top of page
Short Stories & Deleted Scenes

Sometimes I get an idea for a scene and jot it down for later use, but it never goes any further.

Sometimes, that scene will never go anywhere, but I want to write it anyway.

Sometimes, a scene I love doesn't make the final cut.

All these things have been gathering digital dust for too long, so now, I'm sharing them with my fantastic newsletter readers :) I hope you enjoy reading them as mush as I loved writing them!

As with the rest of the Saffron's Sleuths pages, this is a work in progress as I get everyhing added, so please be patient and check back regularly for new content :)

Uncle Lucas Reads a Story

'Wait, Henry, come back!' 'Sorry, Lucas,' said Henry, turning back but continuing to walk backwards towards the garden gate. 'Urgent police business at the village hall. Mr Kingsley apparently thumped Mr Hawthorn after he accused him of cheating at the latest budgie club meet.' 'Canary Fancier's Society,' corrected Lucas, jiggling the baby that had been unceremoniously thrust into his arms by his best friend. 'And that's hardly urgent, they're forever getting into scraps over the damn birds.' 'Hey!' cried Henry, pointing a finger crossly at Lucas. 'Watch your mouth around my boy, all right? I don't want his first word to be something the Times wouldn't print.' 'Daddy's grumpy today,' whispered Lucas to the child, who blew a raspberry and bopped him on the nose in a friendly sort of way. 'Look, Henry, you can't just leave Ezra with me,' he called after the retreating policeman. 'Why not his mum? Or your mum, for that matter, or....?' 'They're all busy, and I can hardly take a baby to a brawl,' said Henry, shoving his helmet onto his head. 'Anyway, if you're marrying my sister, you're going to have to get used to uncle duties, aren't you?' 'But -' 'Ta, Rathbone,' called Henry, breaking into a jog in the direction of the village hall. 'I'd say I owe you one, but it's just what families do, isn't it?' Grumbling, Lucas and Baby Ezra waved Henry off with varying amounts of enthusiasm, and Lucas wondered what the hell you were supposed to do with a baby. 'Come on then, young man,' he said, when Daddy was well out of sight. 'Let's get you inside and, um... Well, I don't know, but we'll figure it out, won't we?' They went back inside, where Lucas had been enjoying a peaceful evening with a book in front of a fire - but he doubted that was an option any more. 'Let's see if we can find something ro read to you,' he said to the gurgling baby, changing his grip of in the wriggling infant to something more secure as they went upstairs. 'There must be something lying around still.' After fruitlessly examining every bookcase in the house, and having to stop Ezra from getting stuck behind the door and from falling off the bed, Lucas eventually discovered a slim tome from his childhood. 'This'll do,' he said, scooping Ezra up with one hand and tucking him under his arm as they went back to the cosy living room. 'Crunchy the Squirrel was one of my favourites, so let's try him on you too, eh?' Sat on the sofa, one arm firmly round the child and the other holding the relic of Lucas's childhood well out of reach of the next, and inexplicably damp, generation, Uncle Lucas cleared his throat and began to read. '"Crunchy the Squirrel Gets Lost In The Fog,"' he announced. This didn't seem to meet with any objection, so Lucas continued. '"One autumn day, in Regent's Park" - that's in London, you know, where Auntie Clara lives - "Crunchy was bouncing through the golden leaves strewn on the ground. He was on his way to Grandma's beech tree, where she had her drey."' Lucas smiled as his nephew settled into the story, wide eyes fixed on the elegant, adorable illustrations of Crunchy, his tufted ears and bushy tail coloured an unnatural blue and yellow by the young Lucas, instead of the traditional reddish brown that squirrels should be. Ezra stuck his thumb into his mouth and snuggled up to his uncle, who continued reading. '"Crunchy was having so much fun romping through the scrunchy, crunchy fallen leaves, that he was oblivious to the world around him. He didn't notice that a thick, wet fog had decended until he couldn't see his paw in front of his whiskers!"' The baby squeaked, though whether this was because he understood the story or not, Lucas wasn't sure. How did a child just over a year old know about fog, anyway? Just in case, Lucas gave Ezra a reassuring squeeze. '"At first, it was really exciting, but,"' read Lucas, putting on a grave voice for the next turn of events, '"as the sounds disappeared around him and the world became muffled, Crunchy became anxious and confused. He began to panic and tears prickled his eyes."' Ezra gave a worried look to his uncle, who kissed the top of the baby's head. 'Don't worry, it'll be all right in a minute,' he promised, smiling as small fingers wrapped around his for comfort. '"Then,"' said Lucas dramatically, eliciting an excited gasp from the child. '"Crunchy's nose caught a wonderful smell. It was bonfire toffee cooking! Grandma's house must be nearby.''' 'Anma,' said Ezra, delightedly recognising the word. 'Anma, anma!' 'Well, I guess Daddy didn't need to worry about me being a bad influence after all,' said Uncle Lucas with a grin. 'Not about that, anyway, but I'm sure we'll find something. Come on, kid, nearly there now.' '"Crunchy began snuffling the air and followed the delicious, sugary scent until he reached the tree where Grandma lived. Once inside the drey, snuggled up to Grandma and eating the gooey, sticky toffee, Crunchy told her all about his worrying - and exciting - adventures. The End."' 'Gen!' cried Ezra, his eyes shining as he looked up to Lucas. So Uncle Lucas read it again, and again, and a fourth time for good measure, until the child had worn himself out with the excitement of it all and dozed off. Not being inclined to move from the cosy spot either, Lucas stayed quite contentedly with his nephew in his arms, until Henry's return. 'Fun, was it?' he asked his friend in a whisper, as they went back into the living room, Ezra still cradled in Lucas's arms. 'Not exactly,' replied Henry, looking rather harrassed and dropping onto the sofa with a heavy sigh. 'Who knew canaries could be such a contentious subject?' 'Don't you ever read my newspaper?' said Lucas with a frown. Henry made a disparaging noise in the back of his throat and waved the complaint away. 'You seem to have got on all right, anyway,' he said, nodding at his slumbering son. 'That or you bored him to sleep, which is also an option.' Lucas stuck his tongue out at his friend, and handed him the book. 'It seems Crunchy the Squirrel has a new fan,' he said. 'It's about time it was read again, and you know how your sister feels about the idea of motherhood.' 'Highly disfavourably,' said her brother with a grin, flicking through the pages. 'But if that ever changes, I'll be sure to let you have this back. Had you never seen a squirrel?' he added, smirking at a green and purple striped Crunchy. Lucas shrugged a newphew-free shoulder. 'It was more fun that way. And thanks, but Ezra won't be getting any cousins - at least not from us. Uncle Lucas is good enough for me.'

Author's Note: The story Lucas reads, Crunchy The Squirrel Gets Lots In The Fog, was written by my mum at a writing evening held locally. I loved it so much that I asked if I could write a scene around it, and she very kindly said I could. This is the result.

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

An icy touch on his hand startled Lucas. ‘Sorry,’ giggled Clara, wrapping her fingers around his. ‘There are so many people here to watch the fireworks, and it’s very dark. I didn’t want to lose you.’ ‘Never,’ he said, smiling at her shyly. ‘But you should worry more about losing a finger,’ he exclaimed, wrapping both his hands around hers to transfer heat to them. ‘Where are your mittens?’ ‘I must have left them at Mum’s, but I wasn’t going back for them. I’ve been coming to the fireworks in Farmer Edwards’s field my whole life. I’m not missing it just because I don’t live in the village any more.’ ‘They don’t have firework displays in London?’ asked Lucas, glad some heat was returning to her fingers. He wouldn’t usually take her hand in public - there were enough rumours about them flying around the village as it was - but he couldn't leave her freezing half to death, could he? It didn't matter that the gossip was completely accurate, of course. Knowing you couldn’t so much as sneeze in your own back garden without everyone asking after your health for the next fortnight made the thought of openly conducting your first romance rather... intimidating. And he couldn't subject Clara to such neighbourly scrutiny, either. ‘Well of course they have fireworks,’ laughed Clara, interrupting his thoughts. ‘It’s not the same though, is it?’ ‘They’re probably better,’ said Lucas, glancing over his shoulder to check they weren’t being watched – particularly not by her overprotective older brother Henry. ‘Practically everything there is.’ ‘Not everything,’ she said twinkling her eyes at him in a way that always made his heart race. ‘Really?’ She shrugged, a mischievous smile curling on her beautiful face. ‘I can’t find an egg custard to match Mr Guthrie’s for love nor money. It’s worth coming back just for that’ ‘And there I was, thinking you missed me,’ joked Lucas, reaching for her other, equally frigid hand. ‘Desperately, darling,’ she said, quite solemnly. ‘Not seeing you every day has made these the longest few weeks of my life.’ He was just about to say he felt exactly the same when a whiz and a flash near the bonfire caught their attention. ‘Ooh, it’s starting,’ said Clara, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the crowd. ‘Hurry, or we’ll miss it.’ ‘Put your hands in your pockets, or they’ll get cold again,’ he advised, sounding disconcertingly like his mother. She gave him a cheeky grin before standing in front of him, leaning her back against his chest and placing her hands in his. ‘But you’re so much better at keeping me warm,’ she said, wrapping her arms - and by extension, his arms - around her waist. Lucas looked around in alarm - not that he didn’t want to hold her in his arms, quite the opposite, but if anyone noticed… However, everyone’s eyes were fixed on the Catherine Wheels and Roman Candles and Squibs being lit as the opening of the display, so he relaxed a little. And if anyone asked, Clara had forgotten her mittens, hadn’t she? And the grass already crunched with frost, so it was perfectly natural for two old friends to stay close for warmth on a cold November evening. No one could possibly think there was anything peculiar about how they were standing… Right? So Lucas watched the fireworks with Clara snuggled up against him, but kept getting distracted by how lovely her face looked lit by the intermittent flashes of gold, red, and blue sparkling in the sky and filling the crisp air with the scent of gunpowder. Besides, the fireworks were even more beautiful reflected in her eyes, wide with wonder and joy. Between the explosions splitting the usually peaceful night, Lucas caught snatches of a conversation - no, an argument, taking place on the edge of the crowd. Carefully, he turned his head towards the disturbance and saw Henry talking heatedly with Jane Kingsley, the prettiest girl in the village according to everyone except Lucas. She seemed quite upset, and Henry was trying to calm her down and explain something. Odd. But then again, perhaps their supposedly secret relationship was on the rocks? Lucas smiled and watched the latest rocket glimmer in the sky, eliciting a chorus of oohs and ah’s as it did so. Henry thought he and Jane were so sneaky, but it was a topic of general conversation amongst the villagers, and one more reason Lucas was keen to keep his own romance on the down-low. But now Clara lived in London, they might get a little privacy occasionally… That was a cheering thought. Still, he was curious to know what was going on with Henry, but seeing as he’d never confided in Lucas about Jane, it might be tricky to bring up. Lucas strained his ears to catch what he could of their discussion between the explosions. If he didn’t know better, it sounded like Henry was trying to end their… whatever it was, because he’d found someone he really was serious about. Curious. He’d not mentioned anything to Lucas - but then again, Lucas hadn’t mentioned anything about his all-consuming adoration of Clara to Henry, though he felt that was rather different. Henry had made it very clear over the years that his precious baby sister was strictly off limits to Lucas, which was yet another reason for secrecy. He sighed and rested his cheek against the top of Clara’s woolly hat, watching the finale of the display. It was magnificent, as always, but watching it with his arms around the girl he loved made Lucas’ heart swell with an overwhelming amount of affection for her. Had they have been as alone as he wanted them to be, he suspected he’d have made a declaration to her, though he wasn’t sure if this would be simply reminding her of his true feelings, a kiss, or a marriage proposal. Perhaps all three. And maybe next year they could watch it together without having to hide their feelings. After all, year was a long time, and maybe it was time to talk to Henry again… As the crowd dispersed, Clara released her hold of Lucas’ hands and put her own in her pockets, to keep the heat he’d loaned her safe. They chatted about everything and nothing as he walked her back to her mother’s house, and as they walked up the familiar garden path, Clara invited Lucas inside for hot cocoa. ‘It’s the least I can do, considering you’ve been keeping me warm all evening,’ she said, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear and looking up at him through her eyelashes with a smile. He didn’t need asking twice, and as Clara disappeared into the kitchen of the empty house, Lucas hung their coats on the hall stand. There was a suspiciously mitten-sized bulge in Clara’s coat pocket. He smiled and checked, just to be sure. There they were, nestled all the time in her pocket as she insisted he was her only hope of avoiding frostbite. ‘Should make enough for Mum and Henry too?’ asked Clara, reappearing in the hallway with the tin of cocoa powder. ‘They’ll be home soon, and - oh.’ Lucas held up the mittens with a grin so wide he thought the top of his head might fall off. Clara blanched and shrank back, biting her bottom lip, before stepping forward apologetically. ‘I’m sorry I lied, Lucas,’ she said. ‘It’s just -’ He met her halfway, took her hand, and kissed her like he'd wanted to all night. ‘I’m not,’ he whispered. ‘I think it’s rather adorable, if I’m honest.’ She flushed a terribly attractive shade of pink. ‘You do?’ ‘I do,’ he said, lacing her fingers with hers. ‘I had a marvellous evening.’ ‘Yes, the fireworks were lovely, weren’t they?’ ‘Probably, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off you.’ Her mouth fell open, and he gently raised her chin with his forefinger before softly caressing her cheek, that overwhelming feeling enveloping him once more until he thought he might burst with emotion. ‘And you’re not cross with me for lying about the mittens?’ she asked, looking worried. 'Only, I wanted to watch the fireworks with you, and I though, if we had a excuse...' He laughed softly and took her other hand in his, because he wanted to this time, not just to prevent a chill reaching her bones. ‘I’ve never been able to stay cross at you, but I can certainly live with you telling the occasional fib if it leads to another evening like that.’ As he stood, gazing lovingly into her eyes, he decided he wasn't content to keep the greatest thing that had ever happened to him a secret any more. He closed the remaining gap between them and leant his forehead against hers, their noses resting alongside each other. ‘Clara,’ he murmured, his heart pounding with nervous excitement. No, not nerves. There was nothing to be nervous about. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he continued, rubbing her knuckles with his thumb. ‘And, I think that perhaps it's time. People will breathe down our necks and gossip about us, but if you don’t mind that, neither do I.’ She smiled, which was rather encouraging. He softly pressed his lips to hers again - just as the handle on the front door turned, allowing the voices of Mrs Jenkins and her eldest son to leak into the hallway. Lucas and Clara untangled their fingers and took a large and embarrassed step away from each other. At least, Lucas's cheeks burned. Clara painted a happy, welcoming smile on her face seemingly effortlessly, even if her cheeks were rather pinker than usual. ‘Excellent,’ she declared. ‘I was just making cocoa.’ Her eyes met Lucas’s for a moment before she fell into easy conversation with her mother, and they discussed the evening’s entertainment as Henry gave his best friend a piercing look. ‘What were you two up to just then?’ he asked suspiciously. ‘Hmm? Nothing,’ lied Lucas, wishing his heart rate would return to normal, though the terrified hammering in his chest was far less pleasurable than the excited patter of a few moments ago. ‘We were, uh, just looking for her mittens,’ he added, realising a lack of explanation wouldn’t remove the scowl from his friend’s face. ‘Her mittens?’ said Henry, frown increasing. ‘She was wearing them when we left the house.’ ‘Was she?’ said Lucas innocently, fighting a smile. ‘How strange.’ Henry scowled and opened his mouth to give Lucas an earful. ‘Is Jane all right?’ asked Lucas hastily, deciding attack might be the best form of defence. Henry took step back, his face a mask of shock. ‘I saw you talking to her earlier,' continued Lucas, glad to have derailed the all too familiar lecture, at least for now. 'She looked upset. I hope her latest fling hasn’t died a death,’ he added in a falsely innocent tone. 'That'd be a terrible shame.' Henry flushed scarlet and muttered something about how it was a disagreement over a stray dog she’d brought in to the police station. ‘Oh, you didn’t tell me about that,’ said Lucas, hanging Henry’s coat up for him. ‘Did you find out who’s dog it was?’ ‘It escaped before we could,’ snapped Henry as he stalked towards the kitchen. 'So it didn't seem worth mentioning.' Lucas breathed a sigh of relief, knowing he'd been terribly mean but feeling no regrets. But what choice did he have? Henry berating him yet again over what, as far as he was concerned, was mere gossip and suspicions would have spoiled a marvellous evening - and it was none of his business, anyway. Though as Lucas joined the others in the kitchen, heart singing as his eyes met Clara's a he saw a smile curling at the corners of her mouth, he thought there was a lot to be said for having a little deniability. Yes, perhaps they should enjoy wat privacy they had whilst it lasted. They'd made it this far, after all. Another few months wouldn't matter...

Baby Ezra's Birthday Present

'Mum,' called Clara, looking under the sofa for the third time. 'Mum, have you seen the gift I made for Ezra?' 'No, love,' replied Mrs Jenkins from the kitchen. 'Have you checked in the bedroom?' 'I've checked everywhere,' sighed Clara, joining her mum in the kitchen and sitting down heavily at the kitchen table. 'Twice. At least twice. It's gone.' 'You didn't leave it at Hettie's, did you?' Clara groaned and shook her head. 'Of course I did, so he couldn't find it be accident. Thanks, Mum.' Within minutes, she was round at her mother-in-law's house, continuing her search - because, naturally, Lucas had misplaced it. 'I didn't lose it,' complained Lucas, helping tear the house apart in search of the toy mouse Clara had made for their nephew. 'I put it on top of the wardrobe in my old room. You saw me do it!' 'So where is it now, darling?' said Clara, looking behind the wardrobe. 'Well, I don't know, do I?!' 'Hmm. Come on, maybe it's in the living room.' 'I put it on top of the wardrobe,' insisted Lucas, following Clara's whirlwind search through the house. 'I haven't moved it, and I doubt Mum would have done. She knows how long it took you to make it.' On and on this argum- um, discussion went, Clara getting more and more frantic to find the mouse and Lucas getting more insistent that he hadn't lost it. 'Let's have a cup of tea and get back to it in a minute,' said Lucas, giving his wife a hug as she found herself on the edge of tears. 'It's got to be in the house somewhere - though really, sweetheart, I don't know how it can have gone from the wardrobe. I put it there because I knew it'd be safe.' 'I think I've just got to accept it's gone,' said Clara dejectedly, taking a seat at the scrubbed pine kitchen table. 'I'll just have to make another, but I haven't got time before the party this afternoon - especially as I'll have to go into town for more yellow felt.' 'I really can't think where it's gone,' said Lucas, filling the kettle. 'I know I put it -' A dark streak darted through the kitchen at ankle height and out of the back door, a bright patch of yellow in its mouth. 'Inky!' cried Lucas, following the cat. 'You bloody thing, come back here!' He and Clara chased the cat to the garden shed, where it squeezed through a hole at the bottom of the door. 'I'll get the key,' said Lucas with resignation. 'Sorry Mum's cat nicked Ezra's toy mouse.' 'It's not your fault,' said Clara, though she didn't quite believe it. 'I just hope it's not ruined...' He pecked her on the cheek and ran back up the garden path, as Clara stood guard to make sure the dratted creature didn't take the mouse off somewhere else where they'd have no hope of finding it. She leant back against the door with a sigh - and then she heard it. A chorus of tiny mews. Clara stood on tiptoe to peer through the shed window, and, sure enough, Inky was cuddled up on Mrs Rathbone's gardening jumper with half a dozen wriggling kittens - and Ezra's mouse. 'Right, let's get the mouse back,' said Lucas, returning with the key. 'That cat is more trouble than she's worth, I swear.' 'No, she's not,' said Clara with a huge grin. 'Really? Are you sure? Did we not just waste an entire morning looking for Ezra's birthday present, only to find she'd taken it?' 'Yes, but - well, you'll see.' Lucas gave her a misgiving look and unlocked the shed door - only for all his annoyance to melt into adoration of the tiny, wriggling babies snuggled up under the cat. 'Two tabby, two black, and look, a tiny, tortoiseshell kitten,' breathed Clara, her eyes wide. 'How old do you think they are?' 'A couple of weeks, perhaps,' said Lucas, scratching a purring Inky behind the ears. 'You naughty thing, you,' he cooed to the cat. 'Mum said you kept going missing for days at a time.' 'Shall we move them inside, where it's warmer?' said Clara, so they slipped the nest off the table and into a shallow crate, then carried the small family - plus one felt mouse - inside, to set them in front of the fire. 'Well, I don't think Ezra will get his mouse back,' said Clara, as one kitten started chewing its nose. 'I don't think he'll mind, though, especially not if Henry and Debbie take a kitten.' 'Not the tortie,' said Lucas quickly, before blushing. 'She's mine,' he added, running his fingers over the kitten and getting a squeaky response for his troubles. 'She's just, so tiny...' 'All right, darling,' said Clara, pecking his cheek. 'I know how much you've wanted a cat, and I suppose I can live with one, if I have to. And at least it’s small, and unlikely to cause too much trouble.' 'We'll get you a dog one day too,' promised Lucas, taking her hand. 'But, well, it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up, wouldn't you say?' 'Yes, darling,' replied Clara, her head turning in response to a knock at the door. 'Oh, I think we're late for the party,' she said, going to answer the door. 'Hullo, Tommy. Are you here to round us up?' 'Where have you two got to?' demanded the new arrival, stepping into the hallway. 'Your brother is going frantic - though why, I couldn't say. The kid’s only a year old. It's not like he'll remember who was at his party or not.' 'We hit a minor problem with Ezra's birthday present,' said Clara, leading the way into the kitchen. 'But I think we've found something even better.' 'What do you -? Awwww,' said Tommy, his eyes lighting up at the bundles of trouble on the hearthrug and taking a seat on the floor next to Lucas. 'And - oh, I see where your gift ended up. Hard luck, old thing.' 'Yes, but I don't suppose Ezra will mind,' sighed Clara, thinking about all the time she'd spent carefully stitching flowers and spots onto the little mouse, and filling the base with dried peas so it sat upright, and adding threads for whiskers and embroidering the eyes on. 'Especially not if he gets a kitten out of it.' 'If he has one, that means there's four left,' said Tommy, eyeing the babies thoughfully. 'Three,' corrected Lucas. 'I have dibs on the tortoiseshell one, not that my mother knows about the kittens at all yet.' 'Think she'll let me have a black one?' asked Tommy, cautiously reaching out towards one and, not losing any of his fingers to an angry mummy cat, tickled the kitten's tummy. 'I could use some good luck.' 'Aren't you still at the boarding house?' said Clara, giving up any idea of getting out of the kitchen any time soon and joining the boys on the floor. Lucas picked up a baby that had wriggled away from Inky and deposited it in Clara's hands. 'Where will you keep it?' 'I can't stay with Mrs Peebles forever,' said Tommy, clearly enamoured with the squeaky balls of fluff - not that Clara could blame him, really, they were incredibly soft and warm, and holding a tiny heartbeat in her hands was very special. Tommy shot her a sly look. 'It's not like I could get married or anything whilst I'm there, and, well, you know...' Clara beamed. 'I know, and I'm delighted for you. Have you asked her yet?' Her friend shook his head. 'But I will, when the time is right. I think it'll take her a few months to get over what happened at Christmas, which is understandable, but - well, I know, even if she doesn't yet.' 'Good, I like her,' declared Clara. 'And she'll get there,' said Lucas reassuringly. 'It's just, well, with everything that happened, it's bound to take a bit of time, isn't it?' Tommy nodded mutely, looking away. 'But, all the more reason to get a place of my own - a proper place, I mean, not some draughty room at the top of Mrs P's house, and a cat would stop me from getting lonely in the meantime.' He gave a shy smile. 'I'm not used to living on my own. Who would I talk to?' 'Exactly,' said Lucas, picking up another escapee and dropping it into Tommy's hands, who brought it close to his chest and glowed with delight as it snuggled up next to him. 'What will you call it?' asked Clara. 'Oh, I don't know,' said Tommy, gently stroking tiny ears. 'Bert or something, I suppose.' 'Bert isn't a cat name,' protested Lucas. 'It should be, Fluffy, or Fang, or -' 'Fang?!' 'Why not? They're fierce little house tigers, after all.' 'Hmm. I'll think about it,' said Tommy, looking into the little black kitten's golden eyes. 'But I'll have to think up something extra special for such a precious creature. Come along,' he added, carefully putting it back next to its mother, who rubbed her head against his hand as he did so. 'Or we'll never get to your nephew's party, and Henry will never forgive you - kittens or not.'

bottom of page