Anyone else grow up obsessed with the bonus features on DVDs? I was the sort of person who watched every deleted scene of my favorites because I have no chill.
So in honor of that and the fact that I found this random fall festival scene in my "scraps" document for HITFI when working Pres' POV for the trivia scene (YES, I AM WRITING IT), enjoy the below noncanonical scene.
And duh, ignore any typos because it's a deleted scene 🙃
“This doesn’t make sense to me.”
“Well, we were standing next to the pies discussing the importance of supporting local farmers," I said. "Then we walked past this field area where a bunch of kids were playing. They kept betting adults who walked by that they couldn’t kick the ball through those two hay bales. No one paid attention to them except Pres, who turned around and said game on.”
Olivia cocked her head, like my explanation made even less sense than seeing Pres standing around a bunch of kids, talking about the soccer ball in front of him like it was the absolute most important object at the fall festival.
“I can’t imagine Pres talking to a child.”
I shrugged, happy to just watch.
Because as it turned out, Pres looked alarmingly attractive in flannel.
I’d almost blurted that fact out as soon as I walked up to the entrance of the fall festival where he’d been waiting. Instead, I pivoted at the last second, accidentally saying, “I cannot believe you’re wearing that.”
He’d just arrived from DC, saying he’d met us here from the airport, in fitted black jeans, a flannel layered over a crisp white shirt, and Givenchy ankle boots.
He’d frowned. “You said I should wear flannel.”
I hadn’t packed it, meaning he’d gone out of his way to get this shirt.
He’d sighed heavily and dramatically, like his designer Moncler flannel shirt was literally weighing him down.
“It’s nice to see you, too, Rach. Where’s the rest of my team?”
“Ethan is somewhere, most likely scowling at a young child enjoying life. Jamar, Olivia and I rode together. She’s parking, but dropped me off at the entrance so I wouldn’t have to walk across the lot and risk dropping this pie.”
“So you weren’t kidding about the pie, but you were kidding about the flannel?”
“I’m a woman of mystery,” I teased. “Plus, the pie comes with a potential prize. I spent all night perfecting this crust.”
He looked down at me, a flicker of amusement of crossing his face. “Did you? All night?”
I smiled, squinting against the sunlight, trying to push down the bubble of nervousness in my stomach.
We hadn’t spoken about the Zoom call with his team. Instead, when he’d FaceTimed me later that night, I’d answered in nothing but a towel.
I hadn’t thought he’d want to have a full conversation about such a small thing. Discussing a break-up we’d known was coming for a relationship that never happened seemed like an unnecessary form of torture.
But flirting? Well, there was never any harm in flirting. It was basically our job at this point.
So we flirted over a complicated pumpkin toss game, laughed over the “spooky substances” booth — where we had to guess the substances in a container even though he refused to touch anything, and we still won — bounced off each other easily in the beer garden, networking with the organizers and people Ethan had corralled.
We’d never pretended so well.
“Rach,” Pres called out from the makeshift soccer field, “can you believe these kids? They’re saying I can’t make it. Want to get in on this bet?”
“Should I take a photo of this?” Olivia whispered.
I laughed and shook my head at Pres. “Slim to none. You’re wearing calfskin boots.”
“Oh come on, where’s your positivity,” he said with a laugh, pulling an exaggerated indignant face at the kids. “Can you believe this lady? Such a Grumpy Gus.”
“Yeah, I’m taking a photo of this,” Olivia said quickly. “This is more shocking than the pie contest you won.”
“Easy as apple pie, huh?” I laughed, patting the first place ribbon that Pres had pinned on my shirt. Well, it was actually his flannel, but after the second time I’d shivered after the sudden drop in temperature, Pres had basically demanded I wear it.
“Okay, I’ll let you all go first,” Pres said, unable to hold back from being bossy, even to a pack of rambunctious kids. “Show me how it’s done. I’ll seed the coffer. Five bucks for each goal through the cones."
“What’s a coffer?” asked a kid.
I laughed, calling out to Pres to stop using formal words. “He means money. Moola.”
“Big cheddar!” Pres said, throwing his head back with a loud laugh.
“Did someone slip something in his apple cider?” Jamar asked.
“He drank apple cider?” Olivia gasped. “It has so much sugar.”
“Come on, you two are being dramatic,” I laughed as Pres lined up the kids and pointed out the best way to kick the ball through small orange cones that were much closer than the hay bales. “He’s just being personable.”
We, and the kids’ parents, watched with amusement as each child took their turn, Pres cheering them on, his voice and claps the loudest. The thing about Pres, regardless of where he was or who he was with, was that he took everything seriously. Even children’s soccer.
Thunder rolled through the sky, and I shivered again, wrapping his shirt around me tighter. “Pres, I think it’s going to rain soon.”
“We’re almost done, cutie patootie bun,” he called over his shoulder.
“Your turn, your turn,” the kids chanted as Pres jogged back with the soccer ball from the last child’s kick.
“So if I make it, you all pay me one hundred and fifteen dollars,” he said seriously. “And if I lose, you all get one hundred and fifteen dollars. Deal?”
“Pres,” I called out, shaking my head. My protest was drowned out by another roll of thunder.
“Oh my god,” Jamar groaned next to me. “He’s going to literally take money from children. Do we have any babies with candy next? Just end it now?”
“I’m … not going to photograph this,” Olivia said, slipping her phone away.
We held our breath as Pres did a long-range free kick. It was great, similar to the ones I’d seen in old YouTube videos from his college games that took far too long to find on the internet. It was a perfectly controlled kick.
He missed so far, so poorly, so incredibly bad, that it almost felt too obvious.
But Pres knew people saw what they wanted to believe. And he was right. The kids went wild, thrilled that they’d just bested whoever this cocky adult was, and Pres just laughed, groaning dramatically.
“How did I lose?” he exclaimed. “You guys are too good. Did you cheat? You’re going to take all my money!”
“I’m guessing the video you found of him losing a game went a little differently,” Jamar said to Olivia.
She laughed and nodded. “I can’t believe he threw it.”
“Rach, I’m going to need to borrow some big cheddar,” he called out, his smile bright and goofy. “I was no gouda.”
I burst out laughing. “You were a Muenster!”
He groaned again, and that one felt real.
“Double or nothing,” he said to the kids. “We’ll play a real game. You versus me. Winner takes all.”
The kids screamed, scrambling after Pres as he ran to the ball. It was sure to be a brutal match with roughly 20 kids trying to catch him as he dribbled the ball across the field, a cacophony of shrieks and laughs.
“I still don’t get it,” Olivia said. “What does this have to do with his campaign?”
“I don’t think it does,” I said, unable to hold back a smile as I watched him. “I think he’s just … having fun.”
Even the skies agreed that it was newsworthy, cracking one more time, louder and closer, and opened the clouds.
“Holy shit,” Jamar exclaimed through the sudden roar of pouring rain. “Do you have an umbrella, Rach?”
“No, sorry!” I shouted over the rain, wanting to use the sound and the skies to curse JD as well since he still had my umbrella.
Olivia, Jamar, and parents ran for cover toward a food tent, but the kids didn’t budge, too caught up in the game. Pres had the ball, so close to the makeshift goals that there was no way he could fake missing. So instead, he paused, scanning the field quickly, his gaze stopping on me still standing.
“What are you doing?” he shouted. “You’re going to get cold.”
“Waiting on you,” I said with a laugh, holding up my arms in defeat. “It’s just rain.”
And then at least 10 kids tried and failed to stop running toward him in time, skidding on the now muddy field, knocking him down to the ground like a brick.
“We win, we win, we win,” the collective screamed, taking the ball and running across the field, not seeming overly concerned they’d just slammed down a 28-year-old man in designer clothes.
“Oh my gosh!” I rushed to Pres where he laid on the ground. “Are you okay?”
He grinned at me, wet, muddy, and covered in straw, looking absolutely imperfect, and laughed. “Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just ground.”
“You fell pretty hard-varti.”
He groaned and closed his eyes. “Now I’m dead.”
The thunder cracked and boomed, and even though it didn’t seem possible, it started raining harder.
Instantly, we were soaked, our hair sticking our faces, breathing heavy and shivering from the cold. My teeth were chattering, and Pres’ skin was goose bumped, and rain droplets traced the firm features of his face, his white t-shirt clinging to his body.
We were the only ones out in the rain, and I didn’t even want to think about how this appeared to onlookers.
“Well, I think this is a sign the fall festival is over,” he said with a laugh, sitting up and brushing off his jeans. It did nothing to help the situation.
“I don’t have an umbrella for you. I’m starting to think I’m a terrible assistant.”
"It’s okay. It’s like a natural shower. That’s something you’d say, right? Or rain brings sunny skies. Rain leads to rainbows. Yes, that’s it, rainbows,” he repeated, nodding as he smiled, and suddenly, the rain didn’t seem so bad. “You’d say we need to weather the rain to get rainbows.”
“And you’d say, 'let’s get out of here, I’m freezing.'”
He laughed and nodded. “Deal. Can we go back to your place, Rach?”
I told myself that my heart jumped because of the sudden lightning that filled the sky above us and reached out my hand.