Immerse yourself in the Basque culture with my upcoming release Gnarly, an m/m/m romance featuring three very unique men who converge in a city famous for food, summer festivals, and romantic promenades. One of my characters, Iker, played professional jai alai for years.
In this short excerpt, Iker explains the game to Ed, who's seeing it for the first time.
The game itself was a revelation—fast-paced and a little acrobatic. Ed watched as Iker explained.
“It’s sort of a round robin where one pelotari scoops the small ball into a cesta and throws it forcefully against one of three walls. The opposing player then catches it and returns the throw. First one to drop the ball leaves the court and the next pelotari takes his place.”
Ed admired the maneuvers as one guy twisted around like a pretzel while the other climbed part of the wall in an effort not to drop the ball. Aside from the encouraging shouts coming from the crowd, the only other sound was the squeak of rubber soles on the concrete surface and the loud thwack of the ball bouncing off the wall and thudding into the reed mitt.
“How hard is that ball?” Ed asked.
“Rock-hard,” Iker said ruefully. “Getting hit by that thing is as bad as getting shot.”
“I’ll bet,” Ed said. “Does it happen often?”
Iker snorted. “All the time. When I was training, I was black and blue most days. It’s really bad if you get hit in the neck or face. The helmet can only protect your head. Back in 2001, one of the best players in Dania got hit in the face. He had to undergo surgery to repair the bone structure around his eye. He had two fractures. If it had been a direct hit, his eye would have been a goner. Before helmets became mandatory in 1968, players died from internal bleeding.”
“Jesus Christ. What is that ball made of?”
“Rubber wrapped in goatskin. It also travels at speeds up to 300 kilometers an hour and easily shatters bulletproof glass.”
“A deadly weapon in every sense.”
Gnarly is part of Dreamspinners World of Love Series. You can Preorder here: