Deleted Scene 3

Looking at Holiday Window Displays

Because the book ended up being way too long, I had to cut a lot of little scenes that were a lot of fun but that didn’t really move the plot forward. This was one of those casualties. It happens during the day Owen and Katie spend going around New York. They’re looking at the window that turns out to be done with magic …

I was just starting to ask if he meant real magic or the metaphorical magic of Christmas when a voice called out, “Owen Palmer? Is that you?”

Both of us turned to see a pretty little blonde in a black trenchcoat. She looked like she was about Owen’s age, and she had a polished, professional look, her hair cut in a sleek bob and her clothes and shoes clearly expensive. “Lily?” Owen said, looking like he wasn’t sure whether to be surprised or pleased. “What are you doing here?”

She raised an eyebrow. “I work here, remember? What do you think of my windows?”

“They’re great. You’re still using …”

“The snow. Yes. I haven’t found anything to top it. I always thought you missed your calling. You should be doing fun stuff instead of digging around in moldy old books.”

As she spoke, her eyes kept darting to me, and Owen caught the clue. “Oh, Lily, this is Katie. Katie, Lily and I knew each other in school.” He’d kept that nicely neutral. I couldn’t tell from their body language if they used to date or if they’d been just friends. They’d made no move to hug each other, but she seemed to put a lot of effort into sizing the two of us up. He’d turned bright red, and I had a feeling it wasn’t the effect of the cold on his fair skin, considering his nose wasn’t even pink, and that was the first place the cold usually showed up.

“Did you design these windows?” I asked, trying to sound polite and interested instead of even the least bit jealous.

“Yes. Do you like them?” She sounded polite and friendly, and not even the fake kind of friendly that hides jealousy. If they were exes, they’d apparently gotten over each other.

“I think they’re my favorite so far,” I replied. “They’re lovely.”

“Thank you.” She turned to Owen. “Are you off home for the holiday?”

“Yeah, Katie and I are heading out in the morning.”

Her eyebrow raised again, and she looked truly stunned. She gave me another measuring look, then said, “Well, you two have a good time. I hope to see you around before next Christmas. You know, the store is open when it’s not the holidays.”

As we walked away, Owen explained, “I developed the original spell she uses to create the snow effect in the windows. It was something I came up with when we were in school and she had to do a visual design project. I don’t think the professor ever figured out how she made that work, but I doubt he’d have even considered magic.”

I was dying of curiosity about this woman from his past, but I knew asking him questions would only clam him up. I figured I could always ask Rod. Then again, from what I knew of their past, she’d probably been someone Rod dated, and that’s how she knew Owen.