Today Author Jennifer Lohmann is on HJ to unleash edits from her book: A Promise for the Baby!
“Edits Unleashed” gives authors an opportunity to share with readers deleted scenes that did not make it through the final edits into publication.
Karl is a bit uptight and he believes in right and wrong. He’s dedicated to his family and his job, which leaves him little time or patience for love. Vivian has been trying to live a safe life, only her past keeps getting in her way. She’s in search of stability and community.
The deleted scene is actually the prologue or Chapter 1. The book starts when Vivian shows up on Karl’s doorstep, pregnant and in need of a place to live. I had written, and cut, the scene when the reader sees a bit of Karl’s motivation for a one-night stand and marriage, as well as the post-marriage fight. I cut it after a beta reader said the story started in Chapter 2. She was right, though there are bits of this scene that I love.
If you’ve read A Promise for the Baby, you might notice some oddities, especially that Vivian has a brother in the prologue (he was deleted by the time the book went to print).
“What are you celebrating?” the bartender—Jasmine, her name tag said—asked, her cool gaze interrupting the heat of already expensive and now overpriced whiskey as it slid down Karl Milek’s throat.
Karl slid the glass down the smooth, polished wood of the bar. The glass coasted on the surface, passing Jasmine’s outstretched hand and nearly crashing onto the floor.
He’d had a few already, but he wanted the one she was pouring him.
“I figure,” she continued, not immediately giving him another glass and forcing him to pay attention to her words, “you have to be celebrating something. The folks drowning their sorrows order cheap liquor.” She had dimples when she smiled at him and Karl wished he could be interested. Sex, a wife, babies. He had to have the first if he wanted to have the last. By the time his father had reached this age, he’d had four children. And a wife. Karl couldn’t forget the wife. He’d had one; that hadn’t worked out well.
The bartender was still talking. “Especially the people who’ve just lost all their money gambling.”
Gambling. Life was one big gamble. Some people lost. Had he won?
He gave his head a little shake, but the edges of his eyeballs remained fuzzy. He needed another drink.
She didn’t let go when his hands wrapped around the glass. Her long fingernails tickled the inside of his palm, their overlapping hands warming his drink. The amber liquid sloshed up the sides of the highball when he pulled, but she kept her grip tight.
“I’ve not decided if I’m going to let you have another yet.”
He raised his head until he met her eyes, careful not to slosh his brains around in his skull with quick movement. The dimples and smile had tricked him into believing she wasn’t very observant, but the concern in her eyes made clear his foolishness. He should know better than to be duped by a pretty face. Hell, it was a ploy he used often in his office. Send in the pretty girl with the chipmunk cheeks and big eyes to disarm the crook who believes he can’t get caught. Worked even better if they had something vulnerable about their face—like those dimples. Leon had had dimples. Old ladies had loved to pinch his cheeks. Maybe they would have continued to pinch his cheeks if he’d made it past fourteen.
What drink was this?
“It’s my birthday,” he said and gave the glass another tug. She let go and whiskey swilled around the glass, over the rim. He licked the liquor off his thumb. No reason to waste it. He needed all the mind-numbing drugs he could legally ingest to make it to midnight.
“How old are you?”
He drank half the glass before he answered. “Older than my father.” He finished the glass and pushed it back to her. She could’ve poured him the cheap stuff and he would’ve noticed. But there was no reason to be cheap on his birthday.
Her hand closed over his when she said, “I’m sorry. My mom died when she was thirty. I passed that birthday three years ago, drunk as a loon.” The concern in her eyes had transformed into understanding. “You should do something besides sitting on a barstool. See a show. Go dancing. It’s too early to be drunk, even in Vegas.”
She squeezed his hand and his gaze moved from her face to the hand atop his. He focused on the tiny lines on her knuckles until his eyes blurred and the inklings of a headache forced him to blink. Is that what people did in Vegas? Go to a show?
“What time do you get off?” Hell, he was in Vegas. He should do something that would stay here.
She patted the top of his hand like an indulgent granny with curly red hair, his question now more of a mistake than another glass of whiskey. “You’re not actually interested in me—”
True, but he was interested in something other than alcohol or a show to take his mind off his birthday.
“—and you’re not my type.” She took his glass away and put it under the counter. He wasn’t so drunk he didn’t know she was cutting him off.
The world wobbled when his feet hit the floor and his butt left the security of the barstool. He gripped the edge of the bar until movement settled and he could blink without feeling like he was about to be intimate with the rug. When he would no longer embarrass himself moving, he accepted the glass of water she passed his way and drank it in one gulp.
“There should be V-8 in your mini-fridge and they’ll send aspirin to your room if you need it. I think you’ll need it.”
He didn’t—couldn’t—nod, just tapped the bar twice in acknowledgement and stumbled away. His room would have mini-bottles and he could saturate his feelings with liquor in privacy.
Heavy smells of sex and jasmine assaulted his nose when he woke up. The salty smell of sex he could understand; the bartender last night had been attractive, but she hadn’t smelled like jasmine, her name had been Jasmine. And, he blinked and fumbled on the nightstand for his glasses, she’d clearly—very clearly—turned him down.
A crash banged about in his head and he gathered up the courage to look down. Blood rushed the back of his eyeballs, nearly forcing them out of his head. He had to swipe twice the floor before he got ahold of his glasses and the rocking motion unsettled the liquor still in his stomach. He thought it was liquor; he didn’t remember eating anything for dinner.
The glasses helped bring the world into focus, sitting up bed didn’t. He needed water. Or a bloody Mary.
A copper expanse of back distracted him from his cottony mouth and the rolling sea around him. He reached out, but didn’t touch her. The woman in his bed was not Bartender Jasmine, unless Jasmine’s skin color on her face was different from her back. Her hair was different too. The woman in his bed had glossy black hair, long and cut straight across the bottom. He wanted to reach out and sweep her hair away from her neck so he could follow the knobs of her spine up her back to the nape of her neck. After a glass of water and two aspirin, and after learning her name, those looked like very kissable knobs.
He didn’t touch her now, though. Whatever they did last night, touching her now seemed overly intimate.
She didn’t stir when he got out of bed and she wasn’t awake when he came out of the bathroom. He put his boxer shorts on and walked into the other room to make coffee. Even if he’d been the only drunk one last night, they would both appreciate some coffee. A bouquet of flowers, once vibrant orange lilies, wilted on the coffee table. Karl called for room service and used the coffee pot for a vase. Maybe his mystery lady would want to take the flowers home. Or back to her hotel room. Or wherever it was she was from.
A document on the floor, discarded as carefully as the forgotten flowers, caught his eye. He picked it up and sobered instantly.
“Vivian.” Whoever spat her name out with such distaste was not someone Vivian wanted to open her eyes for. His hand was cool on her bare shoulder as he shook her. Her brother never had cool hands. What other man would be in her apartment?
She opened her eyes to find sheets bunched in her hand. Once crisp white hotel sheets, with a trademark crimson edging. Oh, Vivian, what have you done?
At least a strange man wasn’t in her apartment.
“Vivian Milek, you can’t keep your eyes closed forever.”
She sat up, keeping the sheets tucked under her arms, and started at the mostly-naked man standing at the edge of the bed, one hand on a hip, the other lifting a cup of coffee up to his mouth. His eyes were bloodshot and his brown hair matted, but he looked far more composed than she felt.
“That’s not my name.” She was thirsty. She never woke up hungover, but she always woke up thirsty.
“Vivian’s not your name?”
“No, that part’s right.” The coffee smelled good. Middle Kingdom had the best coffee. “This conversation would be easier if I had a cup of coffee.”
His damned expression didn’t change, he just nodded and handed her a cup. It was black, but she was in a hotel room with a strange man who was calling her a strange name. Black coffee would do her fine.
She wished he would sit down. Her neck was developing a crick.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she asked, once enough coffee had gone down her throat to jolt her toes awake.
“I’m still waiting for you to tell me your name.” Had she really had sex with a cold-voiced, cold-gripped man who didn’t know her name? How could…
Oh God, she didn’t know his name either.
She tried to cover her shock by taking of sip of coffee, but he knew the moment she realized she didn’t know his name. Vivian didn’t know how she knew he knew; he didn’t so much as blink, but the hard-bodied man in front of her didn’t allow for secrets.
Best to plow through the conversation of shame as quickly as possible. She didn’t want to linger in this hotel room any longer than she had to. She slid her legs out from under the sheets, trying to hold her coffee cup in one hand and keep the sheets up with the other. It didn’t work. His eyes flicked down to her breasts and back up to her face. If she hadn’t been watching him so carefully, she wouldn’t have seen the movement at all.
She set her cup on the bedside table and was about to reach for the sheet again when a white robe with crimson piping on the labels and cuffs skidded to a stop next to her. “Thank you.” She tried to wrap it around herself while letting as little of her skin out from under the sheets as possible—though really, what was the point of being embarrassed now? “Vivian Yap,” she said, cinching the belt tightly around her waist. “My name is Vivian Yap. What is—”
“That document your coffee cup rests on says differently.”
She slid the paper out from under her cup and skimmed the words. Then she read them again to make sure it wasn’t a joke. Last night, she had married a man named Karl Milek.
“Karl Milek,” she said, tasting the name in her mouth and waiting for a ring of remembrance. None came. “Well, at least I came out of the night married.”
She’d hoped the words to sound blasé and sophisticated. Instead, she sounded as tawdry as she felt.
“Are you a prostitute?”
The marriage certificate she threw at him drifted through the air before settling on a pile of her clothing. “No.” If the words hit him with more impact than the paper, he didn’t show it.
“Are you otherwise in need of a husband or money?”
“No.” How dare he accuse her poor behavior? She wasn’t the only one who’d woken up naked with an unknown-named person in a hotel room. “That marriage certificate has both our names on it. Why did you marry me?”
For a brief moment his face tightened with pain, but the emotion was gone before Vivian could hang onto to any humanity in the man. His eyes were hard as he walked around the bed to her, his fingers still cold when he trailed them down her neck, hooking his hand around the lapel of her robe. “I don’t think there’s any question why I took you back to my hotel room.”
Great, I managed to wake up married to a man with an Asian fetish. Just in case she didn’t feel stupid enough about last night.
Then she realized his hand held her lapel, but didn’t touch the top of her breast. There was no husky lust in his voice and the heat in his eyes was an act. He was trying to rile her, to get her to confess some villainess reason for the marriage certificate.
She pushed his hand off, though his presence continued to crowd her. “How do you know I’m the seductress? Maybe you’re the scoundrel?”
“Perhaps,” he acknowledged with a tilt of his head. She stepped forward and he allowed her to pass. She walked into the living room area of the suite and sat at a table, leaving the rumpled bed behind.
“So what do we do now?” she asked when he handed her the cup of coffee and sat next to her.
“What happens in Vegas…” he started.
“Stays in Vegas,” she finished.
He always does the right thing
There’s one exception to Karl Milek’s rule—the Vegas weekend that leaves him with a night to remember, and a beautiful new wife he’d rather forget. Those divorce papers are put on hold, however, when Vivian shows up on his doorstep pregnant.
Karl offers her shelter and everything else she needs until their baby is born. Yet soon he realizes that he could definitely get used to seeing Vivian in the mornings, sharing dinner with her at night…and inhaling her jasmine scent. But he doesn’t think he can risk giving his wife the one thing she wants most—his love.
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Giveaway: 3 print copies of A Promise for the Baby, US only.
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Jennifer Lohmann is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, having grown up in southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. She’s always been a reader—of romance novels, mysteries, nonfiction, cereal boxes, etc.–so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone when she tossed away her degree in economics to become a public librarian, though her post-college decision to move to Shanghai to teach English did.
After writing on and off for many years, Jennifer won the Librarian of the Year award from Romance Writers of America in 2010. Being at the RWA conference reminded her how much she loved writing and she became more serious about it. As part of Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” Contest, she was offered a contract on her first book in 2012, published as Reservations for Two in February of 2013. Set in the Polish communities of Chicago, Reservations for Two sent many readers out to the store to buy pierogi. Her second book, The First Move was an All About Romance Desert Island Keeper and won praise for its heartfelt portrayal of a woman still struggling her decision to relinquish a child as a teenager.