I cut the following scene from The Passion Season because my word count was getting high. It was the lead-in to a scene readers have told me they love, in which Rainer Barakiel gets a tad annoyed when a drunk cop slaps Zan O'Gara on the ass. You know the scene I'm talking about, readers. I'd be curious to know if you think I should have kept this in. Let me know your opinion on the comments!
"I don’t understand why I can’t just catch the ball in my hand," he said.
"The glove makes it easier, Rainer. Haven't you ever watched a baseball game?"
"They've been on when I was present, but I can't say I ever paid attention."
Great. Be prepared to get shit because Rainer can't play softball to save his life. I just hope they don’t give me any more shit about him showing up at the raid.
"Don't worry if you don’t know anything about the game," Zan said, putting her arms around his waist. "We stink anyway. Philly PD always beats us. That's why we try new people. You can’t make us any worse."
Rainer twirled a piece of her hair. "Why do you continue to play in such a terrible state?"
"We try to win and we talk a lot of trash, but it's really just a friendly game. My boss started it to improve relations between the FBI and the police. He hates turf wars and thinks cooperation makes us all more effective."
"He's a wise man."
"Yes, he is. I'd have to say it's worked. We all look forward to it. We have fun."
They left and drove to the ball field at Penn Park, on the western bank of the Schuylkill River, part of the University of Pennsylvania. Mel was already there when they arrived. Michael was ensconced in the dugout with a cooler full of water, beer and snacks.
"Lucy with your mom?” asked Zan. Mel nodded and looked at Rainer.
"Don’t you look cute in your track suit."
"Is she making fun of me, Michael?" Rainer asked.
"I believe so, Rainer. Don’t worry. It will be nothing compared to how much fun she makes of me when I once again attempt to play softball."
Jamal walked over, crowing about how their fancy equipment couldn't help them now. He was trying not to stare at Rainer as he spoke.
"Christ, Jamal. Can’t you at least wait until the game to start talking trash?" Zan said. Jamal grinned and glanced sidelong at Rainer again.
"Oh, right," Zan said. “Jamal, this is Rainer Barakiel, my boyfriend. Rainer, this is Jamal Williams, the best detective in Philadelphia PD's narcotics unit. We work together a lot." The two exchanged pleasantries and shook hands, before Jamal turned to Zan.
"Um, no offense, Rainer, but you're crazy, Zan, if you think we're letting this guy play."
"Of course he's playing. What are you talking about?"
"Don't you remember the rules? No ringers. That's why you guys can’t have that agent who played college ball on your team. No ringers. Just regular dudes."
"He's not a ringer, Jamal. He's German. He's never played softball in his life."
"Yes, listen to me speak. I'm not American,” Rainer added.
"C'mon, Zan. No way he's not a ringer. Look at him. He’s the freaking übermensch."
Rainer tipped his head up slightly and focused icy eyes on Jamal.
"No offense, Rainer. Uh, sorry." Jamal shifted his feet in the dirt. Zan stifled a laugh.
Oh my god, that was hilarious.
"Not to worry," Rainer said, though his eyes were still a bit icy.
"Look, let’s prove it, Jamal," Zan said. "Go out and pitch to him a few times. You’ll see."
They gave Rainer a bat and Jamal took the ball and went out to the mound. By this time more team members had arrived and were standing along the base line, watching.
Poor Rainer. I hope he manages to connect with the ball, at least. Jamal can pitch.
Zan stood behind Rainer. She reached around to show him how to hold his arms, pressing herself up against him in the process. She could barely reach.
"If this is how you play this game, it's quite distracting," Rainer said.
"Oh, stop it." Zan said. "Hold it this way, keep your eye on the ball and use your hips when you swing."
"Yes, my love."
"Stop your flirting and let me pitch the damn ball,” Jamal yelled. Zan backed away and nodded. Jamal pitched the ball with serious velocity. Rainer gracefully lifted his front foot, dipped his head, and applied the bat to the ball with such torque and it went sailing over the fence out of the park, prompting a few onlookers to whistle. When he had finished he leaned back, the bat hanging loosely in his right hand. He smiled at Zan.
"Was that good?" he asked.
"You know goddamn well it was good. Sorry, Jamal," she said, calling over to him although she had locked eyes with Rainer. "You were right. He's a ringer. But he's my ringer."
You are so fucking hot. Let’s go make out under the bleachers.
Jamal spread his arms out as he walked toward home plate. "Does anyone have another ball? Because that one's in the next county."
"Yes, we have a few," Mel said. "You know, one for every time Rainer comes up to bat."
"Oh, no, no, no. Zan admitted it now. He’s a ringer."
"No, no, no," Mel said. "I took the liberty of digging the written rules out of my bag. They say no one is allowed to play who played softball or baseball in college or in a league. They say nothing about natural talent, detective. Rainer's playing, and he’s batting cleanup."