DALTON

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Chapter 4: The Game

The Game



The next day, I'm standing next to my mum. We're in the top stand in the stadium reserved for the shareholders.

"Bryan." Mr. Montague says, shaking his hands firmly. "And here I was thinking you completely abandoned us."

Bryan looks appalled. "Please. I own 28% percent of this. You're not getting rid of me that easily."

Mr. Montague laughs and focuses on Bryan's kids. "And how are you? Look at the both of you, when I last saw you, you were this tall." He points at his knee.

Leah, Bryan's daughter from his first marriage laughs politely at that terrible joke. Ashton, her twin, just scowls.

"Leah, are you still obsessed with football?" Mr. Montague asks.

Leah nods. "I am. I just became the captain of the girl's team at my school."

Mr. Montague looks pleased. "Well look at that. I'm so proud of you. Ashton, what about you?"

"I'm not really into sports." He responds coldly and whispers to his father. "Is this really how you want to spend your time with us?"

Bryan and his ex-wife have joint custody of their kids. The agreement is that she takes the kids on the weekdays and he gets weekends. I've never met his ex-wife before but I know she's really nice. From what my mum said, they met in college and are both from wealthy families. They loved each other and were married for a long time. A few years ago, they realized that they'd be happier apart and ended their marriage. They're both on friendly terms and she was supposed to attend his and my mum's wedding. A week to the big day they simultaneously decided that it will be too weird and she declined her invitation.

"We visited that exhibit yesterday because of you. Today is for your sister and me." He gives him his usual jolly smile. "Hopefully we meet someone who can introduce us to the players." He jokes.

Ashton doesn't even try to laugh. "Oh, where will we find someone connected enough." He asks sarcastically.

Mr. Montague and Bryan laugh heartily. I like Bryan, I do but sometimes he's so chirpy it hurts. He's good for my mum though, she was the most positive person I had met before I met him.

"We should take our seats." Bryan says.

I spot Ellie and she waves at me. "Um actually if it's okay with you, I would like to sit with a friend." Why am I asking for permission, I'm a 24-year-old woman.

Bryan looks a little sad at that and it breaks my heart. There's just something about hurting nice people that makes you feel like the worst person in the world.

"If you want I can sit with you guys." I offer.

He waves his hand. "It's alright. We can all go out after the game, I know you didn't dress up so fancy to sit with us."

I huff. "I'm seating with a supermodel. No matter what I wear I'll still look underdressed." I recount my previous fear.

I walk over to Ellie. "Hello." I say. "You look amazing." And she does, she's wearing a big Dalton jersey that reaches her mid-thigh and simple black leggings. I'm starting to regret overdressing.

"Thank you, mystery car park girl." She says. "You look nice too."

"I'm so silly." I say realizing I haven't told her my name. "I'm Riley."

"Nice to formally meet you, Riley. Nice earrings."

I touch the earrings. "Thank you." My mother lent it to me because she said it compliments my outfit. My outfit is made up of a knee-length black dress with red flowers and my newest pair of converse. My hair is tied up in a thick bun on my head. Maybe I didn't dress up as much as I thought I did. The first thing I'll do when I get home is go through my closet. I might have a terrible sense of style.

"Let's sit." She offers and leads us to empty seats a few spaces away from my mum and her new family. The game starts and I try to look interested. I don't know much about football, neither does mum. Bryan keeps explaining the rules and moves to her every chance he gets.

Ellie and I don't talk much throughout the first half. She's actually paying attention to the game and reacting accordingly.

"Foul." She yells along with half the stadium when a Liverpool player trips one of our guys. "That was clearly a foul."

I nod enthusiastically. "It's like he's blind or something."

"Right." She says briefly focusing on me. The referee makes a call and Ellie along with Dalton fans start clapping. I think he just ruled in our favor, I'm still not sure what is going on.

It's halftime and the teams are tied one and one. "I'll go speak to the team. I'll be back later." Mr. Montague says excusing himself.

"Dad can we go too." Leah asks her father. "Please."

"We'll go after the game. I promise." He says.

She looks like she wants to complain but a look from her brother shuts her up. The game soon starts back up and I excuse myself towards the end. I go to my office and stay there answering texts from my friends.

'๐—”๐˜ ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐—บ๐˜† ๐˜๐˜ƒ, ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—น๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜€๐˜„๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐Ÿ˜ญ. ๐—š๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—น ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ผ ๐—น๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ธ๐˜†'.'

My friend Miranda sends on the group chat. I reply. '๐—œ ๐˜€๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—บ๐—ฒ. ๐—œ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ป๐—ผ ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ผ๐—ป'.

Another one sends. '๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—˜๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚'๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜€'.

I reply. '๐—œ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ธ ๐—ถ๐˜'๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐—œ'๐—บ ๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜†๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ผ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฑ. ๐—œ ๐—บ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐˜€๐—ผ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ'.

๐— ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฎ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜€. '๐—ฆ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฑ. ๐—๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ณ, ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ'๐—น๐—น ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜‡๐˜† ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ'.

I reply. '๐—Ÿ๐—ผ๐—น'.

I chat with my friends while waiting for the game to end. I jump up when I hear a loud shout. I run out of my office and back to our seats. There's a sea of people cheering. The commentators are talking loudly and I can barely hear what they saying.

"In a historic match...last-minute miracles... Miller... Obi...Colby." I block my ears to stop my eardrums from bursting.

"We won." Ellie says jumping up and down. "I cannot believe you missed that. It was the best thing I've ever seen."

I look at the big screens. They keep playing the ending over and over again. I see Aidan running with the ball and battling at least four players from the other team. He dribbled past them and shot the ball into the net.

He's an arsehole but at least he's a good player. The players are all jumping on each other celebrating the victory.

Amid the celebration, I hear Leah talking to Bryan. "Can we meet the players now"?

Bryan laughs. "Gabriel, can we meet the players now."

Mr. Montague nods. "Why not. Let's go congratulate them."

Ellie and I follow them to the locker room. There's shouting and cheering going around.

"There they are." Mr. Montague says. "The champions who defeated Liverpool." They all cheer louder. "I am so proud of every single one of you. Now introducing the second-largest shareholder of the Dalton football team." He claps mockingly. "Mr. Bryan Richardson."

Bryan steps forward and claps for the team. "Congratulations, you did so well. You all are very talented."

Leah runs forward and stands in front of Daniel. "You're Daniel Miller." She awes. "You're my favorite footballer."

He looks a bit sour. "Thank you for that. Always nice to meet a fan." He sidesteps her. "Excuse me, will you." He leaves the room and walks toward the showers.

Leah looks at him as he walks away dreamily. "Ash did you see that. I met Daniel Miller." She said walking back towards us.

Ellie spots her boyfriend and walks up to him. He moves to hug her but she shifts away. "You're sweaty. I came to offer more of a congratulatory handshake." She shakes his hands and he looks happier than he was a minute earlier.

"Well, we should let you get ready for your party." Bryan says taking my mum's hand. "Congratulations again." He leaves with her and his kids.

"Riley." Ellie calls me. "Will you be attending the party. It's at this trendy new restaurant."

I think of Bryan and my mum. "I'm really sorry. I have plans this night."

Aidan laughs. "What plans are better than partying with the best team in the league." His team cheer.

"Thank you but I can't cancel. Congrats on your win, it was a good game."

Somebody makes a joke I don't hear and the guys at the back laugh. Well isn't that nice for my self-esteem. I say goodbye to Ellie before leaving the room and going to the private car park. I see my mum standing next to Bryan's range rover.

"Oh, you're not ditching us for your celebrity friends." She taunts as we enter the car.

"You're not going to the after-party. I hear they're lots of fun." Bryan asks.

"No. I want to go out with you guys." I say and I mean it.

Leah scoffs. "That's stupid. If I could I'll go to the party."

Her dad starts the car. "Well, you can't. You're fifteen."

Ashton is in the middle of us. He's on his phone and not paying attention to our conversation. We go to a classy family-style restaurant and have a nice night.

Leah keeps checking her phone and looking at the guy's Instagram. I'm not going to lie, the party does look fun. After dinner Bryan drops the kids off at their mum's house before dropping me at my flat. I soak in a long, much-deserved bath. I have been working nonstop all week, I couldn't even enjoy my day off on Thursday because I had to hunt down a photographer who took an incriminating picture of one of the players. I spend the rest of the night alone, just how I like it.

I fall asleep thinking about my new job, it might be stressful but it certainly is interesting.
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