Bonus Scene: “Soared,” a deleted flashback for Vicious Rebel
The following is a deleted flashback for Vicious Rebel. The scene is shared in conversation in the final chapter of the book. If you’ve read Vicious Rebel, you know that Jasper told Emersyn about his eighteenth birthday, that is this scene.
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.
Two hours north of Braxton Harbor was paradise. Granted, the hotel and its outbuildings probably weren’t what most people probably idealized as the paradise-like location, but it was perfect for us. Working there had been a lot of hours and a lot of labor. At the same time, it offered us the kind of freedom I’d never had before. That freedom was what made it paradise.
Whether we were bellmen, lifeguard backups, waiters, or maintenance men, I’d loved the work. The shit jobs were so much better than the group home. If not for the guys, I’d probably have ditched that fucking place the year before. Milo and I had scored jobs there the summer we were sixteen and found jobs for most of us—except for Freddie. He’d been too young.
We managed to sneak him out to stay up there with us as often as we could and when we couldn’t, one of us went back to keep an eye on things for him. But today—today was going to be fun. It was my birthday and we’d all cut school. Milo, Mr. Responsible, arranged everything.
“You ready?” Milo asked, his wild grin so at odds with the raptor personality he’d been cultivating over the last couple of years. I laughed.
“Hell yes, it’s a good day to die.”
Vaughn chuckled from the back seat where him, Kel, and Freddie were crammed together. Liam wasn’t that far behind us and Rome had elected to ride with his brother. “Nice,” Vaughn commented. “Way to elevate the mood Hawk.”
I snorted. “I woke up to my warning letter, why shouldn’t I embrace the warm and fuzzy.”
That earned a real scoff from Kellan, but it was Freddie I checked in the side mirror. His expression tightened. That warning letter was something he’d been dreading. I’d just remind him, it didn’t matter if they kicked me out of the group home at the end of the school year—the only concession they would make considering I’d literally just “aged out.” Four more weeks of school, but graduation day meant get the fuck out.
Worked for me. We’d been saving every dime to get a place and we would stick close to get to Freddie if we had to. If we had to pay other kids to keep an eye on him and watch his back, we fucking would.
Our parents, the system, and life might leave the us behind, we would not. We were Vandals and he was one of us. Kid brother might know how to push my buttons on a good day, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
Fifteen minutes later, we followed the long drive up and around the colonial buildings. While the resort was open year round, this was not the busy time. I was planning to work up here this summer for the extra dollars and for the bungalow we could all share. I’d probably just sign Freddie out of the group home for the summer too if they let me.
Fuck letting, I’d just say I was gonna give him a job and they would probably not complain about not having to pay for him to eat. Whatever.
As soon as Milo pulled in, I was out of the car and striding up to the cliff edge. The drop from here would be exhilarating. There were a couple of paths to get back up too so we could do it more than once.
Freddie came to stand next to me and glanced over the edge. “You’re nuts.”
I grinned. “That’s what makes it fun.”
Stripping off my shirt, I backed away from the edge. At the car, I stripped off my shoes, then my pants. I had my swim trunks on. Milo was briefing the guys with a plan. To be honest, it was probably a great plan. He’d earned the name Raptor for his fierceness in protecting us as well as his keen insights.
I was a hawk, though, so I could see everything I needed to see right now.
“Hey,” Milo called as I strode away from them. “Jas!”
I laughed. “Happy birthday to me, bitches!” Then I was running. I didn’t need to dive off the cliff and I still wanted to get some distance when I leaped. I heard their laughter, yells and whistles, but I was already jumping.
The air whooshed at me and there was a moment of perfect peace as I seemed to hang there suspended and then I plummeted. The icy water at the bottom was a rush that slapped reality back into me.
The tide wasn’t hitting the rocks yet so nothing threw me back at the cliff. When I surfaced, my laughter echoed back at me.
I swam for shore.
I was totally doing that again.