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?


2. Lunch Date

I stand nervously in the mirror, gently tugging at the ends of my dress in a desperate attempt to increase the length of my dress. I'm a fairly tall eighteen year old, and even when I buy dresses that should come just above the knee, they barely cover my ass.

This is Henry's favourite dress, along with my purple heels, which I probably will not wear. If I was to wear heels, then I'd probably look like a penguin. I can't walk in high heels, never could, and I don't intend on learning to anytime soon.

"Vienna are you ready yet?!" Mum yells up the stairs, "Henry's going to be here any minute!"

I quickly grab a white shoulder bag, and make my way downstairs. To my surprise, my Dad is stood by the door, his arms folded gently as he peers out the window.

"Dad, what are you doing?"

"You know I've still not met this Henry boy yet. I thought now would be the perfect time"

"Please don't go all 'protective father' on me" I whine, "He's only young"

The second I finish my sentence, Dad's face slowly turns towards me. A look of complete horror and concern in his eyes.

I have never really told my family about Henry that much, I don't particularly want to. It's not that I don't care about him, or want to be with him. We've just not had the easiest of relationships.

"Vienna?" He asks, "How old is Henry?"

I take a deep breath and prepare myself for the screaming match that's just around the corner.

"He's fifteen"

"Henry is fifteen?!" Dad yells, as my Mum comes bursting through the door.

"Vienna I thought you said Henry was sixteen?" Mum asks.

"Look I'm eighteen years old. Henry is my first boyfriend, and I fought so god damn hard to get to this stage. I'm not a paedophile because we haven't engaged in any form of sexual contact. He doesn't want to do that until he's sixteen at the earliest, and I don't want to either. He'll be sixteen in a month, okay? Can you just-"

The doorbell denies me the chance to finish my rant, and a sudden, overwhelming feel of anxiety hits me. I move a hand to my chest and slowly begin to pat the space, desperately trying to control my breathing.

"Come on Vienna, it's alright" My Mum reassures me, "John, just lay off her a bit. Her head's in the right place, and she's a grown adult now"

"We'll talk about this when you get home" Dad demands, and walks back into the living room.

"You wonder why I've kept Henry from you all this time?" I whisper, angrily, "I will never introduce him to this family"

Before Mum has a chance to reply, I storm past her and open our front door. Stood in front of me, smiling that charming, adorable smile that gives me butterflies every time, is my boyfriend, Henry.

I quickly close the door, and wrap my arms around Henry.

"Hey you" He chuckles, placing his two hands on the small of my back, "Happy Birthday beautiful"

"Thanks" I giggle.

Henry's hands move slowly down my arms and towards my hands, where a set of out hands interlock as he leads me towards his car. Thankfully his Dad isn't in the car. Don't get me wrong, his parents are so lovely. They were incredibly welcoming and understanding of our situation, I just wish my parents were like that. Henry's Dad was always a little weary of me. I think now he's accepted us as a couple, but I always feel a little nervous around him.

His Mum however, is a different story. Michelle is the sweetest woman. Of course she had a few questions to ask me, but after a while we just clicked. We get on like a house on fire.

"Hi Vienna!" Michelle greets me, smiling at me front the front seat, "Happy Birthday!"

"Thanks Michelle!" I reply, as Henry opens the car door for me.

I slide into the car seat and Henry appears next to me just as the car begins to move. I glance back at my house and let out a deep sigh.

"What up?" Henry asks, interlocking his hand with mine once again.

"I'll tell you when we get there babe" I reply, turning my face towards him and smiling gently.

He smiles back and leans towards me, placing a hand on my cheek and kissing me gently. I smile into the kiss as all the tension from before seems to melt away. Henry knows exactly what to do to make me happy.

"Everything ready for the move Vienna?" Michelle asks.

"Erm, yeah pretty much" I reply, running a hand through my hair, "Just got a bit of worrying news this morning. The owner of the club, I guess I should be calling him my boss now. He's apparently selling the club"

"What does that mean for you?" Henry asks, squeezing my hand tightly.

"No idea. Just gonna go there, work as normal and hopefully things stay the same. I doubt Ellis would sell the club to someone who doesn't know how to run it properly"

A few minutes pass by and the car pulls up outside Ask Italian, we wave goodbye to Michelle, and walk through the doors.

"Hi, I've got a table under the name of Wilson?" Henry explains to the rather timid looking waitress.

I can't believe he booked a table, he's so cute.

I give Henry's hand a reassuring little squeeze, and gently rest my head on his shoulder as the waitress grabs us two menus .

"Wilson, yep. Okay if you'd like to follow me"

We are lead through a rather empty restaurant, and towards the back of the room. Henry rushes over to one of the chairs and pulls it out ever so slightly, gesturing for my to sit down.  I blush nervously and gently sit down on the hard wooden chair.

"I'll be along shortly" she smiles, placing down the menus.

Just as she leaves, I glance towards her hand as she places it gently onto Henry's wrist, squeezing gently.

"Let me know if you need anything, okay?"

The fuck?

I watch in disgust as the blonde, stick-like woman walks away, and shoot Henry a deathly glare.

"Is that some sort of joke?" I snap, "Cause you know me I have a brilliant sense of humour, but for some reason I didn't find that funny at all"

"I don't know!" Henry shrugs in astonishment, "Jesus Christ she's so small I could break her in half"

"...Or I could" I wink.

Henry laughs loudly in response, and much to my delight, the waitress is staring directly at us. I smirk at her and interlock my hand with Henry's as she begins to make her way back over to us.

"Can I get you guys anything to drink?" She asks, smiling through gritted teeth.

This is perfect.

Henry orders a diet coke, and I take a huge risk and order a vodka and lemonade. My first chance for a legal drink, how could I pass that up?

The waitress almost laughs at my order, until I show her my I.D.

"Very well, I'll be back to take your order shortly"

I watch carefully as the waitress, named Madison, walks away from our table for the second time, trying ever so hard not to look at my boyfriend.

"I swear, she needs to watch herself" I mutter, angrily.

"Hey, come on now. Today is all about you" Henry smiles, as he interlocks our hands once again, "Oh! I almost forgot"

I shoot him a confused expression, and he delves inside his jacket. He instantly pulls out a white envelope, and a small red box.

"Happy Birthday baby" he smiles.

I'm in complete shock as I gently tear open the envelope. On the cover are a cute little cartoon couple, cuddling on what looks like a park bench. Above the couple are the words, 'For the one I love'.

The inside of the card reads,


First of all, Happy Birthday.

I feel so happy that we took the next step in our relationship. These past four months have been heaven on earth.

I know you took such a huge risk with this relationship, but I'm so glad you did. Things are tough at the minute, I know, but they will get better.

I'm so proud of you, taking the brave decision to move to Sunderland. I'll miss you so much, but you know I will only be a Skype call away.

I love you so much.

Henry, x

"Henry!" I giggle.

"You think that's good, open the box"

Without a second thought I open the small, red velvet box and my jaw drops. Inside is a small, silver necklace, with a tiny red heart on the end.

"Jesus Christ Henry" I gasp, "It's beautiful!"

"I thought you'd like it, I even got Janet to help me pick it out"

"Oh my god I can't believe you asked my Mum for help" I blush, as Henry climbs out of his seat.

He gently takes the necklace out of my hands, and I automatically lift up my ponytail. I shiver under his touch as his tender fingers secure the necklace around my neck.

Time slowly begins to pass as our drinks arrive, food is ordered, and soon after, the food arrives. I invest my time into my boyfriend and completely block out Madison as she comes and goes from our table.

The food is excellent, and after three glasses of vodka and coke, I slowly begin to feel myself becoming more and more intoxicated - yes I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.

Two hours pass, and Madison comes back to our table for the last time with the bill, which comes to a reasonable £45.

"I've got this" Henry smiles, handing over the exact change.

"Thanks Henry"

Madison stays completely silent as Henry and I leave the restaurant. Even though we had a splendid time, and I couldn't wish for a better person to spend my birthday with. I'm rather glad to be leaving that bitch.

Just ask we walk towards my Mum's car, a sudden burst of anxiety hits me right in my chest as I think about my inevitable future. It's just after four o'clock in the afternoon, and in around three and a half hours I'll be leaving my family, my friends and Henry for the big city in the North East. It's going to be so hard to say goodbye, especially to Henry. I don't even know if we can last long distance. We have never really spoken about it. I guess we just kept putting it off. But I have to do this.

I have to do what's right for me.

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