I have to post a disclaimer here–these scenes are how they appear from my free write. What that means to you is this: I may have changed direction in the course of creating the actual book. The change of course may have rendered the scenes unusable in the book or just simply not a fit any longer. When you read these scenes, keep in mind it may or may not have anything to do with what is coming next. If someone appears to be a “bad guy”, he may actually be a “good guy” in that actual book because of a twist or turn I made in the published material.
So, bottom line, read these for enjoyment, but don’t try to figure out where I’m going with or without these deleted scenes. Does it add a bit more mystery? Absolutely–because I don’t plan on telling you if I changed my mind or not on a specific character or an action being taken.
With that said, here’s is the part of the scene I deleted from Cloaked. This takes place after Sean has met with Baranov to present his credentials and Nicole has talked to Jenkins. Remember to just enjoy these scenes!!
After a minute, there was a knock on Sean’s office door. Nicole and Sean ended their embrace, and Nicole moved to the chair across from Sean’s desk. Sean instructed Stewart to come into the office.
“Excuse me, sir,” Stewart started as he walked to Sean. “Natasha is here, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for the three of you to talk.” He handed Sean her file.
“Yes, of course,” Sean responded, quickly scanning the file.
Natasha’s features and build was stocky. She had her hair pulled up in a tight bun, which made her round face look even fatter. Her shoulders were board and her belly, while large and firm, did not protrude out further than her large, round breasts. Her shoes were black and looked comfortable, almost like black tennis shoes. The awkwardly fitting black and white servant dress did not flatter her. But Natasha was attractive despite her abruptness and her build. Her disheveled appearance, mostly due to the ill-fitting uniform, caused Sean to wonder about her circumstances outside the embassy. Would she take a bribe? Would she be willing to share all she knew about the embassy and its staff? How loyal would she be? He returned his stare to her personnel file.
Natasha entered the room with authority, leaving no doubt who was going to start the conversation. “Thank you for taking time, Mr. Ambassador,” she said as stopped short of Sean’s desk.
“You’re welcome,” Sean replied, glancing up from the file. “Would you like to sit down?” She looked at the chair, moved to it and sat down, as Sean finished looking over her file. Sean looked up to see Stewart by the door. “Either join us or shut the door, Stew.” Natasha noticeably frowned when Stewart remarked that he would join them. Sean and Nicole noticed her fleeting frown. Their eyes met noting it to each other.
“Here, Mr. Stewart, take my chair,” Nicole said as she stood. She moved to Sean and decided to sit on the arm of Sean’s desk chair.
“Are you sure, ma’am?” Stewart moved forward to the chair. “I’ll be happy to stand.”
“No need,” Nicole said as she folded her arms in front of her.
Stewart moved to the chair, speaking as he walked, “If you please, ma’am, call me Colin or Stew. Mr. Stewart is too formal.” Natasha now added an eye roll to her frown. It was evident that there was no love lost between Stewart and Natasha.
“Yes, well, maybe when I get to know you better,” Nicole reiterated firmly. “Natasha, I wanted to tell you how grateful I was that you took care of the flowers this morning. In the future, if any flowers are delivered to me which are not from Sean, please decline them.”
“Da,” Natasha replied curtly.
“Even from leaders of other countries?” Stewart asked, astonished that Nicole would decline a gift from foreign leaders.
“I doubt that will ever happen,” Nicole sluffed off the question.
“It has in the past,” Stewart insisted.
“I prefer not to have flowers delivered to me unless they are from Sean. Is that understood?” Nicole looked at Stewart. Her tone reflected her assertiveness. “Flowers, candy or other such gifts infer a relationship, typically a close friendship or in some cases an intimate relationship. I have no such relationships with leaders or representatives of any country.”
“What about the President-Elect of the United States?” Stewart made it clear in that one question that he knew about Nicole’s past.
Nicole felt he was crossing the line. She didn’t like the inference Stewart made. With a stern, cold tone in her voice, she began “President-Elect Jenkins will not be sending me flowers, and if he does, they will suffer the same fate as everyone else’s gifts. I don’t want any gifts of any kind from representatives of other nations. If Sean is not allowed to accept gifts, then I should not be allowed as well. Is that clear enough for you now, Mr. Stewart?”
“Yes, ma’am. It’s just that the rejection may be misconstrued by–”
“Then we will need to explain that it isn’t personal,” Sean interrupted Stewart. “Nicole is quite right here. Either of us will accept no gifts of any kind.”
Natasha seemed to smile and said, “Understood.” Natasha looked at Nicole and then at Sean. “For breakfast, what do you like? In the future maybe you write down what you want. I do not have to guess, then.”
Sean smiled. “We can do that. We don’t require or at least I don’t, a large breakfast every morning. I prefer coffee. Nicole prefers tea.”
“Earl Grey if you have it,” Nicole added.
“Da,” Natasha confirmed.
Sean continued, “Something simple would be fine with us. Things like toast, scones, fruit, yogurt…” Sean’s voice trailed off.
“Dis is good to know. Will you eat in residence for lunch or at desk?”
“I think it will depend on the day,” Sean replied. He was becoming uneasy with the idea that Natasha would need to know his every move. “Would it be possible to make adjustments depending on the day?”
Nicole cleared her throat. She also wasn’t thrilled with the idea of someone in the residence all the time. “Natasha, did the previous ambassador require all of this from you?”
“Da,” Natasha responded. “I was more personal servant than a chambermaid. Neither were good cooks and made big mess all da time. I clean all da time.” Stewart frowned at what he deemed was Natasha complaining.
Nicole liked Natasha’s honesty, even if it came across rather bluntly. Stewart cleared his throat, a signal that Natasha had gone too far in her answer. Nicole didn’t care for Stewart’s attempt to coral Natasha. “Yes, well, I think the ambassador and I would feel better if we explain our expectations of your duties. Can we discuss that and talk with you this evening?”
“Now please, would be better,” Natasha countered. “You are—how do you say—aristo…” Natasha’s voice trailed off as her memory of the word failed her. “Like the ones before you?”
“Aristocrats?” Nicole questioned.
“Da! Aristocrats, so you want the same things, nyet?”
“He is, I’m not,” Nicole said. Sean looked at her, not at all feeling like an aristocrat. His body language disclosed that he felt insulted. As he folded his arms in front of him, Nicole continued. “I can’t speak for Sean, but I don’t need you to cook for me. I can do that. If you would see to it that the pantry is stocked, and the rooms are clean, I would be quite happy.”
“I can agree with Nicole on that,” Sean added, trying to prove he was not a snob. Nicole wanted to laugh but refrained. Sean’s uneasiness with his noble lineage was her favorite subject for teasing him, and he knew it.
Natasha wasn’t sure if she wanted to smile or be insulted. Confused, she started, “Then I would be here less?”
“Yes, we wouldn’t need you to stay all day, unless Stew has other work for you to do that I’m not aware of at this time,” Sean replied.
Natasha smiled. “I don’t mind to cook for you.” Natasha was concerned that her pay would be less.
Nicole asked, “Do you have children, Natasha?”
“Yes. Two. One is about to graduate from primary education,” Natasha was not certain if Nicole understood her, but she continued. “The other is in what da United States calls high school.”
“Wouldn’t you like to see more of them?”
“Da! They are much hands,” Natasha said, noticing Nicole’s confusion. “How do you say it?” She shook her head, knowing her English was failing her.
“They are a handful?” Nicole inquired.
“Da, handful,” Natasha nodded.
“Before you started to do everything for the previous ambassador and his wife, what was the agreement?” Sean asked.
“I would come in da morning and meet with da ambassador’s wife. I would clean, go to the store, and do laundry. When that was done, I leave,” Natasha said with a faint smile. “But I need money.”
“Were you paid more for the added responsibilities?” Nicole asked.
“Nyet,” Natasha replied. She bowed her head, almost embarrassed to be answering questions about her income.
“Then I think we should keep your wage as it is and encourage you to spend more time with your family. Bring them here sometime. I would like to meet them, and we can show them the embassy if they have not seen it.” She watched Natasha’s eyes light up. “In fact, bring your husband as well.”
Stewart’s face showed shock. Natasha lowered her head as she felt the tears well up in her eyes. Without looking up, she said, “I have no husband. He was killed in bad accident.”
“Oh, Natasha! I’m so sorry,” Nicole replied quickly. Her sorrow was apparent in her voice. “Please forgive my terrible assumption.”
Natasha heard the genuine apology. She was beginning to like Nicole. She tugged at her uniform and said, “How would you know?”
“We have an agreement then?” Sean asked, changing the subject.
Natasha stood and extended her hand. “Da.” Sean and Nicole stood, and each shook Natasha’s hand. After they shook hands, Natasha tugged again at her ill-fitting dress.
“One more thing,” Nicole began. “Are you comfortable in that uniform?”
“It is expected that I wear it,” Natasha replied. She looked at Stewart and added, “It is rule. So I follow rule.”
“If you would rather wear something different, but professional, you may do so,” Nicole offered.
Natasha smiled broadly and offered her hand again to Nicole. “We will meet in morning, den I go market?”
“Yes,” Nicole confirmed.
“I will have coffee and hot water ready for you,” Natasha stated as she turned to leave the room. “Thank you.”