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Chapter 14: Chocolate Cake And Stevie Rothes

Chocolate cake and Stevie Rothes

I take the food to the kitchen and drop it on the island. I then search the cabinets for plates and begin to serve the food.

"The food's here." Liam says coming back. "I hope you didn't have trouble with the door."

"I did. The left button on the second row, I clicked that. Twice." I say. "What does it do".

He turns towards the keypad and focuses his eyes on it. "That's for the garage, it locks and unlocks her space. As far as you pressed it twice, it's alright."

I want to ask him to explain but I decide not to. What's the point. "That was a pretty long talk. Good thing you took it."

He shakes his head. "Yes glad I took that." He runs his hand through his hair. "You'll love their food, sometimes I visit Darcy just so I can order from their restaurant." He looks emotionally drained from just that five minutes phone call.

I can't ignore it anymore. "None of my business but who was that." I say pouring my chicken dish into a white glass plate.

"That was my Dad." He reveals. "Just checking up on me."

I nod. It's clear he doesn't want to talk about it and I'm not going to push it. "Can we talk about your order. What is this."

He places his hands on the island. "That is a special salad and beef dish. It's healthy and it keeps you in shape."

"Well, it looks like the chef killed an animal then threw its body in a tub of bleach." I joke. The meat looks plain and like it's lacking any spice. And the vegetables are big and in varying shades of green.

"Wait until you see my smoothie." He says mischievously sliding to the fridge and pulling out the different ingredients.

"This will be fun." I take my seat on a chair and dig into my food.

He dances around the kitchen going from sink to counter to fridge slicing his ingredients and putting them in the blender. The drink comes out all brown and slushy.

He drinks everything in one go. "You truly are brave." I say, he then sits down to eat his food.

"I don't mind it. A small price to pay to live your dreams." He says. Yes and be a millionaire. "So tell me more about yourself, you already know so much about me." Do I?

"Um, I grew up with just my mum. No siblings, just us. We did everything together, like the British Gilmore girls. But with different skin colours. She did everything she could to make us have a good life. I got a job when I was 14 as a babysitter then became a waitress when I was 16, saving up for college." I say. "And I lived with my mum up till a few months ago when she moved out. And yes that is as pathetic as it sounds."

He laughs. "It's not. I'm 28 and I'm hiding in my sister's apartment because I don't want to stay with my dad." He realizes what he said as soon as he says it. "Not hiding, more like ignoring." I don't respond. "Your mum, what about her why did she move out."

"My mum. She got married." I say. " A few months back, not too long ago."

"Oh good for her. So how is she now, do you like the new guy."

"Yeah, Bryan's a good guy. He and my mum are perfect for each other."

"Your mum sounds like a nice person, I'm glad she and Bryan found each other. They looked really happy last week."

I cough. "What, no that's Bryan Richardson. You think that's the Bryan I'm talking about." He rolls his eyes. I give up. It was going to come out eventually. "How did you know."

"I checked your socials a few days ago and recognized her in one of the pics."

"Stalker." I whisper under my breath before looking up at him. "Yep." I let out a nervous chuckle. "At least now you know how I get this job despite knowing nothing about football."

He tilts his head. "My mind had actually not gone there but now it's all I can think about."

"Please don't tell any of the other lads."

He swipes at the air. "Let me review my checklist. First, don't tell the guys about us, secondly don't tell them you're Bryan Richardson's stepdaughter. Anything else you'll like to add."

I push my hair out of my face. "No. That's it." I confirm. We finish eating and go to the living room.

"Do you want to watch something." He asks picking up a remote. He points it at the wall and I hear a low sound before a big part of the wall begins to separate. It divides to reveal a plasma screen tv, the telly protrudes forward about half an inch and stays like that.

I guffaw. "I'm having so many regrets right now." I tell Liam. "What is your sister's job and why don't I qualify for it."

He laughs. "She's a software developer. She's actually in California right now for a tech conference."

"No wonder she can afford this place. This apartment is insane."

"Don't think too much of it. I helped her out with the down payment, she's paying the rest by herself though." He scoffs. "She's not even pretending to try to pay me back."

I laugh shakily, I haven't thought of a plan to pay my mother and Bryan back for the car. "So TV." I draw our focus to the giant TV currently staring at us. "I'm fine with whatever you want to watch."

"Do you mind football." He asks. I mean I work in a football stadium for footballers, all my work tasks are in some way football-related. So why not, yay more football. "Sure." I say unenthusiastically.

"Sorry, it's work. It'll only take a minute." He switches the tv on and puts it on a football channel. They're doing the rerun of Sunday's game. He changes the channel to a different football channel. A young man is being interviewed on the tv. Liam increases the volume.

"It was, it was." The guy has a Welsh accent. "Olutobi is really good, his assists are what makes the game. We've been training extra hard, we're ready to face Dalton on Sunday."

I look at Liam. His face is very serious. The guy on the tv continues to drone on. "Yes sir. I do believe that Southampton can take on the mighty Dalton. A source told me that Colby's been benched."

Liam's face morphs into one of shock and horror. "How the hell did he find out about that." He whips out his phone and dials a number. "Yeah Ron, are you watching this... I know...does coach know...we need to have an emergency meeting...I would have asked him but with everything... I'm getting another call." He switches to a different call. "Yes, I was just talking about it with Ron...has coach called anybody."

He stands up. "Okay, give me a second." He turns to me and casts me an apologetic look. "Sorry I keep leaving. I'll be right back." He whispers before continuing his call and leaving the room to take the call.

I sit there alone and turn back to the tv. The guy whose name I still don't know is talking. Now that Liam isn't here, I don't pretend to be interested in this. I bring out my phone and see a text from my mum. She asks if I knew that Aidan was benched. I call her.

"How did you even know about that." I ask her. "It happened two seconds ago."

"I was watching the sports news channel with Bryan. Just because he's not always at the stadium doesn't mean he doesn't keep up with the news." She says. "Bryan's plenty pissed, he's on the phone now with Gabriel."

I groan. "Am I the only who thinks everyone is overreacting. It's just one rumor and even if it's true does it really matter."

"Oh, you simple-minded girl." She coos. "Aidan is a good player and team leader, he has to play or at least make another person captain. Dalton's decision to bench an important player will make them look stupid and unserious to everybody. That is bad press they do not need. And also it will look bad for the coach and the owner. Also, their plays and formation will be in chaos."

"I still don't get it."

My mum sighs. "Me neither sweetheart. That was all I remembered from Bryan's rant." I scoff, hypocrite.

Liam comes back five minutes later but doesn't stop walking. He uses his hands to say sorry as he runs to the stairs still on his phone call. I continue watching the interview on the TV, a reporter calls him Rothes and I Google him.

His full name is Stevie Rothes and he's the captain of the Southampton football team. He has also been called one of the best footballers of the 2010s.

"This question is for Coach Mitchell." A reporter says. "How do you feel about your current team playing against your old team."

The coach says with a serious face. "Well sir, I'm going to tell you what I told Montague when he fired me." He looks directly at the camera. "I'm the best coach in this league. You just made the biggest mistake of your career and I'll be back to make you regret this. Ladies and gentleman, I'm back."

Okay, time to lower this. I reduce the volume and get a text alert on my phone. It's Avery, she's asking if I'm busy right now. I don't want to seem suspicious so I reply no. Two seconds later her caller ID flashes on my screen.

"Hey, Avery." I laugh picking up. "To what do I owe this surprise call."

"I know you don't watch the news so I'm going to excuse your ignorance." She replies. "Stevie Rothes, the captain of Southampton is currently having a press conference. He just announced to the world that the team's planning on benching Aidan."

"Oh yeah. My mum called me, she mentioned it." Not a lie.

"Yes well her husband is pissed. I haven't seen him this interested in the team since we almost got relegated some years back." She sighs. "He called Gabriel who then called me and asked me to come up with PR solutions."

I groan inwardly. It's almost seven O'clock, this is not how I want to spend my night. "Um...yes, sure Avery. Let's discuss PR solutions."

"Good. I'm video chatting you right now, I want to make sure you're paying attention."

I reply absently. "Yes, you can call me now." Wait what. "No." I say firmly.

"No." She asks.

My eyes widen. "No, I mean yes. Like yes to the call and just no to the video call."

"And why not."

I panic. "I'm having a bath." I lie. "I'm wet and naked and everywhere is just soapy."

She's silent for a few seconds. "Why are you..." She sighs. "Call me when you're ready." She hangs up.

I call Liam's name, he doesn't answer. I creep slowly up the stairs and see one of the doors slightly ajar. Liam is in the room facing the door, his laptop facing him. I whisper that I'm leaving now. He apologizes once again in gestures and tells me goodbye.

"Harlow are you paying attention." The coach yells from the screen.

"Of course I am coach. You have my undivided attention." Liam says into the screen.

I turn to leave but as luck would have it, I gently bash my side into the doorway. I'm unhurt but my phone clatters on the wooden floor.

"Who's that." A voice asks from the screen.

"Do you have someone over." Another voice asks and laughs. "Is it a girl."

More laughter. "Good for you William. Just please don't tell me it's Sophie."

The coach shouts. "I swear I will drive to your houses and show you all how serious this is. Mitchell is out for blood and I'm the only one bothered."

"I am bothered, Coach." Daniel says smugly. "I just wish everyone was as professional as I am."

I roll my eyes and leave the room. I rush downstairs and leave the building in a hurry. I drive so quickly it's a miracle the police don't pull me over. I manage to cut traffic by taking less than ideal roads and make it to my apartment. As soon as I'm in front of my door I call Avery.

"Took you long enough." She says. "It's been half an hour."

"Sorry." I say trying to control my breathing. "The tub overflowed and the entire bathroom was flooded then I left food in the microwave, almost caused a fire."

She hums. "That all sounds nice. Now get ready because this will be a long night."

I don't hide my groan. I just drove through traffic and ran up the stairs and I'm tired. I deserve to sleep. "I know you're tired. But this is an emergency." I don't reply. "Fine, how about this. You stay up longer this night and you can come in late tomorrow, let's say after lunch."

I think about it, this means I can sleep in. "Okay Avery, I'll stay up tonight." I say like I'm doing her a favor, which I kind of am. "I'll get my laptop now." And so my night of work begins.
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