How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 48

He was pleased to get back to his apartment and relax after his hectic last few weeks. The first thing he needed to do was arrange a short holiday with Jessie so he could recharge his batteries in the sun somewhere. Once again, he decided on Spain and this time, he was going with the intention of buying a place out there as he loved it so much. Time for a permanent bolthole he could escape to now and then, he thought. So that night, he trawled through the for sale section of an upmarket estate agent and earmarked four properties that he and Jessie would view when they got there.

Jessie was thrilled that they were going and packed immediately, even though they weren’t due to leave until four days’ later. She loved the idea of popping over to stay at Bradley’s villa and was excited at the thought of viewing these villas with the intention of making it their second home. She was hoping that her mum and dad would be able to join them sometimes as well. It would make a nice change from the usual cheap holidays in England that she had been brought up with.

On the second night home, Bradley got a phone call from his dad who was still in Los Angeles.

‘Bradley? How you doing? Hope you got back okay. I’ve got some great news!’ Brian exclaimed.

‘Hi dad, yeah, got back no problem. Jessie was there at Glasgow airport to meet me which was great.’ He didn’t think it would be a good idea to mention that he had seen his mum and her unexpected guest. ‘What’s the good news then?’

‘Well, after you had left, I got a visit from the guy who heads up the LA Galaxy franchise here. We got talking and he has offered me a job as head of sales for the club. They are big into the marketing and corporate side of the game and I was recommended to him by someone. Don’t know who it was but I’d like to thank them.’ Brian said excitedly.

‘That’s great news dad. I suppose that means you and Lucy are going to stay in LA now. Make a fresh start and all that.’

‘It does mean that, Bradley. I’m finished in London, too many skeletons in my closet for anyone to be interested in employing me in my old business, so we’re staying put. The club are sorting out all the visas and paperwork and putting us in a club house until we’re settled. Job starts next month and the salary is better than I would have got in London. I hope you’re pleased for me.’ Brian asked.

‘Of course! It’s a great move, LA isn’t my favourite place but you can’t beat the weather and lifestyle. Go for it dad!’

Deep down, Bradley was a bit relieved that his dad wasn’t going to be playing such a big part in his life from now on. He had dealt with enough embarrassing situations up until now and it would be good for all concerned. He wondered who had managed to put this together, and it wasn’t long before he realised that Arsenal’s connections had probably swung it to get his dad away from the scene. He would ask Sr Cantonelli when he spoke to him next.

The conversation moved on to more practical things like giving the letting agent notice to quit their Docklands apartment and moving their meagre belongings out to the US, then took a different turn.

‘When you got back to Scotland, did you go and see your mum? How is she?’ Brian enquired sheepishly.

Bradley was in a bit of a corner now.

‘We did pop in briefly, couldn’t stay long as we had to drive back to London. She’s not coping with it all, to be honest. I think she’s drinking too much and seemed depressed. I’m a bit worried about her.’

The line went quiet for a few seconds before Brian reacted.

‘I worry about her too. Even after what she done to me, I still care about her, you do know that don’t you?’

‘Yes, of course. Just one of those things, I guess. I’ll ask Sam to keep an eye on her.’

With that, they had both purged themselves of any guilty feelings and responsibility. Not ideal, and not the solution that was needed.

Bradley went on to tell his dad about buying a villa in Spain when they were out there later that week and the conversation drifted around covering the World Cup, pre-season training and whether he would have another manager soon.

Thirty minutes later, they hung up and Bradley just stared through the window at the crowds below going about their business. Couples holding hands, walking their dogs, shopping, all couples though. He had hoped separation was going to be a last resort and they could have worked it through, but it was not to be. Bradley had to accept that both parents had moved on, one in a positive way and the other not so positive. He still had to be there for both of them at the end of the day.

Feeling lonely, he called Jessie and asked her if she wanted to bring her luggage over the next day so they could spend some time together before heading off to the airport. She jumped at the chance and told him that she would get her dad to drive her over in the morning on his way into the City with his taxi.

Bradley let out a huge sigh of relief and slumped into his leather reclining armchair with a cup of tea. Time for a proper holiday, he thought.

Barry dropped Jessie off with her cases just after breakfast. He was excited to see the apartment and as usual, spend some time with Bradley. He was like a kid in a sweet shop with him, babbling on about where Arsenal were going wrong tactically, who they should buy, their chances for the new season. Bradley hardly got a word in during these conversations, but he was fine with that. Jessie just looked on and tutted occasionally as her dad would say something that made him look a bit silly.

Eventually, Barry left them to it and hopped in his cab for the short drive through Islington to the City where he would tout for business on the busy streets of the financial centre. Once he had gone, Bradley picked Jessie up and carried her into the bedroom.

‘I’ve been waiting a long time to see you.’ He laughed.

‘It was only yesterday, silly!’ She giggled as they embraced on the huge bed, kissing passionately.

After breakfast, they gathered their belongings and waited for the club car to pick them up. Arsenal insisted that their top players didn’t go anywhere on public transport, and that included flying, for fear of being mobbed or attacked. The car was arranged to drive them to London City Airport where the club plane was being readied for the flight to Malaga.

Bradley had shown Jessie the short list of four properties he really liked and welcomed her opinions on each one in turn. She had never seen anything like these places; she was only used to cramped houses in the suburbs and not five bedroomed luxury villas with huge amounts of land and olive trees. They all looked so gorgeous, she wasn’t sure she would be able to pick one. And the prices! None of them were less than €2,000,000! You could buy ten houses like hers with that sort of money, she laughed.

The car pulled up outside and the driver came up to Bradley’s apartment to get their luggage and escort them to the awaiting BMW parked outside. The journey to London City Airport didn’t take long and once they were whisked through the VIP security and on to the private jet it had only taken an hour door-to-door. The only way to fly, they thought.

In less than three hours, Jessie and Bradley were at their hotel near Malaga unpacking. The weather was beautifully hot and welcoming. They unpacked in no time and Bradley got changed into his swimming shorts. Jessie had bought a provocative bikini before they had left which meant that as soon as Bradley saw it on her, the pool would have to wait. He pulled her to him and kissed her hard on the lips. She felt his manhood press into her and undid her bikini bottoms that she had only just put on.

By the end of their week in Malaga, they were nicely tanned and relaxed, and Bradley had put a large deposit on a nice five bedroomed villa in the nearby village of Mijas for a cool €2.2 million. They had fallen in love with that particular property as it had charm and style, and boasted a huge swimming pool surrounded by trees which meant they weren’t overlooked. They wanted to move in there and then, but there were a few layers of bureaucracy to go through before it was his and his personal manager at the club would be better placed to do all the paperwork for him as they had lots of experience of this with other players buying and selling property all around the world.

They took one last drive past Bradley’s new retreat on the way to the airport where they bade goodbye to the sunshine and boarded Arsenal’s private jet.

On the flight home, Bradley took a bold step and asked Jessie if she would like to move in with him permanently when they got home. This had all happened too quickly for Jessie so initially she wasn’t too sure if she was ready to make such a commitment this early into their relationship. There was no doubt that they were perfect for each other, but Jessie had a job to go to and she wasn’t sure about leaving her parents on their own. She told him she would give it some thought which disappointed Bradley who worried that he might have overstepped the mark. The rest of the flight home was in comparative silence apart from the odd comment from Bradley about the new season. It was all a bit strained until they got back to Bradley’s and he offered to take her home in his car rather than calling Barry and asking him for a lift. Jessie decided that she would rather call her dad and he could pick her up on the way home to save Bradley going out of his way.

That just made Bradley feel worse and he apologised to Jessie for putting pressure on her. He was still only twenty and didn’t have much experience with the opposite sex, so this was a lesson learned for him.

By the time Barry had arrived, they had cleared the air a bit and were back on loving terms as they kissed goodbye, hoping to see each other again soon although Bradley had to report for pre-season the next day and would be busy for the next few weeks at least.

Luckily, Bradley didn’t see the tear that crept down Jessie’s cheek as he waved her off.

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