Status: Active, updates may be very slow though, but bare with me

Shoulder to Shoulder


As the date for Elena’s departure for university drew closer, the football season began to pick up. Whilst Elena was working in the local greeting card shop almost every day, Juan was travelling all over the country and the continent playing games with Chelsea. Despite the fact that they hadn’t spoken face-to-face for almost a week and a half, they still would text, call or Skype every day.

There was only a week left before Elena would up sticks to Norwich for the final time, and Juan asked if he could take her out for dinner before she went away. Under his instructions, Elena dressed nicely, and waited at Lila’s flat for him to pick her up.

“Stop smoothing your dress down, you’re making me nervous and I’m not even going on the bloody date!” Lila exclaimed, throwing a cushion at her best friend.

Without even thinking about it, Elena ran her hands down blue Dorothy Perkins dress. Immediately Lila lightly scowled at her, inferring she wanted her friend to calm down.

“I’m sorry, I haven’t seen him for ages, I’m excited, which is making me nervous.” Elena explained.

Lila was about to reprimand her friend for being so silly, when the doorbell rang. “He’s here!” Elena shrieked, grabbing her clutch bag and giving Lila a kiss on the cheek.

“Tell me all about it later!” Lila called after her friend.

Elena opened the door to see Juan with a bouquet of flowers. “Oh, Mr Mata, you do know how to impress a lady.” She kissed him on the cheek before leading him inside Lila’s apartment.

“Lila, this is Juan. Juan, this is Lila.” Elena said before running off into the kitchen and searching for a vase to house the flowers. She found what seemed to be Lila’s only vase under the sink. She filled it halfway with water and dumped the plant food in there, and placed the flowers in carefully. Juan must be a mind reader as he’d bought her purple gladioli – her favourite flower; however she couldn’t recall ever mentioning that fact to her boyfriend.

When she returned to the living room with the now flower-filled vase she put it on the table, smiling brightly at Lila then Juan. “They’re gorgeous, thank you.”

“No problem,” he replied, Elena took his hand and began to go toward the door.

“Bye, nice to meet you Juan!” Lila said.

“You as well,” he called back just before Elena closed the door. “You look beautiful.” He said matter-of-factly, placed an arm around her waist and moving towards the lift.

“Where are we going?” Elena asked as he drove across Vauxhall Bridge.

“You’ll find out in about 10 minutes.” He said, not taking his eyes off the road.

Elena watched as they drove down Millbank and onto Abingdon road. From there he drove straight into Mayfair, one of the most expensive areas in London. Parking on a small side street, the pair got out of the car and Elena immediately hooked her arm around Juan’s and they walked together onto Beak Street. Seeing as they were within walking distance of Oxford Street, quite a few people inhabited the road. The atmosphere was nice, it was a late September evening, and so it wasn’t cold, though it wasn’t too warm either. A chill passed over Elena and she was thankful that they were veering towards a restaurant.

Polpo was a Venetian-style restaurant in the heart of London. Once they were seated, the two began to talk.

“Have you ever been here before?” Juan asked, straightening his jacket on the back of his chair.

“No, never.” Elena shook her head to emphasise her point. “I think Lila’s mentioned it before, but I’ve never been here myself.”

The restaurant offered a variety of small plates of which most people ordered 2 or 3 each. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, Elena was having a hard time choosing.

Without looking up from his menu, Juan agreed. And almost subconsciously, his arm reached out across the table and he took Elena’s hand in his own. His thumb ran soothingly over Elena’s knuckles while they decided what to order. That simple action made her feel surprisingly comfortable. She felt that you could strip away the expensive restaurant and they could have been anywhere in the world and she would’ve felt at home with Juan there.

After much deliberation, they settled on seven different plates, not being able to whittle it down any further. Chelsea had played a few nights earlier, against Stoke City and won 1-0.

“I know I said it on the phone, but you were all wonderful at the weekend. When I called my dad this morning all he could go on about was how happy he is to see Chelsea playing so well. He’s been a fan since the late 60s, so he’s seen Chelsea through the good and the bad.” Elena began. “I’m really proud of you.”

Juan didn’t even respond, he just leant over the table and kissed her softly. Moments later, their food arrived. With all of the food spread across the table, it was almost overwhelming, and it took them a while, but they worked their way through the majority of it. It was all so well-flavoured, and enjoyable to eat.

When the bill came, Juan refused to let Elena pay. She argued with him, saying she wasn’t up for letting him pay her way all the time, she said that she was going to pay half of the bill, and there was nothing he could do about it.

The bill came close to £60, so they split it between them and then made their way out of the restaurant.

On the way back, Juan asked if Elena would like to come back to his flat for coffee. Usually when any guy asked her that she knew that there were ulterior motives, but when Juan asked, she knew he was being genuine; although she wasn’t completely opposed if he did!

The ride in the lift up to Juan’s 11th floor flat was quiet, although neither felt the need to try and fill the silence. Inside, the warmth of the apartment enveloped Elena and made her realise how cold she had been outside.

She made her way onto the balcony while Juan was inside taking a call from a friend in Spain. The views over London were spectacular; from her vantage point she could see the City and Stamford Bridge among other things. Elena jumped when she felt arms snake around her middle and rest on her midriff.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he asked, resting his chin on her shoulder.

Elena nodded softly. “It really is.” The way the magnificent city was lit up at night was breath taking, it surprised Elena that even after 21 years living in the city that she’d never seen it look so glorious.

A wind whipped around them, and Elena shivered, Juan led her inside and was moving towards the front room when Elena stopped him. Wordlessly, she took his hand and began walking in the complete opposite direction, towards Juan’s bedroom.
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