Happy Family, Happy Holiday

Grace goes on holiday to the South of France with her parents, her two younger sisters and over 50 extra males. Her father his a rugby coach and to ensure he would be able to spend time with his family over the summer must bring them with him on a month long training camp.

Grace faces some ups and downs as she prepares for National Field Hockey Trials during her biggest summer so far.

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1. Chapter 1

This holiday was going to be more effort than it was worth. We were always rushing around at the last minute, or rather they – my family – were. I had packed, quite a while ago actually. Calmly, efficiently, and without forgetting anything. I knew one of them would forget something – they always did. I just wanted to get out of this dreich country and work on topping up my tan. I say topping – mean getting to start with. Living in Scotland didn’t have its pros at times.

            This would be the best relief of stress I could ask for. A month in the southern French sun. Not to mention being surrounded by lots of rugby boys. If I knew one thing about my future (that wasn’t determined by my results in August) it was that I wanted to marry a rugby player. My father had a heavy involvement in rugby and was the reason we were taking this holiday. This way he could work and holiday with us. Although, I wasn’t sure how much of him we would actually be seeing. “Grace, hurry please!” typical. I had been ready for hours but because I wasn’t already waiting in the car it was me who was the hold up. My father was standing at the bottom of the stairs in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and flip flops. “How embarrassing.” I mumbled hoping he didn’t hear my remark. “Car please!”

            In the car there was already and ongoing argument with my younger sisters Iona, fourteen, and Maisie, nine. She wasn’t a Maisie – definitely not. She played football, was always fighting at school and had been the topic of many dinner time arguments. She was a total tomboy. As for Iona I never knew. She was so temperamental and was just plain immature. Me, well I was me. Simple me. Shy until you got to know me. 

            We parked in the long stay car park and rode the shuttle to the airport. I caught a glimpse of myself in the bus’ window. I looked like I was going on a skiing retreat in the Alps opposed to the beautiful sun in the South of France. I, too, was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a hoody however, supported a pair of converse. My mother and sisters were dressed in their summer attire.

            Near the check in desks there was a huge group of boys ranging from 16 upwards. The first team were travelling too. There were some girlfriends and wives of coaches but no girls my age or Iona’s – typical. The boys were split into groups and given one of the coaches as a ‘leader’ even though some of them were more than responsible enough to travel alone. My father was in charge of some of the first team. It seemed reasonable since that was his main job. I knew of all the guys by name and had spoken to a few of them on the odd occasion but nothing too intense. I wished for it though. I longed to have proper conversations with them. After the usual airport stuff we waited in the departure lounge – many groups were taking different flights out to France because there were so many of us. Our flight was called for boarding and we would soon be soaking up the sun in France for a month.

            Stepping of the flight I soon realised how much of a mistake my outfit had been. I was roasting already and we hadn’t even boarded the coach to the hotel resort. We were the last group to board the coach and this meant last pick of the seats which also meant we probably wouldn’t get any together. I didn’t mind, I couldn’t listen to any more of Maisie’s whining. My mother and father took their ‘reserved’ seats at the front and instructed us to look out for Maisie. Her and Iona took the last double seat and left me to sit beside, unfortunately, the tallest guy on the trip – Nick. He was a great guy and we had made small talk on many occasions. The last being at a bar after a game when he thanked me for voting for him in a ‘player of the month’ award which he won - this I was fine with. What I wasn’t fine with was the fact my father had made me out to be some sort of teenage groupie when he told Nick that I ‘had told all my friends at school to vote for him’ which was just mortifying. “Alright?” he raised his chin as I sat in the aisle seat. “Yeah, thanks. You?” I never knew how to respond to ‘alright’ but too late now. He smiled and nodded before turning to look out the window. He was really mysterious – which I liked and he was tall – which I like even more. The ride was filled with boys, around my age, being boys my age. The resort was in the middle of nowhere and looked very classy from the reception.

            Once we had unloaded the coach and entered the reception we were given luminous orange wrists bands which had to be worn for the ‘all-inclusive’ deal. We had our own family room in one of the blocks of apartments. Maisie, Iona and I in one room and mum and dad in the other. We were the first mini group from the main group to arrive and the rest would soon follow on. All the guys had their ‘roomies’ as they put it and were pretty near to us. Many of the guys my age - sixteen – were on the coach’s floor in the hope it might keep them from causing mischief. I doubted it very much.

            “Unpack and then we can explore!” my dad stated, over enthusiastically. I rolled my eyes as Maisie began to moan… again. “But I want to go swimming!” as she dragged her case into the room. My mother and father chose to ignore her demands. There was a bedroom with two single beds and two sofa beds in the ‘living area’. Of course, I wasn’t good enough to share with and the pair of them ended up on the sofa beds, causing me to push the single beds together and create a double bed. I wasn’t complaining. I peeled off my outfit and threw it on the floor before opening my case. I stood in only my underwear thinking nothing of the situation at all. I pulled on a pair of denim jeans and my ‘Kings of Leon’ t shirt that I bought at their gig the previous year. I slipped back into my cons and joined my parents on the sofas of their room. “Let’s go for a walk then.” I proclaimed sarcastically. When we left the room there were boys running between rooms, playing music and the like. They were just hyper - it was expected but dad had to ruin it. “Calm down boys” I rolled my eyes which didn’t go unnoticed by the boys and caused a few of them to snigger. My mother threw me a death stare. When we left our block the place was alive. There were people everywhere – mainly from our group. There were boys who were already in one of the resorts many pools a few looked over to me and wolf-whistled while winking at me, however I just dismissed it as being in the presence of my father I doubted he would enjoy me playing up to it.

            The resort was pretty big – numerous pools, training pitches, gym, numerous bars, a games room and to top it all of a private beach. I knew I was going to enjoy it here for the whole month. I just wanted the holiday to kick-start and we could get into a routine. I’d have to train every day for hockey because trials for the national team started a week after I returned which wasn’t exactly perfect timing. Mum wanted to pick up some necessities for having in the room and so dragged us all to the small shop. In there, there were even more people from our group – it was massive and I presumed everyone had arrived and all stocking up on as much junk food as they could carry.

            After our evening meal there was a meeting between all coaches and staff and this meant everyone else was free to do what they wanted, thankfully. I decided to have a more thorough wander and set off from my mother and sisters. I crossed through a bar that was screening some sort of football match that everyone was too engrossed in to even notice me which was the way I liked it. Quickly enough I found a room filled with computers – jackpot. I slotted in a euro and logged in. I signed in to Skype and saw that Matt was online – again jackpot. I’d only been online for a few seconds before he was calling me. “Hi gorgeous.” He said, smiling. I felt my cheeks burn up. We’d been going out for about four months and he still made me feel like he did the day we first met. He fixed his blonde mop every few seconds, accentuating his bright blue eyes. I couldn’t help but giggle just at the sight of him. “How’s it going?” he asked. “Yeah, it’s good but I wish you were here.” No reaction when I said this. “So, I was thinking…” he trailed off slightly so did his eyes. “Huh?” I quizzed. “When I come out there I think we should…” again he trailed off. I could tell the look on my face indicated I was puzzled. He began to speak again and the door to the room burst open and plunged me into deep embarrassment. There were two boys: Kris and Harry. I knew them from the private school my father was involved with and we had spoken on the odd occasion. “I’ve not spoken to you since yesterday I’ve missed you so much – I love you Grace.” He smiled at the end of his sentence. I wasn’t sure if he was aware of the other people who’d entered the room. It isn’t how I expected the first ‘I love you’ to happen but I was appreciative none the less. “Love you too” I said while looking directly into the camera. “When I come out in a couple of weeks I think we should have sex.” This set Harry and Kris off – both a year older than Matt and I. I couldn’t help but cringe at his statement. “Who’s in there with you?” He asked knowing fine well they’d be able to hear. Harry’s voice deepened suddenly and he began to speak “It’s Joe!” I watched Matt’s reaction while trying not to laugh. “Fuck sake! That’s not your dad!” I was taken aback by his statement “Yeah I know.” I said, confused. “Oh ha-ha, you’re so funny Grace. Bye!” with that he ended the call and left me confused as ever. “Well he’s a bit touchy is he not?” came Harry’s voice from behind me. “Harry, just leave it.” Kris’ voice of reasoning. “No, it’s alright. He is.” I stated as I stood from the computer. “See you guys later” I smiled as I left the room. “She’s literally off limits in all sense of the words!” I heard from behind me, unsure who’d said it.         

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