In the first draft of Chapter 1 of I Love You to Death, when Ash walks into the kitchen and Luke cuts his hand, she originally walked in and found him with a black eye instead. The black eye had happened the night before thanks to Liam bad-mouthing Ash and Luke deciding he needed to stop that. In the end I scraped it, for reasons which I hope are obvious in Luke’s book. But there were two other reasons I scraped it too. Firstly, I wanted something to happen that would provoke a strong reaction in Ash, both so Luke could see how messed up she was and she would also get a glimpse at how caring he was. Secondly, I didn’t want to Ash to acknowledge what he looked like yet, or that she thought he was good looking. It was too early in their relationship and she was still grieving so I thought it wasn’t realistic. So in the end, that scene was re-worked into something, but if you’d like to read the original, here you go.
Today is Friday and the rain that has been falling all week has finally stopped. When I arrive at work it is only me and the new guy who by now is no longer the new guy but Luke. We are also now on speaking terms or at least terms that don’t involve him just looking at me and me asking, “What?” in response. Now when I walk in, it’s more like –
“Hey Luke, want a coffee?”
To which I get, “Yep, long black, thanks Ash.”
Then I make us both coffee take his back to him and we get on with our day. We are usually the only two in there for the first few hours and we might chat some more throughout the morning, but it’s never anything heavy and it’s never anything personal. For that I am extremely grateful.
Only today something changes. Today when I take him his coffee, he turns to look at me and I see he has a black eye. Smiling at me, he says, “Thanks, just set it down there while I finish this off,” as he piles together some kind of elaborate sandwich.
“Shit Luke, you have a black eye?” I ask him, thinking at the same time, this is probably the dumbest thing I could say.
He looks at me in mock horror. “What, are you serious?” before cracking a smile and telling me, “Contrary to popular belief Ash, I do need to look in the mirror to get my hair looking like this, so yes I do know I have a black eye. Kinda hurts too.”
Smart ass. His head is practically shaved so he could literally just roll out of bed and look that good. Still for some reason I put my own coffee down and go to the freezer to get something for his eye. Coming back over I hold a bag of frozen peas out to him. “You should probably put this on it.”
He leans his head towards me, gesturing with his dirty hands and saying, “Just press it there for a sec will you,” as he continues to make his sandwiches and remain completely oblivious to the fact that I don’t want to be anywhere near him.
As I stand there debating what I should do, Luke looks up at me with an expression that pretty much says come on, I can’t wait all day. So without thinking anymore, I take the frozen peas and press them gently against the bruise around his eye. He winces a little, but then we both just stand there, not saying anything. I watch as he continues to make sandwiches and I start to drink what turns out to be his coffee.
“Shit! How do you drink this stuff, it tastes disgusting?” I like my coffee with a lot of milk.
He laughs at me. “You need to put a sugar in it, one big one should do.” He pulls away from me and I put the half melted bag of peas on the counter. I watch as he wipes off his hands and then stirs in some sugar before handing his cup back to me. We watch each other across the top of the mug and I see his eyes drop to my mouth as I take a sip. I don’t want to be this close to him.
“Better?” he asks.
“Mmmm, better yes, still not sure how you drink it though.” I hand the cup back to him.
“Finish it,” he says softly. “You’ll like it by the end,” before picking up my cup with his now clean hands and taking a sip of my coffee.
And just like that, we’ve shared something.