How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 34

Once Jessie and Bradley had finished visiting the wonders of Northern India, it was time to fly down to the south for a week of relaxing on the beaches of Goa and enjoying the full spa treatment, wonderful food and the warm hospitality. It was time to forget about Deepak and the other street kids of Jaipur; he had left Archie in charge of that while he and Jessie rested.

And enjoy themselves they did. They agreed it was the most wonderful holiday they had ever experienced, although between them, they hadn’t experienced much more than Bradley’s annual trips to Florida in the past, so the benchmark wasn’t that high to begin with as far as exotic holidays went.

After a week of being spoilt, it was time to head back to Barcelona, then off to Mijas for the rest of the summer which they were still looking forward to. It was a long journey home, but flying first class always helped where they continued to enjoy the star treatment, chatting excitedly about seeing family and friends back home and sharing their experience with them.

Archie had everything in hand regarding Deepak. He was arranging for him to fly to Scotland, with his grandad hopefully, where he would spend a week training with Hearts and being assessed. It was close season, but one or two of the Hearts coaches were setting up some coaching and a couple of kickabouts with the under 17s. He wasn’t sure if Drew would come with him at first, it had been awkward speaking to him after all those years, but he managed to convince him to come home for a week.

In the meantime, Archie had been doing some digging around on Drew and why he left so suddenly all those years ago. What he found out didn’t make good reading. Apparently, he had got his girlfriend pregnant and panicked as he had no club and no way of supporting them so he decided to disappear and left his girlfriend to bring up his child on her own. The boy was now thirty-five and was living in Aberdeen with his own family, near to his mother’s house just outside of town. She had married a local boy who had taken her son in as his own and the boy had never had any interest in finding out who his real father was. Let’s face it, his dad disappeared before he was born so there wasn’t exactly any bond.

Archie had filled Bradley in on all the details by email and told him his plans for Deepak once he arrived in Scotland. He congratulated Bradley on not only finding him, but also the plans he had to set up a school for the other kids there and improve their chances. Not just at football, but education as well. Archie promised to pop over to Mijas after Deepak and Drew had gone back to Jaipur to bring him up to date.

Their plane touched down at Barcelona airport early morning. It had been a tortuous route; Goa to Mumbai, another change in Madrid, then the short hop to Barcelona which had taken them around sixteen hours door-to-door. It had been worth it though. They finally arrived back at their apartment in time for lunch, although they were so exhausted they just left the cases in the lobby and crashed into bed for a couple of hours sleep.

Bradley woke first and switched his phone on which prompted a lot of downloading of messages and emails. He filtered through and deleted the usual messages he didn’t need and then gradually opened up and read the important ones. Usual messages from the club keeping him updated on news, recommending training schedules and so on, and then he came across one that made him curious. He hadn’t recognised the email address, but the heading was ‘Dinner, son?’

He opened it up and saw it was from a restaurant in London called Bistro Lucia. Bradley recalled that this was the place that Archie’s contacts had found during their search for news of his dad.

‘Hi, son. I hope you are well. I thought you might like to come and see what Lucy and I have achieved the next time you are in London. Bistro Lucia is doing great and getting good reviews, so next time you are in town you can come and see that I am not always a failure. I also want to apologise properly when I see you. I know I’ve let you down too many times, but I’ve changed. I want you to see how much. Please come and see us soon. If I don’t hear from you, I will understand. Love you. Dad’

Bradley sat on the edge of the bed reading and re-reading the email. He didn’t know what to think. Yes, his dad had regularly embarrassed him with his antics, but he was still his dad, and he still loved him. He had always been there for him and he now felt guilty for ignoring him for the last six months. It was time to make amends.

He showed the email to Jessie when she eventually woke up and asked what she thought.

‘Of course you should go and see him. Let’s go next week for a few days; I could do with meeting up with some of my old friends and family back in Loughton anyway.’

Bradley got on the phone to the club’s travel agent and arranged for them to head over to London in a few days’ time. Jessie excitedly phoned her parents who were down in Mijas awaiting their arrival. They said they would rather stay there than hop back to London for a few days and anyway, it was about time she caught up with her family.

Once the arrangements had been made, Bradley replied to his dad’s email telling him to reserve a table for the following Monday evening and he looked forward to seeing this wonderful restaurant.

Brian heard his phone signal that he had received an email just as he was helping prep the food for that evening’s dinner session. He couldn’t pick the phone up straight away, but didn’t expect it to be important. The only email he wanted to receive was from Bradley and he hadn’t replied to his email of a week ago, making Brian think that he didn’t want to get back in touch with his dad. That hurt Brian deeply, but he wouldn’t give up.

When he did eventually check his phone, a broad smile crept across his face as he told Lucy excitedly that they should reserve a table for them on Monday. Lucy was nervous; it had been a long while since she had met Bradley. So much water had gone under the bridge since then and she wasn’t sure what the atmosphere was going to be like. Brian had changed for the better, that much was true, but he still had the potential to cock things up spectacularly if he wanted.

She told him how pleased she was for him and to get back to peeling them potatoes.

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