Check out this deleted scene with commentary from the author, Shannon Messenger!
Originally this sequence happened right after Audra triggers Vane’s Northerly and Southerly breakthroughs—and nearly loses him in the process—and drags him home all weak and pathetic. I thought Audra would be so worried about Vane that she wouldn’t be willing to leave him alone. But the whole sequence really slowed the pacing—and made it pretty hard for Vane to hide the fact that his memories were coming back. So I changed it to the way it is in the book now, with her leaving him alone so he can sleep.
* * * * *
Audra shuffles me back to her side. “Once we get inside, I’ll lay you down in your room and see myself out. Try not to get up. Eat something. Eat a lot, actually. Your body could use a few more ties to the earth. And stay away from the wind. Close your window tight—turn off your fan. You’re too vulnerable right now.”
“Vulnerable how? Like . . . I could get swept away again if I stand too close to an AC vent?”
“Probably not. But I’m trying to be cautious. I’ve never heard of anyone being as tempted by the wind as you were. Maybe it’s a Westerly thing. Or maybe you’ve been so wind-deprived these last ten years your body doesn’t know how to handle it. Either way, you need to stay grounded, so it’s safer to stay away from temptation.”
The only temptation I’m feeling is to run my hands along the sliver of midriff peeking from the bottom of her tank top. Now, that would motivate me to stay grounded.
I’m so distracted by the thought that I miss the next thing she says. Or I assume I did, because it can’t be what I thought I heard.
“You’ll what?” I ask.
“I’ll sneak back into your room as soon as your parents are asleep,” she repeats. “I need to stay the rest of the night with you.”
I shake my head, trying to wrap my mind around that information. The best response I can come up with is, “huh?”
“I want to make sure your consciousness doesn’t drift away in your dreams. I’m not sure if that’s possible—but with the way you reacted to your breakthroughs I’m not taking any chances.”
“So … you’re going to sleep with me?”
Audra sighs, but I can see pink coloring her cheeks. “No, you’re going to sleep and I’m going to monitor your breathing and make sure it holds steady.”
Okay, that’s … kind of creepy.
But more importantly—Audra’s going to be in my bed?????
Only good things can come from that.
* * * * *
This is where the rest of the scene picked back up, and Vane goes to his house and Audra meets his parents, and the only other change was that Audra whispered she would see him soon at the end of Vane’s chapter. Then it cut to Audra sneaking back in.
* * * * *
Vane doesn’t say anything as I slip through his window—but I can feel him watching me through the darkness.
I give myself two deep breaths before I turn to face him. “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”
“Yeah, well, you kinda got me freaked out about the whole drift-away-in-my-dreams thing.”
His voice doesn’t sound tired at all. And having him awake makes this very . . . strange.
It feels even stranger as I move closer. My eyes adjust to the dim light, and I can see he’s turned down the covers on the side of his bed that he never sleeps on.
“Seriously?” Vane asks as I settle on his faded rug. “You’re going to sleep on the floor?”
“I’m not here to rest. I’m here to protect you.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable.”
Sharing his bed would be anything but comfortable—especially given the way he’s staring at me. And the way I can still picture his lips as I leaned in to try and save him earlier . . .
“Just pretend I’m not here,” I tell him, planning to do the same.
“Yeah right,” he mumbles.
He rolls onto his side.
Then sighs and changes positions.
He shifts three more times before he finally settles, and I lean back against the wall, listening to the rhythm of his breathing. It’s strained and uneven, so I’m not totally surprised when he tosses again, this time throwing back the covers.
“What’s wrong?” I ask as he slides out of the bed. His knees shake slightly, but his legs hold steady.
He grabs two pillows and stumbles toward me. “I can’t sleep with you hiding in the shadows, staring at me.”
“And how does this change that?” I ask as he drops down beside me.
“I don’t know, but it feels less creepy.”
He takes one of the pillows and stuffs it behind his back. The other he holds out to me.
“I’m fine,” I tell him.
He rolls his eyes and shakes it under my nose until I finally grab it just so he’ll stop. He waits for me to stuff it behind me, and I’m stunned at how much better it feels. It’s been years since I sat somewhere soft.
Vane grins, like he knows what I’m thinking, and I want to be annoyed with him. But he’s the first person who’s given the slightest thought to my comfort in . . .
I can’t even remember.
“Thank you,” I mumble.
He shrugs. “The bed would be even softer. Just sayin’.”
“Then you are welcome to go back there any time you want.”
“Nah, I’m good right here.”
He leans back and closes his eyes and I count his breaths, relieved when they start to slow.
There’s something almost melodic about the sound—like listening to a peaceful draft where I can’t understand the words.
Like listening to a Westerly.
A few minutes more, and I can tell he’s finally asleep.
I study his face, searching for any sign of his dreams overtaking him. But his expression is calm. His eyelids fluttering softly. His lips slightly parted, the corner of one side almost tilted with a smile.
I catch myself staring and drag my eyes away, wondering what’s wrong with me. It must be the heat in the air.
Vane’s not touching me, but even his closeness feels electric. Maybe it’s the darkness. Maybe it’s just me. But it’s a strange, almost irresistible energy.
I will resist, though. I’m here for one reason and one reason only. To keep Vane safe.
Seven days left.
* * * * *
This scene between Vane and Audra used to be toward the middle of the book, right after the scene where she takes Vane to the wind farm and teaches him how to build pipeline tornadoes. In the original draft, their conversation shifted from Vane celebrating his new skill to Audra revealing that if he doesn’t start learning faster, she’ll have to make the Ultimate Sacrifice and give up her life to save him during the battle, just like her father had done years before. Vane was clearly unhappy with that news, and reacted in the scene that followed.
I cut it because I realized during revision that I needed Vane to learn that information much earlier. Knowing Audra’s planning to sacrifice herself is what finally makes him take his training seriously, and I needed him to do that from day one. So I moved the reveal to the point where it is in the book now, on their first morning training together, right before Vane decides to swallow his fears and let Audra trigger his other breakthroughs. Sadly, that meant this moment had to go, since they didn’t know each other well enough at that point to lean on each other this way. But now you can read it here!
* * * * *
Vane has never been this quiet.
I tell myself to enjoy the small break from his incessant complaining. But each silent second seems to add a chill to the sweltering night.
I lean closer, ready to remind him how to land, but Vane is already pulling away. And the second our feet touch the sandy ground he stomps off toward his house, vanishing into the darkness.
I could let him go, but…
The sound of crunching palm leaves is his only reply.
I reach up to rub my aching temples.
Unweaving my braid would ease some of the pressure, but I need the reminder of my role—now more than ever.
“Actually, I’m not letting you off that easy,” Vane shouts as he stalks back toward me. “If you think I want you throw your life away for me—”
“It’s not for you, Vane. It’s for me.”
“So, what—you want to die?”
Even as I think the word, I know I don’t mean it.
I don’t want to die.
But I deserve to.
And I owe it to my father—and my people—to finish the job he would have, had it not been for my foolish mistakes.
“What aren’t you telling me?” Vane asks, moving close enough that I can see him through the dim moonlight. “There has to be something. I’ve never seen anyone punish themselves the way you do.”
I look away.
I should tell him now, toss my sins out into night and finally clear the air between us.
But I can’t.
I want to believe it’s because I still need Vane to trust me. But the truth is far more selfish.
“It’s not punishment,” I say, knowing the anger in my voice gives me away. I take a deep breath and try again. “It isn’t death—not like how you think of it. I’ll just be returning to the sky. Going back to where I belong.”
“You belong here.”
I shake my head as Vane steps closer.
“I mean it,” he says grabbing my shoulders and waiting for me to look at him. “And if you don’t want me to throw us both in my car and drive us the heck out of here, I need you to promise me something.”
“We can’t outrun this storm, Vane.”
“Promise me anyway,” he insists. “Promise me that no matter what happens, you won’t give up.”
If he’d worded it any other way I would have had to lie. But he’s given me an option I can accept.
“I promise,” I whisper.
I will fight until my final breath.
And then I will leave this earth far behind.
Vane frowns, and for a second I worry that he’s realized his mistake. But all he does is pull me closer, wrapping his arms around me.
The guilt from his touch burns so hot it makes my eyes water.
Still, I can’t pull away.
I lean on Vane Weston as much as he leans on me.
And together we find the strength to face the coming day.