There are times when an editor convinces an author do something for which the author kicks her/himself. Deleting this scene is an example of such an instance. It was really important to understanding Michael DiSanto’s character and why he had such difficulty forming a lasting, loving intimate relationship with someone and why he gave up the first love of his life, Toshi (yes, the hot detective from His Beautiful Samurai). The book has been received well by readers and critics alike, but most of them have mentioned how abruptly the book ends, jumping to Michael’s decision to make a commitment to Jack out of the blue.
Well, it wasn’t out of the blue and here is the scene that got cut. Had this scene been in the book, it would have explained everything! lol. Admittedly, this post only makes sense to people who’ve read the book but I wanted to make it accessible in case there are people who were interested in reading it. Here goes (Insert scene right before the very last scene of the book):
Michael nodded silently and followed Jack out of the bedroom, down the hall and stood there while the man slipped on his shoes.
Jack opened the door. He paused, looked at Michael and smiled, though his blue eyes still appeared troubled. “See you later.”
“Bye.” Michael watched him go down the steps and across the sidewalk to his car. He stood there until Jack had started the ignition and pulled away from the curb. When he closed the door and turned, Chie was standing in the hallway, looking up at him. He sighed. “Chie,” he said, “your friend here is a real jerk.”
Chie blinked and mewed. If she could talk, she’d probably agree with him. He went into the kitchen to feed her and make some coffee. Quietly he stood, leaning against the counter, listening to the water boil after he’d measured coffee into the press. Each time her remembered waking up with Jack looking at him the way he had, he winced. Could it be more in bad taste to talk in your sleep to your long ago lover while in bed with a new one? If Jack never wanted to have sex with him again, he’d sure as hell understand.
And yet, in spite of that, the sense there was more to this long-time dream than was obvious. Was it only occurring because he was still in love with Toshi and wanted him back? His years of experience with the human condition told him that simple interpretation was just that—simple, and people, himself included, were much more complex. Especially when, in this particular dream, Peter and Toshi had become interchangeable. That had never happened before.
The image of Toshi becoming Peter surged in his mind. His heart tightened, as if pressure were welling up inside of it. He thought of Peter, of that day and having come back out of the house from getting his drink of water and not finding Peter in the yard. That moment was the worst of his entire life. It had never left him and probably never would.
The water in the kettle started to boil. The bubbling and hissing made a backdrop to his concentration. For this first time, his looked inside for answers to his own condition rather than a murderer he was trying to profile. Dammit, he wanted to know. Needed to understand this dream that plagued him. What was it trying to tell him? What was he ignoring in his heart that could only come out in his sleeping state? The urgency was especially strong now. He didn’t want to lose Jack.
The water boiled. He turned the stove off and poured water into the press, a new memory surfaced, one he’d forced himself to forget after it happened. On the outside, it didn’t seem like a big deal, but as sensitive as he was, he knew how bad it really had been.
That first day he’d brought Toshi home to meet his parents. They knew how much he liked Toshi, and how that relationship had brightened his life. Yet, from the first moment they’d met Toshi, both their faces had held nothing but pain, their mannerisms tense and cold. Only then, sitting around the nearly silent dinner table, Michael had understood. They were thinking of Peter. His memory was like a ghost, haunting every gesture, every word in their lives and when they looked at Toshi, they saw Peter’s absence.
Michael pushed the press down on the coffee and poured some into a mug while the scenes rolled painfully through his mind and heart. Horrified at his parents’ response, he’d never brought Toshi back to his house. Until then, he’d been living at home, but not long afterward had found an apartment to share with a couple of other roommates, a place he could afford where he had his own room to be with Toshi. It had been a nightmare, really, another instance in which he felt he’d wounded his parents.
Michael sank into a chair at the kitchen table. The scene didn’t leave his mind, but now, because of the clarity he’d been experiencing, he relived the horror he’d felt with a new perspective. He’d always criticized himself for having paraded Toshi in front of his parents, not having considered they might respond the way they did, but now, he watched in his mind’s eye the introduction. He saw himself presenting Toshi to his parents, so happy, so…proud, really, because Toshi was such an impressive, sweet person. Michael put his mug down on the table. His heart pounded. Clarity stunned him so hard, he had to sit still and stare down at the floor. He’d been offering them a new son, a wonderful, intelligent, handsome man they could love in Peter’s absence. Of course, he hadn’t realized it consciously at the time, but now, in the present, it was starkly clear.
And they’d rejected Toshi, not outright with words, but with their response to him. Maybe they didn’t even realize what they were doing, but Michael did. Then, with their silence, they’d punished Michael for attempting to replace Peter. He’d felt like a criminal, as bad a person as the child he’d been leaving his little brother in the yard while he went inside for a drink of water. A person like that didn’t deserve a jewel like Toshi.
And so, when the time came for Toshi to graduate and return to Japan, Michael had let him go. He’d punished himself for giving up the relationship he treasured.
Oh God. The force of understanding hit his chest like a brick thrown at him. Michael slumped forward, head in his hands. Sudden gusting sobs wracked his body, unleashed by the shock delivered to him by Kinsey’s actions the other day.
Those other memories rolled through his mind, the film of his life being shown to him in stark relief. Toshi walking into the gateway, leaving him. The catch in his chest, the panic he’d felt, standing there, watching, not understanding why he hadn’t gone with Toshi. The well of pain had felt so deep he’d thought he’d drown.
His abundant tears slipped down his cheeks. The grief of having let Toshi go mingled with the grief over Peter. The two memories, the two people had become so deeply entwined within his psyche, he no longer knew where Toshi ended and Peter began. And yet as he cried, something else emerged, a new clarity.
He remembered himself, just after Peter’s kidnapping. He’d sit in the yard every day, watching, waiting for Peter to come back, terrified to search for him lest someone else grab him. At the same time, life in his home was unbearable, full of silent grief and cold distance.
Michael’s heart swelled. Compassion washed through him for that ten year old who’d believed Peter would still be outside to continue their ball game when he came back from the kitchen. He felt nothing but sympathy for that boy who’d grown up with a burden of guilt so great it had dictated his entire life, made him give up someone he’d loved. And he loved the young man who’d tried to give his parents a new son and then had punished himself for failing. The wet heat of Michael’s tears dampened his robe. They soaked in as his pain welled up and poured out, leaving a clean, sweet place inside.
He wiped his tears with the sleeve of his robe and then sat quietly for what felt like a long time. He thought of Toshi, remembering the bit of time they’d spent together in Tokyo. Michael had felt pulled to him, had wanted to make love with him again, but hadn’t even said a word because Toshi was so happy with that guy John and he never wanted to hurt Toshi. So he’d remained silent and returned to the States just as silently.
Thinking about it now however, even in Tokyo, Michael had felt the way their separate lives had changed them, made the romantic part of their friendship seem distant, a passion that had once blazed but had cooled now, never to be revived. Maybe that would have happened even if they’d stayed together. There was no way to know for sure, except to believe in the larger force of destiny. Life had separated him and Toshi. It had then brought John and Toshi to each other.
And after all this time, life had brought Jack.
Michael jumped from his chair. He turned to rush toward the bedroom, wanting to grab his cell phone and call Jack, when his eye fell on the clock. Damn! Nearly a couple of hours had passed and he had only fifteen minutes to get to his class. And then he had office hours.
Hurrying into the bedroom, he yanked off his robe, tossed it onto the rumpled bed and started to dress. While he buttoned up his shirt, he stared down at the chaotic sheets and covers on the bed. A pleasant shiver travelled through his body as he remembered the soul-searing, unbelievably hot lovemaking from the night before. Even the indentation on the pillows where their heads had pressed made Michael remember.
He’d loved having Jack with him, curling up together in the afterglow and falling asleep. He prayed they could have more nights like that. Many more.
But first, he had to teach his class. After all, Albert had helped him get this job and he didn’t want to hurt the reputation of his mentor and friend. Albert and Cynthia truly had stepped in and tried to be there for him in place of his parents. He never wanted to let them down. Though knowing them, they’d certainly still care for him if he did.