Today’s excerpt was deleted from the final draft of Turning Point, as it didn’t suit the need for the character of Cassidy to be her own rescuer, giving her agency as it were, a statement in support for those who get away from abusers. The conflict between Cassidy and her parents is in the final version of the story, but I have her take her own leave, instead of being thrown out, as happened in this early draft scene.
However, that said, in this deleted excerpt Brenna’s behavior is totally in character for her. Someone she loves is in trouble and she has a way to fix it, so she does. So here is today’s installment of 100 ways to say I love you: “I’ll pick you up at the airport.”
The phone rang as Brenna, Thomas and James were finishing up their holiday cleanup, and sampling a package of fruitcake sent by Chelle. Brenna paused in her wrapping paper collection when James picked up the phone.
“Hello?” His face took on a puzzled expression. “Miss Hyland?”
Cassidy? Brenna pushed to her feet and dusted her hands together. “Yes, she’s right here. Hold on.” He pulled the phone quickly from his ear and covered the mouthpiece. “She says she needs to talk to you right away.” He grasped her hand before she grabbed the phone and added, “She doesn’t sound right.”
Brenna frowned and quickly put the phone to her ear as James left the kitchen. “Hello. Cass?”
On the other end, Cassidy almost sobbed in relief. The airport noise was rattling her already shattered nerves and she clung to the sound of Brenna’s soft husky voice. “Bren, I…” she tried to collect herself. “I need some help.”
The choked words sped up Brenna’s heartbeat. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m at the airport in St. Louis. I need to get on a flight out of here.”
Brenna now heard the same frantic-yet-controlled tone in Cassidy’s voice as when Ryan was lost in the Sports Warehouse. Shit. “What happened?”
“They threw me out.” Cass whispered the words, barely able to bring herself to say them aloud. “I couldn’t get my things first… I don’t have… anything.”
“Why? Cassidy, why would your parents…?” Brenna combed her fingers through her hair trying to think. She tried to hold herself back from being caught up in Cassidy’s sense of panic and exhaled. “All right. You have nothing?”
“There wasn’t time. Travis thinks… my father…” Cassidy shook her head, sounding like she was trying not to cry.
A male voice came the phone then. “Listen, I just rescued her from her own father. I’ve got to go back to that house and calm him down before he does something stupider. Can you get her out of here or not?”
“Who is this?”
“I’m her uncle. Name’s Travis. If you love her like she says you do –“
“What?” Brenna exhaled. Dear God, her family knows about us? She had not gotten used to the idea herself. “If she trusts you, then answer me this… Did her father hurt her?”
Travis cleared his throat, but didn’t start to speak. That was all the answer Brenna needed. Face hot, she demanded, “Put Cassidy back on the phone.” She held up her hand as Thomas walked up, looking about to speak. “Cassidy?”
“Are you and Ryan physically all right?”
“How did it happen?”
“They accidentally saw the present I bought for you.”
A present? A full confession from a present? What on earth could it have been? “All right. All right. Travis seems to think if you go back to the house you’ll get hurt. Do you believe this?”
Cassidy’s exhale scared the hell out of Brenna. “Yes. I think he would.”
“You’re coming home then.” She dug into her purse. “I’ll book you a seat on the next flight to LAX and meet you at the airport.”
Cassidy handed the phone to the counter attendant, who took credit card information and arranged for Cassidy and Ryan to board a plane that would land at LAX at 10:15 p.m. Pacific time.
When Cassidy got back on the phone, told that she would be home safe soon, she closed her eyes and offered a silent prayer of thanks. “I’m sorry, Bren.”
Brenna shook, trying to find a way, through 2000 miles of phone line to comfort Cassidy. She said firmly, “Don’t be. I’ll get you home and then we’ll figure out how to fix it.”
So there you have it. To read how Cassidy’s break with her family was eventually restructured, please pick up a copy of Turning Point.