Deleted Scene : The Long Shot

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This is a section that didn't make the final cut for the book. It's not polished or edited so don't expect much. I think it's fun to see what changes get made to a book during the writing process. Why didn't this scene make it? There are too many characters here who have no part in the rest of the book. This scene takes place before the hero and heroine meet and I wanted to keep the extraneous characters to a minimum so the focus would be on Deacon and Julia's story. Why am I sad this scene didn't make it? I liked that first line about Deacon and Alice in Wonderland. Plus, scenes like this with brotherly annoyance are among my very favorite ones to write.

In this scene, Deacon is finding out that things have not been going very well at college for his younger brother Matt.

Deacon Fallon didn’t know exactly what happened in Alice in Wonderland, but he knew there was a hole and when you fell into it everything turned sideways and strange. He thought there was a very real possibility that sometime this morning, after his workout and before the call from the university athletic office, that he’d fallen into Alice’s godforsaken rabbit hole.

He was hot. It was always hot inside gyms and this small annex to the coach’s office at Eastern University had no windows. He was confused—too many pieces of paper being shoved at him, too many details coming too fast.

But the thing that he just couldn’t square with reality, no matter how much he worked to figure it out, was his little brother Matt’s smirk.

The kid was sitting right next to him. Across from Coach Mulbrake. Across from some lady from the Dean of Student’s office who’d told him her name but who looked so much like Marge Simpson he wasn’t going to be able to call her anything but Marge. And across from an officer of the law. A coach, a teacher, and a cop. Add in a social worker from Family Services and he’d be right back in junior high. Sweat trickled down past the collar of the white shirt he wore under his suit. And Matt was smirking.

His brother didn’t take much seriously. Hell, Deacon had worked hard to make sure his brother didn’t have to take things seriously—so Matt could be the kid he hadn’t had the chance to be. But this was more than not taking things seriously.

“Coach Mulbrake,” the cop said. “You’ve got the ball. Are we pressing charges or will this be a campus disciplinary issue?”

Coach leaned back in his chair and pressed one beefy finger to his lips as he seemed to contemplate Matt and Deacon. His brother wasn’t smirking anymore. Now he looked pissed. What the hell that was about, Deacon didn’t know. His brother was a lot of things, but bad tempered wasn’t one of them.

Everybody was quiet while the coach tapped his lip. When he spoke, it was to Deacon, not the cop.

“I don’t have to tell you how disappointed I’ve been, Deacon. You know I’d have given my right arm to have you here at Eastern. When you approached us about Matt, we had high hopes that we were getting a player of your caliber, but he’s been…” Coach sat forward. “Let’s just say, I’m tempted to press charges because I believe in teaching lessons when they’re necessary.”

“It was a joke,” Matt said sharply. “Oliver and I would have gotten your car back out of the gym if you’d asked us to.”

“My car shouldn’t have been in the gym in the first place. You still don’t get that you stole my car—“

“We moved your car.”

“—from my garage and drove it to campus before you did…whatever it was you did to fit it into the gym.” Coach was leaning over the desk now, pointing his finger at Matt. “If I find out you damaged university property getting it inside…”

“We didn’t damage anything. It was a joke. A college prank.”

“It was auto theft.” That was the cop. He didn’t sound that interested, which made him even more dangerous, in Deacon’s mind. He’d just as soon book Matt as let him go—he was on the clock and this was just another incident in his work day.

“This is the exact kind of insolent insubordination I won’t tolerate,” Coach said. “Your mouth gets you into more trouble every single day.”

Matt tensed in the chair next to him and Deacon put on hand on his forearm. He squeezed, not exactly gently, and was relieved when Matt seemed to settle down.

“What’s the alternative?” Deacon threw that out there in desperation, but Marge, the dean of students lady, leapt on it as if she’d been waiting for the chance to talk.

“Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first incident. As we outlined earlier, there was a documented incident of cheating, a large quantity of alcohol was removed from Matt’s room, and the coach had his own list of disciplinary issues.”

Marge made eye contact with Deacon, but when she started laying out the charges, she switched to Matt.

“You’ll will be suspended from the university for the remainder of this semester. You’ll will be ineligible for basketball this year, but you can be reinstated on the team when you return to school. While you’re suspended, you’re banned from campus and university events. We’ll expect you to show that you’ve made the significant changes necessary to earn your way back into school. A log of community service and letters of recommendation from at least two unrelated adults will be necessary.”

As she spoke, she sorted through the stack of papers she’d put down in front of him and Matt earlier. She pointed to the top of each one and then highlighted signature lines at the bottom. Deacon couldn’t focus on any of the print, but he counted at least five forms. When she was finished, she closed her binder and folded her hands.

“Back to you, Coach.” The cop again. Still bored. Maybe a little impatient.

Somewhere in the pit of his stomach, Deacon had known it would come to this ever since he got the phone call to come in for this conference. He was going to have to throw himself on the coach’s mercy and hope for the best. The day he signed his NBA contract, he’d sworn he was through relying on anyone else. He’d kept that vow—kept himself and Matt out of trouble and on sound footing ever since—but now he needed Coach Mulbrake to give Matt a break. His brother was in no condition to beg, so it was up to him.

“Obviously, Coach, you have to do what you think is right. Matt has a lot of growing up to do. But I’d appreciate it if there’s any way you could see your way clear to not pressing charges. You tell us what Matt needs to do to get square with you, and I’ll make sure he does it.”

“Deacon!” Matt said. Deacon heard the betrayal in his brother’s voice, but he couldn’t worry about that right now. Matt had no idea how fast that bored cop, just doing his job, could screw up his life for good. Matt hadn’t grown up the way Deacon did, watching people roll into and out of jail, their lives spiraling downward, slowly, but inexorably. Deacon had protected him from all that, so now he could sit here and be outraged while he was facing auto theft charges. Deacon knew what Coach wanted, and he had to give it to him.

“Enough, Matt.”

He didn’t yell, but he put as much force as he could into the words and his brother sat back in his chair, his eyes on the floor.

Coach looked between them and then uncapped his pen. “I’m doing this as a favor to you, Deacon, and against my instinct.” He pulled the stack of Marge’s papers toward him and started signing. “You better be sure you take care of your brother or he’s not going to be welcome back here.”

As Coach signed each form, he pushed them toward Matt who had to borrow a pen from Marge. The cop took out his notebook and wrote something. Matt pushed each paper toward Deacon. He tried to see what he was signing, but they came too fast and the print blurred into one thick block. He could barely see the line for his signature, but he managed to get his name on all of them and passed them back to Marge. She stacked them neatly and put a clip on the corner.

When they were finished, Marge got up to go and the cop put his notebook away. Deacon stood and shook both their hands. Matt didn’t make a move until Deacon kicked the back leg of his chair hard enough to shove it forward toward Coach’s desk. He watched as his brother shook hands with both Marge and the cop. Coach pushed his chair back and watched with his arms crossed.

“Thanks, Coach,” Deacon said as the door closed behind the other two.

“Good luck,” Coach said.

Deacon turned to find Matt to get him to shake with Coach, but he realized his brother must have left with the other two.

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