Bonus Scene: “Beguiled,” a missing scene from Savage Vandal
The following is a previous unseen flashback for Savage Vandal. The scene is referenced later, but we don’t actually see it occur on the page. If you’ve read Savage Vandal, you know that Vaughn was also undercover during Emersyn’s show when it arrived in Braxton Harbor. This is part of how he started that job and when he saw her for the first time.
Savage Vandal is book 1 in the 82nd Street Vandals. To read more, Vicious Rebel is book 2.
Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.
The crew had spent the previous two days, unpacking every bit of their equipment while also going over the items for maintenance. While the location had items they would use including fly wheels and winches, the show traveled with their own ropes, silks, and harnesses, not to mention beams and cross-bars.
Day one of being hired meant a crash course in set safety that basically involved don’t run into anything, pay attention to where you put your feet, and if you broke something, it was coming out of your check. There was also one rigger who seemed to understand how everything needed to be set up to work correctly.
When the crew chief assigned me to his team, the rigger had given me long, studying look. “Big guy. Can you pull your own weight up on a rope?”
“Yep,” I answered. Better to keep conversations to a minimum, at least until I had a better idea of the political landscape. Jasper was working for the venue itself. Kel got a job driving her around so he could be close. I was the one tasked with getting to know their crew.
So far, most of them were just normal people. A mix of guys and girls, the crew all had various specialities with some crossover. The biggest issue I saw was…
“Hey big guy,” John, the rigger, said from where he was standing at the door that lead out onto the stage. “I need you up in the catwalks. Check the rig ties, then we’re going to do some pounds per pressure tests.”
“On it.” There were two ways to get up to the catwalks, both required a little eeling on my part. One was an open ladder that led to a relatively small hatch onto the walk. The other was a small hatch to get into there ladder area, but easier to get onto the catwalk.
Squeezing myself into the chute, I rolled my head from side to side once past the tighter fit. Up I went, aware of the faint vibrations in the metal. The walks were bolted and cross-chained. At the same time, they were thin and designed to blend into the darkness up here. During a performance, lights strung lower than the walks would keep them obscured.
I started on the eastern half, checking then rechecking every single tie off. According to the rigger, we had to set up a dozen different base points. Each one could be used to drop or drape a silk depending on what our performer decided she was going that night. She rehearsed regularly and liked to change up the show so that visitors coming multiple nights got to see something different.
There were also set-ups for duo performances, though he indicated that there were no silk duos scheduled on the call sheets. She would have to do a duo with her partner on the ground, then she would ascend and finish the show when she fell back to him.
With that in mind, I didn’t want a single rope to come loose. Each tie meant a layer of security. While she might way next to nothing, torque and force along with velocity was still a sing. Three steps from the next tie, it hit me I wasn’t alone up here.
“Sorry,” I said and the woman who’d been standing there as still as the shadows she occupied swung her head to glance at me. Dark hair fell in one long cascade from a ponytail. Without a trace of cosmetics, she looked almost painfully young. The fact she was levels of starvation skinny irked me. Her clothing hid her ribs, but I’d bet every dollar in my tip jar that they would be on display.
“It’s okay,” she murmured, keeping her voice hushed. “I’m not supposed to be up here yet. I’m not supposed to be at the theater yet.” With that, she pressed a finger to her lips.
“I didn’t see you, so you couldn’t possibly be here.” It was one of the easiest offers I’d ever made. The speed of the smile flashing over her face didn’t leave me long to savor it, but I had a mental polaroid that I wasn’t going to let go of anytime soon.
“Thank you—I know you didn’t see me, but can you make sure that the ties for this one here and the one closest to the stage hatch on the east side have a link.”
A link. “You want a harness to be able to travel between them?”
“Yes and no, the pulley for the silk attachment. If I can make it swing from one to the other, it will help with one of the moves I want to do. It only has to go the one way—but that also means it’ll need to be reset between shows.”
That wasn’t a problem. “That’s not on the tech sheet.” John had been pretty specific.
“No, because they told me there wasn’t a safe way to do it.” Something, she clearly didn’t believe. Head canted, I moved a little closer to her, but more so I could study the other platform and the rig there then the rig below me. To hook one to the other would require a way to swap “tracks” or in this case ropes.
Doable. But it could take a few hours to make sure it was one hundred percent safe.
“Sorry,” she apologized again. “I didn’t mean to ask you for something beyond your job scope.”
“Nothing to be sorry about,” I said, then drank in the sight of her. Diminutive, and young as she might be, there was a sense of power around her. Power and confidence. “Give me a couple of hours to work out something that will let you switch without risking a tear or break. But I can do it.”
Might take more than a couple of hours, but they didn’t get to rehearse in the venue until the next night. “Thank you,” she said and sunshine kissed both syllables. The warmth in her grin was an embrace I wanted to lean into. “I’d offer to hug you, but I’m not here.” It was an easy flirt, a careless one that promised nothing at all. Still…
I chuckled. “Well, if you were here and offered, I’d tell you to wait until I delivered.” With that, I winked and she grinned again. Below, John shouted something and I narrowed my eyes, but when I turned back to the dancer—she was gone.
Pivoting, I swept the catwalks with a searching look. She could be hiding in a shadow but still—she was just gone.
There—a faint hint of perfume amidst the competing scents of sawdust, polish, and metal. She’d been here. It was the briefest of interactions and I already missed her.
Missed her and wanted more.