I had to delete this scene from The Bounce Back, but luckily I can share it with you! If you haven’t read it yet and you don’t want spoilers, maybe tuck this newsletter away in your “later” file.
This is unedited, so forgive my typos. I ended up cutting this scene from The Bounce Back but I really loved writing it! Originally, I had Neale move in with Dylan until she could land on her feet. This scene was supposed to come just before she got the email to interview for the job at Happy Hearts. After I made some other changes this scene didn’t make sense to keep. Fortunately, I can still share it with you. Enjoy:
Growling, Neale rolled over and scowled at her sister’s bedroom door, the sound of a way too chipper alarm coming from the room. She couldn’t believe she ever thought staying at Dylan’s would be fun. What kind of monster got up at 5:45 am? Worse, any moment now, her sister would bound out of the room wearing her gym clothes and pester Neale into going to Pilates, or spin, or some other torturous exercise class with her. It was like Dylan had never met her. If she had, Dylan would know that in the three weeks she had been on her couch, Neale had been to the gym more than she’d ever been in her entire life.
Neale rolled over, trying to find the best position to fake being asleep when she remembered the Oreos she had hidden in her bag. Her secret cookie stash brought her an absurd amount of joy. Sure, they would be even better if they weren’t stuffed in her purse next to a bunch of pens, hair ties, and a random make-up sample she got a few weeks ago. But it was either hide them or listen to Dylan say something like, ‘Cookies aren’t a meal”. Neale was not about to hear that from anyone, especially not her unnaturally perky, morning person, gym-going sadist of an older sister.
“Good morning,” Dylan singsonged.
“Guh,” Neale grunted, rolling over so her back was to Dylan.
“Too late. I know you are awake. Want me to make you a smoothie?”
Neale hesitated, her mind vacillating between wanting a smoothie and recognizing that it was the gateway food to barre class. The problem was that Dylan made a really good smoothie. Maybe she could just take the smoothie and fake a tummy ache. It worked in high school gym class. Why couldn’t it work now? Forcing some additional grogginess into her tone, Neale said, “Yes, please.”
“Coming right up,” Dylan called.
“Thanks,” Neale said, maintaining the grovel in her voice as she rolled over to face the back of the couch.
“So, what are your plans for the day?” Dylan asked over the loud thumps of cupboards opening and closing.
“Don’t know.” Neale pulled her blanket up over her head. Dylan absolutely knew that she was bugging Neale, and Neale was absolutely certain her sister didn’t care.
“Well, that’s good. I booked a HIIT class for us.” Dylan’s words were cut off by the whirring of the blender, which conveniently also hid the sound of Neale’s curses. As soon as the blender cut off, Dylan added, “It starts in forty-five minutes, so you’ll want to get dressed soon.” A banging sound and another whir of the blender interrupted Dylan for another moment. “The good news is it’s a high-intensity class, so we will be done in like 35 minutes. Short but sweet workout.”
“Sweet would be no workout at all,” Neale mumbled, forcing herself to roll over as the sound of smoothie being poured reached her ears.
“Ha. Ha,” Dylan said, handing her a glass and flopping down on the other end of the couch, squashing Neale’s foot in the process. “Drink up. Class is nonrefundable.”
“Mmmm,” Neale said, wishing that she didn’t enjoy Dylan’s smoothies so much. If these were even a little less delicious, Neale could just pretend to sleep through the blender and skip out on the workout conversation every morning. As it were, she would probably endure exercise torture for however long she stayed on Dylan’s couch in exchange for this peach, pomegranate blended magic. Taking another sip, Neale sighed then fixed her face into some sort of semi-sad expression. “I’m so sorry Dyl, but I’m not feeling well at all. I hope the class wasn’t expensive.”
Neale fought to keep the smile off of her face. If Dylan didn’t want to waste money, she shouldn’t go booking classes before talking to her. Dylan’s face looked skeptical, “Oh no. What’s wrong?”
“That sounds terrible. I’ve got Imodium, Pepto, Zantac, Gas-X, and Tums, so pick your poison.”
Of course Dylan would have a pharmacy on hand. Neale took another sip of smoothie, hoping the glass would hide her lack of poker face. “No pharmaceuticals, thanks. I just need to relax and let my body do its thing.”
Dylan blinked at her as if she wasn’t sure what to do next. Neale set her smoothie on the coffee table and snuggled down into her blankets, her knees jutting into the air since Dylan was still sitting on her feet. Sighing, Dylan stood up.
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m sure the vanilla yogurt in the smoothie can’t be helping.” Before Neale could process what was happening, Dylan snatched the smoothie off the coffee table, then added, “How about I finish this one and bring you something a little more digestive friendly. I think I have some crackers.”
“No,” Neale hollered at her sister, who stopped short halfway to the kitchen. She watched as Dylan slowly rotated around, one eyebrow quirked. Softening her tone, Neale tried to sound desperately ill, while still well enough to eat dairy as she said, “No. I think, uh…I like dairy when I get sick. Warm milk has healing powers and all that.”
“Warm milk is a sleep aid, Neale, but nice try,” Dylan said, smiling as Neale watched the last of her illness excuse crumbling. “So, are you sick enough for some salty, dry-ass crackers? Or, are you well enough for this smoothie and the gym?”
“Damn it, Dyl,” Neale said, throwing her hands in the air, exasperated. “Can’t you just let me fake a sick day?”
“You can’t call in sick from life,” Dylan said, beaming as she walked back with her smoothie.
“I’m not calling in sick from my life, I am calling in sick from yours. The gym at 0-dark-thirty is hell. Frankly, the gym at any time is hell.”
“Well little sister, I got news for you, as long as you’re in my house, my life is part of your life, so you are going to the gym.” Dylan cackled as she said this as if HIIT class, whatever that was, was some sort of hilarious practical joke that Neale wasn’t in on. Tugging on the comforter Neale was still clinging to, Dylan said, “Now get up and get dressed. We leave in 10 minutes.”