Love Me Until My Heart Stops

20: It’s On Him, Not Me

Gathering her things, Esmé moved towards the exit, glad that her day at work was done with. It had been strange, people had been looking at her oddly all day, and Esmé couldn’t quite put her finger on why, even if she did have her suspicions, she had little to back it up with. She knew that something was up, Gerard hadn’t quite been his usual self since they’d left his home earlier that day, and she couldn’t help but think that they odd looks were in some way connected to him or at the very least, whatever it was that was on his mind. Placing her bag onto her shoulder, she took a couple of steps towards the exit, only to stop as Luis Enrique appeared ahead of her, a firm expression on his face. “Do you have a moment, Miss Silva?” he asked.

Esmé nodded. “Of course, sir, what can I do for you?” she responded.

“Take a seat” Luis replied, offering her the seat at her desk.

Esmé lifted her eyebrow, but quietly sat down, her brown eyes fixed on the coach who looked at her, trying to come up with the right words. He didn’t want to lose her, Esmé was good at her job and would have been a loss if he had to let her go, but he had to say something. He had put up with her friendship with Gerard, he’d even tolerated their desire to share a room on away trips when they thought he wasn’t looking, but the murmurs he had heard around the training ground that afternoon needed to be addressed. If she was dating Gerard, as many of his players seemed to think that she was, then she needed to be warned. She could not be a distraction to him. “I need to ask you something, Esmeralda” the coach noted.

“Did you need me to do something? I was on my way out, but I could hang back for a while” Esmé offered.

“I need to ask about Piqué” the coach mused.

Esmé swallowed. “What about him, sir?” she posed gently.

“I have heard murmurs, Esmeralda, and Gerard himself wasn’t doing much to deny it earlier. Your relationship with him, it is romantic now yes?” he posed.

Esmé blinked, a little caught off guard by the question, before she peeked up at her employer. “Is it going to be a problem?” she asked softly.

“No” The older man noted “I am not at all interested in what you and Piqué get up to in your spare time, that is entirely up to you, but I need you to understand that whatever issues you two have, they are not to be brought here” he explained “Relationships can be messy, especially ones where the people involved work together, and I need your word, Esmeralda, that no matter what happens, you will not provide a distraction to him” he added.

Esmé nodded her head. “I will certainly try not to be, sir” she noted softly “The last thing I want is to be a problem” she added.

Luis nodded his head. “I wish you luck, Esmé” he noted, smiling at her slightly “I hope it works out” he added before he stepped away, affording her the chance to make her way out of the room, her head spinning. It was out, the fact that Enrique had heard about it was all the confirmation she needed, and she hated that she hadn’t realized sooner. The looks and Gerard’s odd behavior were suddenly clearer. Swallowing a little, she quietly made her way towards the exit, finding her car which, not for the first time, had Gerard perched against it, his face brightening as he spotted her.

“Are you ready to go?” he posed.

Esmé shook her head. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she whispered, looking up at him softly.

Gerard frowned. “Tell you what?” he mused, trying to play dumb.

“People know about us, Gerard” Esmé returned “That, or Luis Enrique is a mind-reader” she muttered.

Gerard’s expression softened slightly. “He spoke to you?” he posed, taking a step towards her so that he could lay a hand on her elbow, squeezing it reassuringly. Esmé nodded her head. “What did he say? Are you going to be OK here?” he pressed.

“My job is safe, Gerard” Esmé murmured “Just as long as you and I manage to keep our work and relationship separate, but that isn’t what I want to talk about. How come I am the last to know about our secret getting out?” she posed.

“I didn’t want to upset you. You’ve been so happy recently, like you were before, and I didn’t want you to take a step backwards because someone somewhere caught a glimpse of something we weren’t ready to let people see. It was unlucky, that kiss being caught on camera, and I didn’t want you freaking out over something like this” he explained to her softly, his thumb skimming over her elbow softly “I like how we are when we’re alone together and I didn’t want you thinking that it needed to change” he added.

Esmé shook her head. “You should have told me” she whispered gently.

“I know” Gerard replied, gently pulling her into his arms, hugging her gently “But the selfish part of me wanted to keep you in the dark. You’d have only worried and I know what that looks like on you” he added, kissing the top of her head.

“Everyone knows?” Esmé murmured.

“Pretty much” Gerard replied, holding her tightly.

“How did it go down?” she murmured, tilting her head up so that she was looking up at him. She knew that there was something they were skirting around, both of them were very much aware of the prospect of Cesc returning, but she didn’t want to be the one to say it. In the 4 weeks since they’d started their relationship, Gerard’s previous affection towards the midfielder had dissipated and become a rather strong dislike, something which Esmé knew better than to play on. He didn’t like Cesc, he didn’t like the way he’d hurt her, and Esmé didn’t want to broach the topic of him finding out about them. It was bound to upset the defender who had worked so hard to help her get over the other man.

Gerard smiled. “A lot of people seem genuinely happy” he mused.

“Really?” Esmé posed.

Gerard nodded his head and pulled the driver’s side door open, allowing her to sit down. “They obviously have questions, I can’t blame them for that, but after they got them out their system, a lot of people seemed very happy that you’d found someone new. They were less thrilled about it being me, but everyone wants you happy, Esmé” he assured her, kneeling down ahead of her.

Esmé shifted a little. “You know that he’s going to find out, don’t you?” she whispered, trying to be tactful.

Gerard’s expression tightened, but he nodded. “Of course I know that” he mumbled “But you have to know that I am not going to let him cause us a problem. He fucked up, Esmé, not me and not you, and he’s not going to make me feel bad for caring about you. We’re together now” he whispered, his thumb tracing over her jaw “And he isn’t going to change that” he added, kissing her gently.

Esmé let him kiss her gently for a few moments before she leant back, resting her forehead against his as her phone beeped inside of her bag. “That’ll be my mother” she commented, offering the bag a little look “You know she’s going to be crazy, don’t you?” she added, quirking a little grin.

Gerard nodded. “Her, your sisters, my parents. A lot of people haven’t had a shot at fussing about us yet” he commented.

Esmé shook her head. “We can handle this, can’t we?” she noted, helping him back to his feet.

Gerard offered her another grin and nodded. “Of course we can. It had to happen one day” he quipped before he placed a kiss against her head “Besides, a few pictures and rumors are nothing we can’t handle. Tentatively together or not, we’re stronger than we look” he mused gently. Esmé smiled feebly at his words and hugged him. She liked that he was so sure, he made the perfect contrast to her on that front, but she couldn’t help but be a little more guarded in terms of their chances. Cesc was going to be an issue, she knew it, and she couldn’t pretend that she was as sure as he was. She had no idea about how she would respond if Cesc showed up.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comments :)