‹ Prequel: A Summer Romance

Forgive and Forget


The season ending with a two-nil win over the Tottenham Hotspurs on White Hart Lane down in London, Elina had watched the game with Simon, a few of his teammates from the academy and their sister, brothers, families at a sports bar just south of the city. They had been treated to a goal each by Andriy Voronin and Fernando Torres, the latter’s ensuring that he broke the record for most goals scored by a foreign Premier League playing in their debut season in the league.

Despite the win they ended up in a rather disappointing fourth place in the league and the city was quickly gearing up for several months without football.

The same couldn’t be said for the foreign players, many of who would be returning to their home countries to report for national duty in the upcoming Euro’s. Fernando being one of them, Elina knew that he would be leaving really soon, just the day after her and Simon actually. And they were scheduled on a flight two days after the last Liverpool game.

A regular afternoon game, the team had made the journey back up to Liverpool the same evening and the following afternoon Fernando had been surprised at the appearance of a certain blonde on his doorstep.

He was getting ready for the annual banquet that evening, an event that was pretty much a glorified team dinner as well as an opportunity to wealthy men and women to socialise with the club’s famous players, when there was a knock on his front door and pulling it open, he’d been surprised at finding Elina standing there.

“What are you doing here?” he asked as he let her inside. He’d invited her to come to the banquet just a couple of weeks earlier, knowing that the whole affair would be a lot less boring with her there. It may have his first one with Liverpool, but he’d been to numerous events like it back at Atletico and he wasn’t exactly looking forwards to it. Sure, the awards that were handed out to the players were nice, especially the ones that had been voted on by the fans, but they barely made the thing endurable.

But she’d turned the invitation down, telling him that she didn't want the attention such a move would likely cause. They were already labelled a couple whenever photos of them appeared somewhere and considering the truth, that they were just friends, she didn't want to add fuel to an already annoying fire.

Most of the pictures that had been published so far were simply of friends going shopping together or having lunch or something else equally as innocent, but there were the occasional time when they paparazzo’s managed to strike gold. When Fernando had playfully draped his arm around her shoulder, when she’d grabbed his hand to keep him from getting run over by a three-year-old on a bike and that one time when they’d actually been caught hugging cause she’d learned that a friend’s mother, whom she was still close to, had gotten cancer.

All the pictures had a very innocent truth behind them, not that the editors cared, they smelled romance and shouted it from the figurative rooftop in form of headlines.

Just appearing at the banquet would look like a confirmation of the romance, the relationship that was just a figment of imagination in the mind of editors across the country, going as his date....

She ruled that out before he’d even finished the question.

The lines between them were blurred and muddled enough without adding on the extra pressure the press were sure to put on them if they were ever to get together. Fernando might not have been as interesting in the eyes of the paparazzo’s as some of the other football players in the country, but that didn't mean he wasn’t recognised, wasn’t photographed, wasn’t written about.

“I just thought I should help you get ready for this banquet that I'm making you go to all alone,” she smiled sheepishly.

“I could have gotten a date if I wanted to,” he pointed out, but still allowed her further into the house as he stood in front of the mirror, straightening out the shirt he was wearing, tucking it into his dark pants.

“But you didn't,” she pointed out with a smile as she picked up the black tie that was lying on the table.

“I didn't,” it would be useless to argue as he was going on his own. “What time is your flight?” he wondered, knowing that this might well be the last time he saw her for quite a while. He’d been through that before, he didn't like it back then and he was sure he wouldn't like it now.

“Two o’clock,” she revealed as she continued watching him fiddle with his hair.

“I'm going to miss you,” he said honestly.

“I'm going to miss you too,” she admitted to him for the first time. “But you’ll be busy preparing for the Euro’s, not to mention, I’ll be seeing you out there.”

“Right,” he nodded once, not yet ready to think of the tournament.

“You're looking forwards to it though, right?” she asked carefully, seeing the nervous glint in his eyes.

“Of course,” he sighed softly. “I mean, I get to represent my country in a big tournament. It’s what every kid dreams about.”

“It’s okay to be nervous, even a bit worried,” she reminded him. “I mean, I know how our media treats our national team, I can only guess that Spain isn't that much different.”

“It’s just that we haven’t had any sort of success in years,” he told her. “The last time they got anywhere in the Euro’s was back in -84 and, I mean, I had barely been born by then...” he trailed off slightly. “Everyone expects us to win,” he stated frankly. “They do it all the time, they did it in 2004, they did it in 2006 and they certainly expect us to go all the way this year.”

“You're not letting them down,” she could feel where this was going. “You're eleven guys out on that pitch, all who are trying their best to win and no one else gets to say anything about it. Everyone has got an opinion, and most of them should just shut up about it. They’re watching the games because everyone else does and they barely know the rules and they just have an opinion because it’s expected of them.”

“Thank you,” he smiled at her, amusement shining in his eyes as he watched her. He would never have thought that she would be that passionate about it.

“You're welcome,” she smiled at him.

“So what are you going to do tonight?” he wondered as he fastened the cuffs of his sleeves with the very cufflinks he’d gotten from her that past Christmas.

“I'm going over to Nikki’s place after this,” Elina revealed softly. “Caroline’s on a date with her fiancé and Nikki is feeling particularly sour about me leaving, so I’ve promised to have takeout with her tonight,” she told him with a smile. “We might even be watching the banquet,” she teased him, knowing how much he really didn't want to attend.

“That’s just wrong,” he groaned slightly. The whole thing would be airing live on the clubs network and that made him more nervous than it should have.

“Don't do anything embarrassing,” she advised him with a teasing smirk that only caused him to roll his eyes at her. “Now do you need help with this?” she asked as she held up the tie she was holding in her hand.

“Sure,” he nodded once, watching as she walked over to him and reached up, slipping the silk fabric around his neck and straightening up the pressed collar of his crisp white shirt.

Feeling her smooth fingers against the skin of his neck made him want to close his eyes and just enjoy the feelings they threatened to evoke in him.

He hated the way things were so uncertain between them. He wanted to be able show her what he was feeling for her, he wanted to show the world that he was taken, that she was taken. He wanted people to know that she was his support whenever things went wrong, whenever he had a bad stretch of games, that she was the one he shared joys and happiness with, that she was the one he wanted to take on vacation to faraway locations. It wasn’t just that he wanted the public to know about her – not that they didn’t already – he just wanted to be able to introduce him as his girlfriend, he wanted his family to get to know her, love her as much he did...

Sighing heavily, he caught the frown that spread across her forehead as she glanced up at him. Her moves were delicate as she finished with the tie but he couldn’t concentrate on anything but the blue eyes that looked back at him.

“What do you want?” he asked softly, his tone void of accusation but his eyes filled with question as he reached up and gently gripped her wrists, holding them in place after she’d finished with the tie and was fixing his collar.

“What are you...?” she began asking, her frown deepening slightly.

“Are you ever going to trust me?” he questioned seriously, his thumb caressing the outside of her wrist slowly. “I want you,” he stated simply. “I want all of you. Your secrets, your insecurities, your heart, your problems...” he trailed off, licking his lips slightly. “I want it all, but I don't feel like you want the same thing.

“I do,” she told him honestly. “I really do, but I just...”

“I know you don't trust easily,” he interrupted her. “But you do trust me,” he pointed out. “I know that you trust me, so I don't know what...” he pressed his lips together to keep from saying something he would inevitably regret moments later.

“Fernando...” she said slowly, brushing her fingers over the warm skin of his neck, suddenly desperate for him to stop talking.

“I don't know how long I'm going to be able to wait for something that might never even happen,” he continued honestly. “What if you never feel like you can trust me? What if you never get ready to test this thing between us?” he questioned. “What then?” he added softly. “What am I going to do then?”

“I don't...” she stuttered slightly as she looked up at him, his brown eyes boring into her, causing her to feel as if he could see straight through her.

He knew that she was the only one he wanted. If he was completely honest he’d known it for a long time, long before they met each other again. He knew that he wanted to spend his life with her, that he wanted her as the mother of his children, he wanted to bring her back to Madrid and introduce him to the rest of his family...

Letting go of her wrists, he stepped closer to her, their chest all but touching as he brushed his fingers over her cheek. Taking her face in his hands, he erased the distance between them and gently brushed his lips against hers.

Slowly opening his eyes after he broke the kiss, his gaze meeting hers, he made a silent prayer that he wasn’t going to end up regretting what he was about to do.

“I want you, all of you, but I can’t wait forever,” he said softly. “So you have a choice to make.”
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