Despite my wishes for this scene to make it to print, I sadly had to cut it due to the chapter putting me over my word count limit. Trust me, it was a sad day. Now, with the book out in the world, it is my greatest pleasure to share one of my favorite chapters/scenes with you all.
This chapter takes place after the gang has arrived home from Paris. Lucy is on the heels of submitting her fourth and final article for her first assignment. The best friends decided that their parents should meet and have dinner.
On September 23, 2021, Lucy, Michael, Jenny, meet up with their parents and Aaron for a hilarious and heartwarming dinner at Olive Garden. From stories about the trip to ones from their childhood, this was an unforgettable night.
I walk into Olive Garden’s lobby, secure a table for our party of ten, and sit on the bench. The first one here, as usual. My parents are about fifteen minutes out with the rest following close behind them.
As I wait, I stare at my phone. A million thoughts float through my head. Do I want to be single or do I want to find my true soul mate? A man who hasn’t found me yet, but has been waiting for me too. Someone who will make everything make sense. A partner who will make all the waiting and hoping worth it. Am I ready or am I just lonely?
My parents walk into the lobby. My mom’s smile lights up the room. She always brightens my mood. I say, “Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.”
Jenny, Aaron, and Michael trail behind them. “Y’all remember Jenny, Aaron, and Michael.”
Michael shakes my dad’s hand and says, “It’s nice to see you again, Mr. and Mrs. Berry.”
My dad says, “Nice to see you again, as well, Michael.”
My mom gives him a warm smile. “Always nice to see a good friend of Lucy’s.”
I say, “I am just happy everyone was okay with the time and place.”
While we are softly talking, Michael and Jenny’s parents walk through the doors. I could recognize Jenny’s mom anywhere. I was over at their house so much when we were younger. Jenny gets her brunette locks and beautiful facial features from her mom.
Mrs. Thompson wraps her arms around her daughter and puts her chin on top of Jenny’s head. “Hello everyone, I’m Lillian Thompson,” She says. “This is Justin, Jenny’s dad and my wonderful husband of 28 years as of this past August.”
Michael walks over to his parents and says, “Y’all these are my parents, Ryan and Stephanie Sparks. I am so glad they finally get to meet y’all.”
Everyone shakes hands while small talk floats around the circle. Finally, after what seems like ages, my buzzer buzzes uncontrollably. I walk to the hostess. She grabs some menus and utensils. “Right this way, you guys.” We follow her to a long table in the center of the restaurant; she sits our menus and utensils at each seat. “Your server will be right with you.”
I say, “I have no idea what I want. I haven’t been here in forever!”
“Lucy not knowing what she wants to eat is a rare occasion,” Michael teases me from across the table. “Are you okay, girl?”
“Ha, ha, ha, you think you are so funny.” I grin at him over my menu. “I’ll probably just stick to my normal order.”
“What’s your normal order?”
“Cheese Ravioli. You can’t go wrong with ravioli that includes a lot of cheese.”
My mom pinches my cheek and says, “This girl and her ravioli.”
“Mom, don’t pinch my cheek in front of everyone.” I whine, "Why must you pinch my cheek at the dinner table?”
“Sorry, honey, it is out of habit.” She props her chin on her hand. “You’re my little girl. I wasn’t thinking that you don’t like that.”
“I’m not so little anymore, Mom.”
“Yes, I know you are 26, but you’ll always be my little girl.” She gestures to the rest of the table. “I’m sure the other parents can attest.”
Jenny’s mom looks down the table at me. “It’s true, Lucy, you girls may be grown, but you’ll always be our babies.” She turns to my mom. “Lindsay, do you remember when these two were practically inseparable when they were little?”
“Oh, those are some of my favorite memories. Jenny felt like a daughter to me by the end of their Kindergarten year. I bet you felt that, too, Lillian.”
“I definitely did. They were so precious with their sleepovers and tea parties. The years where they thought boys were yucky and we were supermoms.”
Aaron says, “You thought boys were yucky? But, you were friends with me at some point, right?” He looks from Jenny to me with wide eyes.
Jenny blushes and says, “Aaron, dear, we met you during that phase, but we could still be friends with you. We thought boys were yucky in the same way boys thought girls had cooties.” She looks at me for backup.
“She’s not lying, buddy. We could be friends with boys, but we couldn’t fall for them. Does that make more sense?”
Jenny puts her hands on his shoulders to calm him down a bit. She whispers something in his ear then looks at me. I say, “Aaron, sweet, sweet Aaron, we love you. You know this. Jenny is your wife and best friend, and I am one of your best friends. Everything is okay.” I give a sidelong glance to Michael for some male backup. Luckily he gets the memo and loudly clears his throat.
Michael says, “Aaron, I know you barely know me. Heck, you hardly know me at all, but I am going to try to help you out.”
Aaron nods along as Michael talks. “I bet you had a girl when you were younger that you thought was really cute, but all the boys said girls have cooties, right? That’s how it was in grade school. Yet, boys and girls were at least best friends like you with Jenny and Lucy. It makes sense. Little boys and girls don’t start developing gushy feelings for each other until they are most likely much older. Are you tracking?”
“Yeah, I’m tracking, dude. Thanks.” He takes a deep breath and falls back into his chair.
Michael slaps his hands together. “I think he is going to be fine, ladies.”
“Yeah, I’m fine, ladies.”
Jenny and I shake our heads at him as the conversation moves right along.
Mrs. Thompson chimes in, “Aaron has always been silly from what I remember.”
Mr. Thompson says, “This boy was a wild one when the girls first met him.” He smiles. “Oh, the many playdates these three had,” I remember Mr. Thompson reading us bedtime stories when I would spend the night during the summer. Late nights under pillow and blanket forts with our flashlights and storybooks between us. Those are the memories I will keep forever; they will always be my second family. I found the sister I never had in Jenny.
Aaron says, “I was not a wild one, per se.”
“You most certainly were. Always getting these two into trouble, running amuck around the front yard. A good kind, my boy.”
Mr. Sparks says, “He sounds a lot like Michael when he was younger. We could never keep him in one spot, could we dear?”
Mrs. Sparks smiles and looks around the table and then at her son. “No, we couldn’t,” She says. “He was a rambunctious, too. So don’t feel bad, Aaron. All little boys have a wild phase.”
Michael puts his hand to his chest. “That’s not true! I was always tucked away in a corner with my nose in a book.”
“That may be true,” his dad says. “But you did run around the house like crazy when you weren’t reading.”
“Okay, maybe I was.” Michael shrugs. He turns back to me and Jenny. “Did y’all have a wild phase, ladies?”
I shrug “Probably at some point.”
My mom winks at my dad. “Michael, she was at some point, yes.” She says, “Her imagination has always been her access to fun. She created so many wild things when she was little. There were pirate ship days where she searched for lost treasure and fought bad guys. Other days, she was a fairy searching for lost things.”
I roll my eyes. “Thanks, Mom.” Then I ask Mrs. Thompson, “Was Jenny a wild one, or was she milder?”
“She had her moments, mostly with you and Aaron when y’all would have your playdates.”
Michael teases Jenny.“No wonder she loved Paris so much.”
“Oh, yes, I was so wild.” Jenny laughs and says, “Speaking of Paris, we need to tell y’all about our trip. It was marvelous.”
I say, “Y’all, we had a fabulous trip. Writing in Paris is magical.”
“Our girl crushed here writing assignments, didn’t you, Lucy?” Michael compliments me and makes me blush.
“I have one article left to finish before the 26th.” I grin, “I guess you can say I crushed it!”
My dad pipes up, “How is it coming along?”
“I finally made it out of the outlining phase. I am hoping to have it in before the deadline again.”
“Before the deadline? That’s my girl!”
Mr. Sparks says, “Is she a chip off the ole’ block?”
“She sure is. I love my deadlines. That’s how I know Lucy will do great in this line of work. She is very organized like her ole’ man.”
Mrs. Thompson says to me, “That’s a good gene to have. I remember you organizing my bookshelves when you were little. I always thought you’d make a fabulous librarian someday.”
Jenny says, “We went to enough libraries in Paris. If there was a library or bookstore, Lucy was going in it.”
“I wanted to at least say I went in a Paris library and bookstore.”
“Well, you went in more than just one, crazy girl.”
My mom says, “That’s our Lucy. She’s gotten quiet, she must see the food.”
“Guilty again.” Two waiters set our plates around the table and refill our drinks. “Other than seeing loads of books, we took tons of photos, too.” I pass my phone to my mom first and tell her which way to go in my Paris Adventures 2021 album. I’m starving. The table falls to small talk as the photos make their way around the table. About fifteen minutes later, Michael passes my phone back to me.
I snag a breadstick and tear it in half. “So, does anyone have a favorite?”
Mrs. Thompson says, “I really love the one of y’all in front of the Eiffel Tower while the sky was changing colors. It really shows y’all’s friendship!”
Michael says, “We almost didn’t make it because the sky was changing so fast.”
Jenny says, “Sparks was like ‘Gals, gals, the sky is so pretty, hurry up. Let’s take one final Eiffel Tower selfie.’”
“In his defense,” I say, "it was our final chance to catch that view.” That was a really fun night. One last time in front of the Eiffel tower, my favorite spot in the city. We were living the dream.
He looks at his mom and dad. “See, this is what I was telling y’all about.”
Mr. Sparks says to me, “He talks very highly of you, dear.”
“He really does,” Mrs. Sparks says, “We felt like we already knew you and are glad we got to finally meet you tonight.”
“I am glad, too. It was a long time coming.”
I catch bits and pieces of Michael and Aaron chatting across the table. They are talking about having a bro date in the next week or so. Discussing how they met Jenny and me. Trading dating stories and such. I smile at the new bromance budding. Our waiter sneaks up behind me and breaks me out of my thoughts. “Here’s the check.” My dad holds his finger up and takes it.
“Oh dad, you don’t have to do that, tonight was my idea.” I try to take the check from him. But, he doesn’t back down from paying. Everyone watches as I reach over my mom to try and snag it. I fail each time. My dad successfully gets his wallet out and keeps the bill away from me.
I huff. “Fine, you win, old man!”
My dad laughs and wraps the check around his debit card. “Silly girl, she should know better by now.” He looks at me. “I know you are grown, sweetie, but I still like to treat you and your friends to a meal, okay? You can pay next time.”
“Okay, Dad, “I’ll hold you to that, old man!”
- Deleted Scene from Where Will We Go?
Oh...btw this scene had some more to it before this draft. Let me share a tidbit that throws it back to my debut book.
"I pull into the Olive Garden parking lot. I remember coming here with David’s co-workers so we could develop friendships between us. That night was so much fun and I ate way too much food. I almost let myself miss them and him. I shift my blue Nissan into park. But, I know I can’t. They left when I left him. I can no longer turn to them because it ultimately leads back to him and I can't do that right now. "
- Worlds Colliding (Part 2), January 2021 Draft
Even though this scene didn't make the final cut, I still have so much love for it. As you can see above, I was working with a large group of characters, which can get complicated fast, but I enjoyed it. I loved playing around with who would speak and how someone would react. In this section, I originally wanted to introduce my readers to the parents who gave us the trio they have come to love over the course of the book. But since, I couldn't keep it in the book, I hope you've enjoyed seeing what was originally chapter 20 of Where Will We Go?
Their families meeting is still important to the story and this growing narrative. Although at first glance it seems out of place, there was definitely a method to my madness. The family dinner scene is a happy scene, one that was a long time coming for Lucy. She needed to be surrounded by happiness and love to truly see that she had moved on from David. Or at least she was starting to see things shifting in her feelings towards the past. She was finally starting to heal. Although I wasn't able to share this scene in print, it is still so wholesome to me. Sometimes, authors can't fit everything into the book, so I am glad I can separately share more with you in this budding article series.
Make sure to stick around for more! You won't want to miss what comes next.
In this article series, I share excerpts and stories from my book, Where Will We Go? I hope you enjoyed this post — if you enjoyed it and want to connect you can reach me here via email: email@example.com or connect with me on social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Also, you can also find my book on Amazon.