crossbones Tattoo

  Chapter Fifteen

  Bones and Cat, Revised Rekindled Passion

  Chapter Sixteen

  After the Vampire Wedding Ceremony

  Chapter Seventeen

  Original Ending to One Foot in the Grave

  Chapter Eighteen

  The Original Beginning of At Grave’s End

  Chapter Nineteen

  The Dress Shop

  Chapter Twenty

  After the S&M Club

  Chapter Twenty-One

  White Wedding

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Belinda Gets Fired

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Bones Realizes Cat Almost “Jumped”

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Original Beginning of Destined for an Early Grave

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Deleted Flashback to When Cat Was Sixteen

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Alternate “Middle” Version of Destined for an Early Grave

  Thank You for Reading

  About the Author

  Also by Jeaniene Frost

  THE SWEETEST BURN

  THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES

  BOUND BY FLAMES

  UP FROM THE GRAVE

  TWICE TEMPTED

  ONCE BURNED

  ONE GRAVE AT A TIME

  THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE

  ETERNAL KISS OF DARKNESS

  FIRST DROP OF CRIMSON

  DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE

  AT GRAVE’S END

  ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE

  HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE

  Foreword by Jeaniene Frost

  The Night Huntress series is a New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling series that has been published in twenty different countries. Just writing that is humbling, because originally I hadn’t intended for it to be a series at all.

  Although I had wanted to be a writer since I started fashioning stories out of my dreams at age twelve, I’d never had the fortitude to finish an entire novel. Fast-forward to age twenty-nine when I had a dream about a half-vampire woman arguing with a vampire man about why she’d left him. In the dream, I knew the half-vampire woman still loved her fanged former boyfriend but didn’t believe they could make it as a couple. I also knew the man had been looking for her for years and wasn’t about to give up now that he’d finally found her. Over the next several days, I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream. Who were those people? Why had she left him if she loved him? Why had he kept looking for her even after years of no word? How did they fall in love, and what tore them apart? And how did a half-vampire come to be, anyway? Answering those questions eventually became my first novel, Halfway to the Grave. Thus, Cat and Bones’s story was born.

  Much to my surprise, Halfway to the Grave didn’t finish Cat and Bones’s story. In fact, I hadn’t even gotten to the scene from my dream yet. So as soon as I finished the first book, I started the second one. When I reached the end of that, I realized I was still nowhere near done with their story, so I started writing the third novel. When I finished that, I immediately started the fourth one.

  At this point, my husband suggested that I should see if I could get the first novel published before I kept writing more in the same series. I agreed, albeit reluctantly because I wasn’t optimistic about my chances. Still, pursuing publication would be a good way to keep writing while also pacifying my husband, so I began looking into how to get published. This was back in 2004, and I knew nothing about the process, nor did I know anyone in the industry. The digital market didn’t exist at this point, so self-publishing wasn’t a viable option. My chances seemed limited to having a major publisher take a chance on me or never being published at all.

  I’ll sum up the next two years by saying that I learned about the industry the hard way, such as being scammed by a pay-for-service literary agent. I also learned the hard way that finishing a novel did not mean the novel was ready to be shopped for publication. Since I had written Halfway to the Grave for my own entertainment, I didn’t think about things like pacing, sticking to the main plot instead of exploring side stories, staying within genre constraints, or a host of other things that resulted in many, many cuts and rewrites. In 2006, I signed with a legitimate agent who sold the first two Night Huntress novels to Harper Collins. In late 2007, preorders for Halfway to the Grave were strong enough that Harper bought three more novels before the first one was officially released. Their prediction proved correct: Halfway to the Grave debuted on both the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists. No one was more surprised about this than me: I made my editor e-mail me a copy of both lists before I believed her.

  I ended up being ridiculously blessed by having all seven novels in the Night Huntress series hit those and other bestseller lists. Cat and Bones’s story came to its conclusion in Up from the Grave, although they have and will continue to appear as side characters in spin-off novels from the Night Huntress series. For all the reasons listed above, a lot of scenes from Halfway to the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, At Grave’s End, and Destined for an Early Grave ended up on the cutting-room floor. Putting them all together made me realize that they equated to more than the size of a full-length novel.

  As mentioned, when I originally wrote the books, I didn’t only write scenes that advanced the main plot forward at the most brisk pace possible. Instead, in those first drafts, I took more time to explore the characters through alternate scenarios, multiple side plots, additional backstory, and increased revelations.
I also wrote several love scenes that never made it into the final versions of the books. It was very, very hard to take those scenes out and to make a choice between different versions when the time came, which is why I saved those old versions instead of deleting them. Over the years, readers requested that I post some of the deleted scenes and/or alternate versions, and I did release a handful of them. Much to my surprise, the overwhelming response I received was that readers wanted more. That is why I decided to compile the best of the deleted scenes and alternate versions into an anthology of sorts, so that readers could see the untold side of Cat and Bones’s story in addition to the official, published novels.

  This was a big task. I had several different versions of each of the first four novels spread out across old disks, CDs, and/or backup files on my hard drive. For added amusement, some of the files were password protected, and in the decade-plus since I wrote them, I forgot what the passwords were. That meant I had to comb through over ten years of Sent files on my e-mail to see if I’d e-mailed the story to any friends for feedback (I had, thank God!) Then, once I had versions that I could actually open, I had to comb through them to pull out the scenes and alternate versions that people would hopefully want to read. I also wanted to include commentary as to why a particular scene or version didn’t make it into the official version so that readers would get a glimpse into the process. Finally, I sent the entire compilation to be professionally edited and proofread. Needless to say, in its original state, there were grammar and spelling errors galore.

  The result is Outtakes from the Grave, which includes both previously published as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes and alternate versions with behind-the-scenes commentary and explanations. Where necessary, I’ve also included bits of scenes that ended up in the published versions to provide context for the deleted/alternate scenes so that they’re easier to read. I hope you enjoy getting a chance to explore the adventures of Cat, Bones, and the Night Huntress gang more deeply with these stories and that you enjoy seeing “what might have been” with versions of events that differ from the ones in the books.

  The scenes and versions are listed in chronological order according to the series timeline. Each scene or alternate version is broken into its own individual chapter, so you can read them all or skip to the ones you’re most interested in. As always, thank you, readers, for taking this journey along with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have.

  Chapter One

  Original Beginning of Halfway to the Grave

  Author’s note: Beginnings are the bane of my existence. I tend to overwrite them and thus end up cutting a lot from my first draft to my published version. Halfway to the Grave was no different. Not only did I overwrite it, I crossed markets because the original beginning shows Cat as a naïve, teenage girl, which would have confused editors and agents into thinking that this was a young adult novel instead of an adult paranormal romance. In addition to that, the former beginning is also very violent as it shows Cat encountering her first vampire, so there wasn’t much in it to appeal to an editor or agent even if they did figure out that this was an adult romance. That’s why, after several rejections, I cut this from the manuscript after realizing that its innocence-lost, homicidal-tendencies-found theme didn’t match with the rest of the novel. The original beginning ends at the first sentence of the published version of Halfway to the Grave.

  One more difference that readers will notice is Cat’s age. In this version, she’s only nineteen when she first meets Bones. This was a combination of authorial intrusion and lack of knowledge about the publishing industry. I was moved out and married at nineteen, so I didn’t think it was too young for my heroine to be involved in a passionate relationship. I also knew that Cat would age several years between the first book and the second one, so I wasn’t worried about her being that age for the entirety of the storyline. However, the agent I eventually signed with told me I needed to make Cat older because she was too young to be a heroine in the traditional adult market. I compromised by aging her up to twenty and then had to age her up again to twenty-two when Harper Collins acquired the novel. I didn’t change much else about Cat to match her new age in the story, so later, some readers correctly pointed out in their reviews that Cat seemed to read younger than twenty-two. In the original beginning, however, she’s an innocent sixteen-year-old who’s about to go toe-to-toe with her first vampire.

  When I left my house that day, I’d had absolutely no intention of killing anyone. I’d been looking for my boyfriend, Danny. I met him a few weeks ago when his car broke down near my grandparents’ orchard. Driving late at night was one of the ways I escaped from the taunts of other kids over my illegitimacy. That’s how small this town was. People still cared about things like that.

  Of course, if you compared being illegitimate next to my father being a vampire, it hardly measured up.

  Not that my neighbors knew that. Neither did my grandparents, whom my mother and I lived with. People didn’t believe in vampires. Only my mother knew what I was. The man who raped her almost seventeen years ago had redefined the term “necking.” At least that explained her distant, suspicious nature when it came to everyone, especially me. My mother hated vampires with a pathological passion, and I was half-vampire whether I wanted to be or not.

  Danny hadn’t called me all week. I called him Monday and left a message. Tuesday, I called again. Wednesday, I left a more worried message. Had he called but my grandparents hadn’t told me? They thought I was too young to date, so that wouldn’t have surprised me.

  By Thursday, I imagined all sorts of horrible things that might have befallen Danny. He was a victim of a robbery. Or a car accident. Food poisoning. In jail for driving while drinking. My mind was an endless supply of bad possibilities. When Friday came, I was nearly sick with worry. I knew there were other, more terrible things that could have happened to Danny. Things no average police department would know about.

  Without telling my mother where I was going, I set off for Danny’s apartment. He lived an hour away in Columbus. When I pulled up to his building, I flew out of my truck and pounded on his door. No answer, and his car wasn’t there. Okay, no luck here, but someone had to know if he was okay. After a few wrong turns, I found his friend George’s frat house where Danny had taken me the previous weekend. I parked out front and pushed my way through the milling college kids.

  A guy stopped me on my way to George’s room. “Who are you?”

  I smiled up at him. “I’m Catherine. I’m looking for George, I was here last week. He, uh, helped me with my license.”

  George was a counterfeiter in addition to being a college student. Last Saturday he’d made me a license showing I was twenty-one. Danny already had one. That was the point, so I could go to the places Danny went to.

  “Wait here. I’ll see if George is still around.”

  A few minutes later George came down, looking confused and slightly irritable. “Cathy, what’re you doing here? You didn’t lose your ID already, did you?”

  “George.” My voice cracked a bit from strain. “Have you seen Danny? I haven’t been able to get ahold of him all week. Is he all right?”

  Something I couldn’t name passed over his face. “Yes, Danny’s fine. In fact, I think he’s at Galaxy, the club the two of you went to last week. You remember where it is?”

  “Um, we never made it last weekend.” I knew my face was red, but I didn’t let it stop me. “Can you give me directions?”

  Reluctance was written all over him, but I persisted. When I had the directions, I thanked him and left, so excited to know Danny was okay that I forgot to wonder why he hadn’t called me.

  ***

  Galaxy turned out to be huge. Their doors were open, the sounds of music spilling into the parking lot. I walked up to the entrance hesitantly but with determination, not about to let a thing like nerves stop me. At the door the bouncer gave a hard look at my fake driver’s license, holding it under his
light and comparing it to my face. I tried to look blasé and smiled as if I didn’t have a care in the world. All I needed was to go to jail for possession of false identification, but he finally waved me inside. The music was pounding, and it seemed like hundreds of gyrating bodies were all around me. My plain white T-shirt turned hues of neon in the fluorescent glare of the lights. Pushing through the dancers was like walking through deep water. When I found my way to the nearest bar, I scanned the people around it. No Danny yet.

  “Buy you a drink?” a voice behind me asked.

  I whirled, smiling, but it wasn’t Danny. An unknown guy in a red shirt grinned at me.

  “No thanks,” I said, and turned back to the crowd.

  From my vantage point, I noticed there were several bars in the club. Wading once more through the living barricades, I reached the other side in what seemed like an hour. My head had started to pound along with the music, and my eyes were sore from the flashes of light scoring the room. The second and third bars were no more helpful. Despair began to set in that George had been wrong and Danny wasn’t here after all. I leaned against the wall, glancing at the second floor of the club. People were gathered by a banister that overlooked the main floor. As I watched, a familiar sandy-colored head came into view.

  “Danny!” I yelled, but to no avail as he wouldn’t have heard a bullhorn in this noise. With relief, I pushed my way to the stairs and sprinted up them toward Danny.

  The broad smile of greeting I wore dropped from my face when I saw him more clearly. A blond girl was in front of him, her hands on his chest. She was grinning as he leaned down to kiss her. I stared, shocked, as Danny put his arms around the girl.

  After a long minute, he broke the kiss—and finally noticed me. “Oh shit,” he muttered.

  I heard him. I shouldn’t have with all the background noise, but my hearing wasn’t normal. Neither was my eyesight, and I absorbed every emotion on his face as he looked from her to me.