Woman's Resolve to stay Single

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Chapter 13 | Game Gifts

Admittedly, Hayden was lazing off. After the ‘day-off’ he spent with Elizabeth, he remembered the days when he had no work. No cafe to take care of, no employees to pay, and a lot of time to waste.

These days the cafe was doing pretty well, with constantly above average profit and no broken equipment yet. With the personality he had, before becoming a workaholic, he devised a way to get some more time-off.

Redecorating was the term. With this, he convinced himself that getting three days off was only right for putting up small statues, new mats, and fake plants up. Well, three days for him at least.

Realistically, it only took one day. With Elizabeth’s mentioned ideas of what goes where, he verbally handed over the information to all of his employees in a big online meeting right after he thought of it.

Now, people he hired with different shifts and roles in the cafe gathered during the first day of closing. Put their heads together, keeping in mind the plan, they spent the entire day redecorating the cafe.

That early morning, as soon as Hayden spotted a single employee in front of the shop. He opened the door and turned his door sign from ‘OPEN’ to’ CLOSED’. Fully dressed in athletic gear, he headed out while saying the words,

“I’ll come back this afternoon before six. Make sure everything is finished by then. Somebody must stay to man the cafe before I arrive. Got it, babe?”

The man who stood before Hayden was a male employee, but after the shameless nickname, he directly walked away, not even waiting for a reply. The employee wasn’t stunned being called babe. After doing this part-time job for so long, he knew the antics of his employer from serious to playful. And it seemed like it was one of those days that his boss felt like slacking off.

Swinging the key chain in his hands, he headed towards his motorcycle parked right outside the shop. He naturally put on his helmet, quickly wore his gloves, and started the ride.

He almost forgot how good mornings were supposed to be spent after placing all his time on the cafe with the measly reason of paying too many employees is just a waste of hard earned cash. Back then, working himself seemed like a better idea, but after experiencing the morning light shining and the warm breeze as he rode his motorcycle, he was seriously having second thoughts to avoid riding at pitch black dawn.

He spent that morning to workout more than usual and actually take a jog at a local open field rather than the old treadmill he rode at home. So he headed over, parked his ride, and found a pleasant spot to start his warm-ups.

There were a couple of people in the open field. It was popular in the area for being very accessible to walks, jogs, training camps, or even public martial art classes. It was a good place to do these kinds of things, but it still kept its relaxing atmosphere because of its wide space. There were no super enormous crowds, it was mostly just people by themselves or small gatherings of 5-10 people.

After Hayden had finished his stretching, he started doing some laps around the entire field. He wanted to just do a couple of rounds before heading to a gym right next to it.

While he did his runs, a familiar figure suddenly came up beside him. The first thing he noticed were the slick sports sunglasses the man wore and the very nice pair of soccer kicks he wore.

” Hey, you’re Hayden, right?” Mark suddenly said.

Hayden was shocked at the sudden recognition, he never knew that once in his life the tables would turn this significantly. A soccer star noticing him? Please, he thought, it was only possible in dreams, but until now, it clearly wasn’t.

“What’s up?” He said, trying the best as he could to play it cool. ” I never knew you were one to jog in these places Mark.”

“Hahaha, what do you mean ‘these kinds of places’? It’s really nice out here, I come often.” Mark replied.

“The glasses really do work in making you invisible around here.”

“I never thought of it as a disguise, but I guess it helps.”

” I almost didn’t recognize you right away.”

“That’s good then.”

They continued to jog together, sometimes one going in front of the other or vice versa. Not really talking much throughout the entire duration of the laps, but they were still wary of the other and never really shot off first out of respect. Jogging closely until both men finished and now stood by the benches, gulping down waters, and continuing their chat.

“That was a great run.” Mark exclaimed beside panting Hayden.

“It sure was, it’s the first time in ages that I jogged here again.”

“Working too much?”

“you betcha’ dude.” Casually throwing a playful wink like it was nothing. Hayden wasn’t embarrassed at all when Mark laughed because of this. Hayden was used to these actions whenever he was in a good mood. “Well, in your case, you’re the one working too much right now.” Hayden continued.

“You’re right. Hey, you want to play a round with me right now? Nobody’s on the field.”

“Sheesh, you really do like your job, huh?”

“I do.”

With that, the two men started a game of classic soccer.

“First one to two gets the bragging rights!” Hayden exclaimed. Mark followed up with a nod like it was nothing.

It was a casual game, with only the two of them playing, so they figured it would end pretty quickly.

It started with Hayden getting a hold of the ball first, steadily moving the ball along closer to Mark’s net. They locked both their eyes on the ball. Hayden tried to figure out a way to get away from that and have Mark lose sight for a moment.

It was thrilling; the adrenaline pumped up in Hayden’s blood as he thought of something he didn’t know would work. Being close to the goal, Hayden still had the ball with him. He turned behind the vertically defending Mark and shot his shot. Mark didn’t have time to react and Hayden could only pray his aimless kick would get in. And it did! The first goal was his.

Mark’s regretful eyes turned towards the goal. He saw it was in and he gave up a slight smile. He looked back at his opponent, happily jumping around in a childlike manner.

“Did I seriously do that?” Hayden exclaimed, ” Bro, Isn’t this a dream. It isn’t right?” Mark laughed at the disbelief and nodded in congratulations.

“Yessssssssssss!” Hayden celebrated.

“There’s still two more rounds, best to two, right?”

Hayden calmed down after hearing Mark. He gave a bright smile to his buddy, loving the feeling of playing after so long. “Bring it on!” He enthusiastically said.

The next game, Hayden still was the one who started with the ball, but this round was different. Mark realized he didn’t have the leverage to go easy on his new friend and thought that he was actually good at the game, better than most people. With his A-game on, early in the match, he managed to steal the ball and right after a few more minutes. Without a sweat, it was in the goal with one powerful kick.

” One more goal.” Mark said.

” Hey, you went easy on me the first round, didn’t you?” Hayden exclaimed.

“Hmm, did I?” Mark teased before grabbing the ball to start the last round. “Last round?” Hayden couldn’t argue any longer, so the two men started again.

With Mark having the ball first, no matter how much he tried, Hayden couldn’t steal the ball. Mark’s skill’s shocked him every time, how the ball ran so smoothly, and at most time got away rolling between his feet. He couldn’t catch up even though he tried. And as expected, Mark aced the last round with no difficulty.

“You truly are a national player.” Hayden exclaimed, dropping by the bench, chugging down water.

“I’m just doing my job.” Mark replied casually.

The two got along pretty well. It had been so long that Mark had found a friend that stood outside the court other than the ones he met a long time ago. Most of the time, his teammates or other opponents were the people he spent the most time with. Other times, he hung out with sponsors, managers, or even coaches.

It was great finding someone who was casual with him, so he spent little time about strategies, new plays, or upcoming tournaments. The game with Hayden was simply for fun, and it had been a long time that he played soccer for just that simple reason alone.

“Man, you’re good.” Hayden suddenly said, ” I never knew I could play with someone like you. I suppose you could say losing was an honor.”

Mark laughed at the words and replied, ” I mean you weren’t bad for someone playing casually. Were you in a team before?”

“I played seriously when I was in middle school, but stopped after that. I continued playing with friends, though.”

“Oh, that explains why you don’t play mindlessly.” Mark said. “That was fun.”

” Yeah, it sure was, I haven’t played in so long.”

“Hayden, do you want to watch one of my matches?” Mark suddenly asked.

“Of course! But tickets aren’t cheap at all.”

Mark shuffled around his bag and found his leather wallet. There he found the two tickets he kept safe for people he wanted to invite given by the organizers themselves. Thinking about it, he didn’t have anyone to give it to because without him knowing, his family already secured tickets beforehand, so he handed it over to Hayden.

“Here, tickets to the round of 16 coming up next month. Take it as thanks for the game.” Mark said as he handed over two tickets to his buddy.

“Wait, is this for real? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I have no use for those, anyway.”

“Really! Thank you so much Mark! Come by the cafe anytime and I’ll treat you.” Mark laughed as Hayden’s eyes sparkled above the tickets on hand. “Why’d you give me two though?”

“I thought you could bring a plus one to sit with you.” Mark replied. There, Hayden turned silent and thought about who he’d bring to the game. There he thought about the perfect person and smile in thought.

“You have someone, do you?” Mark playfully asked.

“Hm?”

“Bring her. I want to see the friend who shuts you up when you think of them.”

Hayden looked over to Mark in confusion, “Am I that annoying?” He asked.

Mark laughed and there the two men shared their thoughts about the sport.

Elizabeth was drained from working on the novel the whole day. She sat in front of the computer the whole day; she felt like her butt was flattening out. Though she got a lot done, her mind was breaking down. So she finished for the day and turned off the device in front of her. It was almost time for dinner, so she thought about ordering some takeout that night from her phone and eat at home.

She laid on her bed as she headed to scroll some choices for her upcoming meal, but then a ‘ting’ sounded through and a text came up her screen.

| AA Handsome Face |

/yo El. Come by the shop tonight to see the decorations placed./

/Ehh, can’t I come over tom?/

/No, I’ll treat you dinner/

/On the way ;))))/

Elizabeth’s mood pumped up. Getting a free meal was always better than spending for one with a delivery fee just to eat at home. And besides, Hayden’s cafe was only a bus ride away.

She didn’t bother changing. She only grabbed a scarf and her bag and headed out right away.

She arrived just minutes later. She couldn’t help but notice the ‘CLOSED’ sign in front of the store ,but seeing the bright light through the glass, she headed in anyway.

As soon as she walked in, she saw the new decorations that were placed and hung in the space. She felt like the atmosphere of the empty cafe & bar was more ‘homey’ than usual. It felt like they had refreshed it, being not as dark as before. She scanned around the entire room and was so focused she couldn’t mind anything else.

She didn’t notice Hayden saying hello to her of him carrying the dishes out of the kitchen. She only regained her senses when she heard the ‘clunk’ of plates as he placed them down on one of the tables.

“Dinner is served.” Hayden mentioned.

” The whole place looks so nice, Hayden! I was totally right about the fake plants.”

“Hahaha, it was an excellent addition for sure.”

Elizabeth casually sat down the table and started eating the meal Hayden prepared, a simple beef dish.

“Why are you closed today? Wow, this is good.” Elizabeth said, food in her mouth.

“Redecorating El.” With that, Hayden sat down as well and started eating himself.

Elizabeth focused on chowing down the food in front of her as Hayden again stood up to grab the tickets Mark gave him earlier. He sat back down and waved the two sheets in front of the hungry Elizabeth.

As soon as she read the tickets, she completely focused on the tickets and dropped the fork she held. She grabbed one of the two papers and read,

“Admit one. Round of 16 tournament.” She looked it over again shocked, ” How the fuck did you get this holy grail?!”

” I have my ways.”

“Are one of these mine?” Elizabeth hopefully asked.

“It’s really nice, isn’t it?”

“Yep! This is amazing!” Elizabeth shined her eyes over the tickets and celebrated in her seat, smiling happily. ” The round of 16 is super prestigious, teams who get through this go to the quarter finals!”

“I know.” Hayden said while laughing, “Will you go with me?”

“Why are you even asking?!”

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