The Apprenticeship

Vienna Barnes is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is offered an apprenticeship to work for her favourite football club, Sunderland AFC.

Sunderland AFC are one of the biggest clubs in the North East. After pulling off the greatest escape in Barclays Premier League history, the Black Cats are back in action, and sitting nervously towards the bottom of the table.

Just as Vienna arrives at the club, a bombshell is dropped, and owner Ellis Short sells the club to a mystery new owner. This new owner is determined to keep themselves a secret from the footballing world, and the media are therefore forced to keep possibly the biggest secret and scandal in footballing history.

Soon, all begins to fall apart at the club, and the new owners drive Sunderland into the ground. Thinking on her feet, Vienna steps in to offer her help in any shape or form.

With problem after problem unveiling, will Sunderland AFC still remain intact by the end of the season?


36. An Old Face

"That's it. That's the one. It's perfect."

"That is one of our most popular designs. It's the 9ct White Gold Half Diamond Solitaire ring at a total of £1119."

My jaw nearly slams against the floor as the jeweller reveals the price of the engagement ring Jared has been cooing over for the past ten minutes. It's quite plain in style. A decent sized diamond in the middle, with a string of little ones tearing off from the sides in a cute little swirl. But the price is just unbelievable - thank goodness we earn a decent amount of money every month.

"I don't care how much it is. She'll love it and that's all that matters." Jared announces, "I'll take it."

The woman behind the desk claps her hands in excitement and expresses her joy in Jared's choice. Before informing us that she will be back with the ring in a few minutes; leaving Jared and I to discuss the fact that it's basically set in stone that him and Jane will be engaged before Christmas.

"This is it going back." I admit, "I can't believe you're doing this man. Twenty three years of age and you're going to get engaged - wow. I'm happy for you brother!"

"I have no regrets about this at all. I know how I'll do it and everything." Jared confidently explains, "Wearmouth Bridge...cute little evening stroll...she won't expect a thing."

Hearing Jared talk about how much effort he's putting into Jane just makes me want to break down crying. Since coming back up to Sunderland I've not really had time to reflect on that fact that Henry is a cheating scumbag, I've just been focused on the job. But seeing how sweet Jared is being just makes me think, if Madison wasn't involved, would Henry have gone to this much effort for me? Obviously if we had lasted that long. I mean I hope we would have, but you never know what's going to happen these days. Your boyfriend could cheat on you with a skinny just never know.

"What's wrong?" Jared questions, as the jeweller begins wrapping up Jared's 'soon to be fiancée's' engagement ring in a bag.

"Okay if you want to pop your card in when you've got a minute."

Jared places his shiny blue debit card into the machine, before flying questions at me once again, "Vienna. Come on. I know when something's bothering you."

He thanks the jeweller and we head out of the shop and into the hustle and bustle of the north eastern shopping centre.

"I just..." I feel the tears spill from my eyes as memories of my ex boyfriend appear in my head, "I miss him. So fucking much. He took my virginity Jared. I held out for him for so long and he fucked me over."

"He's a stupid little prick, and I swear to God if I ever see him I'll tell him exactly what I think of him."

Hear I go. Blubbering again. Why do I have to cry in the middle of the street? This really is an all time low for me.

"Come on don't cry." Jared comforts me as best as he can, and we stand in the middle of the street looking like some weird couple as he embraces me tightly, "That's it. You're coming with me, we're getting you a Starbucks and getting you back home."

"No complaints from me. Get me a frappucino right now." I order, laughing at my own despair.

Jared and I link arms and head for the nearest Starbucks. We've sort of made it a routine that after the majority of our shifts, either Jared and I, with either Sophie or June...or both, would head down to Starbucks and spend our time talking about the days events. Most days though, I was struggling to even carry my own body weight so I would just head straight back to the flat.

Being the sweet guy he is, Jared orders for me, and within a matter of minutes we make our way back to my flat. I feel like Jared's genuinely becoming such a good friend of mine, and I absolutely love it. The whole group's bonded so well since Anna left. I feel as though she was the wedge between us all, and I couldn't be more happier that she's left right now.

Soon enough Jared and I have crossed the road and I'm fumbling around in my bag to find the keys to the flat.

"Fuck I can't find them. I didn't leave them in they are!" I breathe a sigh of relief and enter the flat, "We're going to do some serious engagement planning Jared, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

I close the door and slide the lock across. As I turn around Jared is stood in the middle of the hallway, staring at Sophie stood in the kitchen. She looks genuinely terrified, and gives me this look as if to say 'don't even take another step in'll regret it'. Telepathically I try to communicate with her, but nothing works and I squeeze past Jared to discover what all the commotion is about.

"What engagement?"

"I couldn't stop him man, he's so desperate to see you." Sophie sighs.

"Vienna are you engaged?"

"She's not engaged you dick...wait. Are you?" She questions, "This is the first time I've heard about an engagement..."

"Have I really made this whole journey for you to be engaged?"

"Is this him?" Jared pipes in.

I want words to come out my mouth, but nothing's working. I feel stunned at the person I see before me, and also outraged at the fact that they're in my flat. The one place in the world where I feel as though I have freedom from him. But no, he's here. Right now.

"Jared's getting engaged to his girlfriend." I quietly inform, "Why would you care anyway?"

"Of course I care!"

"You didn't seem to care when you were fucking someone else!" Sophie spits, striding over to stand with Jared and I.

"Come on this isn't fair! Three against one? Vienna can we just talk alone?"

"I guess so. Why don't you guys go see James? He's upstairs. Flat ten." I bluntly inform them, nodding at my friends in reassurance.

Jared has to physically force Sophie out of the flat, as she has her deathly glare glued to our guest like I have my gaze set on Hotel Chocolat every time I go pass it in the centre of town back in Nottingham. As soon as the door slams shut I turn to face him and take in a deep breath, "What do you want Henry?"

"To apologise. You didn't really give me much of a chance to do that." He nervously laughs.

"Really?" I scoff, "I wonder why."

"Fuck sake that was a mistake. Do you honestly think I would have come all this way if I didn't want to sort this out?" Henry stresses, groaning in frustration.

I confidently stride over the kitchen counter and place the frappucino in front of me, "You let Madison Xavier take your virginity, and two days later, I allowed you to take mine thinking that we were both taking each others. I waited for you for over a year, and went through all sorts of arguments with friends and family in order to defend this relationship-"

"I know you did." Henry interrupts, much to my sheer annoyance.

"Don't interrupt me!" I yell, slamming my hand in frustration on the counter, "I argued with everyone I love and care about who doubted this relationship. I made them see that this relationship was something that I cared about so much, and you know what? I couldn't give two shits about us anymore."

Henry's face drops at the revelation of my feelings, and he seems lost for words.

"Do you not love me at all?" He mutters, "Not the slightest bit?"

"Of course I fucking love you Henry!" I practically explode, "I waited for you well over a year, and even then I basically gave myself to you. I wouldn't give any other lad the time of day before our relationship because I knew I wanted to be with you. I think I even loved you before this relationship started."

"And I love you." Henry continues with his low, monotone voice as he walks round the kitchen counter and takes his hands in mine.

I know deep down I should snap his hands away from mine, shout and scream, and throw him out of the flat myself. But being this close to him again, well it makes my heart flutter. However, this isn't the same butterflies in the stomach sensation he gave me before and during our relationship. This is the feeling you get when, when you see that your bag of crisps says 'exra 25%', or some ridiculous crap like that, and actually only about half the bag is full. This is the feeling you get when you see the person you love for the first time in goodness knows how long, and all those feelings for them come rushing back, and then you suddenly realise...he cheated on you.

I jump at the contact as Henry gently places a hand on my face, "I love you so much."

My eyes meet with his again, and I almost feel lost for words. Subconsciously I feel our faces edge closer and closer, and as our lips connect for the first time since our breakup, my stomach churns in disgust, and I pull away instantly, "No."

"No I'm not doing this, you need to go. This feels wrong." I begin to feel myself hyperventilating as my hands press against Henry's chest.

"Vienna calm down, you're getting worked up."

I may be getting worked up, but that's how I know how to get out of a bad situation. This is a bad situation, it's a stupid situation, it's pointless. My relationship with Henry will never be the same as it was.

"I can't do this. Even if I was to get back with you, the distance would drive me insane. How could I trust you when I'm living three hours away from you?!" I scoff, "I can't trust you anymore Henry. If we don't have trust we have nothing."

Before Henry has a chance to reply, Sophie, Jared and James come strolling through the front door without a care in the world. Fuck I really should have locked the door behind them. James looks appalled at the sight of Henry and I so close to each other, and he looks as if he could pick Henry up and throw him out of the window with one hand. The difference is size is slightly amusing.

"You've had your time, now get out." Jared orders.

"Jared I can talk for myself." I protest, proceeding to whisper in Henry's ear, "You should really go Henry. Is anyone about to pick you up?"

The nice, kind side of me has come out again, and I absolutely hate it.

"My Dad's around on business, so I can call him. I'll be fine." He replies, letting out a deep burst of breath before looking at me once again, "Am I ever going to see you again?"

"I, I erm...I don't even know. I have no idea."

"I'd miss having you around in my life." He laughs, before realising that he really has outstayed his welcome.

The tension in the room is met by a terrifying silence, and Henry makes his way through my crowd of my supporters on the opposite side of the room. Within seconds I hear the door shut, and I drop to the floor, tears spilling from my face in a mad rush of despair. Sophie's arms quickly wrap themselves around my body, and the boys talk amongst themselves as I begin to shake uncontrollably.

I never knew seeing him again would be so difficult. I never knew I would want him back so badly. But we can't ever be like we were before - we won't, and I don't see any future for us anymore.

"He...he came a-all this w-way...for me." I stutter, my chest rising and falling at an alarming rate, "After w-what he d-d-id."

My friends stand helpless, and I don't think anyone really knows what to do. None of them were about to witness the struggle I went through to keep mine and Henry's relationship alive, so I can't really expect a lot from them. All Sophie does is tell me everything 'will be okay', and continues to embrace me on the floor of our kitchen - a place where I seem to hyperventilate a lot in these days.

"Guys I think you should go. I can take care of her." Sophie informs Jared and James, gently pulling on my fragile body to bring me to my feet.

Jared embraces me tightly, and his warm, comforting body takes away some of the pain I feel. He always seems to have a faint smell of vanilla which makes me want to hold onto him for as long as I can. But his arms are replaced by James', who tightly wraps his arms around my waist.

Sophie leads Jared to the door, and James and I are left by ourselves; our bodies connected gently.

"You know where I am if you need me." He whispers, pulling away just far enough for my hands to rest on his shoulders.

Just far enough for me to look up into his eyes, wrap his shirt around my fingers and plant my lips on his.

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