In time for the Emerald Pep Rally (Settle the Score/Hustle Play blog tour) happening this weekend, I’m sharing a scene that didn’t make it to the final version of Hustle Play.
Settle the Score/Hustle Play
SETTLE THE SCORE
College senior Garnet Figueroa lives and breathes basketball. A reliable asset to her varsity team, she is equipped with the skills and smarts to get the De La Sierra Lady Hunters closer to this year’s championship title. But Garnet soon finds out that her good friend (and long-time crush), cheerdancer Charles Crisostomo, is being cheated on by his girl, and she lets her emotions get the best of her.
Will she be able to come up with a game plan to save herself from heartbreak before the buzzer signals Game Over?
Running on pure adrenaline and working with game strategies is something a basketball player like Garnet Figueroa is trained for. On the court, she is unbeatable. Off the court… that’s a completely different story.
Because falling in love is trickier than a ball game, and Garnet finds herself fumbling over her feelings for Charles Crisostomo. The fact that her attention gets divided between him and rival school hard-court hottie Chris Barcelo doesn’t help.
Or does it?
Click on the Continue Reading button to read the deleted scene, and why I decided to do away with it.
FIVE: Time Out
(a deleted scene from Hustle Play)
The original draft of Hustle Play was already around eight thousand or so words and seven chapters long when I realized it was meandering aimlessly. Because I was following the seven-chapter format of the #TalesFromTheMetro project, I knew I had to make the story leaner, and therefore had to scrap a lot of scenes from Chapter 3 onwards.
A little backstory, Charles was supposed to have gotten into a physical altercation during the Lady Hunters’ victory party after stepping in between his ex-girlfriend, Nica, and a drunk college dude. You’ll see why I referred to that other deleted scene when you read the rest. ^_^
Also, Chris’ last name was still different in this draft.
* * * * *
“ALL RIGHT, SPILL.”
Justine and Colby were seated across me at the cafeteria Monday morning, staring at me expectantly like two kids who were promised a jar of cookies.
“So there’s a magazine shoot I got ca—”
“Wait, what?” A French fry dangled from Justine’s lips.
“A magazine. CollegePH.”
“No wait. What are we talking about?” Justine asked. The French fry that still dangled from her lips distracted me. “I thought you were going to tell us about Charlie.”
My gaze flitted to Colby, who nodded at Justine’s words. I rolled my eyes. I should’ve known they were here for the gossip. “There is nothing to tell.”
“Oh come on, Garnet. We saw you kiss after the championship game!” Colby pointed out. “Why do you think we left you alone all weekend?”
Justine finally ended that French fry’s suffering, gobbling it up before she spoke. “You don’t have to give us a blow by blow. Just tell us the score.”
“What score? Are we seriously treating this like a game?”
Colby tapped the table impatiently. “Are you or are you not already a couple?”
The first bell rang through the PA system. I stole a fry from Justine’s paper tub and gathered my things. “Seriously. Charlie just got out of a relationship and you want him to jump into another one. With me.” I stood up. “Such good friends you are.”
My friends exchanged telling glances.
“All right. We get it. Sorry.” Justine began, following me out of the cafeteria. Colby fell in stride with us as well. “We we’re just excited about the two of you. I don’t think I’ve ever shipped anyone in real life until I met you and Charlie.”
I had to laugh. At the very least, it felt nice to have friends who cheered you on for other aspects in your life aside from the sport you played.
“Okay so what’s this about the magazine thing?”
Finally, a question I had answers to. “CollegePH wants to feature me on their magazine. I have a photo shoot next week. With Chris Banzuelo.”
The sounds Colby made upon hearing Chris’ name didn’t seem human. “No way! Last year’s Hardcourt Hottie?”
“The one and only.”
Colby bounced on her heels as we navigated through campus, already volunteering to be my PA on the day of the shoot just so she can see Mr. Hardcourt Hottie in the flesh. Justine seemed unimpressed and continued to quietly eat her fries until we went our separate ways to get to our morning classes. “Let’s chat more during lunch break, Garnet!” Colby called out as she waved at me.
I waved back, laughing when I caught sight of Justine pulling Colby by the strap of her knapsack before turning the corner leading to the Liberal Arts Building. But the spring in my step dissipated as I reached the end of the pathway.
Because there, by the Liberal Arts Building entrance, stood Charles and Nica—face to face, and too close for my comfort.
My feet dragged against the pebble wash, eyes glued to the scene that only grew clearer with each step I made. Nica raised her hand to touch Charles’ bruised cheek, then lifted herself up on tiptoe, angling for a kiss.
I stopped in my tracks, breath held tight in my throat. I felt stinging in my eyes until I saw Charles step away, the expression on his face disapproving. For a moment, Nica only stood there, stunned that she got shot down. I saw Charles run up the building, phone pressed to his ear.
Nica didn’t seem to notice me when she stormed past, and as the first period bell rang for the final time, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.
It was Charles.
“I can hear you running,” was his amused opening line after I answered the phone with a breathy “Hello.” I was running into the building and up the stairs, but stopped at the far end of the hall when I saw him lingering by the door of our classroom. “The prof’s not here yet, so hurry up. I’ll save you a seat.”
“I’ll be right there.”
The grin on his face when he went to open the door made me smile.
* * * * *
I pointed one of my sticks of isaw to Charles’ face. “You,” I said, making the frowniest frown I could manage. He took a step back. “You didn’t even call once over the weekend. I was worried.”
“I’m sorry. I was in bed the whole time.” He let out a relieved sigh when I withdrew my chicken intestine weapon and started eating it. “I didn’t even get to drive Nat to ballet—good thing Kuya Manuel came by with Ate Carissa, so they took care of that.”
“You didn’t see a doctor or something?”
Charles shook his head and started collecting fish balls from manong vendor’s frying pan into a plastic cup. At around this time every afternoon, not a lot of students came by this alley way leading to the sports complex, which was great. It meant we had the small merienda kiosks to ourselves.
“Kuya gave me some pain patches and they worked well.”
“So that’s where the old man smell was coming from! I’d been wondering about that the whole day.”
He whined in protest, and I shut him up with an isaw stick deposited between his teeth, a bit of sauce smearing the side of his lips.
“I have a magazine photo shoot scheduled at the end of the week.”
Charles’ eyes lit up at the news, fumbling for words after he took the stick of isaw from his mouth. “Really? What magazine? Where? I’ll drive you!”
Fueled by his eagerness, I told him everything Oliver from the magazine told me. That they were doing a feature on college athletes, that I was going to be interviewed as the representative of the Lady Hunters, and that I was going to be shooting a photo spread with Chris Banzuelo. I didn’t realize I was talking so fast until I found myself catching my breath after the last sentence.
“Isn’t it exciting? I really thought I was being pranked or something—I mean, all the magazines have always wanted Kim. Even the high-fashion ones. Why me, right?”
Charles’ eyebrows met in the middle of his forehead, like they always do when he doesn’t agree with something. “What do you mean ‘Why me?’ You’re a fantastic athlete, Garns. And you’re beautiful.”
My gaze lingered on his smile a bit more than it should before I looked away, the urge to smile so compelling. Charles never scrimped on compliments. He’d showered us—Justine, Colby, and I—with them many times before, but this is the first time he called me beautiful with a glint in his eyes that I never saw before.
“Pfft,” was all I could manage, directing my attention to the cup of fish balls he was holding. I swiped them away and turned to go, certain my cheeks were already a faint crimson.
He fell in stride with me fairly quickly. “You’re going to make me repeat what I said, aren’t you?”
A smirk appeared on his face as he said that. “Good. Because I mean to, but I don’t want to wear it out.”
Thank you for reading this week’s Deleted Scenes! In case you missed last week’s feature, click here.