Deleted Scene : Calling the Shots

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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? I never needed it. I wrote it because I wanted to see what would happen if I put Clare at a hockey game--which is Bryan's environment--and gave her some power. It was good to mix things up, but in the timeline of the book, I never got to the point where this type of scene would fit. Why am I sad this scene didn't make it? I really wanted to write more hockey scenes, but there just wasn't room. What would I change if this scene did make it into the book? This is a good example of the type of cliche-ridden writing I do in a first draft. I'd go over the text and tighten, delete, and edit as much of the shortcut writing as I could.

The penalty box was cold and small and whoever put the metal bench in there had a sick sense of humor. That was her first impression, anyway. Bryan gave her a thumb’s up from the scorekeeper’s booth on the other side of the glass wall and she shook her head, scowling. How exactly had she let him talk her into doing this?

He laughed. She couldn’t hear it, but his smile lit up his eyes and her little frozen booth thawed a bit.

The first few minutes in the booth had seemed the prelude to a complete hour of misery, but then just after the game started, a surprising thing happened. She got into it.

She was watching a hockey game and not only was she able to follow the action in a semi-informed way, she was enjoying herself. She snuck a look at Bryan, whose attention was fixed on the ice. She knew it was silly, but she liked watching his face when he watched Allie play. The love and pride shining in his eyes combined with the fact that when he watched her play he didn’t worry quite so hard, made him even more attractive and really, that was a bit unfair. The guy didn’t need to be any more attractive.

He glanced over and she gave him a thumb’s up, the same, goofy, I’m-enjoying-watching-these-kids-play-hockey gesture he’d given her.

He tipped his head, wondering what was going on. Good. Let him try to figure her out for a bit. She spent enough of her time confused by him, maybe this would even things out.

The game was close and tension was high on the ice. With just the glass wall between her and the ice she could hear the kids grunting with exertion and banging each other. Their skates stroked the ice with a deep, cutting sound, and every time one of them hit the boards the entire penalty box shook. A lot more went on during the games than she’d ever realized.

Allie was having a hard time of it. Every time she was on the ice, a player from the Raptors was all over her. Clare might not be qualified to ref a game, but she could see the sneaky jabs and furtive grabs at Allie’s jersey or her stick. Everywhere she turned, one of the other players was waiting to elbow her or bang her with a hip. And, predictably, Allie wasn’t taking it well.

It was six minutes and twelve seconds into the game when she drew her first penalty. Clare opened the door and Allie skated in to slump on the bench. Bryan came to the glass. There was a gap where the two pieces didn’t quite join and he stood near it to talk.

“They’re all over you, Allie.”

“I know,” she said, banging her stick on the ground between her skates. “They’re messing with me and the refs are too blind to see it.”

“Watch number fifteen,” Bryan said. “He’s not going to let you carry the puck—he’s already playing dirty and you’re just barely getting started.”

“It’s not fair—“ Allie thumped her gloves on her padded thighs, but before she could finish her thought, Bryan checked the readout on the clock and said, “Door, Clare. She’s done.”

Clare pushed the metal handle down and swung the door open so Allie could rejoin the game. Four minutes later, she was back in the box. The Raptors took advantage of the power play and scored, pulling ahead one to nothing. When Allie got back on the ice for her next shift, the Raptor Bryan had mentioned, number fifteen, was gunning for her. When he tripped her on a breakaway, Allie dropped her stick and came up shoving. She got a penalty and the other boy went in his own box.

Clare stepped back as Bryan came to the glass again. Allie was near tears and Clare felt terrible. She’d seen Allie grow so much, her relationship with Tim was so incredible now, but her temper was always going to trip her up unless she learned to control it.

“Allie, you have to watch that kid. He’s got it in for you and his coach is going to let it happen,” Bryan said.

“He tripped me. He did it on purpose and then he laughed.”

“I saw it,” Bryan agreed.

“We all saw it,” Clare said. “But the problem is you, Allie.”

“I didn’t—“

“Let me finish,” Clare said. Bryan didn’t look too happy and Allie looked furious, but she pushed on. “He’s not playing fair. Their whole team is after you, Allie. No doubt about it.”

“That’s what I’m—“

“But they’re doing it because it works.”

Allie closed her mouth.

“You can sit in here or on your bench and you can talk about how they’re playing dirty and how the ref is ignoring it, but that’s not going to change. The only thing that is going to change is you. You keep getting mad and getting penalties and leaving your team short-handed and you’re giving the Raptors what they want.”

Clare paused and then crouched down so she could see Allie’s eyes behind her face mask. She put one hand on the girl’s shoulder pad, drawing her in a few inches. “You’re better than every kid out there, Allie. They’re scared of you and they’re doing the only thing they can think of that might work. Don’t give it to them. Play hockey, sweetheart. All you have to do is play your game and forget about those punks who are so scared of you they have to pull dirty tricks to bring you down.”

Allie blinked. But then she tilted her head and Clare recognized the gesture. It was the same thing Bryan did when he didn’t trust a compliment. The two of them had been so broken, neither of them knew what to do with a kind word.

Clare thumped her helmet. “I might not know much about hockey, Allie, but I can say with confidence that you’re the best player out there. Don’t let them take that from you.”

There were fifteen seconds left in the penalty and the three of them stood silent, Clare with her hand on the door handle, Allie clutching her stick, Bryan leaning on his side of the glass. When the clock wound down, Clare pushed the handle down. Allie hesitated for a second, looking at Clare. Then she grabbed her stick and pushed off to rejoin the game.

Clare was almost afraid to turn around, but she was listening carefully so she heard Bryan when he whispered, “Thanks.”

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