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?

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3. The Next Step

"Have you got everything? Suitcases, handbag? Have you got your tickets?!"

"Yes Mum!" I reassure her, "Can we just go? We're late enough as it is?"

It's currently 19:45pm, fifteen minutes before I need to meet Megan, and just as I expected we're running around last minute trying to find everything.

Henry is sat downstairs, with my Dad and brother. He desperately wanted to see me off at the train station, so I decided it would be a good idea for him to meet the family before. He's already met my Mum once or twice, but  it was my Dad that I was most worried about. Henry got on really well with my brother. I think him and Vince are good friends now, which is really weird. I thought Vince would hate him.

Dad was actually quite pleasant towards Henry. I think once he saw that we were legit, and there was no funny business, he took a step back.

I grab my two red suitcases and drag them down the stairs. Mum swiftly follows behind with my train ticket and pale pink tote bag.

Henry comes through the door and out into the hallway, followed by my Dad and brother. I really hope this isn't going to be one of these soppy goodbyes. I don't want to turn up to the train station looking like a racoon.

"See you around dickhead" Vince jokes, ruffling my hair.

"Oddly enough I think you're the person I'll miss the least, V" I sigh, placing a hand out in front of my annoyingly tall older brother.

"Come on, we're too old for that now"

Before I have a chance to reply, Vince roughly brings me in for a hug, and I gently pat his back in acknowledgement. I've always had a difficult relationship with Vincent, but I think me living away from home will bring us closer together. But if not, it won't be that much of a loss anyway.

"Another hug I'm afraid, come on kiddo. Bring it in!" My Dad chuckles, and I'm brought in for another hug.

This one's a lot more comforting. Hugging my Dad is like hugging a giant teddy bear, just without all the hair...

With each hug the tears begin to build up in my eyes. Even though I'm classed as a legal adult, I still get emotional when I have to be separated from my family. I am a home bird, through and through.

I look over towards Henry and I see a sight that makes my heart shatter into a thousand pieces. He's crying. Not a few tears either, his eyes are all red and puffy. Luckily, Henry's coming to the station with us. So I get just a little more time with him, before I leave.

"Come on you, let's go" I smile, offering my hand out towards Henry, which he gladly takes.

This is it. I'm leaving home.

I grab one of the suitcases, and Henry takes the other as we slowly begin the painful journey to the car. Even the rolling of the suitcases brings me so much anxiety.

The suitcases are thrown into the boot of the car, along with my other belongings, and I strap myself in. My eyes glance towards the door of my house, where my Dad and brother are stood. It's clear from here that Dad has been crying, but not Vince. I wouldn't expect him to really.

"Okay, here we go" Mum announces, as if I didn't know that already.

In a sudden rush of panic I grab onto Henry's arm and squeeze it tightly as the car begins to move. I can't bare to look towards the house, I'm scared I'll rush out and completely change my mind.

My eyes glance towards the clock in the car, and the time reads,

20:04

Holy crap we're so late.

"Stop it" Henry demands, "Whatever you're worrying about just stop"

I'm going to miss him so much, it hurts.

I refuse to say another word to anybody as the car journey continues. I gaze at the world going by  and begin to wonder how things will look when I come back. Knowing my parents, they'll probably turn my room into a man cave for my Dad. I'll come back at Christmas and there'll be goodness knows what in that room.

We soon pull up outside the train station and Mum steps out the car, leaving me and Henry in our awkward silence.

"What's gonna happen to us?" He whispers, turning his body towards me, "I've never done this whole, long distance thing before"

"I know. I'm scared too. At least I'm not moving to somewhere like America" I joke.

"When will we see each other though?" He asks, as I move a seat closer towards him.

I rest my legs over his lap and feel myself begin to relax as he wraps his arms around me. I look out the window to see Mum talking to Megan and her parents, and I'm almost glad. At least I get a bit more time with Henry.

"I don't know" I whisper, fighting back the tears as best as I can.

"I'd really like it if you came down for my birthday" Henry suggests, slowly running a hand through my hair.

"You think that I would actually miss your sixteenth birthday?!" I joke, "Not for the world"

Another silence breaks out amongst us, as I stay entwined in Henry's body. My head rises and falls on his chest, according to his heartbeat, and I wish I could stay this way forever.

"You won't...cheat on me...will you?" He whispers, planting a kiss on the top of my head.

"Are you out of your mind?" I giggle, looking up into Henry's soft green eyes as he gives me a half smile, "Anyway, the lads in Sunderland have nothing on you"

Mine and Henry's eyes are fixed on each other, as his lips meet mine for the last time. Due to mine and Henry's drastic age gap, we've never been that physical with each other. But as his hand moves up, then down my leg, I feel a sensation completely new to me.  Until a large bang against the window causes me to jump from Henry's grasp and back into my own seat.

"Come on you, it's time to go!" Mum announces, opening the car door.

"I'm gonna stay in the car, if that's okay?" Henry asks, tears beginning to slowly roll down his cheeks.

"Okay" I whisper, leaning towards him once again and planting a small peck on his lips, "I love you"

"I love you too. Call me tomorrow okay?"

I nod in response and shakily climb out of the car, where I am greeted by Megan and my crying Mum.

"Oh god not you too" I groan.

"I'm sorry Vienna, you know me" she laughs, "Come on, give your old Mum a hug"

I squeeze my Mum tight, as the last of my goodbye's comes to an end.

"I'm so immensely proud of you. I'll get Dad to text you when he comes up for the next game with Vince"

Tears suddenly come pouring down my cheeks, and I start to blubber like an absolute fool.

"Come on sweetheart it's going to be okay!" Mum reassures me, placing my train ticket in my hand.

"Just think about it, you could eventually meet Seb" Megan jokes, checking her watch impatiently.

Sebastian Larsson is a midfielder for Sunderland, and honestly, my idol. He is such a wonderful human being, and a talented footballer. He puts his heart and soul into every game he plays, and I think he's just wonderful.

"Oh god imagine what I'd be like meeting him!" I laugh.

"Oh Seb! I love you!" Megan mimics, which causes me to burst out laughing and crying at the same time.

Holy crap I'm such a mess.

"Come on, our train leaves in twenty minutes. We need to go"

The sudden realisation hits me, and I quickly hug my Mum one last time and grab onto my suitcases, tickets still in hand.

"Thank you for everything Mum. I'll call you tomorrow okay?"

"Love you Vienna" She smiles, "I'll make sure Henry gets home okay!"

I thank her kindly and begin to head towards the platforms, scanning the departures board to try and find our train.

"Platform 6" Megan announces, "Come on you"

I stay silent and follow Megan towards our platform and into the lift. Honestly, there's no way I'm taking the stairs, unless someone at the bottom of the stairs wants to be hit in the face by my flying suitcases.

Within a few minutes, we've boarded the train. I place my suitcases in a cage down by the bottom of our carriage, which luckily is empty. It's only Megan and I and it could not be better.

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