Sometimes, a scene I really love doesn't make it past editing for one reason or another.
I don't remember why this one didn't make the cut, but I really liked it, and I'm posting it below so you can enjoy it, too.
“Frank?” she questioned. “You … you … you shot him!”
“Yes.” Johnny’s answer was so simple, so honest, but it appalled her. The fact that Johnny only shot to save his life and hers didn’t matter – the only thing that mattered was that her husband, the man she had pledged to honour and obey for the rest of her life, had just killed a man right in front of her. He was a murderer. A killer. And she was married to him.
“I had no choice Jessie. It was either him or me. He’d threatened to kill you too; if Mr Jordan hadn’t stepped in when he did, you would be dead right now. I had no choice Jessie. I HAD to do it. Do you understand?”
“You killed him!” She backed away from him, pointing a shaky finger at him accusingly. “You shot him … and you killed him!” Wrenching herself out of his grasp she spun on her heel and ran. Her legs were wobbly, but she could still run. She couldn’t see through her tears so she ran blindly, wanting nothing but to get away. She couldn’t be married to a killer. She just couldn’t be.
“Ooof.” The breath knocked out of her as she bounced off a solid mass but big hands wrapped around her waist and stopped her, holding her fast.
“Let me go!” she cried, squirming frantically. “Please just let me go.”
“Do you promise not to run away?” Davey asked. “I’ll let you go, but don’t go
“Fine.” All the fight had gone out of her now, and when Davey released her she sank to her knees on the ground and pressed her face into the dirt where she sobbed pitifully.
“Get up, you’re getting covered in dust,” Davey scolded gently as he grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet. “Look Johnny’s fine and Frank’s dead. You should be happy. I was at your weddin’ remember, I know how much you love the man.”
“Frank’s dead because Johnny killed him! I don’t want to be married to a murderer!”
“If Johnny hadn’t killed him one of us would have - Mr Jordan, probably. None of us take kindly to a man holding a gun on a woman. Count yourself lucky. You got a good man.”
“You don’t understand, do you? I was raised in Boston. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen there. In Boston there are laws! I don’t want to be married to a murderer. Just let me go.” Tears were streaming down her face and she swiped at them angrily. None of the men understood the way she felt; killing people was obviously just part of life for them.
“This isn’t Boston. There’s no law out here, we have to do the best we can. By God you’re a stubborn woman. You need a good tanning!” Gripping her upper arm tightly he pulled her closer to him so he could hiss in her ear. “Stay here. If you run away I will catch you and tan you myself.”
Jessica gasped in outrage. How dare he! Davey was just a scout with a trail drive, what did he know about women? Drawing back her hand she slapped him hard across the face. It connected well; her hand stung satisfyingly. Before anyone could react she took off, dodging around the assembled men who were too stunned to try to stop her. She couldn’t believe she’d actually slapped Davey, she knew there would be hell to pay when he caught up with her. Fear gave her more speed; she kept running, her feet pounding on the dusty ground, and she left the camp far behind.
“Hey!” There was a shout behind her and the sound of running footsteps so she ran faster. She knew who it was without even turning around – it would be Davey and Johnny, possibly Mr Jordan as well. She knew that whoever caught her would spank her; she knew from experience that both Johnny and Mr Jordan would. And Davey had threatened to - she doubted even Johnny would stop him from getting his own back on her rear end.
Slipping behind a bush she crouched down, hoping that the men wouldn’t see her. The action brought back memories of the day she’d hid behind the bushes when the Indians were attacking the wagon train, and she shuddered, the echoes of the remembered gunfire ringing in her ears. Gunfire … killing … there’d been killing on both sides; it hadn’t just been the people on the wagon train who had fallen … She gulped as the reality of life out here dawned on her.
Her heart was pounding loudly in her ears as she peeked through the leaves at the approaching footsteps. Davey was nearly on her, with Johnny and Mr Jordan not too far behind. None of them looked happy.
Her hiding place didn’t work. Damn! She cussed in her head. She’d forgotten that Davey was the best tracker on the crew. He simply followed her footprints directly to the shrub she was hiding in, reached in and pulled her out, grasping her tightly by the upper arm.
“I told you not to run away!” he hissed in her ear. “It’s dangerous out here at night, you could be killed!”
“So what do you expect me to do? Just stay in camp with my murderer of a husband?”
“Yes.” In one swift move he hauled her over his shoulder and landed a flurry of six rapid, hard swats to the seat of her pants.
“Ow!” she yelled. “You put me down!”
“Not likely!” Davey replied, swatting her twice more. “You’re going to get what’s coming to you! You slapped me then you ran away!” He scolded, swatting her again.
“I’m sorry!” She yelped. Davey was igniting a fire in her bottom that was getting hard to ignore. She wriggled and kicked, but Davey held her fast.
He responded to her apology with another flurry of hard swats.
“Please put me down,” she begged. “You’re hurting me! I’m sorry I slapped you. I won’t run any more, I promise!”
With one last, hard swat, Davey set her on her feet. “You better not,” he growled.
Fighting back tears, Jessica stood, trying to rub the sting out of her bottom, waiting for Johnny and Mr Jordan to catch up with them. Both men had slowed to a walk once they realised Davey had found her, and were only just reaching them now. Mr Jordan’s face wore an expression of stern amusement but Johnny just looked utterly miserable. Instantly, she felt guilty. Davey was right – this wasn’t Boston. How was Johnny shooting Frank any different to the men on the wagon train who had shot at the attacking Indians? It wasn’t. Killing was wrong, but out here sometimes it was necessary. Johnny had been trying to protect her, he was a good man. How could she be upset with him? Johnny opened his arms to her and without hesitating, she ran into them, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“I’m sorry Johnny, I’m so sorry,” she told him over and over, pressing her face into his shirt.
Johnny didn’t say a word, he just held her protectively against his body. Somehow, Jessica knew that he wasn’t angry with her; she knew that he understood her shock. She’d been half expecting him to turn her over his knee and spank her right there, but she knew now that he wasn’t going to. She hugged him tighter, grateful. Her backside was still stinging from Davey’s swats. Why did cowboys have to be so strong, and spank so hard? She pouted. Life wasn’t fair.
In silence, they all walked back to camp together, and Jessica knew that now, whatever else happened, everything would be all right.
That scene isn't in the book. But plenty of other spanky scenes are!
You can grab a copy from your favourite retailer - links below.