‹ Prequel: A Summer Romance

Forgive and Forget


Her best friend never having been known for her ability to keep a secret, Elina really shouldn’t have been surprised when Johanna blurted out her news before they’d even left the airport, before they’d said a proper hello even. The brunette had been able to keep the secret when they talked on the phone or simply texted each other for the simple reason that she couldn’t see those baby blues her friend had been blessed with. But seeing her in person for the first time in months, since the blonde’s going away party at the end of the summer, the words had simply tumbled over her lips, no matter how much she’d wanted to keep them in.

“I'm pregnant.”

Reacting like a best friend should, Elina was elated for her friend and threw her arms around her, giving her a tight hug before realising her possible mistake and immediately letting go of her friend, wondering if she’d hurt her or the baby.

Johanna assuring her that everything was fine, she led the way towards the exits and the parking garage at the John Lennon Airport where she’d parked. The ride back towards the city and to the apartment she shared with her younger brother was filled with chatter about the pregnancy as Elina wanted to know everything.

She’d quickly learned that it was still in the early stages, things still had a high risk of going wrong, but Johanna just hadn't been able to keep her mouth shut, she wanted her friend along for the ride. Not to mention, she simply couldn’t keep a secret from her friend.

That was two days ago, and the previous day spent on a lengthy shopping trip across most of the city, Elina has traded the planned trip to a nightclub for a night with ice cream and movies before scheduling an impromptu spa-trip for her friend.

Now, sitting at a window table at a lunch restaurant in the middle of Liverpool, Johanna couldn’t shake the feeling that people were giving them strange looks. Rather, she’d outright seen people take a second look when they glanced through the window and saw them sitting there. Only she didn't know why they were doing it.

Back home she was constantly paranoid the people were going to be able to tell that she was pregnant, even if she wasn’t even remotely showing yet, and probably wouldn't be for at least a couple of more weeks. But this was different. At home she knew that it was her own paranoia playing up, but here people were actually looking at them.

And judging by the look of discomfort that frequently passed over her friends face; she knew they were doing it.

“People are looking at us,” Johanna decided to not beat around the bush this time, knowing that sometimes surprise was the only way to get her friend to share certain things. “I feel like I'm in the zoo, only I'm on the wrong side of the fence.”

“Just ignore them,” Elina attempted to deflect. “They’ll stop, or you’ll stop noticing it, whichever comes first.”

“Why are they looking at us?” Johanna nudged with an arch of her brow.

“Just...” Elina trailed off as she glanced out of the window for the first time since they sat down almost an hour earlier. “Do you remember that guy, the football player who moved here this past summer? Fernando Torres?”

“No,” Johanna shook her head slightly.

“Of course you don't,” Elina smiled slightly, her friend’s practically nonexistent interest in football wasn’t exactly a state secret. “I sort of know him,” she revealed slowly. “And we were having lunch a couple of weeks ago and now they are all wondering if we are together.”

“Are you?” Johanna immediately took the bait.

“No,” Elina stated frankly. “And that’s not the point; they’re looking at me because some stupid tabloid decided it was okay to splash my face across a half page just because we had lunch together once.”

“Wait, hold on,” Johanna tried to wrap her head around what her friend was saying. “You were in the papers? Like the actual newspapers?”

“Tabloids,” Elina corrected her, though her main point was correct.

“For having lunch with this guy?”

“Trust me, football players are like celebrities over here,” Elina really didn't want to talk about this, it was enough that she’d found herself staring back at her from the pages of the paper one morning at work, it was an experience she wouldn't wish on anyone who wasn’t aware that people were taking pictures of them.

“And you are not dating this Fernando guy?” Johanna checked.

“No, we’re friends,” Elina stated as she glanced down at the watch loosely wrapped around her left wrist. “And we need to leave if we’re going to make our appointments.”

“So how do you know him?” Johanna asked curiously, looking over at her friend as they gathered their things, put on their coats and made their way across the restaurant.

“It’s...” Elina trailed off, realising that she’d never actually told her friend what had happened during those three weeks that summer a couple of years earlier. “It’s a long story,” she told her with a slight smile as she pushed the door to the restaurant open and they stepped out into the chilly winds.

“I got time,” was Johanna’s immediate response, not that Elina had expected anything else. And as she pushed her hands into the pockets of her coat, she couldn’t really help but contemplate whether or not she should just tell her friend everything that had happened.

What could it hurt, right?

“I'm going to take a stab in the dark here,” Johanna said as she was sitting on a bench in the changing room and undoing the laces on her winter boots whilst watching her friend digging through her bag, “and assume that that designer bag right there, has something to do with that football player of yours,” she smirked slightly. The famous Louis Vuitton monogram decor on the bag hadn't gone unnoticed since she first saw it, but she’d first thought it was a very good fake but having touched it and looked at it, she’s quickly realised that it was real.

“It was a Christmas present,” Elina replied quickly as she pulled her sweater over her head and pulled out her two-piece swimsuit from the bag her friend was eyeing.

“Friends, my ass,” Johanna playfully rolled her eyes as she too proceeded to change into her bikini, only to curse under her breath as she fastened the straps of her top.

“Everything okay?” Elina wondered concerned as she turned to look at her friend whilst trying the strings of her own top behind her neck.

“No,” Johanna practically growled as she tugged on the fabric of her bikini top in effortless attempts of making it less scandalous than it was currently looking. “I mean, I know that your boobs are supposed to be one of things that changes and grows first when you get pregnant, but this is ridiculous,” she stated frankly as she looked up at her friend. “I tried this on not two days before I came here and it fit perfectly.”

“Welcome to my world,” Elina couldn’t help but tease her as she took in the top that was looking some two sizes too small for her friends suddenly voluptuous curves. She could recall too many times when that exact thing had happened to her during sleepovers they’d had over the years. She’d hit puberty early and her curves were in some cases a lot more prominent than the ones her friends developed, something that became even more noticeable when they started borrowing clothes from each other, including swimwear.

“I can still reconsider who to name as this baby’s Godmother,” Johanna glared at her.

“Want to borrow my spare?” Elina easily deflected as she pulled out a black and pink piece from her bag and held it out to her friend.

“Lifesaver,” Johanna broke out in a wide grin as she snatched the top from between her friend’s fingers and quickly changed into it.

“And don't you forget it,” Elina smiled as she finished getting changed, removing the few pieces of jewellery she was wearing, a watch, a bracelet and two plan silver rings.

Getting their last things in order, they slipped on the fluffy robes and slid their feet into the slippers they’d been given when they checked in at the reception a short while earlier before leaving the changing rooms behind, ready for an afternoon of nothing but relaxation.

“Wait a minute,” Johanna stopped her friend as she shifted so that she was sitting sideways in the surprisingly comfortable wicker chair beside the heated swimming pool. “You actually lost your virginity to Fernando Torres?” she hissed under her breath, knowing that this was the kind of information her friend wouldn't want repeated somewhere else, much less printed in some sleazy tabloid.

“I did,” Elina confirmed, just barely keeping from blushing as she sipped her bubbly water.

They’d gotten massages, facials as well as both manicures and pedicures during the afternoon and were feeling thoroughly relaxed and even a bit lethargic as they were contemplating if they were ready to leave or not. Deciding that they weren't ready, the wrapped themselves back up in the warm robes and proceeded to lounge and have some drinks and some fruit by the side of the large indoor pool.

Not that Elina was about to tell her friend this, but it was actually Fernando who’d told her about the spa that was located just a short drive outside of Liverpool when she in a phone call had mentioned that she didn't know where to take her friend as she was visiting. Apparently Steven Gerrard had mentioned the place as it was a favourite of Alex’s as well as with a number of her friends.

“And now you're appearing in the tabloids, labelled as his new girlfriend?” Johanna continued as she glanced over at the tabloid laying on the footrest next to her feet. It was that day’s paper, and apparently the editor had felt that it was necessary to publish another few pictures of her best friend and the football player even she could appreciate was very good looking.

“Can we please let that go?” Elina practically pleaded with her friend.

“No,” Johanna smiled amused as she shook her head slightly.

“We are friends, friends do things together and just because he sat a little too close to me during one of Simon’s games, they apparently think it’s perfectly alright to continue to take pictures of us and to label me as his girlfriend,” Elina sighed tiredly. She was tired of waking up to her own picture in the papers, and even more so of people looking at her strangely because they couldn’t recall where they recognised her from. Or they did recall and just stared because they felt like it, wondering who the heck she was.

“And all this just because you dated back in the summer of ’04?” Johanna still had some troubles wrapping her head around the fact that her friend had kept that particular vacation from her. But she also knew her friend better than to hold it against her. When it came to her love life, especially her heart, she was extremely private and even more cautious.

“Obviously the tabloids don’t know about that,” Elina couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “But...” she trailed off, licking her lips slowly as she glanced out through the large windows overlooking snow-covered lawns. “He lied and for obvious reasons I wasn’t exactly forthcoming in having any sort of relationship with him when we ended up meeting each other again.”

“So how did you go from there to this?” Johanna wondered seriously. “I mean, you're hanging out with him, often judging by what the papers are writing.”

“Don't ever trust the papers,” Elina repeated the words Fernando had told her after the first time pictures of them together had ended up in the papers. “It’s not that often, and if he hadn't lied back then, we would have been friends since,” she pointed out. “Maybe the friendship would have dissolved but I’d still been on friendly terms with him if we ever met, but he lied and meeting him again...”

“Brought back all those things you were feeling back then?” Johanna deduced with a slight smile.

“I don’t know about all, but a lot of them,” Elina admitted softly. “It’s weird,” she found herself saying. “I mean, he lied to me and I usually don't trust people again once they’ve betrayed my trust, but every time I'm with him I feel like I just have to trust him,” she revealed as a slight frown spread across her otherwise smooth forehead. “And it was three weeks, it was a summer fling, it was nothing more.”

“You dated Adam for almost two years,” Johanna pointed out, clearly remembering both her friend’s relationship and what had inevitably been a really messy breakup. “You constantly told me you weren't ready to sleep with him, you could never say why, you just weren't,” she recalled. “And then you fly to Spain and a week after meeting this guy you sleep with him.”

“What has my sex-life got to do with this?” Elina questioned dryly.

“Obviously there was something about Fernando that made you trust him so quickly,” Johanna reasoned. “Something that made you give up your virginity to him and don't think twice about it, whilst every time your boyfriend for two years, a guy you’d known since we were in kindergarten, even as much hinted to going all the way, you kicked him out of bed, or the room or even the house. Either Fernando is pretty damn spectacular in bed, some sort of Casanova or something, or you just knew that you could trust him.”

“Look where that got me,” Elina retorted, not ready to hear her friend’s reasoning, knowing that she was most likely right.

“We all lie,” Johanna pointed out frankly. “You lie, I lie, Fernando obviously lied, get over it already,” she practically dared her. “It wasn’t like he lied about a girlfriend, or a fiancée or something like that, he lied about his career. And I admit, that is a big deal, but I get it, he wanted to be able to really trust you.”

“I hate you,” Elina allowed her head to loll back slightly as she gazed up at the ceiling many meters above them.

“You love me,” Johanna replied immediately, like so many other times before. “I get that you can’t trust him completely right now, but don't let something that happened years ago, that really wasn’t all that big of a deal, ruin something that might be a really great thing.”

“He scares me,” Elina admitted in a moment of complete openness. “Being around him scares me,” she elaborated slowly as she licked her suddenly dry lips. “He’s all warm, and sweet, and loving, and you just know that he’s nice to his mother, and he makes me want things I didn't know I wanted. And he has the ability to make me feel things that I don't want to feel.”

“Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith,” Johanna cryptically advice her. “Either you take the safe route and nip this thing now, before it even has a chance to develop into something more, or you let go and see where it takes you.”

“And what if I do that and he breaks my heart?” Elina retorted, not about to let herself get hurt when she knew that she could protect herself.

“Then he breaks your heart and you know that you can go on without any ‘what if’s’ lingering in the back of your mind,” Johanna said slowly. “Yeah, it’s going to hurt, but maybe he won't break your heart and maybe if you walk away, you’ll never be truly happy.”

“What would you do if you were me?” Elina decided to ask.

“I can’t tell you that,” Johanna’s answer was immediate. “This is your heart, you’re going to be the one who hurts if this isn't the right thing and you’ll be the one to experience the happiness if it is.”

“I just don't know if I can trust him,” Elina said seriously.

“Like I said,” Johanna said slowly, “maybe you just need to take a leap of faith.”

Nodding slowly, Elina stretched out her long legs and flexed her toes slightly as she lay her head back against the chair. She knew that her friend was right; she was never going to know if she was ready to trust him, she was just going to have to do it. But to do that, she was going to have to hand over control to someone else, and she just wasn’t sure she was ready to do that.

Especially not to someone who’d already broken her trust at least once, who’d lied to her...
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Considering the minimal interest for this story, which still is my baby as it was the first story I ever followed through to the end and then showed other people, I'll be posting the rest of this story in large bulks and probably won't bother with a sequel