Where do you end a book? It’s a more complicated question than it seems. Writing is a creative process. Publishing is a commercial endeavor. Books and their endings must satisfy the constraints of both. Smoke, Steel, & Ivy‘s main character (MC) is Ivy (Yes, I know in romance the relationship is supposed to be the MC, but this is a fairy tale retelling and I took liberties.). We start the story in her point of view (POV), I wanted to end in her POV. Ivy is alone, pushing away her family, blind to the magic in her life in the beginning. At the end of the book, Ivy is with her special somepony, surrounded by her family, appreciating and understanding the magic around her. I wanted Ivy to have the last word. I wanted to end the story with her. I wanted to end the HEA there.
So this epilogue from Collin’s POV didn’t make the cut. My other epilogue didn’t make the cut either. SS&I is a long book after all. There were other reasons why this is a deleted scene. Ivy is a book “with no explicit content,” and I wasn’t sure how open you could leave a bedroom door when you’re marketing a closed-door romance. Also, am I really showing Collin’s growth here? I don’t know. It was fun to write, but it never made its way to any members of my team.
But here it is now, in all of its rough and tumble glory. Enjoy! Let me know if you think it should have been included.
Ivy fell asleep in the coach ride to the farm, and while she insisted that Collin must wake her when they arrived, he did not. Rather her carried his new bride to the room Fran had hastily prepared. He laid Ivy on the bed.
Frogs boisterously sang outside in the warm night air. Ivy loved frogs. He’d leave the window open.
Gran stood in the doorway, swaying slightly on her cane. “What have you done to that poor girl?” she demanded.
Collin smoothed the black curls out of Ivy’s face. “I haven’t done anything; I’ve married her.”
“Gran, please keep your voice down. My wife is very tired.” And snoring slightly.
Collin promised to answer for every last detail of his adventure, but in the farmhouse kitchen, which he hoped was far enough away not to disturb Ivy’s slumber. Gran grumbled but left with Fran’s assistance. And Fran quietly closed the door behind them.
Collin hesitated, blushing slightly, before sliding off Ivy’s boots and unbuttoning her vest. He remembered with a smitten smile, when he’d done the same earlier in the north wing of the palace. The unbuttoning that is. Ivy had kicked off her own boots upon entering the suite.
He tucked a quilt around her, and placed a soft kiss to Ivy’s temple before leaving her in the comfort of the quiet bedroom.
Gran was seated at the kitchen table, but both her hands rested on the crook of her cane when Collin appeared in the kitchen. Fran had a kettle on the stove and was fussing with the tea service.
“Who is she?” Grand demanded.
“She is Ivy. And she is everything.”
Fran sighed and placed a hand across her heart.
Gran rolled her eyes. “Too skinny. Amadanrian, I take it?”
“Oh yes,” Collin said cheerfully accepting the cup of tea from Fran. “You’ll love her. She’s smart. Clever. Selfless. Hard-working. Shrewd.
“Pretty too,” Fran said with a warm smile.
“Fine, fine.” Gran said, leaning back in her seat. “What’s she doing with someone like you? And before you start, I saw her boots. She didn’t grow up in a rough little boarder town.”
“No. She didn’t. But it’s late Gran. And your tremor is always worse the next day for late nights.” Although she was looking remarkably well, country life and retirement clearly suited her. “We can talk more in the morning.” Collin bid the women good night. Truth be told, he missed his bride, and he’d never grow tired of seeing her sleeping peacefully by his side. Collin slid into bed next to Ivy. He brushed his hand lightly across her cheek before kissing her goodnight. He wasn’t expecting Ivy to stir, but she did, turning on her side and resting her arm across Collin’s chest.
Collin fell asleep with his wife snoring and his side, her right arm and leg draped across him, and a smile on his own lips.
Bright sunshine streamed through the open bedroom window.
“Good morning,” Ivy said before climbing on top of Collin.
“Morning,” Collin said barely believing his good fortune.
“I’ve realized something.” Ivy rested her chin on his chest and grinned. “If I had been permitted a nap yesterday. I wouldn’t have fallen asleep in the coach ride here, and I would have been awake to meet your Gran.”
“What brute kept you from sleeping?” Collin tucked and arm under his head and rested the other across Ivy’s back.
“Not a brute, but perhaps a rake. He promised to behave, let me drift off to sleep against him, but his kisses wouldn’t stop. His hands too, if you can believe it.”
Collin arched his back and kissed Ivy’s bare shoulder. She’d shrugged out of all but her chemise at some point that night.
“What time is it?” Ivy fumbled for her watch and glasses on the bedside table. She gasped then laughed when she had both in hand. “It’s nearly noon. I slept for almost eleven hours.”
“Come back to bed and we can make it an even dozen.” Collin placed a kiss on Ivy’s pretty neck.
It was well past noon when Collin and Ivy made their way to the kitchen. “I should warn you,” Collin said quickly, his cheeks heating. “I didn’t exactly tell Gran who you are.”
“I didn’t know how. And I didn’t want to sound like I was a treasure hunter or social climber. It was late, and I wanted her to meet you before she made assumptions about your family and upbringing.
Fran was in the kitchen slicing and coring strawberries. Gran was at the stove. “About time. No wonder she’s so skinny. You don’t feed her regular meals. Skipping breakfast,” Gran mumbled. “Utter nonsense.” She tossed a stretched square of dough into the pot of hot oil on the stove.
“Ivy, this is my Gran.”
“Gertrude. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. What are you making? It smells delicious. Can I lend a hand?” Ivy washed her hands and fell to rolling out the dough.
“Ivy.” Gran squinted at the unbuttoned collar of Ivy’s blouse, and the loose hair falling out of her braid. “Who are your people? Your family. Collin said you were Amadanrian, but the fool boy wouldn’t say anything else.”
“Gran!” It was just like her to work in an insult.
Ivy smiled. “Yes, he can be quite tiresome, withholding important facts.”
“Just so. I’ve been trying for years with him,” Gran turned over a few of the pieces of puffed bread in the oil. “But some people just refuse to learn.”
Ivy nodded. “I’m eldest daughter of King Rupert the Just. My mother, Constance, was Rupert’s first wife, and I am heir to the throne of Amadanri.”
If Gran was surprised to be standing next to a princess and heir apparent, she didn’t show it. She fished the fry bread out with a slotted spoon. “What on earth are you doing with Collin?”
Collin should have chuckled, but instead became very still.
Ivy glanced at him over her shoulder, giving him a quick wink. She shrugged, “I love him.”
Collin’s heart stopped. She had told him as much before of course, but to hear the words spoken and to Gran.
Ivy dropped another bit of dough into the pot. “And I like him.”
Gran added more golden brown fried bread to the plate next to the stove. “I do too. Although I wasn’t sure until I met you.” She patted Ivy’s hand and shared with her a rare smile, before grabbing the plate of fry bread and shuffling to the table.
Now Collin did laugh. Ivy joined him, pecking his cheek before she took a seat at the kitchen table.
“I’m famished,” Ivy said.
“Allow me.” Collin slathered butter over the hot fry bread and offered it to Ivy.
Gran slapped his hand down. “Fool.”
“What have I done now, Gran?”
The woman leveled a long-suffering look at her grandson. “They’ll taste better with jam.”
Collin’s brown wrinkled.
Gran poked him with her cane. “Are you or are you not on your honeymoon?”
Collin excused himself and quickly returned with their remaining jar of honeymoon jam, just in time to hear Gran mumble. “You’d be simple not to use any and all magic to keep her.”
Gran was right though, fried bread and butter did taste better with jam. Ivy certainly seemed to think so. “This is delicious.”
“I’ll make you more. You’re too skinny,” Grand said.
“I won’t stand for it,” Ivy said around a mouthful. “My only in-law waiting on me.”
“Then I’ll have Collin make you more.”
“That I can get behind,” Ivy pushed to a stand. She paused for a moment with her hands resting on the table.
“You okay?” Collin asked. “Dizzy?”
“No,” Ivy said. “Not at all. I’m… rested, fed,” A sweet smile tugged at her lips. “Happy.”
And Collin was too. Sharing his favorite meal with the people he loved and who loved him.
Gran cleared her voice. “The orchards are lovely this time of year. Aren’t they Fran?”
“They rival the best the capital has to offer. Pitty no one is around to show them to you, but it’s a market day. Ellis and the others are all in town until sundown.”
“An orchard to ourselves?” Collin mused, admiring the color in Ivy’s cheek.
“Orchards. It’s quite the farm we now own,” Gran said. “My favorite are the apricots by the stream.”
Ivy tugged Collin to his feet. “Shall we?”
Fran pushed a blanket and picnic basket into their arms. “Enjoy.”
And they did.