Author's note: Beginnings are the bane of my existence. I tend to overwrite them and thus end up cutting a lot from my first draft to my published version. Halfway to the Grave was no different. Not only did I overwrite it, I crossed markets because the original beginning shows Cat as a naïve, teenage girl, which would have confused editors and agents into thinking that this was a young adult novel instead of an adult paranormal romance. In addition to that, the former beginning is also very violent as it shows Cat encountering her first vampire, so there wasn't much in it to appeal to an editor or agent even if they did figure out that this was an adult romance. That's why, after several rejections, I cut this from the manuscript after realizing that its innocence-lost, homicidal-tendencies-found theme didn't match with the rest of the novel. The original beginning ends at the first sentence of the published version of Halfway to the Grave.
One more difference that readers will notice is Cat's age. In this version, she's only nineteen when she first meets Bones. This was a combination of authorial intrusion and lack of knowledge about the publishing industry. I was moved out and married at nineteen, so I didn't think it was too young for my heroine to be involved in a passionate relationship. I also knew that Cat would age several years between the first book and the second one, so I wasn't worried about her being that age for the entirety of the storyline. However, the agent I eventually signed with told me I needed to make Cat older because she was too young to be a heroine in the traditional adult market. I compromised by aging her up to twenty and then had to age her up again to twenty-two when Harper Collins acquired the novel. I didn't change much else about Cat to match her new age in the story, so later, some readers correctly pointed out in their reviews that Cat seemed to read younger than twenty-two. In the original beginning, however, she's an innocent sixteen-year-old who's about to go toe-to-toe with her first vampire.
When I left my house that day, I'd had absolutely no intention of killing anyone. I'd been looking for my boyfriend, Danny. I met him a few weeks ago when his car broke down near my grandparents' orchard. Driving late at night was one of the ways I escaped from the taunts of other kids over my illegitimacy. That's how small this town was. People still cared about things like that.
Of course, if you compared being illegitimate next to my father being a vampire, it hardly measured up.
Not that my neighbors knew that. Neither did my grandparents, whom my mother and I lived with. People didn't believe in vampires. Only my mother knew what I was. The man who raped her almost seventeen years ago had redefined the term "necking." At least that explained her distant, suspicious nature when it came to everyone, especially me. My mother hated vampires with a pathological passion, and I was half-vampire whether I wanted to be or not.
Danny hadn't called me all week. I called him Monday and left a message. Tuesday, I called again. Wednesday, I left a more worried message. Had he called but my grandparents hadn't told me? They thought I was too young to date, so that wouldn't have surprised me.
By Thursday, I imagined all sorts of horrible things that might have befallen Danny. He was a victim of a robbery. Or a car accident. Food poisoning. In jail for driving while drinking. My mind was an endless supply of bad possibilities. When Friday came, I was nearly sick with worry. I knew there were other, more terrible things that could have happened to Danny. Things no average police department would know about.
Without telling my mother where I was going, I set off for Danny's apartment. He lived an hour away in Columbus. When I pulled up to his building, I flew out of my truck and pounded on his door. No answer, and his car wasn't there. Okay, no luck here, but someone had to know if he was okay. After a few wrong turns, I found his friend George's frat house where Danny had taken me the previous weekend. I parked out front and pushed my way through the milling college kids.