Deleted Scenes | “Chapter Fourteen – Max” from If the Dress Fits

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Carla de Guzman’s latest book, If the Dress Fits is featured in this week’s Deleted Scenes.

If the Dress Fits

if the dress fits coverMartha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe.

Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what?

It becomes a big deal when her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to Enzo, the only boy she’s ever loved (he doesn’t know, so don’t tell him!) Suddenly Aguases from all corners of the globe are coming for the event, and the last thing Martha wants is to be asked why she still prefers her lattes with a waffle on the side.

Thank god for Max. Goofy, funny, dependable Max, who finds himself playing the fake boyfriend at the family festivities. But why does it feel like only one of them is pretending?

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Click on the Continue Reading button to read Carla’s message and the rest of the deleted scene.

Chapter Fourteen – Max
(a deleted scene from If the Dress Fits)

After Martha to goes to London to train under the RA, Max finds himself turning to the most unlikely place to get some advice. If you haven’t read the book yet, this part is VERY spoiler-y, so consider yourself warned!
Why it was scrapped: When I wrote this scene, I thought it would be so cute to have Max forming a fast friendship with Tita Flora, who to be honest, would have a friend like Max. I wanted to show the effect on Martha’s absence on him, and why he finally decides to go after her. Unfortunately, my editor pointed out that the change in POV in a quick chapter in the end was too jarring, and sadly had to be scrapped.

* * * * *

Tita Flora: Maximillian Angeles, will I be seeing you later? 

Max: Wild horses couldn’t stop me, Tita. Are you up for kebabs and Greek food?

Tita Flora: God yes.

* * * * *

“MAX,” TITA FLORA SAID TO ME THE DAY WE FIRST MET. “I really, really want to eat crab fat.”

Ever since she was diagnosed with cancer, Tita Flora decided that she would, for the first time in forty years, stop dieting. She and I had been working through a list, with crab fat noodles on the top of the list, working our way to today’s sinful treat, sisig tacos. I liked talking to Tita Flora, looking up the food she would want to try, eating with her. Sure she was Martha’s aunt, but she had become a good moral compass for me, too. Like Jiminy Cricket, only instead of a top hat and cane she wore flowers in her dresses and had a small hand sanitizer attached to her purse.

Once I explained to Tita Flora where I had been the last month, what happened that day at Martha’s place (minus certain details) she shook her head. 

“Oh Max, you really fucked the pooch this time, didn’t you?” Tita Flora asked, grinning like a Chesire cat over the cup of tea she’d ordered. 

“Tita, it’s screw,” I mumbled. 

“A screw is a fuck, and both of which you did,” she shrugged. She caught me scowling, and I didn’t miss the little twinkle in her eye when she did that. 

Like a coward, I flew to my parents in New York the day after the fight at the Benitez family house. I needed to clear my head, purge my system of Martha. But one call, and I was there again, being the guy she needed. Then I let her slip away. 

Now she was gone, and I was left with Aunt Flora. She called me the day Martha left and said, ‘She’s gone. Are you happy now?’ before she invited me to lunch. 

The downside of these clandestine lunches was that I saw too much of Martha in her Aunt Flora. Just the reminder of her made my resolve crumble bit by bit. 

But I did enjoy these meals, if only to keep tabs on what was happening with Martha while she was in London. Tita Flora enjoyed giving me updates, talking about the places Martha had visited (she absolutely died when she met Lin Manuel Miranda at the West End!) and the things she’d done (they asked her to organize a patrons night, and she got to meet the Duchess of Cambridge!). Tita Flora spoke with the same wit, diction and engagement as a professional actress, but still, it was nothing compared to hearing these stories from Martha herself. 

But if she was happier this way, there was nothing I could do. 

I punched a wall when Tita Flora told me she’d gone. My hand was still bandaged up from that. I chastised myself for being an idiot, and Tita Flora was only too happy to agree with me. The fact remained that Martha had gone without me, and I missed her every fucking day.

I realized that night while I was putting myself out of the equation, she had been trying to tell me to stay. Out of all people, I was the one who didn’t hear her. I’d failed her as a friend and lost my chance with her.

“I’ve never heard anyone use that expression in real life,” I muttered at Tita Flora, shaking my head. “Screw the pooch.”

“Well you have!” She exclaimed. “It’s been five months, and you need her more than ever. How hard is it to book a ticket to London? Aren’t you rich?”

“It’s hard if you think she doesn’t want you there,” I pointed out. It’s been five months of this. Tita Flora telling me to go to London while I tried to explain to her why I couldn’t. Five months and I was running out of reasons. 

I didn’t tell anyone, but I booked a ticket so I could be there at midnight on her twenty-seventh birthday to propose to her like I had promised. I never forgot that little pact we made in Tagaytay. But I was a chickenshit, and ended up wasting the ticket. She spent her twenty-seventh birthday alone, and I spent her twenty seventh birthday locked in my room and wishing I had just been more patient, and actually listened to her. Then I wouldn’t be here. 

“She’s been there for five months, and all she can ask me about is you,” Tita Flora said, rolling her eyes. I knew the answer was obvious to her—she’d said it to me enough times. “It’s getting a little tedious being your messenger. I mean, I am sick of cancer, you know.”

I didn’t hide the little wince I made when she mentioned it. Her health had dipped slightly over the last five months, and she’d decided to do one round of chemotherapy. I knew she liked these lunches because she could focus on my problems instead of her own. Again, she told me this. The friendship between myself and Tita Flora blossomed so quickly that it became a lifeline for me. 

“Tita,” I said sincerely, resting my elbows on my knees, my dog-eared copy of Stardust by Neil Gaiman in my hand. “Do you think I could make her happy?”

She rolled her eyes at me, and sin of sins, I started bending and flipping the pages of my book without concern over its state. My fingers paused when it felt something against the spine, and I opened the book page. I didn’t notice that there was a piece of paper slipped inside. 

I saw Tita Flora’s thinner frame lean forward as I looked at the paper. It was a torn bit of notebook. I turned the sheet over and felt an iron fist clamp over my heart and squeeze it tightly. I’d recognize her extremely neat handwriting anywhere. 

Dear Max. With this, our friendship dies happily knowing how happy you’ve made me. 

Can we stay like this forever? 

Love, M.

I looked up at Aunt Flora with a dry throat. Words had escaped me to become utterly useless. She raised her eyebrow, daring me to say what I was thinking. 

“Should I call my travel agent now?” She asked me.

I could only nod as my palms started to sweat. I knew what I had to do. I just hope Martha wanted to do it.

Check out last week’s Deleted Scene here. Which author/book do you think will be featured next week?

 

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