Due to a publishing error, an entire scene was deleted from THE GOD’S WIFE. It is the part where Rebecca is dancing with Jonas at the garden party. (On page 81 for those who have the paperback.)
Please read here for the deleted material and it may clear up questions about what she is doing and where she has been.
She laughed, tossing her head and sending her long hair flying. “Both,” she answered.
He was an editor of a medical journal by day, he said. His parents, rich folks on the North Shore, had wanted him to become a doctor, but he was better at writing. So, this was his compromise. At night, he tried to get gigs playing acoustic guitars at local bars. However, the business was cutthroat and jobs hard to come by. So, he remained an editor.
“Don’t quit the day job,” Rebecca said, entranced by someone good-looking, smart, and with a love of music.
“You were able to make the jump,” Jonas murmured in her ear. “You must be damn good.”
His firm hands held her closer, and they went spinning off into a far corner. Everyone in the tent watched them then, for they had been the finest-looking couple on the floor.
Rebecca looked up and saw Raven studying her.
“Dreaming?” Raven’s eyes were teasing.
“Yeah, “ Rebecca said, embarrassed at being caught drifting off into the past. “I was just wondering how Jonas could have been here with all these jerks.”
“Watch your language.” Raven had a pasted-on smile. “We’re the entertainment.”
They reached the refreshment bar and instantly the men began to jostle for their attention. Rebecca kept her eyes from meeting the searching gazes of the moneymen, glancing over at a small gathering of women at the corner of the table.
“Who are they?” she asked Raven.
“The press, P.R., the ones who were invited expecting this to be a magical evening, just as advertised. They cover us all year and get an invitation to the benefit as a reward. Some of them come here looking for the man of their dreams. They have no idea that the men only want to meet the dancers.”
Rebecca smiled at the misguided group of women, some of whom were attractive but none long-legged and deer-like. A touch on her shoulder drew her away, and she found herself in a tedious conversation with a man who considered himself an authority on “Aïda” He tried to slip his hand around her waist, and she sneaked a look at his wedding ring.
“Where’s your wife?” she butted into his monologue. As she spoke she saw Dana Hutchins, president of the board of directors, shake her heavy head.
“Oh, she’s…you know,” the man fidgeted with something in his pocket. “We’re separated.”
“Oh, that’s so sad,” Rebecca said, turning to snatch a cookie from the table, avoiding Hutchins’ dark gaze. “Well, I have a boyfriend, so this would never work anyway.”
“But I was only trying to tell you about Aïda’s social status, you see…”
“There are some interesting reporters over there who’d love to hear your story,” she said as the man’s face began to turn a shade of purplish red. “I have to mingle now. Orders from the boss.”
She skipped off, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, always one step away before the men asked her to dance. Rebecca knew she displeased the dance company’s movers and shakers. Nonetheless, she shone as the star of the show. She could do what she wanted. Arrogance? For someone whose family never showed up to any recital or school play, this was an unknown emotion. Self-confidence was something new to her and no one helped her learn how to handle it. The giddiness overtook her, confused as she was.
The night dragged on, and she caught a vision of Raven entwined in a tango with a man half her height. Lenore, to Rebecca’s great amusement, slow-danced in a near headlock with a man who must have tipped the scales at three hundred pounds. She skirted all of them, did a little spin of freedom, and wandered straight into the gaze of a dark man with a fierce stare.
“Rebecca.” He pronounced each syllable with care.
She stood still as a rabbit. This man with the commanding eyes could not be ignored.
“That’s my name, yes,” she said, lowering her eyebrows and studying his face. Black eyes that cut the night, lips that half smiled and half sneered, an aura of inescapability. He stepped forward out of the shadows, revealing himself to be tall—at least six-foot-three. He wore a tailored, designer tuxedo that seemed molded to his body.
“You are the leading lady and I,” he said, bowing in a stiff, foreign way, “am an Egyptologist with much knowledge of the ancient days. There is a great deal to tell.”
All her secret dreams of Egypt came rushing back to her as she faced this man who was an expert on the era. How could she walk away from a savant like this? He could tell her if all those dreams of Egypt were true to life. He could perhaps see into the past that she knew by intuition alone. She didn’t want to acknowledge the physical effect he had on her, but her knees were beginning to feel weak as she leaned against the tent. His lips were so fully formed, as if inviting her to touch them to hers. His skin exuded some kind of unseen electricity. She longed to reach out to him, but kept her distance, studying his confident European carriage instead.
The Egyptologist, Sharif Cadmus, began to speak to her of the old society of “Aïda” and her captors. Aïda came from Nubia, a land just to the south of Egypt and eventually annexed to the kingdom. At first the Nubians fought off the Egyptians, but eventually they were proud to become part of the vast and beautiful civilization. He moved his head close to hers, which made her vision cloud, as he spoke of the culture that created the pyramids and the Sphinx. Although his eyes gleamed blacker than anthracite, his skin reminded her of the color of caramel. His hair, in the dim light, looked light brown. He didn’t resemble any Mid-eastern man she had ever seen. This intrigued her. She wanted to know more—everything he knew.
He continued to describe the social structure of a world based on religion. The roles of the revered priests and priestesses he described in detail—so much that she could see the ancient holy people in their jewelry and fine linen.
As they spoke, they slipped out of the tent and into the humid air of the music park. There’s much I could learn here, she thought. Besides, I could do worse for a handsome escort. Sharif spoke to her of Aïda and her capture as a slave, and he explained her relationship to the world of the Pharaohs. Aïda, a queen in her own culture, was nothing but an outsider to those of Kemet, the Black Land—the Egyptians’ own name for their country. Something about the word Kemet triggered a memory, and Rebecca imagined herself in a large plaited wig and sheath dress.
A soft breeze blew in from the lake, and Sharif’s wild hair blew in all directions. In that moment, with the wind whipping about and his gaze fixed on Rebecca, he was the sexiest man she had ever seen. All thoughts of Jonas disappeared for the moment. She swallowed and tried to break the mood, even as she undressed Sharif in her subconscious mind.
“This might sound insane, but so much of what you are telling me, I seem to know already. Not that I know it from books, but deep in here.” She put her hand over her heart, then stopped, feeling foolish. “I mean, it seems right to me. Really right.”
Sharif searched her face with his extraordinary ebony eyes. “You feel you’ve been there? Lived that life?” His stare was locked on her face. Something about him drew on her inner self—that nocturnal one that spent bits and pieces of time in Egypt. Does he already know about that? He looks like he does. How?
“Not like that.” Rebecca bit her lower lip. She had the sudden urge to share something with him, something she had never told anyone, not even Jonas. Sharif’s scent, which reminded her of a desert breeze, claimed a hold on her senses. He took her hand with a whisper soft movement, and she heard herself babbling.
“Have you ever felt there’s someone with you, staring over your shoulder?”
The Egyptologist nodded. She had no idea if he agreed with her or coaxed her to continue. They wandered farther from the tent. Rebecca reeled from a perplexing sensation of wanting to run from this man and desiring to explain her whole life to him at the same time. She bit down on her tongue before she said too much.
“I feel Egyptian,” was all she said, but her deep tone told much more. It spoke of nights spent with an unknown Egyptian woman, guiding her through the rocks and sands. He smiled without showing any teeth. She decided his flawless skin took on the color of café au lait. His aura spread to encompass the two of them in a glow of low light. He let go of her hand.
“How odd,” was all he replied. With a kind, but too familiar, look on his face, he offered his arm, and they walked down the path toward the outdoor auditorium. His touch made her tremble. Jonas popped into her mind for a second, she felt guilt but she couldn’t release herself from this wizard, who represented all of Egypt to her.
The telephone rang and Rebecca felt along her nightstand for the receiver.
“Hello,” she croaked, opening one eye.
“Did I wake you?” Jonas asked, his voice full of mirth. He didn’t wait for an answer. “How was the soirée last night? Did you miss me?”
“Yeah…uh, I did, but…,” she tried to cough the frog out of her throat. “Uh, what was I saying…?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t remember things again,” Jonas said, starting to speak with a shrill sound in his voice.
“No, I remember. I’m just half asleep. I have to think back.”
“Sheesh. Rebecca, you know you hate those events. Don’t try to tell me you stayed there late.” His voiced dropped a little to a conspiratorial hush. “By the way, baby, happy anniversary.”
“Of the day we met. Don’t you recall that either? Are you all right?”
Her mind spun through the events of the night before: the boring old men, Raven in a ridiculous frock, the Champagne, chatting, Sharif. Oh, yes, the Egyptologist, sexy Sharif. They had talked, that much she remembered. But what happened next? They conferred for a long time about Egypt, her deep obsession. They touched. Oh please, I didn’t do anything physical with him, did I? She remembered his deep-set, penetrating eyes peering into her consciousness. He must have hypnotized me.
“I’m fine, maybe I have just a little headache. I don’t handle Champagne well.”
“You don’t sound right. I’m coming over there.”
“Okay, okay. That’s probably a good idea.”
She sat up at the edge of the bed and let her head fall into her hands, her hair creating a black waterfall about her arms. What did I do this time? Sharif imparted so much information. He knew everything about ancient Egypt, and she ate it up. His eyes. His eyes. He drank information about her life. They had talked for hours into the night about the Pharaoh’s royal family and why the Egyptian prince’s love for Aïda was so scandalous. He helped her make sense of her role.
When had the conversation stopped? She remembered trains rushing by as the last of the visitors left for Chicago. She saw the angry face of Dana Hutchins glaring at her from behind a glass window, heard Raven calling for her in the moist night air. The scent of lilacs. Then nothing. Except it wasn’t nothing. Something deep within her mind was watching, and she watched it. Through eyes that weren’t her own, she saw a man, an extremely sturdy one, much handsomer than Sharif. He wore almost nothing but a loincloth or a kilt. Had this been a dream? Where did the dream begin and reality end?
She started when she heard a noise at the door. Allison peeked into her room and stood like a spooked cat—all eyes and no body movement.
“What?” Rebecca wailed as Allison stared.
“We were worried when Raven took you home, “ she said, retreating to the edge of the doorframe. “Greta thought you were just drunk, but…”
“Drunk? Me? You’ve got to be kidding. You know I don’t drink. Not like that. What happened?”
Greta showed up at the other side of the door, eyes as saucer-like as Allison’s. “Raven said you collapsed, “ she explained. “There was some guy with you—dark, foreign. He was talking to Lenore.”
Lenore!, she thought. That little bitch. She would be party to this. There would be no end to the gossip she would spread.
“Anyway, Raven took you home and you just flopped on the bed as if you were dead or something, “ Greta continued.
“We were worried,” Allison said, catching her breath. “What happened out there?”
“I’ll bet that Lenore spiked her drink,” Greta said, pulling herself to her full five feet and crossing her arms. Greta always enjoyed good conspiracy theories, especially if they involved Lenore.
“No, no. That’s impossible,” Rebecca said. She only had one glass of Champagne all night, and a waitress had poured it. She hardly remembered seeing Lenore all night. Yet, the possibilities began to play in her mind. Sharif witnessing one of her losses of consciousness. Lenore coming to the “rescue.” Or were the two in league with each other? How much could she trust about this Egyptologist, anyway? Why had he waited for her that night in the silent corner of the tent?
The doorbell squawked, and Allison ran to buzz Jonas in.
“Don’t tell him I passed out,” Rebecca said, leaping off the bed and running toward the door. She waved her hands at Greta, “Go tell Allison.”
Jonas ascended the stairs like a rocket and exploded into full panic mode when he reached Rebecca’s bedroom. He pulled her to her feet and gazed into her eyes as if looking for signs of weakness—or mental illness. She didn’t feel like cooperating and flopped back down on the bed. He grabbed the phone book from Rebecca’s nightstand.
“We’re seeing a doctor,” he announced.
“But it’s Saturday, Jonas,”
“Some of them work on Saturdays. Here,” he said, tossing some clothing she had dropped on the floor. “Put on this track suit. It’ll do.”
Rebecca couldn’t think straight, but she knew she needed time to sort out this whole thing out about Sharif. Yes, the blackouts were upsetting, but she had a doctor appointment set for Monday. She wanted to attend to her health on her own terms not be rushed to a doctor she never heard of because of Jonas’ panic.
Anyway, Sharif remained all she could think about right now. What did his appearance at the benefit mean? She had to find out about him today. It was paramount. She dressed in a daze and hardly noticed when Jonas pushed her gently out the door.
Rebecca sat bumping her feet against the edge of the examination table, as she froze in her thin paper gown. Jonas. Damn his belief in the miracles of medicine. All because of his job. He’d believe anything a physician said. She didn’t want to be here, and her protests went unheeded. What if the doctor tried to get her to stop dancing and forgo the “Aïda” role? Her worst fear realized. In his sweet and helpful way, Jonas could ruin everything.