Deleted Scene 6

The Aftermath of New Year’s Eve

This is kind of an alternate version of what appears in the book. This scene takes place the day they return to work after the New Year holiday, the first time Katie sees Owen after the disastrous party, while she’s still under Ari’s influence but doesn’t know it yet. In a later version, I changed it to have Katie, under Ari’s control, go check on Idris, which moved the plot forward a little better, but I thought it might be fun to share more of what went on with Katie and Owen that morning.

By the time the morning rolled around, I was a bundle of nerves, except for a weirdly detached part of my brain that felt like I didn’t have anything to answer for. It was Owen’s friend’s party, and if he couldn’t police drinks to keep people from spiking them, well, that wasn’t my problem. That was what I got for trying to keep up with the freakshow. Maybe a nice girl like me didn’t belong with those weirdos. I’d have been better off with the masses in Times Square. I might have had my pocket picked, but I probably wouldn’t have run into any magical trouble.

I nearly burst into tears when I stepped out the front door and saw Owen waiting in his usual place on the sidewalk. He looked guarded and wary, like his shields were at maximum. And God, how big a nerd was I that I thought in terms like that? There was no wonder that I was the first girl Owen had asked out in years. I was probably the only girl he could find who was a bigger dork than he was, no matter how good looking he happened to be. I shook my head to clear the oddball thought from it. That really wasn’t the way I thought of him, was it?

He started walking when he saw me, and I had to hurry to fall into step beside him. “Gemma and Marcia told me what happened,” I said. “Thank you for helping get me home. And I don’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t mean any of that stuff that I apparently said. I don’t even know where it came from.” Though could I be so sure, considering what had just run through my mind? “I don’t remember anything that happened after midnight. I suspect one of my drinks might have been drugged. Not by you, of course. I’m not blaming you. Someone may have put something in one of the drinks you just happened to grab. I’ve heard about things like that happening.” Sensing that I was likely to keep babbling so I might not have to hear anything he wanted to say to me, I bit my lip to cut off the flow of words.

“Or you could have been enchanted,” he said, speaking for the first time. His voice was a little more flat and distant than normal, but without the icy chill I’d heard from Gemma and Marcia. “Your magical immunity was still hampered that night. Is it back yet?”

“How am I supposed to know?” I realized after I said it that I’d probably sounded a little snappish, but I was feeling pretty snappish, considering everything that had happened to me, so I figured I was entitled.

He waved a hand and muttered something in a strange language under his breath, and then the nearest trash can turned into a potted plant, then back into a trash can. “Did you see that?” he asked.

“You mean the potted plant?”

“Your immunity is back.”

I let out a deep exhalation of sheer relief. “Thank God. Y’all better start training some of the other immunes to cope with that, because I am not going through that again.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” he replied, his voice still calm and neutral. He didn’t say anything else as we walked the rest of the way to the subway station and then rode the train to work, and I kept quiet, giving him space. Though you’d probably need Central Park to give Owen the kind of space he was comfortable with. Again I shook my head to clear the odd thought out of it.

Maybe my lapse at the party was somehow Idris’s fault. Then again, why would he bother with a nobody like me? Well, he’d bothered with me before. It seemed to be his favorite way of getting to Owen. Or it could have been Ethelinda’s latest attempt to split up Owen and me. When bouquets from supposed secret admirers didn’t work, getting me to hurl insults must have seemed like the next logical step.

It wasn’t unusual for Owen not to talk while on the subway, but when he still hadn’t spoken by the time we neared the office, I got worried again. “You didn’t — you didn’t think I meant the stuff I said to you?” I asked meekly as we waited for a walk signal so we could cross the street.

He kept his eyes on the signal. “I may not know you as well as I’d like to, but I’d like to think I know you well enough to know that wasn’t you.” He winced. “And what you said wasn’t entirely inaccurate.”

I wanted to grab him and hug him right there on the side of the street, but his body language said loud and clear that he wasn’t open to that at the moment. He might not have blamed me, but he’d still heard me saying those things, which couldn’t have been good for his already fragile emotional state. I had to blink back tears of mingled regret and relief. And then I wanted to laugh at myself for being such an idiot. Seriously, crying over getting a little too wild at a party? I probably wasn’t even the worst-behaved person there. It was just more unexpected for Little Miss Goody Two Shoes me to get out of control.