Now, I've received a lot of messages and emails asking about the release dates of X, Y, and Z. My schedule is messy right now, but come Monday I hope to have everything organized and will be giving EXACT release dates UNTIL JULY 2014. Does that work for you guys? :)
Okay then, let's get back to business. So you asked for deleted scenes - here's one that should have made it to The Art of Catching a Greek Billionaire - a brief glimpse of how Mairi's dreams of marrying a Greek billionaire began.
The six-year-old girl on the bed sat up and shook her head. “I told you, I know that story already.” She had a patient expression on her face, looking at her two aunts as if questioning their sanity.
With Norah being one of the most respected neurosurgeons in the state and Vilma able to make lawyers twice her age stutter in a courtroom, it was rather impressive the way their niece was capable of making them feel like students who had turned up in class without their homework.
As Norah closed the story-telling application and lowered her iPad on the bedside table, she glanced at the pink plastic clock hanging on the wall - the best thing they could do to prepare the guest room in their apartment and make it suitable for a little girl. It was nearing midnight now, and here they were, still unable to figure out a bedtime story to lull the child to sleep.
At the opposite side of the bed, Vilma looked down on their niece suspiciously. “Are you really telling us the truth, kid? We practically showed you the entire children’s books section of the state library---”
“Mommy and Daddy tell me a looooooot of stories every night.” The little girl’s lower lip wobbled.
Damn, Norah thought, her heart squeezing. She quickly lowered herself on the bed and gathered the little girl to her arms. “Don’t cry, hon. We’ll do it your Mommy and Daddy’s way and tell you new stories.”
“Can’t she just watch TV?” Vilma begged under her breath.
Norah glared at her sister.
Vilma glared back. Seriously, what did two spinster aunts like them knew about raising a little girl? It had been Maricel who had always wanted the whole barefoot and pregnant dream. She had been content to spoil little Mairi the way aunts were meant to, maybe babysit for her once in a while, but now that Maricel and Edward were dead?
What if they ended up raising Mairi to become spinsters like them?
She shuddered at the thought. Life as a dried-up virgin…hurt. The loneliness, especially at night, was a cold and gnawing kind of emptiness that not even flings with the hottest men could solve. Maybe, maybe if she and Norah had been more forgiving about men, maybe they wouldn’t have unknowingly scared away their Mr. Right.
Or at least that was what she liked to think. It was better than losing a good night’s sleep with stupid what-if questions.
“Aunt Vilma? You’ll tell me a story, too?”
The child was doing her best not to cry. Ironically, it made Vilma want to bawl like a kid. Six years old – and Mairi had seen her parents fall to their death in a climbing accident in the Himalayas. She should be in shock now, should be acting up, but no – all she wanted was a damn story.
Vilma pulled a chair up and sat down, jaw squaring in determination.
Norah hid a smile. Mairi really was irresistible, she thought fondly. She couldn’t think of anyone else capable of melting Vilma’s sub-zero exterior.
How was it that Maricel had never stopped believing in true love while she and Vilma had turned their backs on it, Norah wondered helplessly as she stroked Mairi’s head. And how, dear God, could they make sure that Mairi would follow her mother’s footsteps than theirs?
“What kind of story do you want, kid?” Vilma asked in a voice that Norah knew her sister used when questioning juvenile delinquents whom she secretly had a soft spot for.
“The one where a boy and girl fall in love of course,” Mairi said happily.
Vilma cringed. “You sure you don’t want something more exciting? Like maybe something with monsters, demons, ghosts---”
Norah coughed, not-so-subtly reminding Vilma that she was already treading on thin ice and putting them in danger with Social Services.
Vilma sent her older sister a look over their orphaned niece’s head. This is why I don’t want to have kids. Stories with happily-ever-after endings? When she was Hollywood’s favorite divorce lawyer? But then she looked at her niece, saw her wide-eyed look of fright and said hastily, “I’m totally kidding. You know how I am, don’t you, sweetie? Always making jokes?”
Mairi nodded slowly, even though she didn’t look like she believed a word Vilma said.
Shit, Vilma thought, her heart breaking at the little’s girl amazing display of loyalty. Maricel – if you’re here, if you’re listening to me – I think you’re goddamn selfish for letting go of that rope when you saw Edward fall. But whatever. Vilma and I are going to do our best to take care of this little one. I promise you that.
Vilma cleared her throat. “Okay, so, love, huh?”
Mairi nodded expectantly.
“Well, once upon a time…” Vilma paused and looked at Norah for support.
Her sister only gave her another expectant nod.
“This is going to be a really good story,” Norah told Mairi, ignoring the way Vilma glared daggers at her. Of course Vilma had to take the first jab at this storytelling thing. She was a doctor and doctors didn’t really speak that much. She had no training for this. Vilma, though – lawyers never shut up, especially in court. She was meant for this job.
“There was a prince?”
“Hell, no.” At Mairi’s look of shock, Vilma quickly said, “I meant, heck no!”
Mairi frowned. “If there’s no prince then…who’s the boy in the story?”
A germ of an idea formed inside her brain as Vilma recalled the Harlequin paperbacks she and Norah used to secretly devour when they were teenagers.
Norah frowned, not liking the little evil gleam in her sister’s eyes. Good Lord! What was she planning?
Vilma looked down on her niece. “Well, instead of a prince, we have a Greek billionaire. And his name is…” She tried to think of a Greek name. “Well, let’s call him Nik for now.”
“A…Greek…billionaire?” Mairi was frowning as well. “Like the gods?”
Vilma was warming to her story. “Yes! Just like the gods! These Greek billionaires are humans, though, but they’re handsome and strong and powerful like the gods. And they’re very rich – they can buy you all the toys in the world!”
Mairi’s eyes sparkled. “Really?”
“Yes! Now, all the girls loved them of course, and they wanted to be that one girl to win the Greek billionaire’s heart.”
When Vilma paused, Norah continued with a smile, “Now, Mairi, the Greek billionaire in this story is like a spoiled prince. He thinks he can get anything he wants! He’ll look at you and say smile. And you must smile or off to the dungeons you go!”
Mairi gasped. “Just because I didn’t smile?”
“Yes,” Vilma said seriously.
“But what if I call 911?”
Norah choked on a laugh. “Unfortunately, sweetie, there’s no 911 in Greece. You see in Greece, the Greek billionaire is the most powerful man in the land. No one can say no to him and yet, one day he saw a young girl named Mairi…”
Two hours and three hurriedly summarized versions of Harlequin books later, the two sisters quietly left the room after turning the lights and leaving the bedside lamp on.
They looked at each other outside Mairi’s room.
“Going to stock up on Greek billionaire books tomorrow,” Vilma announced.
Norah grinned. “Exactly what I’m thinking.”
As they separated in the hallway, heading to their rooms, Vilma paused. “Norah?”
“Do you think we did the right thing?”
“It’s just a story.”
The words didn’t make Vilma feel less uneasy. “It’s just…I don’t know.”
“Vi---stop worrying. Think of it this way. Even if she does grow up thinking a Greek billionaire will one day sweep her off her feet and take her away to his private Greek island – what’s the harm in that? Isn’t that better than being like us?”
Vilma made herself nod, mumbled a good night to her sister, and prepared for bed. Later, as she closed her eyes to sleep, her sister’s words played again and again in her mind. Norah was right, she told herself. She had to stop worrying. So they substituted a Greek billionaire for the usual fairytale prince. What harm could it do --- right?