Hi All! Today I thought I’d share a deleted scene that I shared with all my readers who have signed up for my newsletter. This is from A FRIENDLY FLIRTATION – book 3 of the Friends First Series.
Allison Hall is fed up with being a social outcast. Even at the tech company where she works for her brother and his best friend, Jared, she’s the invisible nerdy girl. What she needs is confidence—and that requires a makeover and dating tips. And she knows just the man to help…
Jared Esterly is shocked when Allison asks for his assistance and turns her down, knowing that her brother—his business partner and best friend, Nick—would kill him if he dated her, even if it is just for practice. But when Al’s attempt to make changes on her own fails spectacularly, Jared reluctantly steps in. Things heat up quickly, and soon lessons move from the salon to the bedroom.
When overprotective big-brother Nick discovers Jared is dating Allison, their friendship and business partnership sour. Allison, consumed by guilt, must make a choice: stay with Jared, even though that means ruining his friendship with Nick and possibly his career, or leave the one man who sets her on fire.
As for the deleted scene, this is between heroine Allison Hall and her best friend Colleen. Allison needed some moral support while she tried to make some important changes to the way she looked—starting with wearing makeup. 🙂
A little over an hour later they both sat at the narrow counter that separated Allison’s kitchen from the cozy living room. Colleen dumped the bag of makeup on the counter, and several fashion magazines spilled out as well. She ran her fingertips over the pile, pushing aside the magazines as she turned over packages to read the labels and then opened a few jars to smell the contents. She scrunched her nose, rubbing her hand over her upper lip. “Are you sure you want to attempt this?”
“I’ve practically spent my rent in makeup. I can’t back out now.” Allison plugged in her new makeup mirror and grinned. She paused the YouTube video that demonstrated makeup techniques. Since they’d already watched it three times, it’d just become background noise.
Colleen’s blue eyes sparkled when she laughed. “We might have gotten a little carried away.”
“I’d blame it on the wine, but we haven’t opened it yet.” Allison held up two packages filled with different colored foundations. She compared one against the other with no real clue what the heck she was doing. She chose the lighter shade because she liked the name. True Beige.
What’s my addiction to beige?
She tossed it down and opted for Early Tan.
“We better fix that.” Colleen jumped off her stool and made her way into the tidy kitchen. She grabbed two wineglasses from the overhead cupboard, and then got busy with the corkscrew. “We both might need some liquid courage before this night is over.”
“Nice. You certainly know how to put me at ease,” Allison teased.
“That’s what I’m here for.” Colleen tugged the cork from the bottle with a he-man groan. Her face lit up as she held the corkscrew, with cork attached.
“You sure you don’t want to join in the fun?” Allison asked, dabbing one of the plush makeup sponges she’d just ripped out of the packaging against the tip of Colleen’s nose. Not that her friend needed any makeup. She had a flawless complexion.
Colleen shook her head, her sandy blond curls bouncing around her neck. “Nope. The main reason I don’t wear the stuff is because I don’t want to be responsible for taking it off. Life is so much easier au naturel.”
They both giggled over Colleen’s horrible French accent as she filled two glasses to the brim.
“You’ve got a point.” If she was going to do this, she needed to be comfortable. “I’ll be back.” Allison threw in her own impression, although her Arnold voice didn’t quite live up to The Terminator movies. Colleen rolled her eyes as Allison made a quick dash to the entry, heeled off her tennys, and slid her feet into the ultra-soft penguin slippers, and then settled once again onto the high-back barstool.
“Shoes make all the difference when testing makeup.” Colleen grinned.
“I might as well be comfortable, right?” Allison grabbed the foundation again and turned it over in her hand, reading the bottle. “You know, it might be more to my benefit if I use your face to practice on.”
“You mean like one of those Barbie heads Shelly and Jill from down the street played with when we were kids?” Colleen groaned.
Allison’s thoughts fogged over. “I wanted one of those in the worst way. They were beyond lucky.”
“Gross. You’re kidding me?”
“I even asked Dad for one, but instead he bought me a stupid remote control truck so I could race against Nick and Sam.”
Colleen’s eyes bugged out. “Sam Brown from across the street? I haven’t thought about him in eons. I wonder what became of him. He was gorgeous.”
“How can a ten-year-old boy be gorgeous?” Allison laughed. He did have amazing eyes, though.
“A ten-year-old boy can be gorgeous to a seven-year-old girl. For sure.” Colleen grabbed Allison’s hand—the one with the makeup bottle—and shook it. “I think my mom used to shake the stuff. And how could you have been immune to Sam Brown?”
“Because I wanted that damn Barbie head.” They both laughed. “I won’t even dwell over Nick and Sam beating me in every single race.”
“You’ve never been fond of driving.”
“I’m sure if my dad knew that the main reason I prefer to take the El instead of drive is because he bought me that darn truck he’d be crushed.”
“Poor Dad.” Colleen pursed her lips.
Allison twisted off the lid of the makeup bottle and put some on the sponge. “Here goes nothing.”
“I have to ask. Does this sudden urge to experiment with makeup have something to do with this Barbie head thingy? Because if that’s the case, I’ll buy you one for your next birthday.” Colleen’s eyes sparked with humor as she bit her lip in a horrible attempt to hold back her laughter.
“Nope. I just need to shake up my life a little. Make some changes. I’m starting with a makeover—first makeup, then my wardrobe, and—”
“Just don’t change your attitude, my friend.”
They clinked glasses, and after Allison took a sip she studied Colleen from across the rim. Her insecurities burst forth, and she put her glass down because her sweaty palms might make her drop it. “Do you think I’m being silly?”
Colleen stopped flipping through the fashion magazine and looked up. “Nope. I think you’re Allison. If making some changes makes you feel better. Go for it.”
Her heart softened at her friend’s words. “I really do think I’ll feel better if I can get all this girl stuff figured out.”
“I think it’ll do your confidence some good, too.”
Allison smiled, and she quit bouncing her leg beneath the bar top. No wonder they’d been friends forever. Colleen knew her better than almost anyone. Tears welled up behind her eyes and she blinked, averting her gaze. Colleen didn’t need to witness tears. The last time she’d broken down had been after Lance and she had broken up. Ugly tears got their name for a reason, and nobody—best friend or not—should have to endure that horrific scene more than once in a lifetime. At least she hadn’t totally broken down in front of Jared.
“You’re right. My confidence needs a boost.” A big boost. “I was trying to explain to Jared earlier—”
“As in Jared your boss?” Colleen flipped the magazine closed and pushed it away, her wineglass suspended halfway to her open mouth.
Allison nodded. “I’d actually asked him for a little help.”
Colleen downed the wine and refilled her glass. “Now that surprises me more than you wanting to wear makeup.”
“I told you I want to make changes. And I thought Jared would be the perfect one to help me, but he doesn’t seem to get it.”
“I can see where a man wouldn’t. Especially a man like Jared.” Colleen grinned. “I mean, no way in hell would a guy like that understand that in order to feel good on the inside you have to look good on the outside.”
“Oh. My. God. That’s exactly what I tried to tell him.” She ran the tip of her finger around the rim of her glass. “Thanks for getting me.”
“Hey, that’s what friends are for.”
“Any changes I can make will also help me to get the ball moving on my consultant business. I might even score a date more than once every decade.”
“Aha, the real reason is revealed.” Colleen’s face sobered. She knew better than anyone Allison’s desire to have that special someone. “You’ll meet someone. Mike said you were cute.”
“Jerry’s brother?” Allison snort-laughed as she sponged the makeup on her cheeks. “Um, yeah, he’s all of thirteen. Not quite dating material or the confidence booster I was thinking.”
“There’s always Graham—”
“Not a chance. He’s a nice guy, but I’m not interested.” Graham was Jerry’s best friend from work. He talked, breathed, and lived video games, pizza delivery, and old B horror movies. Not that she didn’t enjoy those things, too, but not every night. She wanted more out of life.
Colleen opened a few drawers and slid things around. “Do you have any straws?”
Allison giggled as she dabbed around her eyes. “Above the stove.”
“Had to make sure since last time I seem to remember using your last one.”
“I stocked up. I knew you’d be back.” She’d never understand her friend’s addiction to drinking alcohol through a straw, but she loved her anyway. She checked out her reflection. The makeup seemed to suffocate her skin, and she looked weird. But wasn’t the purpose of makeup to make you look different? Feel different? She twisted her head from side to side, smoothing her fingers down one cheek. “Do you think this is to dark?”
Colleen shrugged, taking a long draw on her straw. “You’ve only done half your face. I’ll give you my opinion when you finish the canvas.”
Allison frowned after she took another sip of her wine. “I’m not sure how I feel about my face being compared to a canvas.”
“You’ll get over it.” A smile played along Colleen’s mouth as she leaned across the counter, refocusing her attention on the magazine she’d abandoned minutes before.
Allison readjusted the mirror and then dabbed at her face with the makeup sponge, smearing the color over her forehead, down her nose, and across her chin. She leaned toward the mirror and squinted. “It’s too dark.”
“Put your glasses on.” Colleen barely looked up, shaking her head as if annoyed over the article she scanned. “I can’t believe women actually fall for this crap. There’s no such thing as a soul mate. It’s all about compatibility.”
Allison pushed the glasses up the bridge of her nose and sat back, blinking at her reflection. “I’m going to wipe it off. Didn’t I buy a lighter shade?” She brushed her hand over all the makeup filling the counter and smiled when she pulled out the one labeled Ivory. She’d steer clear of beige and definitely tan.
“You said you wanted to look tan.” Colleen tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips. “You look tan. As a matter of fact, I can’t see any freckles. Your skin looks flawless.”
“I’m not sure.”
“I think you just need to get used to it. Put on the mascara and eye shadow, maybe it’ll tie it all in together.” Colleen swirled the nearly empty wine in the bottom of her glass as she tried to catch the straw between her teeth.
Allison applied a thin coat of black mascara and then watched the video on YouTube one more time about mastering the art of smoky eyes. She opened the eye shadow and took out the brush, doing her best to make each eye match.
“Well, what do you think?” She sat back in her chair, blinking her eyes playfully. “Smoky eyes are still the in thing, right?”
Colleen shrugged her shoulder. “No clue, but I don’t think you put enough eye shadow on. I can barely see it. And”—she picked up the package with the fake eyelashes and turned them over, scanning the instructions—“I think you should try these out. They’ll really show off how pretty your eyes are.”
“You think?” Butterflies fluttered in Allison’s stomach, and she tried to drown them with another swallow of wine. “I really didn’t want them, but…”
“I talked you into them. They’ll look great on you.”
“It won’t be too much?”
Colleen downed the last of her wine, already reaching for the bottle. “I don’t think so. And didn’t you say you wanted to make some changes? Start making them.”
They giggled, and Allison applied another layer of color on her eyes and then attached the eyelashes to her lids. They felt clumsy and heavy. Or had she just had too much to drink? She downed the last of her wine, and before she had her glass half lowered Colleen refilled it. “I don’t know about these.”
“They look amazing. What’s that saying? Your eyes burst, no they snap, or is it—”
“Pop.” Allison giggled, taking another large swallow, then another. She grabbed the nearly empty bottle and refilled. The excitement of making the much dreamed about changes, along with all the wine and the laughs with her bestie, had her feeling like she could take on the world. “There’s another bottle above the stove. I have a feeling this is going to be a two-bottle night.”
Colleen winked. Instead of reaching overhead, she pulled a bottle out of her tote slowly as she hummed her best rendition of the Space Odyssey song.
Allison laughed so hard she snorted, which only made her laugh harder and her eyes water. That seemed to make her fake eyelashes heavier, and she couldn’t stop blinking. “I’m not sure we should drink another bottle. I’m already having an out-of-body experience. Of course I haven’t eaten lunch or dinner.”
“I say you drink your dinner.” Colleen reached for the corkscrew.
“You’re a bad influence.”
“Nah, I’m good moral support.” She yanked the cork from the bottle and then rummaged through the small pantry and pulled out a bag. “These go great with wine.”
“Nacho Cheese Doritos. Nothing goes better with wine than cheese. Hello?” Colleen stared at her as if she’d lost her mind.
“You need culinary help.” Allison pulled at her eyelashes, and Colleen leaned across the narrow counter to still her hand.
“Leave them on. They really do look great.”
“Then why did I put on mascara?”
“You got me? Why do girls do half the stuff they do with makeup? But leave on the fake ones. Your eyes look huge.” Colleen pulled three shades of lipstick from the makeup stash. “Here, try one of these.”
After another bottle and half of wine, and two-thirds of a bag of Doritos, they sat back and grinned at their handiwork.
“You look awesome.”
“I feel awesome.” And she did. More confident than she’d felt the day she put on her gown and held her degrees. “Now I just have to figure out what to wear when I go to work Monday.”
“We could take a little shopping trip tomorrow if you want.”
Allison pressed the back of her hand to Colleen’s forehead. “Nope, you’re not feverish. What the heck are you doing initiating a day in a clothing store?”
“I love my best friend, and I want her to be happy.”
Allison closed her eyes and sucked in a breath. “You’re the best bestie a girl could ask for, and although I appreciate your offer, I’m not sure I’m ready to take that step yet. I need time to adjust to this change before I bring on another.”
“Baby steps it is, then. We’ll find something amazing in your closet, and when you want to hit the store I’ll come along for more moral support.”
They hugged, and once again Allison had to force down the urge to cry. What an emotional roller coaster this life change had caused.
“Now, let’s raid your closet. We’ll throw together the perfect outfit to reveal the new you.” Colleen’s giddiness was contagious as they spun in a circle and landed on the couch, laughing as one of Allison’s slippers flew off her foot and missed whacking Colleen in head by mere millimeters.
“Almost ouch,” Colleen said around her laugh. She plucked the slipper from where it landed above her right shoulder and tossed it on the floor.
“It’s not too late, Coll. We can still give you a makeover, too.” Allison hugged her friend to her side. “Who knew this makeup thing could be so fun? I should’ve tried it years ago.”
“I may be a little tipsy, but I’m not drunk.” Colleen pulled Allison to her feet. “Come on, let’s check out that closet. We’ll find you something to wear for Sunday dinner. I’d love to see the look on Nick’s face when he sees you. Maybe he’ll finally get it that his little sister isn’t a kid anymore.”
“Someday you two will have to learn to get along.” There’d never been any secret that Nick and Colleen butted heads—on every subject under the sun, especially the way Nick treated her. “And you really should drop in for Sunday dinner, it’s been way too long. Gramps would love to see you.”
Colleen shrugged. “Maybe this week. Or next.”
She shook her head. “Can’t this week. We’re on dinner hiatus because Dad took Grams to Ohio to visit his brother.”
Saying the words punctuated the disappointment in her gut. She’d have liked a dress rehearsal before going into work Monday with her big reveal. Not only would she like to see what her family thought of her new look, but Jared, too.
“I’ll tag along another time. Just let me know when your dad makes ribs.” She licked her lips. “Since you won’t get to practice putting on your makeup for Sunday, you should probably remove and reapply a couple of times again tonight and tomorrow so that you get the hang of it.”
As Colleen tugged her toward the bedroom, she slid her foot back inside her slipper, proud of herself for daring to step out of her comfort zone. The weekend couldn’t pass quickly enough.