How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 9

Everything had gone perfectly for Bradley. This Christmas had turned out to be the best ever with all the people he loved around him and everybody getting on so well, especially Carlos and his mum, and they all promised to do the same thing next Christmas as one by one they all made their way back to Malaga airport courtesy of Carlos’ network of taxi driving friends, although Carlos made sure he was the driver taking Martine back.

She was the last guest to leave and it pleased Bradley that his mum was looking happy and healthy for the first time in years. Martine had been through a very rough time and come out the other side at last, maybe Carlos would be a good influence on her and she would visit Mijas more regularly, which would be nice. When Carlos returned from the airport he called in to see Bradley and Jessie, still smiling.

‘So, Senor Bradley; that is everyone back on their way home. I hope you were pleased with everything?’ Carlos asked.

‘Absolutely! It all went perfectly, Carlos. We can’t thank you enough for everything you did to make it happen. Do you have time for a coffee or tea? We aren’t heading back to Barcelona until tomorrow so we can relax a bit now.’ Bradley smiled.

‘That would be nice, thank you. Just a coffee would be fine. Do you want me to make it?’ He offered.

Jessie insisted on making a fresh pot and a tea for Bradley who was now walking normally and ready to get back into training for their next match in a few days’ time.

‘I’ve never seen my mum looking as happy as she did this week, Carlos. I think we all know that it was down to you and I thank you for that.’ Bradley told Carlos.

‘She is a wonderful lady, Bradley. I am pleased to make her happy; I hope you don’t mind.’

’Of course not, Carlos. You seem to get on well together. Have you made any plans to see each other again soon?

Carlos started to blush.

‘Well, yes we have. Your mum has invited me to visit her in Scotland in a couple of weeks. As long as you don’t have any objections’ He replied.

‘I don’t have any objections at all!’ Bradley laughed. ‘I hope you enjoy Scotland, although January isn’t the best time to visit.’ He added.

Jessie entered the lounge with a tray of tea and coffees and Bradley told her about Carlos’ plans to visit Scotland soon, which she agreed was a wonderful idea.

They spent the following hour or two discussing where to go in Edinburgh and what to wear, where to visit etc. Eventually, Carlos had to go as he some other matters to attend to so he promised he would be back in the morning to collect them and take them to the airport in plenty of time. Bradley and Jessie thanked him again for all his efforts and told him they would try to get back to Mijas very soon.

The rest of their last day was spent relaxing by the pool and enjoying the remainder of the tapas and food that hadn’t been eaten, before getting packed. There was time for one last swim and Bradley picked Jessie up and threw her in the pool playfully before jumping in after her. Laughing as they surfaced, they held each other close and gazed into their eyes, deeply in love.

Once they had finished packing, Bradley thought about turning his phone on, if only to see if everybody had arrived home safely. There might be messages from the club which he needed to respond to so he pressed the ‘on’ button and waited for the messages to download. There were quite a few; mainly from friends and team mates exchanging banter and stories about their holidays, and two voicemail messages. One from dad and the other from McNair which caused Bradley to frown. What part of not interested didn’t he get? He had no intention of phoning him back as he wasn’t going to get involved in anything that he had to offer. He didn’t need it. Instead, he deleted the message and blocked his number from calling his phone, then pressed his dad’s speed dial number in Los Angeles.

‘Hi dad, did you have a nice Christmas? We had a great time.’

‘Hello son, yes, Lucy and I had a lovely time. We went to a friend’s house for Christmas dinner, they live in the hills and have a spectacular view over LA to the sea. It was weird enjoying sunshine instead of the damp and cold Christmas Days we used to enjoy. Was it sunny in Spain?’

‘Yes, it was gorgeous. Carlos made it special and everyone had a great time, especially mum. She looked a lot happier thankfully. By the way, Jessie and I got engaged yesterday, we’re really happy!’ Bradley told him.

‘That’s great news! Congratulations! So pleased for you. I’d love to meet her soon.’

The rest of the conversation revolved around Bradley’s injury and whether he would be fit for the second half of the season, and Brian telling him all about his job in LA. An hour later, they wrapped up and promised to keep in touch with developments soon. As you do.

One final call was to his mum. She explained that she and Carlos had got on well and that she had invited him over in a couple of weeks, hoping that Bradley wouldn’t be upset, which of course he wasn’t. She went on to say that they were hoping that things could work out for them, but she would only carry on if Sam and Bradley were happy.

Bradley told her he was delighted and he was happy that she had found happiness at last.

He joined Jessie on the terrace who was soaking up the last of the day’s sunshine and warmth, happy that she didn’t have to leave it all behind and head back to rainy old Essex, but back to her and Bradley’s place in Barcelona. He cuddled up behind her and saw the big smile on her face. She couldn’t be happier, which made him the happiest man on earth.

Now, he couldn’t wait to get his boots on and enjoy the rest of the season.

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