Well, I've just completed another revolution around the sun this week,* and to celebrate, I thought I would give you guys a gift, hobbit-style! :) So here's a deleted scene, an excerpt that got cut from the beginning of Hunter's Moon because it didn't get the plot started fast enough.
I used to have a couple of chapters with Mel and Pam hanging out at Pine Groves before The Bad Thing happened there in the cave. . . . What I'm including here is technically parts of two different, back-to-back scenes. It's not a thrilling/chase/action sequence, more slice-of-life, including a glimpse of Saddler interacting with his family. Unfortunately, his wife and kids got cut out, names and all, from the final draft. There's just a vague reference left in the book to let you know that they exist. (I had written several scenes from Saddler's point of view, and those all got cut out because they were too spoilerish. So you might not want to read this if you haven't read the book.)
All right, here's the excerpt. . . . [Please note that my writing has improved a lot since this, which was originally written many years ago! ^_^] ALSO, there's a special "fun fact" I haven't really told anyone at the very bottom!
The next morning and afternoon found Melanie and Pam exploring more of the campgrounds and sunbathing at Pine Lake. They’d packed a picnic lunch, and while they ate they watched a pair of middle-aged men fishing on the dock nearby.
As the sun fell further from its zenith, clouds began to move in and stake their claim over the sky. Pam despaired of getting a tan after half an hour of these weather conditions, and the girls decided to head back into the forest. “I heard there’s a whole system of caverns deep in the woods somewhere at the north end of the park,” she told Mel. “Why don’t we go find them and check ’em out?”
“Sounds like fun!” Melanie replied as she packed up her beach towel and brushed off some sand that had stuck to her limbs. (Thank goodness it hadn’t gotten into her still-healing cuts.)
The girls were just about to climb into Melanie’s car and drive back to their campsite when a couple of other vehicles crunched into the gravel parking lot and pulled up alongside them. Rowdy voices spilled out through the open windows, and the girls recognized the group of guys from campus. “Oh, great,” Melanie muttered, throwing a chagrined look at Pam, who returned it. “Let’s get out of here, quick.”
But if they’d hoped the guys wouldn’t notice them, they were in for a disappointment. A couple of the “wild beasties” wolf-whistled and cat-called at them, soliciting the girls by name to join them for some fun in the lake.
“Sorry, we were just leaving,” called Pam as she slammed the passenger-side door of the Honda after her. Mel pulled out of their parking spot quickly, and they careened from the lot, spraying gravel on a young family walking by.
Whoops, Melanie thought sheepishly. She recognized the foursome, and especially the two young children, as their “neighbors” from the cul-de-sac. Hope they don’t come after us later and complain. The man appeared to be frowning behind his dark glasses.
Saddler watched his children splashing at the edge of the lake, shrieking and laughing as they batted a beach ball back and forth. His wife lounged next to him at a picnic table not far from the sandy shore. Every now and then she would make some attempt at small talk, but Saddler’s mind was too intently focused on his special assignment for idle chit-chat. He merely nodded and murmured agreement with everything Amy said, until finally she gave a little sigh and retreated behind her large sunglasses, leaving him to plot in peace.
The weekend had gone well so far. He’d kept the subject in range and made sure the man—that is, the wolf—did not escape from the cave. The subject must have developed some way of trapping himself in there each month, apparently without the aid of chains or restraints. Last night (the true full moon) and Thursday night had been quiet affairs for Saddler, spent lingering near the entrance to the caverns, tranquilizer gun cocked and ready but never fired. Tonight was the third and final night of the lunar cycle in which the moon was full enough to lure the beast out of the man.
It will also be the last night I have to slip those sleeping pills into my family’s dinner, he thought with a twinge of relief. It had not been the easiest task to perform—Amy had always been one for taking charge of the cooking duties, insisting that a man’s only job in the kitchen should be washing dishes (a task she deplored). Saddler had just barely found time each evening to stir the ground-up pills into the pot of baked beans while Amy’s attention was turned elsewhere. He couldn’t risk them waking up in the middle of the night for any reason and finding that he had left their camper. No suspicion was to be aroused, and he certainly didn’t want Amy to get the wrong idea and assume he was having an affair. She might start investigating what he did in his spare time, and the organization would not appreciate any outsiders poking into their business.
He had to admit that his family did make excellent cover on this particular assignment, though. No one would think that he was anything but a family man enjoying a weekend’s outing with his dear wifey-poo and the rug rats. Yeah, that was him, Gary Saddler, the all-American Daddy Dearest pushover. Hardly.
Life as a cop on gang-infested city streets for the past ten years had left Saddler bitterly questioning the honesty and integrity of any man or woman on the planet. The corruption he’d seen within the very heart of the system itself—Justice, it called itself—was a hypocrisy he just couldn’t forgive or ignore. Humankind could be awfully beastly, it seemed, and the savage acts of cruelty he’d witnessed not only on TV but in real life, not only from the criminals but also from the law enforcers, had vastly decreased his respect for humanity as a whole. He’d considered changing careers many times, but the prospect of a dull desk job was hardly to his liking. No, he would stay where the action was, in the thick of his species’ fight for survival against themselves. But he would make his own decisions about the nature of justice whenever he could get away with it.
[some really spoilerish stuff cut out here, I mean like for later in the trilogy]
Thinking of those reminded Saddler of the only minor problem that could disrupt his current mission: those raucous college boys galloping through the forest each night like a herd of naïve prey animals. If they discovered the cave and were foolish enough to trespass in it after dark, he would be forced to take measures that he didn’t want to have to take. So far they hadn’t wandered that far, but there was still tonight to worry about.
Look at them over there—hooting and hollering and half-drowning each other, he thought with a curl of his lip. He felt loath to admit to himself that, back in his college days, he’d behaved in much the same way.
After another long half hour of lounging at the lakeside picnic table, Saddler finally decided it was time to round up the family and move on. The wind had turned chillier, and he didn’t want Mike and Karen to catch colds. He called them from the water, and they came, though reluctantly. Amy pasted a cheerful grin back on, suggesting another nature hike before supper. The foursome set off toward their camper again, as the kids would need to change clothes. Saddler’s mind allowed itself a short reprieve from thinking about tonight’s work.
Well, there ya have it . . . Saddler needs to focus more on his family and less on his job (and "extracurricular"), don'tcha think? Otherwise, he might lose the former! Later cut scenes showed his marriage starting to deteriorate, but the plotline of him and Amy divorcing really doesn't fit into the books. So you can head-canon them staying together, or not, if you like!
Now, for that fun fact I promised: Saddler is the hunter that the title, Hunter's Moon, originally referenced. I showed a lot more of him hunting Mel on various college campuses (in cut scenes). After that stuff got chopped, I didn't want to have to change the book's title because I really liked it (it's way better than my original working title, which I won't be telling you ;P) so I threw in the reference that's in there now to the Hunter's Moon, with Jos thinking about it . . . and if you pay attention, the October full moon is called the Hunter's Moon, and that's the first one when Mel transforms, when her whole world gets shaken to the core. So the title still fits well enough. And Mel feels, in general, pretty hunted at any given time now. (:
TTYL, and thanks for reading this far! :) Next month, I'll be posting a poem I just wrote! Haha, it's a song parody, actually.
P.S. - I guess you're wondering: yes, book 2, Blood Moon, is coming along . . . I've made the changes my editor suggested to fix up the first six chapters, which are probably close to their final draft. I had to chop about two whole chapters (eek!), and now I'm inserting, in their place, a completely new chapter 7 . . . so pray for me, LOL! It's painful, but it's for the best. More excitement, more action, more blood! Mwa ha ha! (And of course I'm keeping the old stuff for later posts like this one, heh.) It may end up like chapter 11 of Hunter's Moon, which was also somewhat "new territory" for me as a writer, but which my editor ended up calling one of her favorite chapters! :)
*My birthday's not today, but I have been posting on Thursdays and I like posting on Thursdays, so I'm going to keep posting on Thursdays. XD
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.