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?


26. Home Sweet Home?

"What's the hold up man?" Megan groans, staring outside the window into the dark train station.

We've been sat still for about 10 minutes now. We've not officially arrived yet, all we've been doing is hovering around for one of the trains to move so the train can park. Unfortunately we managed to catch the rush hour, so this is the time when all the trains are coming into the station.

Megan and I are stood by the doors, suitcases in hand. The train is absolute jam-packed full of other passengers, but we pushed our way through the crowd and made sure that we would be the first people off.

The train jolts slightly and we finally make our way into the station. The familiar surroundings give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside and I honestly feel like running straight off the train and up the stairs so I can finally see my Mum again. Obviously I saw Vince and Dad last weekend, and even though it's going to good to see them again, I haven't seen Mum since I left the train station at the beginning of September.

"Come on lets go!" I squeal, as the doors slide open.

The cold air feels so nice on my face. Being cooped up in that hot, stuffy train for 2 hours was unbearable.

I walk quickly along the platform, my red suitcase following behind. There's no way any of these people are getting out of the station before I do. Once I reach the edge of the staircase, I intake a sharp gulp of breath and lift my suitcase, taking the slow and painful walk up the stairs.

"Tell me again why we have to take the stairs V?" Megan groans, choosing the option to drag her suitcase up with her, "We could've been up there by now if we took the lift!"

"You know I don't like lifts Megan. Grow a pair of balls and hurry up."

Megan curses loudly at me, causing a few stairs from the other passengers that were on the train with us. I quickly reach the top of the stairs and grab Megan's suitcase, anything to make her hurry up for goodness sake. Once we reach the top of the station, I practically run through into the crowds of people in search of my Mum and Christine.

"Meg I can't see them anywhere. They are coming aren't they?"

My best friend joins me and informs me that she'll text her Mum to see where they are. The crowds of people are only getting bigger as more and more trains are departing and arriving. The suspense is killing me and I begin to walk towards the exit.

"Hello you!" A familiar voice greets me.

I spin around at the sound of my Mum's voice and throw my arms around her, leaving my suitcase to crash loudly on the floor behind me.

"Oh my god Mum I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too! You do look a state though sweetheart." Mum laughs, "When were these clothes last washed?!"

"We go to the local laundrettes every week!" I protest, rubbing at a small stain in the corner of my jumper.

I look over to Christine and Megan who are deep in conversation. Christine looks outraged at the state of Megan's gash at the back of her head. It's cleared up massively since Friday, but the stitches are still visible. Mum mumbles to me about how awful it looks, and that only ignites the guilt that I have been feeling the minute Megan fell against the wardrobe.

"We need to have a sit down and talk about this." Christine informs us all, "Let's get a taxi home."

"Yes that's a lovely idea Christine. Come along girls." Mum adds.

I put a sympathetic arm around my best friend as our parents lead us to a nearby taxi. To be honest I'm getting sick of the sight of the things. The only way we've been able to get round Sunderland this past month is via taxi's and they're starting to wind me up.

Christine informs the driver of our address and we begin the long, and tense ride home. I interlock my hand with Megan's as she rests her head on my shoulders. She seems so exhausted and I know she's going to get so much grief from her Mum.

Everyone says silent during the journey. Even the driver looks slightly alarmed at how morbid we all look. I'm so nervous that something's going to kick off and I don't know if either Megan or I can take much more arguing.

In a matter of minute's we arrive outside the other's Barnes household, and Megan and I leave our parents to argue over who is paying the driver.

"You alright Meg?"

"Yeah. I kept thinking throughout that journey that it was going to kick off, but I just think she's disappointed more than anything." Megan sighs, rubbing the sides of her arms for warmth, "Let's just get this shit over and done with."

Mum and Christine bid the taxi driver farewell and we all step into the house. Immediately Christine heads in the living room and invites us all to do the same. As per usual their living room is completely spotless. You would think that no one ever sets foot in here, there's not a spec of dirt of dust anywhere.

"So can someone please explain to me how on earth you two have managed to make two trips to hospital since you've been in Sunderland? How long has it been?...A month? Just over a month? This is ridiculous." Christine scoffs, "I think we know about the first incident, but how is it that the same young man seems to crop up in both of these situations?"

I seem to be asking myself the same question. I take in a deep breath and begin to explain the entire situation to Christine. How there was a clear sense of tension between James and Anna to begin with, and we all knew that even if they looked as if they were the best of friends at times, they absolutely hated each other. I explained the real truth behind Anna and James' 'fling', and soon enough I finally reach the incident on Friday.

"It was all fine until Megan got on the phone with Lloyd and-"

"Pardon?" Christine interrupts, "Who is this Lloyd person?"

"Jesus Christ let her finish Mum..." Megan groans, "Go on V."

"Well there was something going on in James' flat, and then we found out Anna was there. Before we really had a chance to speak she was banging on our door, so Megan let her in and she just comes storming in my bedroom. Obviously Megan was going to try and stop her but Anna just kept yelling at her. Eventually she just got so angry that she...well you know what happened after that." I sigh, leaning my head on Mum's shoulder.

"And where is this idiotic woman you speak of?" Christine spits.

"She's...she's erm, been fired."

"Good!" Christine scoffs, "I hope she's on the next plane back to whatever bar she came from. Absolutely disgusting creature. What did that other lad do...what's his name, James?"

"He was actually really nice. He stayed with me until the ambulance came, and he was generally level-headed during the whole erm, conflict thing." I explain.

"Can't imagine James actually being nice, can you?" Megan jokes.

"I thought you two didn't get on, dear." Mum questions, a look of confusion smothered across her exhausted face, "You said he was obsessed with you..."

"Yeah he was to be honest, but I dunno he's kind of accepted that fact that we'll never be together." I nervously laugh.

"So my daughter has basically been caught up in yours and this lads little love feud?!" Christine nearly screams, her voice ringing down my ear.

I watch in shock as Megan calms down her outraged Mum, and mine takes this as the opportunity to bid our farewells. To be honest if we stay any longer I doubt that Christine will be able to control herself. I've never seen her this angry before. The air around me feels heavy, and this once happy household is making me feel nauseous.

"I'll text you later." I inform Megan, who looks a large mixture of pissed off and just plain fed up.

Mum and I can't leave the house quicker and we take the small walk back to our house. Luckily we only live a five minute walk away from Megan's place, but in the freezing cold at eight o'clock at night, it's not the most relaxing of walks.

In a matter of minutes we burst through the front door and I am greeted by my ever so cheery brother Vincent, and my Dad. After we exchange pleasantries I practically order Vince to take my suitcases upstairs, mostly because my Dad can't because of his dodgy hips, and I just want to get my brother back for scaring the shit out of me outside of the stadium last weekend.

"See what happens when you mess with me bro!" I cheer, "You become my personal luggage carrier."

"Alright, alright Vienna. I've learnt my lesson." He sarcastically admits defeat, dropping onto his knees in front of me, "I will never defy the great Vienna Barnes!"

"Damn straight, now get up you idiot."

As Vince rises to his feet, I hear the small patter of feet treading down the stairs from his room. We both look in the direction of the noise, until a small, petite girl appears in front of us. For a split second I thought she was Madison Xavier, and I nearly threw up in my mouth. The stick thin figure and long, platinum blonde hair make me hate her already. But I can't help think that this might be Vince's girlfriend.

"Ah yeah." He stutters, running a shaky hand through his hair, "Sis, this is Lilly...she's my girlfriend."

I really don't know how to react. Obviously I'm completely made up for Vince, but I never expected her to look so similar to Madison. I don't even have anything to do with the girl and I already hate my brother's girlfriend for looking like her. Christ.

I can't help but blurt out the first thing that comes into my head, "Girlfriend!...Wow, hi."

"Vincent's told me so much about you." She beams, "You're working for Sunderland aren't you?"

"Yes! The Apprentice programme, yeah I'm part of that." I nervously admit.

"That's amazing. I couldn't believe it when Vince told me. You'll have to tell me more about it sometime." Lilly grins, "But my sister's coming to pick me up now so I should be going."

"Okay, well it was lovely to meet you." I smile, bidding my farewells to my brother's girlfriend.

Lilly squeezes past mine and Vincent's larger physiques and begins to make her way downstairs. Vince turns to me with possibly the biggest, most child-like grin on his face and drums his hands on my shoulders.

"What do you think of her?!" He squeals, jumping up and down on the spot, "She's gorgeous right?"

"Yeah Vince, she's really pretty." I sigh, "She just erm...she looks like someone I know. That's all."

My brother shrugs off my comment and we both head downstairs to join Lilly at the door. I'm guessing her sister has arrived because the door is wide open, allowing all the cold air to swarm our once nice and toasty surroundings.

"Alright baby." Lilly giggles in a , swinging her arms around my brother's neck, "I'll call you later okay?"

I take this as my chance to evacuate the hallway, to save myself the disgusting sight of my brother and his new girlfriend sucking each others faces off. As I turn to head towards the living room, I manage to get a glimpse of Lilly's sister stood just outside our door. Her stick like figure, and slightly darker hair colour spark a few familiar thoughts in my head. She is dressed in what looks like mostly designer wear - a thick fur gilet is matched with a dark jumper and white jeans. It suddenly clicks in my head who Lilly's sister is, and I can feel the vomit slowly making it's way back up my throat.

"Hey, I know you." The girl shouts, trying to grab my attention, "Come back a second."

I cannot believe this is actually happening right now. I slowly turn around to face Lilly and Vince, who both have no clue who is going on. As soon as my eyes meet the girl in the doorway properly, I intake a sharp amount of breath and immediately feel my fists clench together. Vincent notices this and takes a step towards me, mumbling if I'm okay.

"You look like you've seen a ghost Vienna." She smirks, "Cat got your tongue?"

"That's Madison..." I mouth to Vincent, who is slowly picking up on the situation, "That's the bitch I was telling you about."

My brother is dating Lilly Xavier. Who's sister is the one and only, Madison Xavier.

Are you fucking serious?

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