“Cake and coffee?” José asked with a playful glint in his eye.
He had been exchanging subtle glances with this woman for almost an hour now, she was sat engrossed in her MacBook for the most part - occasionally looking up when another famous face walked past, combining it with sneaky looks in the direction of the handsome United manager. She had smiled at him, as she moved the now lukewarm coffee cup to her full, red lips. Of course she knew who he was, they’d even met once the year before - she didn’t expect him to remember.
“Cold coffee, room temperature cake” she replied with a friendly smile as she allowed her eyes to wander up his body purposefully, tossing her long dark brown hair to the side “I’m Vida” she announced, he raised his eyebrows, now feeling a little self conscious as he stood, lingering at the end of her table, “If you want the cake it’s all yours” she told him, before handing him the small fork.
José signalled at the metallic chair opposite her just to be totally sure that this was an invite for him to join her, “You look busy” he remarked, taking the fork and using it to stab at the chocolate cake.
Vida paused typing, “I hate technology” she told him, “It’s a necessary evil, everyone knowing your every move…it’s a hindrance”
José chewed thoughtfully and then signalled to the waiter, requesting fresh coffee be brought over “I agree” he said, swallowing and dabbing his lips. Vida watched while the waiter brought them two fresh cups and proceeded to fill them from the glass jug, “Obrigado” José said politely, “Are you a journalist?” he enquired, which made her guffaw loudly.
“God no!” she said as she held her ribs mockingly, “Fuck, do I look like a journalist?” she challenged.
José’s body stiffened, full of embarrassment and uncharacteristic panic “Erm, no…no… I just thought…the laptop, aversion to technology.. Sorry, no offence intended” he garbled much to her amusement.
“I’m pulling your leg, relax” Vida told him, a bashful look materialising and the dimples either side of his lips now proudly on display, “I’m a photographer, and we’ve actually met before José”
His heart thumped when he heard her say his name, he squinted trying to remember where they’d met, “At Carrington?”
Vida nodded, drinking the comfortingly piping hot coffee “Last season, that’s right, I helped with the lighting on the team shoot, it was a favour”
José clicked his fingers and pointed at her, “Of course, yes, Matthew….”
Vida smiled broadly as he tried to remember her best friend’s surname “Cooper - he’s my best friend, yeah”
“Wow, small world hmm?” he had thumbed the side of the white crockery and licked his lips, Vida wondered how they’d feel to kiss, probably soft and smooth, he’d probably kiss really intensely, slowly…. God - she needed to snap herself out of those thoughts immediately.
“Vida?” he had said her name three times before she actually noticed and had to apologise for being miles away.
“It’s OK, I’m being too forward” he said quietly, wafting his hand through the air dismissively.
“No, I’m sorry, I’d love to” she urged him, not entirely sure what she was agreeing to.
He smiled back, smoothly telling her “I know a fantastic tapas bar, meet me back here at say…” he paused to look at the ridiculously expensive timepiece on his wrist, “8:30?”
Vida’s eyes widened, had she just agreed to a date with José Mourinho? Sure seemed that way.
José was fiddling with his cufflinks as he sat at the bar, “Same again?” the barman asked, José looked at his watch, 8:45pm… “Yes, thank you”
The bar was busy, several people had been over to him, some were his domestic colleagues from back home, others players he’d coached at various stages in their careers. The World Cup could be surreal, he knew that but it seemed weird given his current tenure at United and his first punditry job. It wasn’t an uneasy feeling as such but he was struggling to feel useful, his daughter had told him to “Enjoy it!” he smiled at her enthusiasm before leaving London. He sipped his second glass of red thoughtfully, hoping these feelings of self doubt would be temporary.
“Sorry I’m late” a soft voice said into his ear bringing him straight out of his deep thoughts and back down to reality, Vida stood there, his eyes flashed across her body, dressed causally in a patterned wrap dress and a pair of orange espadrilles.
“Wow, erm, don’t be sorry” he told her, as he stood to greet her.
“Drink?” he offered but she declined in favour of getting to the restaurant “I’m hungry and you DID eat all of my cake” she reminded him jokingly.
José placed his right hand at the bottom of her back and guided them both out of the building, “You look….” he paused, wondering whether he should be complimenting the way she looked after only two very brief meetings, “Sorry, nice, you look nice” he stuttered, she flashed him a smile, “You too, but then again you already know that” she teased.
José had grinned handsomely when she said that, not disagreeing “When does your work begin?” he asked as the tapas bar he was taking them to now came into view, Vida’s eyes lit up at the authentic decor, “Day after tomorrow is the first training session, but I have meetings tomorrow, you know the kind of thing - how to deal with the media, what not to say, all very very dull”
He nodded, he’d been given fairly similar information during the meeting with RT’s executives before he accepted their offer “Like we can’t be trusted eh?” he remarked.
This made Vida laugh - he was notorious for speaking his mind, he’d been fined for speaking his mind “You’re an odd choice really aren't you?”
It was becoming apparent that Vida not only loved, but was also very good at teasing this man.
He pushed back his shoulders, accentuating his manliness before snapping “Why am I?”
Vida let out a soft giggle, “You’re a bit of a bastard, be honest, all that shit with Conte last season, that was sneaky”
Fuck. No one had ever said that to him before.
He shrugged as they entered the restaurant, the place was civilised and relaxed - just as Vida had hoped, and their waiter lead them down the cobble clad floor to a comfortable and compact table for two situated right next to the traditional hand carved doors which lead out on to a patio terrace.
“Do you really think that?” José asked once their wine had been poured.
Vida pouted and then smirked, “I do”
“Do you date many bastards?” he challenged in quick smart time.
“Well actually I didn’t agree to this…” she began, “Because when you were asking me out I wasn’t listening and because I’m so stereotypically English I was polite and just said yes”
José drank back more wine, a stirring in his gut telling him this woman was unlike any other he’d ever met in his life, she intrigued the hell out of him, he was lost for words, not used to being around such a challenging person as her - this was good for him, being stuck in that Manchester United forcefield all the time was not healthy.
He was relieved when she broke the charged silence, “Aren’t you going to ask why I wasn’t listening?” She said, face earnest as she nibbled at the complimentary bits of bread in the middle of the table.
José took a bit of the bread himself, and leant in closer “Hmm, do I need to know?”
Vida raised an eyebrow and strategically waited for him to rip off more bread and place it in his mouth before responding, “I was looking at you…and wondering whether you’re a good kisser” she said matter-of-factly, a few seconds later he choked on the bread and coughed for a full minute at least, the waiter quickly rushing over with some mineral water to help calm him.
“Thank you, thank you” José said, his voice not quite back to normal and his throat stinging a little.
“I think I’m going to go for the crayfish and crab, how about you?”
José pressed the palm of his right hand to his chest, “You nearly killed me!” he said dramatically, still coughing in small bursts, she couldn’t hold in her amusement any longer - he finally saw the funny side - her broad and beautiful smile was magical.
Their food arrived, and amongst the sticky fingers and lemon juice they managed to chat freely and comfortably, he was entranced by her tales of being a photographer on the road - her recent trip to Marrakech had him truly hooked, “You have real passion for it, I can tell” he said, “I am good at spotting that in people”
Vida wiped her mouth with her napkin and slunk back in her seat, “I guess you must have to be, it isn’t all about skill in your game is it? Motivation and attitude is massively important I imagine”
José locked gazes with her when she spoke, fuck if he didn’t want to just take her back to his hotel room and undress her slowly, touch her all over and then do it again but with his tongue and lips, fuck…he had a massive gulp of water, “So there is no Mr Carter back home?” they hadn’t really discussed their private lives yet, José figured she was single, he gathered she wouldn’t randomly go to dinner with guys she didn’t know if she was attached, at least he hoped she didn’t.
Vida shook her head, “No way” - she reprimanded herself for answering too quickly, too firmly “I like my own space too much and besides, with my job - I’m hardly ever home”
José signalled to the waiter, and promptly paid the bill “You don’t miss it?” he asked, “Being with someone?”
Vida stood and he helped her to pull her jacket across her shoulders “Yeah” she whispered eventually as she followed closely behind him as they left the restaurant, walking out into the most glorious sunset.
“I wish I had my camera” she said, cross with herself.
José suggested she used her phone, a well timed glare told him that was not an option.
“Beautiful” she said breathlessly as they walked back in the direction of the hotel, it had been such a causal and laid back evening, “I’ll have to come back tomorrow night and pray for the same sunset” she surmised, not flinching when his hand settled once again at the base of her spine.
“Why don’t you find out?” he had said, out of nowhere as they enjoyed the placid silence, “Find out what?” she questioned and then stood still as he span her around to face him, their bodies less than a foot apart.
“If I’m a good kisser”
His suggestion came without arrogance or implication, she watched his eyes crease when she exuded a certain sense of panic from his question - it was his turn to tease her.
“What’s the matter? You can dish it out but you can’t take it?” He asked, a little of that classic Mourinho attitude seeping through.
Vida breathed in through her teeth like a mechanic who was about to deliver a mind-numbingly expensive bill to a customer, “See I could kiss you, but then my mystique would vanish”
José laughed deeply and scraped his right hand through his thick, silver hair not at all concerned that she wasn’t crashing into his arms at full force and kissing him deeply like in the films, he quite enjoyed the chase.
“You keep a little bit of that mystique back then” he advised as they picked up pace after starting to walk again, “Or all of it even….”
Vida swallowed, she hadn’t been on a date in over a year - she knew this is what people did, go to dinner, talk, laugh, walk home and inevitably complicate things by having sex, she didn’t want that. Her principles were far more important to her than any kind of sexual needs she may have had, “Thank you for dinner” she said quietly, shyly.
“My pleasure….you’re very good company” he remarked, that steady hand pressing firmer into her lumbar region now, god he wanted her to kiss him so badly, he moved his palm up the middle of her back slowly, his fingers coming into contact with her bra clasp. He kept his hand there, the gentle rhythmic movement of his fingers against her making her stop in her tracks. Vida turned to him, the noise of the traffic as they approached the enormous hotel was off putting to say the least, “ASK ME AGAIN” she yelled so she could be heard, he smiled, yelling back “KISS ME!”
Vida licked her lips, the taste of lemon juice still lingering from the tapas, she wound her hands around the back of his neck and for the first time touched his hair, neither of them breaking the intense stare, José poised himself, his hands clamped to her hips - the feeling of her curves totally breathtaking.
“I wouldn’t usually do this, just so you know” she said into his ear, “But fuck…you’re a bastard, and a handsome one at that…”
She moved her mouth to within a few millimetres of his, his breath felt warm on her lips as she cautiously pressed them to his, taking a while for the feeling to sink in and her body to acclimatise. He didn’t pressurise her, he let her take the lead, happy for it go in whatever direction she wanted. That was until she opened her mouth properly and he heard a small, subtle sigh escape, that killed him “Fuck….” he said right back into her mouth, his tongue now teasing the inside of her cheek playfully, she opened her eyes to look at him - his eyes had become so intense and seductive and he now felt her melt against his chest, her tongue leaving no room for interpretation as it dominated his mouth.
“Get a fuckin’ room…” some American guy commented as he walked past them, they were a few short minutes from one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole of Moscow but for now, this street, next to several bins, a small flower bed and a newspaper stand was utter heaven.
“We kissed” Vida said down the phone to Matthew, her best friend who was due out next Thursday, just in time for the first game of the tournament, Pep was due to follow afterwards, once he’d finished all the promo stuff for the start of the new season.
Matthew suspiciously replied “Annnnnnd……what else…..?”
The truth was, they had gone back to his hotel room to carry on where they left off but José was the perfect gentleman, they’d laid fully clothed on his bed until the early hours and then he’d walked her back to her room.
“So…” José asked deeply his arm above her head as she stood with her back to her hotel room door.
His lips were a deep red from fervent activity “What’s the verdict?”
Vida blushed, her lips swollen too, “As anticipated…” she palmed down his white shirt, and raised her lips to his for one long, sweet, final kiss of the evening “You’re a very good kisser…”
José hadn’t wanted to ruin what had been a memorable evening by moving too fast, he was more than happy to have been this intimate with Vida, anything more serious was too risky at this stage - there was most definitely a mutual respect on that front.
“He really was….caring” she told Matthew with some disbelief herself - but it was true, “Didn’t even push to go further”
Matthew snorted down the phone, “There will be a motive Vi, you do know that?!”
Her friend’s cynicism left a lot to be desired, “Yeah well, trust me he’ll have to work much harder to get me into his bed….rest assured Vida Carter’s legs are well and truly closed for business”
Matthew burst into hysterics, “Hmm yeah well I hate to burst your whole celibate bubble sweetheart but you do know Luis is in town, and by in town I mean your town”
Vida cringed as she played with some negatives that she had developed that morning “Fuck…I did wonder to be honest, look the hotel is huge chances of me seeing him are..”
Matthew interjected “VERY HIGH”
She knew he was right. Vida and Luis had dated for a couple of months while she was on a shoot in Northern Spain, she fell hard, beyond all recognition - she still had sleepless nights about how totally out of character those 12 weeks were, she had met his kids, his family and friends, fuck they’d even discussed a future and then on the day they were due to travel home to England together he told her he was going back to his ex-wife. It destroyed her confidence, her social life, her….everything.
“If I see him, I’ll be civil” she said, “Ask him how the woman he supposedly hated, didn’t love or care for is probably…”
Matthew sighed audibly, “You are over him aren’t you?” he asked, “Because if you’re not…”
“If I’m not, what?” she snapped “He went back to Gabriela, what the fuck can I do?”
“The thing is darling, Pep spoke to him, to find out if their schedules would allow them to meet up for a few days out there, he and Gabi split for good before Christmas, Pep said all he did was talk about you”
She laughed hollowly “I don’t care Matt! He had his chance, yes I’m bloody over him!”
Matthew frowned at the end of the phone, he was convinced this was a classic case of denial, yes - kissing another guy was a move in the right direction but he lived through the break up with Luis with her, she had been a train wreck of a person for months, it was only when she began to focus back on her work that things improved.
Both he and Pep would avoid bringing Luis up in her company, they’d done it once by accident and lived to regret it, Pep had tried to fix her up with a couple of his friends, none of it lead anywhere, “She’s too hung up on Enrique” his friend Marco had said, “She’s in love with the guy!” his other friend Leo stated, but even a motivational talk with Pep didn’t help at the time.
They signed off their call in good spirits - seeing Matthew on Thursday would be the highlight of her week.
The following morning Vida had seen José briefly in the hotel restaurant, he was being picked up and taken to the TV studio to film some bits and pieces for the upcoming coverage, he’d smiled broadly before winking subtly and heading for the door. His loins buzzed…he had to find a way to see her again, and soon.
Vida finished breakfast and picked up her laptop bag, her car would be picking her up at just after 9am, the reception was busy, a long queue dominating the centre of the marble lobby, she strolled outdoors for some fresh air and peace and quiet, looking up when a BMW pulled up, presuming it was for her.
Her body froze when she saw Luis get out, he handed various notes to the driver for payment and walked around to retrieve his luggage. He looked good, lean, fit, tanned. He spoke in Spanish before the driver sped off, she had tried to move but couldn’t, half way up he saw her. A lump formed in his throat, “Hi” he said softly as he approached and stood there, his slim frame so much taller than her.
“Hello Luis” she answered ambivalently.
“I have to go to work” Vida told Luis bluntly as he tried to bargain with her outside the hotel, on the steps “Why would I sacrifice that for breakfast with you?”
The colour drained from his usually animated and handsome face, “I need to explain” he argued, “I was wrong….but, I did it for the right reasons”
Vida laughed hysterically, “You what?!”
“The kids, Vida….”
He was unbelievable.
“Goodbye Luis” she snapped, walking down the steps to the cab rank where she perched against one of the bike racks and waited for her taxi.
Vida looked at her watch, the damn taxi was 40 minutes late, she paced back indoors to complain - she had been told the hotel would book all cabs to venues for the whole tournament and on day one they’d not even got it right, “Taxi for Carter, it was booked for 9am?” she questioned the young man, she huffed loudly when she saw Luis was stood within earshot, she was being irrational as a result of seeing him again, his arrogance angering her.
“Apologies Miss, they are running a little late, please take a seat - I will call you when it arrives”
She agreed and settled in the bar, ordering a black coffee and making sure it was on the house for the inconvenience, Luis soon monopolised on the opportunity and sidled up next to her, now fully checked in and holding his room card.
“You look incredible” he told her in that husky voice she used to find so unbearably seductive.
Vida coughed and glared at him, not answering.
He smiled, “How do I look?”
She frowned, utterly appalled by his shallow question, “You look like ex footballer Luis Enrique to me”
He chuckled to himself, her unimpressed facial expression not for one second bothering him, he knew she still found him attractive, “How about dinner?”
Vida eyed him, “No thanks”
“OK we’ll skip dinner and go straight to the earth shattering sex, how about that?”
OK, that got a reaction, just the tiniest flicker of the eyes and a brief parting of the lips - but he noticed and she knew that.
“Goodbye Luis” she told him for the second time that day, tossing the magazine she wasn’t reading back down onto the table in front of him as the young concierge guy indicated her taxi had arrived.
“For now señorita…..for now…”
“Hey…..” José said as she opened her hotel room door, she was wrapped tightly in a white towel, her long dark hair damp and tangled, he bit his lip “Sorry…”
Vida cocked her head to the side, “Don’t be, come in”
She stepped aside so he could pass, he made a point of taking in as much of the surroundings as possible in the vain hope he might pick up on some of her little nuances, that was sure to gain him some brownie points along the way. His eyes darted around the spartan and modern suite - it was actually a lot nice than his. He soon realised it was a Roja Dove perfume that added to her intoxicating scent, “Wow, pricey” he observed.
Vida removed the towel from around her body, he politely looked away as she dressed, pulling her jeans up both toned, smooth legs “Pricey, but nice eh?” she said with a charming smile, as she spritzed herself.
José swallowed as his eyes glazed over, her classy black bra sat perfectly on her skin which he had now learnt was peppered with light freckles, “Ohmygod” he said quietly, under his breath unable to tear himself away from her really quite remarkable physical form.
Vida towelled her hair, asking him to toss her the hairdryer, “Thanks” she said taking it out of his hand and touching his wrist as she did, their eyes met and seconds later her hairdryer was smashing down on the wooden floor.
“Hmmmmmdon’tstop….” she urged when he suspended himself above her on the bed, his face pulling backwards so he could focus on her properly, “No?” he questioned breathlessly, wary of the discussion they’d had about taking this whole thing - whatever it was, slowly, “Fuck, Vida, no…”
José climbed off of her and unceremoniously flopped onto his back, Vida’s breathing was shallow and loud as she turned on to her side and threw her arm across his chest, “Your call” she advised, her hand wandering under his shirt and her nails dragging down his stomach.
“You’re making it very difficult you know that…” he remarked deeply, now also turning onto his side, he went to speak but was silenced by her lips, full and overpowering, he went with it, his body weak as she removed his shirt with so much ease, the noise he made when she pulled away for a split second to pull it over his head made her grin “God you are so…..” she dropped her lips to his collar bone, moving across to his chest and up to his throat before prizing his lips open again with her tongue “Sexy….” He welcomed her body onto his lap, his hands instinctive in their actions, resting supportively on her hips as she continued to spoil him repeatedly, kiss after kiss after glorious kiss.
“Vida….” he sighed, half panicked, fully aroused when her hand crept south and down to his trousers, he breathed in sharply when she traced the hard outline, so careful as she slid his zip down, leaning forwards - her chest full and round and pressing against him.
“Mygod….” he whispered when she took his right hand and aided him in unhooking her bra, her right hand feeling his groin pulsate and throb.
José was woken by the sound of his alarm, he was slumped on his front, the duvet only half covering his naked body, he rubbed his eyes and halted the annoying iPhone alert. He felt down his body, he was rock hard, no surprise given the content of his dream. He flipped over, and looked to the right, a conspicuous empty space. He sighed, last night had been quiet, he had purposely hung out in the bar in an attempt to see Vida, no such luck. Although he knew her room number he figured knocking on her door was a definite no-no, they’d agreed this should be fun, easy-going, after one date hanging around outside her door would surely start off the weirdo alarm bells.
“Fuck” he said to himself, still half asleep, and very much turned on, he forced himself not to think about how morning sex might be with her, a few minutes later he got up and showered, hoping that would ease the tension.
Vida had returned back to the hotel late that evening, she had agreed to help one of the more junior photographers pack away and before she knew it they were both engrossed in an extremely detailed conversation. They’d swapped numbers just in case they didn’t work together again in Russia - Vida keen to get the talented young woman some publicity back home. She dropped her bag down at the foot rail of the bar and hoisted herself up a little, the barman was kneeling behind busy replenishing his tonic waters, “Am I good for a drink?” she asked with an apologetic wince when he smiled and asked what she’d like. The bar was 24 hour but she still felt bad, telling the him “I’ll just have one I promise”
“Your friend was waiting for you” the young man told her as he placed the glass down on a small white napkin, “For a few hours” he added.
Vida frowned “Who was that then?” she asked as she sipped the gin and tonic through the short clear straw.
The barman nodded as he polished the black marble, leaning in to her ear and whispering “Mr Mourinho”
Vida was amused by the guy’s determination to be secretive, “Really? Wow, he was here all that time?”
“Yeah, he left about umm….. half an hour ago”
Vida smiled politely, “Good to know”
It was just after 1am, José had been patient, she wouldn’t forget that.
José was fastening the clasp on his watch when he heard a light knock at his hotel room door, he paced down the small hallway and opened the door casually, expecting it to be the cleaners “Come in” he was already saying before looking up, “Oh, hi” he said with a surprised smile, the vision of Vida in front of him more than welcome.
“Hey” she said breezily, half inside the door when he told her to come in again, he laughed nervously and then shook his head as she walked ahead, unimpressed by his lack of coolness.
“How are you?” Vida asked, eyes scanning his suite which looked different in daylight, he’d dimmed the lights the night they came back “Busy?”
José buttoned his cuffs, standing as confident and defiant as possible, “Interviews this morning, then a live thing this afternoon” he told her “You?”
“I have some follow ups to do, emails, boring stuff really, then on a shoot with the team when they arrive tomorrow which should be fun” she sat on the edge of his bed and watched as he went through what could only be described as a ritualistic series of checks.
Wallet, phone, watch. Wallet, phone, watch.
He saw her cheeky smile and looked at her innocently, “You didn’t see that” he warned her teasingly, “Can’t spoil my image”
Vida laughed, “Do you have your wallet, phone and watch José?”
He cocked his head, accepting her mocking him with the good nature in which it was intended before settling down next to her on the bed, “So, what do I owe the pleasure hmm?” he asked quietly, turning his body towards her.
“I got back late last night” she revealed, pulling her left leg underneath her right thigh “Had a drink at the bar, and that young guy there….Carlos? He said you’d been waiting for me”
Vida’s hand brushed a wayward piece of fluff off of his pristine white shirt, his eyes followed her, enjoying the way she touched his bicep with her index finger and thumb. He licked his lips, feeling like a naughty schoolboy who had been caught out, “I had a few drinks, yeah…” he replied eventually totally taken in by the way her hand had fallen to his forearm and rested there.
“Hmm” she said softly, fingers moving back up his arm and to his neck, “Sweet”
José swallowed and coughed, “Is it?…..” he allowed her to push him backwards, more than happy when her body mounted his and she kissed him forcefully, it was like his dream had become real life, her tongue swirled and jutted against his as her hips subtly rotated - he couldn’t hide his excitement and nor did he want to, his hands spread across her lower back as she moved against him calmly. She paused, her hands either side of his head and her nails raking through his silver hair - she pecked him on the lips one last time and then leapt off.
“Yeah, it is sweet, keep it up”
She grabbed her bag and left, he stretched his arms out to his sides and tasted her on his lips, an enormous smile forming as his profanity filled the otherwise quiet air “FUCK”
“Luis! Good to see you!” José said loudly as he approached the lithe Asturian in the outdoor bar that afternoon, they shook hands and hugged before settling down at a table and ordering drinks.
“So you’re doing TV?” Luis asked, sipping from his beer bottle, José nodded “Cool, ought to have known you wouldn’t take the summer off”
José swished the red wine in his glass before taking a long sip “Yeah…. I couldn’t bear the thought of watching on my own at home, terrible. And you?”
Luis stretched out his long, slim legs under the table, his right hand rubbing his stubbly chin “I’m not here to work, not really, I’m more here on a one man crusade…” he divulged, making José’s eyes widen with interest.
“To do what?….” he prompted, moving in closer.
“My ex-girlfriend is here on work…” Luis said, covering his lips as he spoke, old habits die hard.
José raised his eyebrows, “Really?” he wracked his brain trying to think who Luis had been dating but if he was honest those kinds of things really passed him by, “Not Gabi, no?” he asked, knowing that Gabi was the girl he married - he was even at the wedding.
Luis wafted his hand in the air, “Gabi and I divorced, this girl…..she’s extraordinary” he told José with a twinkle in his brown eyes, he listened patiently as his one-time player told him all manner of personal things about his relationship with this woman.
“Jeez Luis, you’ve got it bad my friend” José said when the younger man finally stopped talking, “I hope you manage to sort things out”
Luis held his hands in the air, “I came all the way here, must count for something eh?”
José nodded, “Sure, definitely”
“Come on then, how about you? Seeing anyone?” Luis asked, even though his desperation to see Vida again was at the forefront of his mind, he was really just asking out of politeness.
“Hmm….not sure…there’s someone I like though….a lot”
They sat in a comfortable silence until they both caught sight of Vida and simultaneously called out her name.
Vida sped up when she saw both men sat together, her face beaming an excited smile as she approached, Luis smiled and tried his absolute best to look cool even though it was blatantly obvious he was enraged by the fact she was staring right at José and not him.
“Great, I need your help!” she said loudly, pulling José’s right wrist tightly making him stand up and smile back with a bemused expression.
“Ok, sure” he replied calmly, shrugging in Luis’s direction.
“Vida, please” Luis asked desperately, as he watched her walk away with José’s hand in hers, “Oh for god’s sake Luis, we are working” she said pausing her purposeful path “You know - that thing normal people do”
Luis threw his hands in the air, infuriated by the way she had humiliated him, he’d need to rethink his plan.
“What do you need?” José had asked deeply into her ear as she pulled him down one of the long hotel corridors, he saw her smile and then felt her squeeze his hand, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad”
“I don’t doubt that” he answered, enjoying her touch.
Vida pushed open one large black shiny door, asking him to pass first. He did and once inside he looked around, he’d been to so many of these things that the surroundings weren’t at all daunting, “They need something for their auction” Vida explained as she ushered him over to a group of at least 25 ladies she had met at the Englnad open training session that afternoon - here to promote the women’s game, “And so far, all they’ve managed to get is a signed Bradford City shirt and a football used in the women’s world cup, thoughts?”
José sat down, and began talking to the women, Vida listened intently as he discussed women’s issues in sport - with complete ease and confidence, not for a single moment patronising or not listening to their comments. Vida grinned beautifully at Kim, the leader of the group, as José stood and then told them “OK, so 20 all expenses paid trips to Old Trafford” the women cheered loudly, the auctioneer now pressurising them into submitting their lot, “And, how about this?” he said as he unclasped his watch, worth in the region of £30,000, “Good?” he questioned as he gazed around the table at their open mouths, “OK-OK, Throw in a lunch, me and three others”
Vida bit her lower lip, and then leant in to his ear gracefully “Thank you…” her hand rubbed his bicep and he swallowed, “My pleasure…”
Vida stuck around to see how much the girls made in their part of the auction, they’d initially envisaged around £250, in the end the final scores on the doors were well over £40,000.
“How did you do that?!” Kim gushed as she hugged Vida, “And how do you know HIM?!”
She grinned, “Oh work, you know, glad I could help”
As she walked back towards the restaurant she couldn’t help but feel José’s generosity was purely selfless, he wasn’t doing anything to impress her, the time he spent talking to the girls proved that, she wanted to see him, her insides fizzed at the thought. Unfortunately the very first person she did see, stood right next to the lifts was Luis, his jeans slunk low on his hips and his stubble at least a week old. She sighed audibly, “OK, 5 minutes, that’s it” she told him as they walked inside the lift and she selected her floor. He was enigmatic in the lift, she stared at him, this guy she was utterly besotted with not so long ago - he was still gorgeous, still sexy… damn she had to quit with those thoughts. Luis looked her over, he’d need to play this cautiously - messing up precious time alone with her was not an option.
“Drink?” she offered as she uncapped a bottle of sparkling water in her room, he accepted politely and then sank down against the suede sofa, “Thanks”
“So, what do you want to talk about?” Vida asked, placing her camera down on the glass table opposite where they sat.
“Us” he said quietly, his legs stretched out in front of him, she angled her body towards him and looked at him in silence, he waited a few minutes, “I was wrong” he told her.
“Yeah, you’ve said that” she snapped.
“I still love you” he said “I never stopped”
Vida scoffed cynically, “When you left me standing at departures you loved me? When you didn’t even have the guts to call me and tell me you’d gone back to her you loved me? Do I need to go on Luis?”
He gripped the sides of his head firmly, “I fucked up”
She laughed hard and stood, her blood boiling, “You fucked up?! YOU FUCKED UP?!”
He stood and approached her, realising she was seconds away from tears “Vida, please…”
She wrestled out of his grasp, smacking him repeatedly on the chest with her fists until eventually she lost all her strength and he pulled her in so tightly she struggled to breathe, she instinctively wrapped her arms around his waist and he loosened his grip a little. Vida settled there for a few silent minutes, listening to him breathe, telling herself to remain calm, “You need to go now” she said, pulling away from him, eyes red.
Luis scratched the back of his head, his lean body going nowhere “I want to resolve this” he told her “I came here for that”
“Yeah well I came here to work so…”
He smiled broadly, telling her “Then I’ll wait until you’re finished”
Vida wearily shook her head “You’ll wait until the end of July?”
“If I have to” he answered without compromise.
Luis left, grateful that he even got to see her for the short time he did. He wondered if she had a thing going with José, was it really any of his business? Probably not. José had been doing a couple of interviews that afternoon, returning back to eat late in the evening coinciding with Vida’s arrival home from a media event. He signalled her over to his table just as coffee was being served, eyeing her subtly in a long black dress and heels “You’ve eaten?” he asked as the waiter poured her coffee, “Oh yes, thank you” she answered and smiled at the waiter as she handed him back the menu.
“Somewhere exclusive eh?” José remarked, noting her attire.
Vida pulled the clip out of her hair and fluffed it back to life, complaining about the sheer volume of hairspray she’d had to use to keep it all in place “Black tie event, good food, mediocre company” she added as she sipped the welcome coffee.
José smiled smoothly, god she always felt so relaxed in his company, “Thank you again for earlier, the girls are so grateful”
“I told you, it was my pleasure, thank you for introducing me to them. Now, enough work talk…” he paused, Vida had anticipated this line of questioning, “Luis knows you well”
“Yeah” she replied, “He does”
José took his napkin from his lap and placed it on his side plate “He doesn’t mind divulging details does he?”
Vida’s cheeks flushed, “Well, don’t believe everything people tell you José”
“Oh it was all exceptional I assure you….” José teased, Luis had made a point of mentioning their physical relationship in immense detail.
“You’re trying to embarrass me” she said, her face hardening and her defences up “And I don’t appreciate that” she stood and calmly slid her chair back under the table.
José hadn’t meant to do this, and he cursed under his breath - quickly paying his bill and rushing over to the stairs to try and beat her to her room before she got out of the lift. He made it with a few seconds to spare, his heart thumping when the lift door opened and she stepped out into his path, “Vida I’m sorry, I didn’t want to embarrass you” he said softly, taking her hands in his, they smiled politely at a few delegates who strolled down the corridor past them, whispering José’s name. She looked at him, his face full of regret and apology “It was insensitive, sorry”
Vida had had a day of it, “Accepted, I’m really tired José”
He nodded, walking her down to her hotel room, “Sleep well” he said, before planting one sweet and gentle kiss on her cheek, she jutted her face towards him and kissed his lips firmly, her right hand rushing to slide the key card down into the slot, they didn’t break their connection as they entered her room, him pushing her back against the door as it closed, the kiss gaining more momentum and gusto.
Vida opened her eyes to look at him, his face tanned and intense as his tongue pushed against hers and his hand gripped her jaw, he slowed right down before stopping but kept a grip on her face “You should rest” he said deeply, before placing small, soft kisses around her mouth, she mewed as her hands trailed down his white shirt, the ache between her legs starting to hurt.
“You agree hmm?” he asked, lips never more than a few millimetres away from hers, her hands had worked their way under his shirt and her nails were scraping across his skin, he breathed in sharply when she touched down his sides.
“Yeah” she answered eventually, and then stepped back.
“This morning” he told her as he opened the door to leave “You felt so good against me”
That spark. The effortlessness of it all. That’s what Vida liked about him the most. The lack of expectation and pressure, how many guys would kiss like that and take a step backwards to tell a woman how good she felt, fully clothed against him? Fuck. She sighed as she stared at the ceiling, the monotonous grey pattern less than inspiring, she spread her arms to the sides and deduced that at least four fully grown adults could fit in that bed and still have room to move yet here she was all alone. To her right she could just see the sofa where Luis had sat, like a coiled spring desperate to win her back. She owed it to herself to not go back there, regardless of how in love she had been - going back could not be an option. Having him buzzing around in an attempt to pursue her was also not cool, that would need to be dealt with. Vida picked up her phone and scrolled through the news, she sprung into an upright position when she saw a headline about how much the Russian TV station José was working for were paying him, obscene beyond all reality. She laughed at the ridiculousness of it all, and then as she continued to read on realised that he was only contracted for 4 days work plus the final which he would comment on via satellite link. Today was their fourth day.
“I’ll be home day after tomorrow” José told his son over the phone, “Be nice to your mother eh?”
His son muttered something about him being boring and then hung up, he giggled to himself. Kids. He looked at his iPhone, just enough time to eat and then his car would arrive - he had a full schedule today and was grateful for the previous night’s deep sleep - aided by no doubt whatsoever the way Vida had kissed him goodnight. He could still feel her when he woke up, his body stretching and tensing at the thought of her, a wave of sadness spread through his body when he realised the chances of them spending any time together today were slim and then he would be flying home. That made a sharp pain emanate around his throat, he wanted more, needed more..
“You leave tomorrow?” Vida called from down the hallway after she had taken the lift up two floors to his, he turned and strode back in her direction, her eyes scanned down his body - navy blue trousers and a white linen shirt, rolled up to the elbows. He scanned her, in her work gear - jeans and a t-shirt, the photographer’s uniform as she had referred to it as, he didn’t speak simply nodded and then paused when they met in the middle.
“Can’t convince you to come to Novgorod?” she asked shyly, “Weather is good” she added.
José smiled, his dimples springing to life “Maybe” he answered cryptically.
“How?” she asked with an arched eyebrow.
“You’re the creative one Vida, not me” he replied, sharp as ever.
Vida licked her lips, enticed by his challenge but also imagining Matthew telling her “I told you so” after she inevitably revealed she had finally slept with him after much protestation, “Does your suite have one of those outdoor jacuzzi things?” Vida asked, puzzling him a little, he went with it - purposely smugly revealing “Better than that, it has a heated pool”
Vida smirked, “Well I guess if I was being paid £400,000 for a day’s work I’d want a heated pool too”
José threw his head back, absolutely delighted by the fact she didn’t care about offending him - not that she ever really could, “I have no comeback” he replied with an amused shrug.
“I’ll come over about 9 then? Try out this pool?” Vida said, now walking backwards in the opposite direction, adding “Get your tight trunks on José”
He grinned so widely it made his mouth ache.
José’s day, although enjoyable was laborious - he had to do several takes for some recorded sections that would be played out across the station in the coming days and the temperature in the studio was sweltering. He loved the heat, it never usually bothered him but today it was unbearable, he started to feel light headed even after 2 litres of water and by 4pm was praying he would be promptly dismissed. Another hour and he was in the gloriously air conditioned Jaguar being driven back to his hotel, body clammy and in desperate need of showering. He had seen Vida in the foyer, surrounded by a group of other photographers, she didn’t see him - he was thankful of that, he looked unusually dishevelled.
“Is it true about what you did?” Sophie - the junior photographer she had met earlier in the week asked, “Got Mourinho to donate all those items for the auction?”
Vida nodded, “Yeah, decent guy”
Sophie’s eyes bulged, “Decent but loaded, have you seen how much they’re paying him just to talk for a few hours? Insane!”
Vida agreed, “Yeah, but it’s who he is isn’t it…”
Sophie’s eyes now narrowed, for a young kid she sure was perceptive, “You fancy him”
Vida laughed, this was like being back at high school “Oh come on, who doesn’t?!” she said dismissively, clearly embarrassed by how much she had clearly given away about her fondness of José, “ANYWAY!”
They were dutifully requested to leave the area once the players and managers had vacated, so Vida set up her laptop and began to file transfer her pictures, meanwhile upstairs on floor ten José was spritzing himself with aftershave and preparing to go to dinner, he had just under 2 hours until Vida would be arriving, that’s if she had meant what she said…he wondered how serious she was being but tried not to wind himself up over it.
“Good day?” Luis asked as he casually walked past Vida’s table with some guy she recognised but couldn’t say how, or where from.
“Not bad” she answered breezily and then looked back at her laptop, flinching when Luis bent down to her ear to whisper huskily “Te quiero…..”
Vida paused and looked at him, unable to speak or react given his brazenness. He continued to walk with confidence, almost as though she had returned the admission, his plan to cause the most gargantuan head fuck possible was slowly and surely starting to chip away at her and she didn’t need it, “LUIS!” She called and he span around on the spot, striding right back over to her, his arms folded and his stance defiant in front of her, “I don’t love you anymore, so this, whatever you’re trying to do won’t work”
She saw his Adam’s Apple protrude as he swallowed hard, “I don’t believe you, I see how you look at me” he told her, voice pleading.
“But finding you attractive is one thing, loving you is something totally different”
He knew she was right but still shook his head violently, nervously laughing “So who do you love now eh? Mourinho?” he spat.
Vida sat down, “I tried”
Luis stormed off only as he could, talking ten to the dozen in Asturian, with his hands expressively flying through the air.
"You need to let her go man" Miguel told Luis as they sat outdoors sipping beer.
Luis frowned "And what would you know eh?"
Miguel knew Luis only too well, "I know that she's not interested" he answered bravely "You should've stuck it out with Gabi"
Luis looked away, gazing back inside where he knew Vida would still be sat working, maybe Miguel was right but he and Gabi were through - they had tried to get that spark back, tried to forgive one another's misdeamenours but it had been fruitless.
"I love her...." He said heartbreakingly under his breath, Miguel didn't respond.
José could see Vida from where he was sat, slowly winding the linguine around his fork before elegantly bringing it up to his mouth, she was intensely staring at her laptop while her camera sat proudly on the table. His eyes didn't divert for a single second - even when the young waiter enquired as to how his food was, "Perfect" he had snapped back quickly, the guy had nodded and left him to it feeling a little intimidated.
Luis had approached her, his posture obstinate, she had rubbed her temples woefully in response to him, José's own body became stiff with mild panic, he had no right to storm over there and warn Luis off - no right whatsoever but an overwhelming instinct plagued him. He stopped chewing, tossed his napkin down and strolled over.
"You guys good?" He asked politely as he stood between her table and Luis, "Drink?" he added in an attempt to diffuse the obvious atmosphere.
"What exactly does this have to do with you?" Luis asked, his tall body squaring up to José while in the meantime Vida packed away her laptop and camera equipment.
José lifted his shoulders "Nothing really, I was just being polite"
Luis scoffed loudly now too concerned with José's vested interest in them to notice her standing up and walking away, "Fuck off were you, just admit it Mourinho... You want her! Well you can't have her!"
José's back was now up, "I don't remember you being this much of a brat when you were my player Martinez, I think you need to leave her alone"
Luis cackled "Your player?! That's hilarious, you don't know - " he paused and looked around only just now noticing that she had left, "Fuck!" He yelled slamming his hand on the table.
"This is all your fault" he spat at José "Just....stay away"
Vida flopped down onto her bed, Matthew had called a few times so she finally returned the call - he instantly sensed how unsettled she was "Luis won't leave it" she told him "Three confrontations today, it's driving me crazy"
"Funny you used to say he drove you crazy but in a good way" Matthew replied, she didn't disagree "Listen, we'll be there in a couple of days, leave Luis to Pep and you and me will have real decent catch up yeah?"
Vida sighed "That sounds perfect"
They had chatted aimlessly for half an hour and Vida had thanked him for making her feel so much better, she didn't update him on the José situation, she wanted for now to keep that secret all to herself. They signed off and she looked at her watch, 9:15pm, she was late for the only thing that had kept her sane all day - the thought of dipping into that swimming pool with José. José was packing, he figured Vida wouldn't want to be around anyone after what he could tell had been a stressful day for her. He tried not to panic, his personal assistant would be able to get her number, they'd meet up once the tournament was over, no big deal. He told himself this repeatedly until a knock arrived at his door. He opened it gently, eyes widening when she was stood there with a large tote bag across her shoulder.
"So where's this pool then eh?"
He smiled and stepped aside to let her pass, "Go straight out - I'll be five minutes"
Vida pulled open the large glass doors and loudly called back to him "WOW!" as she feasted her eyes on the vast infinity pool which dominated most of the terrace, she pulled her oversized blue shirt over her head and dipped her right foot into the water, relieved that he hadn't been lying when he said it was heated. She fixed her dark blue tankini top and shorts and sank beneath the water luxuriously.
José pulled on a pair of grey training shorts, then a pair of red training shorts, and then went back to the grey training shorts "Fucking hell man...." He said to himself in the mirror for agonising over how he looked, he left his t-shirt on and took a deep breath. Nerves, they weren't a common obstacle for him. He tried to remain cool as he strolled over to the doors, hearing her splashing around and poking his head out briefly to ask if she wanted a drink.
"No thanks" she told him, "Just you...that's all I want"
He lifted his shirt above his head, her eyes scanning his upper body and for the first time seeing what she had been imagining and had momentarily touched beneath his clothing the night before, he sighed happily as he dipped under the water and sidled up next to her.
"How are you doing?" He asked with barely a whisper, his arms stroking through the warm water.
"I'm good....and you?"
José moved his body in front of hers and stared at her, her hands skimmed through the water and then settled on his shoulders "Hmm.....right now, I'm great...."
They kissed, slow and easy, José controlling the speed beautifully, his intuition out of this world. When Vida tilted her head backwards and to the side he let his mouth drop to her neck and jaw, his tongue dragging across her skin firmly as his hands disappeared beneath the water and gripped the curve of her hips, she subtly gyrated as his thumbs dug in to her skin with lustful urgency "Fuck........" He sighed as she gripped him around the waist with her legs and forced his body to hurtle forwards so there wasn't a single shaft of light between them now.
"Mmm keepgoing..... " she requested when he had paused to look at her again, "Please....."
"She really isn't interested?" Pep asked as he and Matthew found their seats in business class, the tall blonde man shook his head in confirmation.
"She says not" he added as he sat down and within seconds was looking at the wine list.
Pep frowned as he too now sat "You're not convinced?"
Matthew got himself comfortable before considering and answering as diplomatically as possible, wary of the fact that Pep and Luis had a really tight friendship "She says she's off men Pep, just let it drop yeah?"
Pep didn't argue, he sighed disappointedly because Vida had made Luis happy, happier than he'd ever seen his friend of over twenty years "Shame...." He said quietly before really leaving it be - Matthew's glare too frightening for him to continue.
Vida's phone had been ringing non-stop for the last hour, she sat staring into space with exasperation, her swimwear clinging to her freezing cold body. She stood and ripped the lycra from her skin and jumped under the shower, the steam and hot water soothing her aches.
José had stopped things dead, in that swimming pool.
"Its not the right time" he had told her with devastating calmness "Not here....."
Her face had visibly changed, from truly relaxed and receptive to vulnerable and rejected. José felt like absolute shit, "Oh god...I'm sorry, so sorry.....Please....it isn't you Vida, it's the environment, this place, the tournament..."
"Three seconds ago you told me you were alright, three seconds ago your hands were all over me, your mouth too....so how is it not me?!" She asked understandably frustrated.
He rubbed his chin, "I like you....I like you a lot....but I leave tomorrow, you're here for the next three weeks, I can't let this progress knowing that, I just can't" he explained, protecting himself as much as her "I know..." He gripped her shoulders and shook her gently "I KNOW if I take you back in there, to that bed...I won't be able to cope leaving this place"
Vida looked bewildered, her body shivering against him "You think this would be a one night stand to me? You think that I do that kind of thing?" She asked.
José kissed her cheek softly "Not at all, but I'm telling you I can't do this out here, I thought I could, I thought I could separate my feelings from..." He paused "The physical stuff"
Vida lifted her body up and on to the side of the pool, he followed suit and they both sat in silence swishing their legs in the water, "You really are very sexy" Vida told him without any kind of motive, she glanced at him after she'd paid him the compliment, "I mean it, and you are a spectacular kisser"
He laughed bashfully, thinking back to when she had almost made him choke in the restaurant when she said she was thinking about if he was a good kisser, "Thank you" he answered eventually, "When you're back home I'll take you out again hmm?" He asked.
Vida nodded "OK"
She had been going over everything as she showered and dressed, she guessed she should be impressed and grateful for José's conduct but tonight - for the first time in a long time she had wanted to be wanted.
"Hi" Luis said with a surprised expression as he opened his door to her, she looked out of sorts so he got her indoors as quickly as he could, guiding her over to the sofa and shoving a glass of neat Vodka into her hand, "Vida, god, what happened?" He asked deeply as he steadied her shaky hands.
"I need you to do something Luis" she told him as she stood, him still fully rooted to his spot on the sofa and his eyes widening when she yanked her shirt above her head to reveal a lacy black bra.
His mouth gaped open when she then unzipped her denim jeans and let them drop to the ground, "Jesus......what is this?" Luis asked as his eyes glazed over at the sight of her in front of him in just her underwear, he swallowed when she grabbed his right hand and pulled him to his feet, she unbuttoned his grey shirt and then pushed it off his broad shoulders, her mouth instantly attacking his toned chest, he swore loudly "Fuckkkkk Vida....hmmm"
Her tongue ran up the centre of his rib cage before she dropped to her knees and set about removing his jeans, his hand gently caressing the back of her head and fingers running through her long dark hair, "Easy....." Vida whispered her face in line with the enormous bulge in his boxer shorts.
"Vida......please.....my bed hmm?" He asked huskily as his hand cupped the side of her face.
Vida stood and pressed her body against his, he felt heavenly, his fingertips on her back felt even better "Luis...." She sighed as they remained standing, both of them trying not to allow the surrealism of the moment to ruin proceedings.
Luis took her hand and walked them over to the bed, he pulled back the heavy sheets and watched as she felt back and moved herself on her elbows, his body followed and gently rested on top of her, his intense brown eyes were full of questions but he was too turned on to let them hinder the moment "I never thought I'd get you back here.....underneath me...I love you so much...." He said, seconds before they started to kiss, completely unhurried.
Vida let her legs fall either side of his body and arched her back as he inched inside of her, he had groaned with relief when he finally became accustomed to the way she felt against him her hips rocking in rhythm beautifully with his forward thrusts, every time full of power and intensity.
"I missed you...." He had said repeatedly as they sensually entwined, Luis's hand gripping and assisting her right hip as they lay on their sides "You feel amazing...." She told him, not wanting it to end, he would want to know for sure where the hell this drastic change of heart had come from. He hadn't forgotten how to thrill her, godknows he spent enough time thinking about getting her back in his bed, he grinned broadly into the next series of kisses, his natural Spanish charm and vigour making her feel so alive again.
In the early hours José saw Luis from his balcony as he crossed over the road and entered one of the many burger joints on the street, he felt a stabbing pain in his chest as he recalled Luis telling him he and Vida always had junk food after they'd spent a long time in bed together.
Vida had spied him from across the room as she helped herself to coffee - stood at reception waiting to check out. She took a deep breath and walked over leaving the two cups on the bar for now, the look on his face told her everything she needed to know, he shook his head gently which made her stop dead. He knew.
“Safe flight” she said as he passed, hand luggage draped over his shoulder casually.
José smiled politely, feeling no real malice, just minor disappointment “Thank you” he offered blankly, as though he didn’t really know her at all - she supposed he didn’t, not really.
Vida waited as he walked off, feeling ill at ease leaving it like this - awkward and cold. She caught up with him and gripped his shoulder, he turned around patiently “You know don’t you?”
He watched her wince as she said it, “Vida, you’re a grown single woman, you can do what you like”
“But nothing” he said with a shrug, now walking towards the hotel’s entrance to catch his taxi.
“José please” she called, he halted his purposeful steps and waited for her to catch up, it was early and the sun momentarily dazzled him as he looked up, her face soon blocking the view.
“Me and Luis…..it’s…” she paused, trying so hard to think of the most articulate way of describing whatever the hell it was they had, she opted for “Messy…”
José smirked, “No pun intended eh?”
Vida smiled too, amused at his nod to Lionel “I wanted you….badly”
“But not bad enough to wait hmm?” he asked, a little unfairly, her frown proved that.
“I was hurt….” she explained, her right hand covering her mouth and moving down her face “I felt stupid..”
José took her elbow and gripped it “I didn’t want to hurt you, sleeping with you then leaving today, come on that’s not how it’s done is it? I think too much of you for that”
“Even now?” she quizzed, her eyes dropping downwards.
José’s thumb and index finger lifted her chin upwards, “Vida….” he sighed, and stared at her for a few seconds, “Call me when all of this is over, when you’re back home…we’ll start again”
Vida agreed, aware that she had to go back upstairs to where her things were in Luis’s room, she was amazed he wasn’t already up given his freakish status as an early riser, she felt sick to her stomach as José’s taxi arrived and he climbed in, not for a second looking back at her. She was vulnerable, knowing full well using Luis like this would only end in tears.
She took the lift back up to Luis’s hotel room, careful as she slid the key card down into the slot, it clicked louder than she recalled, “Hey” she said quietly as he stirred, half of his naked body covered in one of the thin white sheets, “Hmm morning” he responded, husky and sleepy. Vida pulled back the sheets and got in next to him, her nails trailing up and down his back gently, the overwhelming desire she had for him blocking all other sensible receptors in her brain.
“Where’d you go?” Luis asked as he turned onto his side to face her, his lips tantalisingly close to her neck.
“To get coffee” she said, “Decaf for you over there”
Luis smiled thinly, “You remembered….”
Vida fluidly moved into a series of passionate and fervent kisses, his tongue beautifully commanding hers, his guttural noises spurring her on to be more and more expressive. She moved down his body, taut and muscular and glistening with sweat, he reached down and gripped her hair upwards, forming a pony tail with his right hand while he watched her mouth work him.
“Ohmygod…” he groaned with pleasure when her tongue encircled him before her mouth relinquished him entirely and then proceeded to take long, firm licks up and down - her face serious and lustful when they made eye contact.
Luis gulped when he felt the familiar uncontrollable wave of heat shoot from his feet all the way up to the top of his head, his stomach muscles tightened and his hips jutted while she astutely kept in control right through to his demise. He lay splayed across the bed afterwards, his eyes closed and his chest rising and falling violently for some time, Vida watched him, he was stunning beyond belief.
“Jesus Christ Vida….” he said after almost 15 minutes of silence, his arms reached out and fingers grabbed at thin air, unaware that she had moved away from the bed completely.
He sat up on one elbow, “Vida?” he called, smiling widely when she appeared from outside holding the aforementioned, now cold coffee.
“Yeah?” she asked, like she hadn’t just given him the greatest oral sex of his life, far from it.
“You do know how incredible that was….what you just did?” he stated, taking the cardboard coffee cup from her hand.
Vida shrugged, again like it was no big deal, “You’re too modest senorita, that’s your trouble”
“And for you…this” she paused to show him the time - 7:30am “Is practically mid-morning for you”
He ran his hand through his hair, not remotely bothered that he’d lay in until now, “Exercise can wait” he told her, his hands around her waist and pulling her back on to the bed, she shrieked loudly and then settled in his lap, “Mmmm you’re a bad bad influence Martinez….”
Luis watched as she writhed against him, his digits pursuing between her legs with gentle purpose, “You haven’t changed…” he whispered as his teeth gnawed at her shoulder blade, she was pretty impressed that he’d not forgotten all these moves which never failed to get her blood pumping.
“You haven’t spoken in Spanish to me yet…..” she told him.
He threw her a handsome smile, “You DEFINITELY haven’t changed”
They stayed there all morning, Vida moving only when she heard her phone ring from her bag in the living area, she missed it by seconds, “Matthew…I’ll try and call him back” she informed Luis who was now begrudgingly talking himself into getting out of bed, god it had been ages since he’d spent so long in a horizontal position like this.
A knock came at his door soon after he made for the shower, Vida, clad in one of his smart grey pullovers and just her knickers opened the door only to be greeted by her best friend, and Pep.
“Now Luis, I’ve not seen you in a while I know but you look remarkably like my best friend of many years who told me only a few days ago she was off men…” Matthew said, with a sarcastically arched brow.
Pep scoffed as Vida’s cheeks flushed bright pink, stepping to the side to let both men in.
“Good to see you” Pep said deeply, tapping her elbow tenderly and giving her a nod of approval - Pep loved her and Luis and never attempted to hide his disappointment when they broke up.
Vida lingered as Matthew stood flush against her, his towering frame imposing her personal space entirely, “Just dropped in to borrow some… I dunno, what do they drink out here… Vodka?”
Vida stared up at him, eyes wide and twinkling, “Looks like it’s done you good kid” he added pulling her in for a long, tight hug, “Now where is he?”
Vida knocked loudly on the bathroom door, not wishing to walk in on anything she shouldn’t, she argued with herself in her head as she waited for him to tell her to come in, the call never came so she barged in. He was stood at the shaving mirror, white towel around his waist, drops of water dripping onto the slate floor. Vida’s mouth jutted open as she took in the sight of him, splashes of water from his shaving razor cascading down the toned muscles of his chest and stomach.
He garbled something at her, not taking his eyes off of his foam covered face, she waited until he had finished and splashed his smooth face with water “Towel” he said nodding to her right where a pile of hand towels neatly stood, she swallowed then tossed one over to him. Never had watching a man shave been quite so intoxicating, the steam in the wet room made her feel light headed and he looked at her bemusedly as she staggered over to him.
“Hmmmm” she groaned into his neck, her nails scraping down his still damp forearms, lips bruising the sensitive skin around his jaw and neck, “You alright?” Luis asked, about to ask again until her mouth silenced him, he groaned deeply and pushed her back against the sink unit, “Ahhfuck…” she sighed when he lifted her up and spread her legs wide, she scrabbled at the towel, he yanked it away from his body and threw it at the door.
“Pep and Matthew are out there…” Vida said between his thrusts, he grinned pausing for a split second and telling her “Hmmm don’t worry, won’t take long…” as his hips thundered forward repeatedly while his hands gripped both of hers and held her backwards, he gritted his teeth when her body began to grind in rhythm and he saw their reflections out of the corner of his eye in the large bathroom mirror.
Vida let out a noise that was way too loud and in the living room Pep and Matthew exchanged a timely eye bulge.
Vida showered, allowing Pep and Luis some time to catch up, when she returned now fully clothed and satisfied she perched on the suede sofa next to Matthew, “So….I would ask how things are but it’s pretty damn obvious..”
She gazed outside to the balcony where Pep and Luis stood chatting animatedly in Spanish, slapping one another and seconds away from full on wrestling one another to the ground, Matthew laughed and shook his head “Footballers eh?”
Vida smiled back at him, “José blew me out” she said quietly.
Matthew frowned “And if he’d not?”
Vida shrugged, “Dunno”
Matthew rested his elbows on his knees, combing back his blonde hair with his right hand, “So this…” he said, signalling to Luis and back to her “What is it exactly?” his lack of judgement given her previous comments appreciated.
She considered her answer for a few minutes, “I can see myself falling for him all over again, last night I just wanted to be with someone you know, and I figured Luis is…god I really don’t know what this is Matthew” she admitted, “The thing with Gabi is still…..” she paused, wincing a little, “It still bothers me..”
Matthew placed his arm around her shoulder and pulled her down onto the sofa cushion, Vida leant into his body, grateful to have him there, helping her to work out what the hell was going on - he was the only man on the planet who could decipher her properly, “I saw how you looked at him…” Matthew began, not wanting to mention he also heard very audibly how much she enjoyed the physical side of whatever this was, “Do you trust him?”
She sighed, “I thought with time, I’d get over how he went back to her….and meeting José, going out to dinner with him, god he was such a gentleman, fuck he even intervened when Luis was bothering me, checked I was OK, you know?”
Matthew nodded, still holding on to her “Then I went to his suite, we kissed…. a lot, for a long time, and I told him not to stop….but he did”
Even a complete stranger would be able to tell she was suffering a serious case of rejection, “But why?”
She licked her lips, “He said it wasn’t fair to sleep with me when he was leaving the next day, wasn’t right, that we needed to do things properly”
Matthew breathed out deeply, “Shit…..I mean, wow” he was rubbing his chin when Pep and Luis walked back indoors, their Spanish summit now over, “Jeez, what’s silenced you?” Pep asked jokingly, then regretting it when he saw Matthew’s subtle shake of the head. Luis sank down next to her, his hand resting on her upper thigh “Just one of my boring football stories” Vida interjected to kill the atmosphere.
“You should leave those to us” Pep said with charming ease, lightening the mood dramatically, “Has he told you his plan then eh?” he asked, whilst searching in the mini bar for a beer.
“Erm…” Vida mumbled, they’d spent less than 24 hours back in one another’s company yet this seemed ridiculously easy and natural, Luis stroked her shoulder with the back on his hand, “Let’s meet for dinner this evening yeah? Talk about my masterplan then…”
Pep and Matthew agreed, “When do you work again Vida?” Matthew asked.
“Not until Friday then that’s my tenure done” she advised, “I’ll be relying on one of you guys to get me tickets for the final I’m afraid”
Pep wafted his hand through the air “No problem, no beer? Honestly Luis, what the fuck is this?” he asked holding up a disgustingly coloured protein shake.
They arranged to meet later that evening, leaving a few hours to kill. Vida sat at her laptop, answering some long overdue emails, while Luis went to the gym, swam and cycled, he hadn’t changed either - not at all. The sun moved around the building at just after 4pm so Vida lounged on the balcony, enjoying the warmth and gently falling asleep. She had no idea what was going on, she wanted to go with it - not take it too seriously but Luis was by no means an easy going guy, especially when it came to relationships. She woke when she heard the door click shut, he swaggered outside to her as she leisurely woke up, “Luis?” she said seriously, his face straining as he knew a discussion was on the way.
He covered his mouth with his hand and raised his eyebrows, “Go on…” he answered resigning himself to the fact she was about to ditch him, like he did her but at least she had the backbone to do it to his face.
“This….” she stopped and took his hand, her fingers touching his, mesmerised by how elegant they were, her attraction to him beginning to cloud her thoughts once again and that desperate urge in her stomach to have him almost forcing her to leave this conversation until later, she closed her eyes and let go of his hand, “Gods sake….I want to trust you, more than anything…”
“But you don’t?” he questioned, maintaining eye contact the whole time, “Not yet, or you don’t think you ever will?”
“I don’t know” she admitted, “I really don’t know”
Both Pep and Matthew looked glassy eyed as they approached dessert, Matthew a sucker for anything local and traditional whilst travelling had sampled copious types of vodka - Pep too. They had enjoyed a generous meal, with incredible service and more importantly had been able to mingle with the other guests who were way more impressed to see the footballers than the managers anyway.
“Are you OK?” Luis had asked discreetly into Vida’s neck as she shook her head in the direction of Matthew who was throwing Vodka down his neck like it was soon to be rationed.
Vida hadn’t wanted to let the guys down but had considered faking a headache due to the obvious tension between her and Luis following her declaration of no trust towards him, she shrugged him off and nodded before returning to her dessert menu to choose.
Pep paused his hysterics when he saw Luis violently throw his napkin onto his empty plate and stride in the direction of the bathroom, “Fuck, what’s with him?” Matthew garbled, a bony elbow from Pep shutting him up immediately.
Vida closed her menu and breathed out deeply, “I told him I don’t trust him”
The two men exchanged looks, like they always did, like a pair of weird in-sync spirits, Vida’s eyes went skyward, god she felt terrible.
“Tell him I don’t feel well” she said, hurriedly standing and grabbing her bag.
Matthew’s cries going unnoticed and Pep telling him calmly to let her go and figure it out on her own, when Luis returned his face was damp from the water he’d splashed on his face and he gulped down his glass of water before also excusing himself, “Luis” Pep had said to his friend before he walked off to follow Vida, “Put yourself in her position, yeah?”
Luis looked devastated, she had quite clearly divulged the reason for the charged and touchy atmosphere, did he have a right to be cross? Of course not. He walked out of the restaurant and padded down the street towards their hotel, she was nowhere to be seen.
“Fuck” he said repeatedly to himself as he tilted his head to look at the stars, it was a clear evening, the sun had been hot and punishing during the day but a gentle breeze now eased his hot skin and he wanted to enjoy the feeling for a while longer.
Vida pulled her knees up to her chest and watched him from a bench in the small adjacent park, the sound of the exquisite and ornate water fountain silencing her tears and whimpers, he eventually looked ahead and squinted - recognising her red patent heels.
He sat down next to her quietly and they both remained that way for some time, Luis the first to break the silence “I’m sorry” he croaked, “I treated you….so bad..” his voice wavered a little and she noticed him pinch the bridge of his nose as if to halt tears, “It’s unforgivable” he added and then sat backwards, his body now open.
Vida gave him a sideways glance, knowing that there were mascara lines down her cheeks she tried to blot them away with the sleeve of her jacket but Luis licked his thumb and firmly removed any trace in seconds, “I don’t deserve tears” he told her, brutally aware that this was a woman who so rarely got upset “Especially yours”
“What’s this, beat up Luis day?” Vida asked, acidly “Because three months ago I would’ve happily joined in”
Vida yawned under her breath, “Now?” she thought, “I think I’m projecting my own failings onto you”
Luis raised his eyebrows, “How?”
“Because by coming to you I showed weakness” she admitted “And you’re so….in my face with all your handsomeness and charm and I can’t keep away”
Luis moved in towards her, his index finger lifting her chin so he could give her the gentlest, most calming kiss in the world, she pulled away after a few seconds and licked her lips before smiling, “See” she stated “You know how to get to me”
Luis grinned, “You know I really don’t go out of my way to do that”
“What? Be sexy?” she snapped, her eyes now full of life and wildness “Fuck you Luis”
Luis laughed deeply, they sat in silence once more both of them hypnotised by the flowing water in the fountain, various people strolling by and not noticing their existence, all with their own agendas and places to be, it was so refreshing.
“What was your news?” Vida asked, in reference to Pep’s comment earlier in the day.
Luis made a dismissive shape with his right hand in the air, “Nothing important” he lied, “Shall we go inside?” he asked, their hotel only a few minutes walk away.
Vida shook her head, indicating a definite no, “Hmm ok” he answered, settling back down on the bench.
“What do you want?” Vida asked, it was a seemingly simple question but he thought for ages, eventually settling on “To be happy”
“Why did you come here?”
“To do what?”
“To win you back”
“Because I love you and I fucked up”
Vida whispered a meek “OK”
“Why did you come to me last night?” Luis asked looking ahead.
“Because I was rejected by another man”
“You used me?”
Luis’s knees bounced up and down, he was seething beneath the surface.
“The problem is” Vida began, “I am in love with the idea of you”
Luis slapped his hands in turn on his thighs and leant forward, “Did that mean anything to you…last night….this morning?” he asked, voice exuding vulnerability.
Vida took his left hand and linked her fingers with his, “I didn’t want it to, I wanted to leave and never see you again”
“But you didn’t”
Vida bit her lower lip, “That must mean something?”
Luis watched the shadow against the wall where he lay, the red LED lights on the hotel room alarm clock informing him it was 4:45am, his calves felt tight - like he’d been tensing the muscles in his sleep but he knew the real cause of discomfort was down to the night before. Vida’s hair looked even crazier in silhouette, buoyant and full of body, he held his breath when he saw her step into her underwear and slowly pull it up her legs, breathing out again when she flicked the elasticated band before palming her abdomen to smooth down the black material.
“Coffee?” she murmured, not sure if he was awake yet - he was uncharacteristically drowsy given the time of day, he put it partly down to her, and how she made everything appear so calm. He didn’t respond, he wanted a bit longer to look at her under heavy eyelids.
Vida leant over, the drawn curtains making it impossible to see if he was awake and then walked over and into the bathroom to brush her teeth. Luis flipped himself onto his back, just the thin white sheet covering him from the waist down as his arms settled behind his head. He sighed out contentedly, they’d gotten past a few things the night before - argued a little, made up a lot. He still had questions, mainly about Mourinho - foolish really, that guy was long gone yet it still niggled at him, deep down.
His eyes were unmistakably open when Vida walked back in and stood defiantly at the end of the bed, her hands coming into contact with his shins, masked by the sheets “Very leggy aren’t you?” she remarked, his face remained stoic “Tends to be a good thing when you play sports”
Vida thought about what he’d said, the cogs turning “I suppose so”
It wasn’t a cryptic conversation, quite the opposite - she’d felt him tense in his sleep and wondered was he in discomfort, “Let me see” she said with a quiet confidence, him tugging the sheets away almost instantly.
Vida swallowed as she saw his naked body in the early morning light, he was something else, her hands gripped the backs of his legs and she began making circular motions being careful not to dig in too hard and hurt him, “Hmm that’s nice” he said under his breath, eyes closed and arms by his sides, “Last night has punished me” he told her, voice husky as her hands continued to work their magic.
They’d left the park the night before and walked a little faster back to his hotel room, once inside Luis bashed her up against the closed door, yanked down her skirt, his jeans and like a man possessed supported her body weight while thrusting his hips upwards to meet her, Vida had clung to him for dear life, her hands slapping him repeatedly, urging him “The bed Luis, the bed” but he felt uncontrollably compelled to have her right there, regardless of his own possible injuries. Vida had closed her eyes and gripped the back of his head which had settled between her breasts by this point and went with it, her back red raw from being shunted up and down the wooden door. When he had finished he lost all strength and they both unceremoniously fell to the ground, Vida rubbing her backside and Luis trying to bring life back to his legs.
“No more of that old man” Vida teased, her body now astride him on the bed and her hands spread across his chest, he smirked then slowly opened his eyes to look at her, “Do you love me?”
“Safe flight” Matthew said as he dropped Vida and Luis at the airport, Luis jumped out and proceeded to remove their luggage form the back of the Mercedes while Vida lingered for one last pow-wow with her best friend.
“Remember darling, nod and smile and don’t say what’s on your mind”
Vida frowned “You did not just say that”
Matthew cocked his head to the side “It’s taken him fucking forever to get a new job, have an open mind, I know what you’re like - be polite, this is Luis’s thing”
“You make it sound like we’re going on a camping holiday! This is the Spanish national team!”
Matthew held his hands aloft as if to say “Precisely”
She kissed him on the cheek “I’ll call”
They walked through departures, check-in seamless as ever and then settled in the most exclusive VIP lounge Vida had ever seen in her life - and that was no mean feat, she had travelled - mainly on a shoestring but still, this was as swanky as it got.
“You wanna go over there?” Luis questioned, a subtle nod in the direction of a Victoria’s Secrets outlet.
Vida’s eyes narrowed, “Do I need to?”
He placed his coffee cup down and dragged his rough, stubbly chin along her jaw, a grumble in his throat reverberating against her pulse point as he laid one, then another luscious kiss on her skin, “Depends….” he groaned, unperturbed by his surroundings, god if it was up to him he’d have her on top of him, naked, right now.
“On what?” Vida asked, her apparent innocence making him feel all the more desperate to get them away from this very public place and alone, somewhere…anywhere.
Luis angled her face so his mouth was close to her ear and said with a deep Spanish drawl “On how you plan on congratulating me on my new job tonight”
Vida’s eyes had turned heavy when he pulled back to look at her, “Does this airport have rooms?”
The airport didn’t have rooms. But it had an unoccupied store cupboard.
“That was so wrong…” Luis whispered as he stood behind her at the boarding gate, the shake of her shoulders as she laughed making his fingers dig in hard to her neck, “Terrible…” he added with a husky whisper.
Vida turned to glare at him, a glare which pretty much said “That was as far from terrible as anything could get”
He kissed her forehead firmly, “Madrid here we come”
The first part of the flight was uneventful, Luis fell asleep, Vida watched him. It was as relaxed as he was probably going to be for 48 hours so she didn’t disturb him, when he did come around she was scrolling through some photos on her iPad. He rubbed his eyes and nudged her as she looked totally engrossed in one particular picture she had taken of José and the girls at the auction “Who are they?” Luis asked.
Vida quickly scrolled past a few of just José, but he saw “The women at the charity auction” she said, as carefree as she could.
“And why so many pictures of him?” Luis asked, his tone unimpressed to say the least.
Vida let out a sigh and shut off the device, “I’m not answering that, you’re being an idiot” she told him and then shuffled in her seat.
Luis licked his lips, in that way he did when he was pissed off “You want to see the pictures on my iPad?” he asked “Because there won’t be any random women on there”
Vida eyed him, eyebrows knitting together “Are you for real? It IS my job”
He closed his eyes again, knees bouncing - again another sign of his uneasiness, Vida let her hand fall on to his right knee and squeezed, the bouncing soon stopped and she heard him exhale wearily, he would never admit he was on edge because of the press conference tomorrow.
“Is he the reason you said you didn’t love me?…When I asked you?” he asked softly.
Vida moved her chin to his shoulder, he turned his face to hers and kissed her slowly, mindful of the other passengers he manoeuvred her so his shoulder shielded their intimate exchange, Vida’s eyes widened as he eventually pulled back, “I didn’t say that did I?” she told him. He had no response, because no she didn’t say she didn’t love him, not in so many words, she didn’t say any words at all in fact.
“Do you then?” he prompted.
He needed it, badly.
Vida nodded subtly, it wasn’t a lie as such, but their relationship was far from ideal - the José obsession proved that, “You needed me to make you realise that?” he questioned further, almost playing on the fact she knew he was nervous about the new job, the trip, the media…
“No” she replied, “But you need to prove you’re good for it”
Luis’s eyes lit up, “Wow, OK… I get that”
“And I don’t mean by shoving me in a broom cupboard and tearing my back to shreds…..AGAIN”
He grinned widely, with a sense of achievement, “Not a bad start though hmm?”
They landed in Madrid, greeted by a dry heat - England was also experiencing one of the hottest most glorious summers on record but Madrid was something else, waiting at baggage reclaim had them both melting and the fuel from the taxi rank outside induced the need of a cold shoulder to maximum. Luis checked them in and they headed straight to the room, the shower instantly being fired up and them both stood on opposite sides as the freezing cold water refreshed and awakened their clammy limbs.
“How about this?” Vida asked as she held up a flowery dress in front of her body “Too loud?”
Luis had reclined on their enormous bed and was channel hopping, “Nice” he said without looking up, “Or I could just go like this?” Vida asked, removing the towel from her body and letting it drop to the wooden floor, “Hmm, yeah nice” he answered again, not even looking up.
“God’s sake…” he grumbled under his breath, Vida shook her head and pulled a t shirt onto her top half and perched on the edge of the bed, he was watching some sports channel, his name was in big letters behind the presenters.
“What are they saying?” Vida asked, unable to catch the language quickly enough to even contemplate translating given her minimal understanding of Spanish.
Luis zapped the TV and turned it off, “That I’m too arrogant” he answered with disbelief.
Vida shunted up the bed towards him, “Does their opinion even count? I mean come on, they’re TV presenters”
“On the biggest TV network in Spain” he answered witheringly.
“Fuck them, since when have you let criticism bother you?” Vida told him sternly, “You’re a national hero”
Luis snorted, thankful for her positivity, “Yeah yeah…”
Vida moved her body, naked from the waist down so she was sat astride him, her hands pawing at his shirt until he pulled it over his head. She breathed in through her teeth when she felt his hands caress the sides of her body, his neatly trimmed nails gently scraping her skin and then the back of his hands soothing her, “Hmmmm” she mewed as her hair fell down her chest and her hips jutted upwards.
“I couldn’t do this without you” he said, smoothly pulling her down onto her back and settling above her, his lips and teeth grazing her throat and back up again, “I mean it” he said into her mouth before letting his tongue tease and prod hers, “Ohfuck…” he whispered, the lump in his shorts growing larger and harder.
“I’ve never slept with a national team manager” Vida told him matter of factly, a smirk forming within seconds, he felt a throb so substantial that it made his whole body quiver, Vida’s mouth opened and she slapped his bare shoulder “You ARE too arrogant!”
Vida rarely left her laptop open. It didn’t bother him, not as such - he figured it was for some kind of artistic reason, not wanting to show off any unfinished work, man she was a perfectionist. But today, hours before his press conference - the most important few hours of his life in a long time she had left the silver lid ajar, and he had heard new mail ping into the inbox.
Luis tentatively pushed the cool metal with his thumb, his eyes almost deflecting from the screen as if to convince himself not to look - but look he did.
To : Vida Carter
Any mention of the G word?….You have to mention it, maybe after the conference darling, call me.
Luis frowned, the G word?…. he rubbed his stubbly chin, looking away until the computer chimed again.
re Pre Season
To : Vida Carter
The press are vultures, but you’re strong… Luis is strong…Other stuff? Ex-wife other stuff? Talk to him Vida. Enjoy Madrid..
His hands shook as he tried to figure out how to access the email José was replying to, after navigating from one page to a totally different one and then back again he eventually found the trail.
To : José Mourinho
Hope Pre Season goes well, America, I’m jealous! But I’m off to Madrid on Wednesday with Luis. The press scare me, I’m not used to these guys, the guys I deal with are postgrads and frustrated artists themselves, not gossip fiends. And I’m feeling weak…not just work, other stuff.
Luis shut the laptop and paced the wooden floor of the hotel, she’d hung up his suit on the wardrobe - freshly pressed and dry cleaned, his tie perfectly slid around the neck of the white shirt she had picked out. He wanted to yell, hit something, anything - the overwhelming feeling of this jealous rage reaching boiling point at the exact moment she strolled in without a care in the world. Coffees in her right hand, phone clamped to her ear with the other - chattering aimlessly about an exhibition and how the dates didn’t work for her. She looked down at him, sat awkwardly on the suede chair and pushed the cardboard coffee holder into his chest, he begrudgingly took it and laughed menacingly. Vida stopped dead, “I’ll call you back” she stated before hanging up and putting her phone on the mantle.
“Problem?” She asked, stood in front of him, defiant as always.
“No” he answered sharply, “Why would there be?”
Vida swallowed, about to speak again when he stood, marched over to her laptop and opened it on José’s email, Vida squinted as she approached, utterly dumbfounded.
“Ok firstly - why are you reading this, and secondly what is your issue exactly?”
Luis shook his head, the blood was surging through his veins at an alarming rate, his heart thumping and his fists clenching “You’re emailing him?” he asked, voice shaky “Why the fuck would you be doing that?”
Vida tossed her hair to the side and scrolled through the messages, nothing exactly incriminating as such, just general chit chat and her expelling her woes “We’re friends” she replied with a shrug, “And I’ll ask again, why are you even looking at my emails?”
Luis sat down, his body fell back across the bed and she looked down as his shirt rode up his nicely toned stomach, “I don’t want you talking to him, understand?” he told her calmly, arms now above his head and his eyes closed.
Vida chuckled at the ridiculousness of it all, “Unlucky for you Luis, you can’t control who I do and do not talk to”
She placed her laptop in it’s leather wallet and then took her coffee over to the terrace, the skies had turned dark - how appropriate she surmised before casually glancing inside to where he still lay, she liked how passionate he could be, it was a huge turn on but to the point of controlling was a totally different thing. He’d been like it a few times, when she had seriously fallen hard for him she was oblivious and it wasn’t until Matthew raised the subject following several cancelled dinner dates that she began to see that he had a problem not being in control.
“Luis, what’s up?” she called, no answer.
Vida huffed as she stood up, desperate not to argue - even prepared to apologise for something she hadn’t even done but when she walked through he was now on the phone, and clearly having a whale of a time with whoever was at the end of the line. The kids she thought, probably the kids. He was speaking in Spanish, quickly - he could’ve been saying anything.
“One moment” he told the person on the end of the phone before sitting up, placing his phone on speaker and removing his shirt.
Vida saw the caller was Gabi.
“Hmm, Sí Sí” he kept saying repeatedly, his right hand moving up and down his bare chest, Vida felt a lump in her throat and tears begin to prick her eyes, she stood as he wrapped up the call and waited once he’d said goodbye.
“Problem?” he asked, full of attitude as his half naked form remained spread out across the bed sheets.
“You’re a real fucking prick Luis, you know that? A REAL FUCKING PRICK”
He watched as she frantically packed her case, forgetting everything she had hung up in the wardrobe, he didn’t stop her, “You email him, I do that - so what eh?” he told her.
“OK then, what were you saying? Enough to make you want to take your shirt off yeah? My god, why did I even fall for this again?!”
The smug grin instantly dropped.
Once packed she sat on the terrace again and finished her now freezing cold coffee while Luis lingered in the doorway, “I fucked up again” he told her softly, his eyes giving every puppy on the planet a run for its money.
Vida laughed, “You ditched me to go back to her, then you divorce her, somehow get me back, then you call her and flirt with her in front of me because I emailed another guy about totally innocent things a couple of times? Fucked up? Luis you are beyond that, BEYOND IT” she told him without compromise.
“Innocent? INNOCENT!” He yelled “Other stuff? You said other stuff!!!”
Vida rose to her feet, still so much shorter than him still “You want to know what other stuff is yeah? It’s worrying that you’ll unintentionally send someone into a jealous rage, that you’ll look at a guy the wrong way and have to endure a week of silent treatment, that you’ll email someone with no ulterior motive in the slightest and he’ll call his ex-wife to punish you!”
The tears streamed down her face and he couldn’t do anything, “Vida….I…”
“You what Luis? YOU WHAT? You fucked up? My god, change the record”
She stormed down the hallway of the room and into the bathroom, pulling out her phone she searched her contacts and paused at J.
She sniffed, not wanting to let on she was upset when he answered “OK if I come for a visit?”
“To California? Of course, let me know your flight, I’ll have you picked up at the airport, but…what about Madrid, today is the conference no?”
She coughed away from the phone, stemming her tears as best she could “Change of plan”
“OK listen..” José began calmly but so full of concern, “Get yourself here, we’ll talk then, safe trip”
“I guess you need to know what happened” Vida said quietly as she sipped the most incredible wine - her arm didn’t take much twisting when it came to drinking alcohol, even though the jet lag would surely kick in soon.
José was casually sat opposite her, his tanned skin and silver hair complimenting one another so much, he drank before answering, thinking carefully “I don’t need to know anything Vida” he informed her quietly, placing his glass back down before looking at her. She did look tired, and not from travelling, from thinking, worrying, beating herself up for making yet another poor choice.
Vida laughed unbelievably “You’re not the…” she held her index finger and thumb mid air, about an inch apart “Tiniest bit intrigued?”
José smiled handsomely, dimples popping “Perhaps” he answered honestly and with a subtle shrug, pausing for a few seconds and then licking his lips. He had zero intention of taking advantage of her in this state - vulnerable and worn out, but at the same time he knew she needed some reassurance, some taking care of.
Suddenly, he stood and held his hand out to her “Come on” he said with barely a whisper, “You need to sleep, “I haven’t even checked in” she complained as she gradually rose to her feet and then grabbed her luggage.
José didn’t say anything, he held on to her hand as he walked her over to the lifts, taking control of her suitcase as he did. Once in the lift she swallowed as he faced her and pulled her face into his chest, she took in a deep breath - he smelt incredible, he felt her grip his lower back firmly - the sharpness of her nails was a little uncomfortable but he couldn’t have cared less. Vida could have stayed in that position forever but was forced to pull away when the door opened and he guided them out and down the long corridor to his suite.
Vida’s eyes were too bleary to really take it all in, and it was dark outside so any kind of view of the city would be lost on her anyway but he pulled her case down the laminated floor and pushed open one of the large glass doors, “Here OK?” he asked, showing her into a large area kitted out with top of range appliances and the most exquisite bed, “Jesus is that a Starbucks coffee maker?”
José laughed, “Yeah, I think so” stuff like that never really appealed to him, and he never booked these hotels suites when they were on pre season, or even back home during the domestic season, he had Linda his assistant do all of that. This year she had really excelled with the hotel choices though, the one in California was more of a self contained 2 bedroom penthouse apartment than anything else.
“Fuck!” Vida yelled from the bathroom, fully equipped with hot tub and a separate door that lead to a sauna room, she poked her head around the wall and looked at him “Am I dreaming?!” she asked with a giggle.
José smiled, god he wanted her. Badly.
She strolled over to the bed and pressed her hands against the beautifully laundered linen, “Sit down” she asked, pulling her hair to the side so it trailed down her shoulder, he did as requested and turned his body to face her, they looked at one another for a while, him moving his right hand to her face. Her freckles were bright and striping across the bridge of her nose, frittering sporadically to her cheeks, he was mesmerised “You didn’t have to do this you do know that” she told him, taking his hands and pulling them down to her lap, fingers coiling around his tightly.
“I know” he answered, “You’re worn out, you need to relax, this room is perfect for that”
“And where will you sleep?” she asked, her eyes now looking down as she started to trace up and down each of his digits with hers, “There’s another room” he said, letting go of her hands so he could grip under her ear around the back of her head, he began combing a chunk of that unruly brown hair gently with his fingers “I’ll be fine….” he finished, just to fill the silence.
Vida fell backwards exhaling loudly as the mattress cushioned her tired limbs, he followed, his elbow next to her head as he carried on stroking her hair until there wasn’t a single tangle in sight.
“He was a real prick” she spat, her eyes shut and the feeling of the warmth from his body filling her with appreciative comfort, “I didn’t deserve it”
“I’m sure you didn’t” he replied, still sat up and gazing down at her form, her Levis T-Shirt creased and baggy, her denim jeans unbuttoned and crying to come off, “Here...” he told her as he edged himself up and into a standing position, he gently pulled her legs to the edge of the bed and helped her out of the tight, restrictive denim. Her body was limp and he had to balance her with one hand while pulling the duvet open from under the pillows, she swung her legs back under the cool sheets and reached up to his face as he placed them back over her shoulders.
“Kiss me….” she asked, eyes half open.
José pressed his lips to hers so gently, cautiously, she responded with fragility barely moving her face, “Sleep Vida…see you in the morning hmm?”
Her head hit the pillow and she was gone.
Rui had been talking for the last twenty minutes, José was nodding and making small encouraging noises but Rui knew his mind was elsewhere.
“You missing me yet?” The younger man asked, getting his attention fully now.
José nodded minutely “It was always going to be different without you”
Rui sipped his beer, “So what’s really bothering you?” he asked.
José’s eyes darted around the room, looking at anything but Rui’s knowing facial expression “Nothing” he lied unconvincingly, “Good to see you” he said - it was heartfelt, and he had missed Rui even though it had only been a few months.
Rui scoffed “OK then, WHO is bothering you?” he asked, changing his tact.
José shuffled against the wooden bench, his legs spread wide beneath the table top as if he was subconsciously displaying his masculinity “I don’t know what you mean Rui”
Rui couldn’t help but laugh now, “José we spent 18 years in one another’s pockets, daily - I know when something, or someone is on your mind. Who is she? That girl from Russia? The photographer?”
José had spoken to Rui on the phone during his punditry assignment in Russia, when he spoke of this mysterious woman who he had ‘kind of’ hooked up with Rui was thrilled, José hadn’t had a private life in some time, he’d made himself too busy for that. Rui always tried to get him together with friends of friends, or on one occasion - a friend of his sister’s but it had always ended in José either cancelling the day before or him simply not being interested in these beautiful women. Rui learnt soon enough, José needed substance as well as style.
“Yeah” he croaked weakly, after thinking of a million rubbish false answers, “Vida” he added.
Rui’s eyebrows lifted and a smile formed “So, what? You’re dating?”
José dipped his head at the insinuation, oh god he wished he could answer that question with a big fat yes, “Not quite….”
“Go on…” Rui urged gently.
José spent the next hour explaining every last fucked up detail of Vida’s relationship with Luis, the fact they had clashed whilst still in Russia and how close he had gotten to Vida before bottling it for the purposes of sparing his own feelings. It still hurt him massively how quickly she seemed to take solace in Luis’s bed that night, even though he reasoned that it was he who rejected her, things could be so much different now. For the both of them, he had been beating himself up over the fact Vida had been hurt by Luis once again, “If I’d not stopped things that night” he said to Rui “She wouldn’t have given him another chance, we could be here now, enjoying this”
“You could think like that” Rui began “But you’ll drive yourself crazy, you did the right thing in Russia and she can make her own choices - bad or otherwise”
Rui would always be the loyal servant.
José smiled wryly, “She’s here” he told him, “Asleep in my room upstairs”
Rui scratched his head, “Fuck”
“She’s exhausted” José explained, “She left him in Madrid, came straight out here”
Rui didn’t say anything, his opinion of Vida - this woman he didn’t know at all, other than from José’s point of view was that she was as confused as hell, he guessed he’d have to meet her in the flesh to form a true opinion but right there and then his sole intention was to make sure his best friend wasn’t making a huge mistake, “Cut throat” Rui said sharply, “Leaves one and jumps right into another one’s bed?”
José scowled then relaxed his face, “Vida isn’t like that” he said defensively.
“Based on what José?”
He had a point.
“You don’t know her, and we haven’t….done anything like that in anyone’s bed” he replied eventually, rubbing his furrowed brow.
Rui stood and stretched, he too was jet lagged “Just be careful” he said slapping his ex-boss’s shoulder firmly, “I need to sleep, we’ll meet for breakfast?”
José nodded, “Yeah”
He watched Rui leave the hotel bar and stroll to the lifts and then looked at his watch, just after 1am, Vida had been sleeping for 3 hours, he hoped he could creep back into the room without disturbing her. He finished his drink and following suit after Rui, gently placing the key card to the sensor on the large black door and waiting until it turned green to let him in, he gently closed it and padded down the hallway past Vida’s door, he lingered and listened out. Nothing. He was relieved.
Vida was woken by the streaming sunshine, the bedside clock stated it was 7:30am, she propped herself up against the pillows and checked her phone, several messages from Luis, she didn’t read any of them, he’d left 2 voicemails, again, she hit delete. Matthew had called too, his voice message emitting total confusion. She didn’t feel at all ready to explain things to him, not yet. She showered leisurely, enjoying the sound of nothing but the water for half an hour. When she eventually left the self contained room and walked down towards the living area José was on the phone, the TV was showing Sky Sports and Luis’s image holding up a personalised Spain replica shirt, José quickly grabbed the remote and zapped the channel over to a generic news station. Vida opened the enormous fridge and took out the orange juice while he finished up his call, “Morning” she said quietly when he hung up and walked over towards her.
“Sleep good?” he asked, grabbing himself a glass and waiting for her to fill it.
Vida nodded, then sipped the juice before sitting down on the plush leather sofa. José lingered at the kitchen worktop, wondering where to even begin in terms of conversation. He hadn’t wanted to know about her argument with Luis, nor did he ask for any elaboration on what she’d said at the height of her tiredness, he took a deep breath and said what was on his mind.
“What do you want Vida?”
Vida remained cool, sipping the juice, not flinching for a single second.
She looked at him, huge brown eyes looking so much more rested and clear than when she first arrived, “I want to go back to that night in Russia and not have you reject me”
He walked around to where she was sat and sank down next to her, crossing his tanned legs while his arms stretched behind her “You know why I did that” he said softly, his left hand absentmindedly playing with her hair, “I’m not saying I don’t regret it…”
Vida turned towards him, her left leg crossing underneath her right and his left hand now gently moving across her shoulder blade, “So you’ve thought about it?” she asked, eyes scanning down his body, adorned in training gear.
José nodded, “A lot”
Vida moved in for a kiss, it surprised him momentarily but he soon went with it and settled against her, all movements smooth and natural beyond belief, he had tried his hardest to maintain the memory of them kissing whilst in Russia, it wasn’t long until that familiar stirring materialised. He had pulled her into his lap firmly, hands grappling at her skin and clawing at her backside until she got comfortable, his tongue had begun to wind sinuously against hers and she was forced to pull away briefly, “Too good….too damn good…” she groaned into his mouth, he grinned handsomely his hands now moving down the middle of her body and back up again, the desperation that faced him almost too much.
“Hmmm…Vida….stop….” he said, her hand just seconds from moving up his inner thigh.
Vida did as he asked and sat up on his knees, she raked his silver hair back in place and smiled before hopping off, “Vida….” he called as she walked towards her room, she paused and looked back at him, “It’s OK, I get it, I have to prove myself first”
The new Premier League season had begun, with Manchester United securing a 2-1 home win, and José playing down his position in public amidst insinuations that the board weren’t listening to his demands. He drove home, across a damp and chilly city and back to the hotel that he still called home.
“Fuck” he groaned as he parked up the Jaguar in his underground space, he looked around him, as far as the eye could see were super cars, wall to wall luxury - it had only been a few weeks since he was back in throes of his job and it already grated. He was lonely, it was the first time he’d actually admitted that to himself - looking in the rear view mirror - an apathetic expression staring back at him. He’d had lunch with his daughter, during which she had tried to matchmake him with Carmen - her best friend’s long divorced mother. She was a nice lady, no question - they’d met on several occasions but José saw her as nothing but a woman he saw fleetingly, they’d talked at mutual barbecues, birthday parties - there wasn’t anything there, not for José.
“Rui told me you know” Cleo had said to her father as she pushed the salad around her plate, José didn’t flinch, kept chewing as though she hadn't mentioned anything.
“About this woman you met in Russia, the photographer, and how she came out to California to stay with you”
José sniffed and then drank his glass of water as casual as ever, “So?” he answered totally unfazed.
Cleo smiled and placed her fork down, “It’s OK you know” the teenager told him reassuringly, he was grateful that she felt so comfortable talking to him like this, “What happened?”
José shook his head “Nothing happened”
Cleo folded her arms unconvinced by her father’s protestations “Liar”
José laughed now, and then signalled at their waiter requesting the bill, “I’m not lying, we were too different”
How such a blatant lie could fall out of his mouth he didn’t quite know. He and Vida had spent 4 amazing days in one another’s company doing nothing more than talking, relaxing and sleeping - in different rooms.
Cleo snorted as she linked arms with him as they left the restaurant “Rui said she was cute”
José gripped his daughter’s arm tightly “You’re like a dog with a bone you know that?” he snapped “Vida isn’t interested, simple as that”
He felt his throat swell when he said that, it wasn’t the truth - not remotely, Vida had made no attempt to hide how she felt, it was him - all him.
“Dad” Cleo began as they got into a cab “I really don’t believe that”
“I’m sorry darling, truly, but I’ll be there on Monday yeah?” Matthew said down the phone as she landed at Manchester airport, her supposed ride to the hotel now bailing on her at the last minute due to his own work commitments.
“It’s fine” she answered with a deep sigh “Work is work, I’ll see you in a few days”
Vida hung up and waited for a cab, the temperature had become cooler the last few days in England, she was relieved - the freckles on her skin were a nice reminder of the most glorious of summers, that would do for now. The cool air was welcoming after a delayed flight and laborious hour spent at baggage reclaim, she took out her phone and opened Twitter. Her eyes darted up and down her timeline, focusing on nothing in particular until she saw José’s interview with Sky Sports, she pushed in one of her earphones and listened to his voice. Their time together in America seemed distant, even though it had only been a few weeks, the time in Russia even more so of a memory. Taking a leap of faith she pressed her thumb against his name in her contacts, it rang three times and then he answered.
José was still staring in the rear view mirror when he felt the vibration against his right hip, he fumbled a little and then swiped to answer, “Vida, hey” he said quietly.
There was an awful lot of ambient noise from her end, she hadn’t meant to shout and desperately hailed the first cab purely so she could hear him more clearly “God sorry, I’m at the airport, I can hear you now” she said quickly.
“On holiday?” he asked, rubbing his forehead and now relaxing back into the luxury leather “Or work?”
“Oh work, always work” she told him with a laugh, “But I’m in your vicinity, have you eaten?”
His eyes widened fully, “Erm, no…you’re in Manchester?”
They agreed to meet at The Lowry, José advising she take the service entrance at the back of the building, she did as asked, it was pretty dank and dark but the second the lift arrived and she got in she understood why he chose to live there. Vida waited patiently for the lift to ping at the top floor, his suit dominated the entire space and she stepped out in complete awe at the lush carpet, tastefully decorated walls and well positioned furnishings.
“Here, let me” José said, the second he opened his door to her - her body loaded up with various photographic equipment and her luggage being pulled behind, she answered with an appreciative “Thank you” before following him inside.
His apartment couldn’t have been more different from where they had stayed in California, it was actually quite incredible how he’d somehow managed to personalise what would normally be considered spartan and soulless. There wasn’t a great deal in the way of possessions but what he did have clearly had sentimental values, “Wow” Vida said, admiring a series of framed family photographs, “You guys have done a lot of travelling”
José handed her a glass filled with wine and stood elbow to elbow with her “Yeah, we have, the kids loved it out there though” he told her nodding at photographs from what could only have been the Caribbean, “Snorkelling, jet skis, the whole lot, you know how kids are”
She didn’t, but she got the attraction to the Caribbean.
They sat next to each other on the dark grey, modern sofa, “Fuck, sorry, congratulations” Vida said chinking her glass with his in honour of the evening’s victory, he smiled thinly and thanked her, “What’s going on then?” she asked, desperate to kill the reserved mood “Any dates?”
José wanted to down that wine in one go and tell her how he felt, tell her that all that time they spent together was the happiest he’d been in years, how the way she made him feel at ease allowed him to be himself for once, how he REALLY bloody enjoyed her company and conversation, how he yearned to have her in his bed and do more than kiss her.
“Hmm, no” he said instead, biting his lower lip self consciously.
“Nah, me either” she said wafting her hand in the air, “I’ve given up”
José blinked and then put his glass down, his body turned towards her, eyes drifting down her body - she was the only woman he knew who could make a basic black jumper and denim jeans seem the absolute height of sexiness, she crossed her ankles after stretching her legs out in front of her - it didn’t bother her that he looked ten thousand times smarter than she did - he was a manager, she was anything but.
“On men?” José asked after a few minutes of silence, “You shouldn’t”
Vida smiled, now placing her glass down and facing him “And why’s that? Because my most recent relationship history is nothing short of disastrous, what’s the point?”
José’s hand dropped to her upper thigh and gripped tightly, “We’re not all like Luis” he told her.
“Well you’re not no” she told him, with some sadness “You’re not like any other man in fact”
“Why’s that? Because I didn’t sleep with you?” he asked, earnestly.
Vida felt her cheeks flush a deep crimson, he pulled her face back upwards after she dipped downwards to hide her embarrassment, he gripped her chin with his thumb and forefinger as she answered, “You’re a gentleman” she told him, “The only one I know”
Vida looked into his eyes, brown and kind - she had missed spending time with him, going home after America was weird, she was alone again, usually she was in her element when alone but for the last few weeks it had been different. She had thought of José often, of the evenings when he got back from games or afternoons from training and they’d eat room service then lie outside on the day beds, talking total nonsense, or lie on his bed and leisurely kiss with no pressure of taking it further, they’d gotten close so many times but he would always halt things. Vida had come to understand him, respect the fact he for whatever reason didn’t want to rush anything.
“I was asked out” he told her, his right hand now back behind her shoulder, “My daughter’s friend’s mother”
Vida swallowed hard.
José licked his lips and watched her closely as he spoke “Because I want you, no one else”
“Well, here I am” she answered, “By pure chance, here I am”
José stood and pulled her with him, “Stay the night….with me”
He was just shinning his trousers off, admiring the most incredible view of Vida’s half naked body when Cleo showed up, he rested his forehead between her lace encased breasts and groaned loudly.
“I am so sorry” he said, with feeling, her hands ruffling through his silver hair before she grabbed her jumper and pulled it back on.
José sat, flustered and warm at the end of his bed, the sheets had barely been disturbed “She does this sometimes” he advised, Vida nodded and smiled - she wasn’t angry, far from it - just a little bit out of her comfort zone.
“It’s fine, don’t worry” she told him, but he wasn’t convinced and his expression proved that.
“Vida, wait” he called as she moved towards the door and began preparing herself to meet the teenager.
She spun around and looked at him, “You don’t have to meet her if….” he paused “If it’s too weird”
He was going to opt for “too soon” but that implied so much, it had taken him this long to feel ready about the idea of sleeping with her, having her meet his children was a whole new level of advanced commitment.
“Well I can hardly disappear down a drainpipe can I?” Vida snapped, unintentionally.
He walked over to her and took both of her hands in his, “We’ve waited so long for this…” he said deeply, full lips on her jaw and gradually moving up to her ear “It needs to be right hmm?”
Vida was going with it until Cleo yelled “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of her lungs, José looked mortified, “Oh my fucking god” he said under his breath, Vida’s withering body now turning and walking towards the door, “Come on, I think she needs you” she told him.
“Why don’t you ever have food!” Cleo yelled again from the kitchen, her slim frame emptying the last remaining scraps of cereal into a bowl, as she turned she threw the box in the air voluntarily upon seeing Vida stood there and her father stood behind with the sternest expression on the planet.
“Ermmmmm, sorry?” The girl said, as if she was asking if that was what they were both stood waiting for.
“Hi Cleo” Vida said, full of charm as she approached and held out her hand for the girl to take “I’m Vida, nice to meet you”
Cleo styled it out, “Yeah, you too, obviously, yeah - I’ve heard a lot about you, hey Dad - Rui was right!”
José’s face wasn’t stern for much longer, a weary shake of the head and a look of ‘don’t ask’ fired in Vida’s direction, “I’ve asked you to call ahead” he told his daughter, “What if I’d been out, then you’d be in the middle of the City late at night by yourself”
Vida grabbed some more wine while he chastised her, it was to be expected - José being a protective father was of no great shock to her.
“I would have phoned mum” Cleo answered, “I’ll phone her now, ask her to come get me” she said between mouthfuls of cereal.
Vida insisted she didn’t do that, “I’m just visiting” she explained and then pointed at all of her bags in the hallway “Seriously, it’s late, you stay here”
José flashed her a look of thanks which soon turned to disappointment when she advised “Listen, I’m exhausted, I’ll call it a night yeah?”
He rubbed his face and then told Cleo he’d be back soon, “Good to meet you” she said sincerely to Vida before she left, Vida returning the sentiment.
“You look tired” Vida said to him as they stood out in the hallway, able to talk freely knowing they wouldn’t be interrupted, the blare from the TV sounding out anything that they were saying.
“I want to be tired….for a different reason…” he told her, tongue making shapes on the tender skin of her neck, Vida stumbled back against the wall and gripped at his shoulders, a load groan of pleasure escaping “Mmmmm” she sighed, “Fuck…..”
They kissed fervently, pulling and pinching at one another’s skin, José clawed at her jeans with urgency his palm flat against her stomach and fingertips tracing the very top of her knickers, “I just…..” he said, voice panicked “I need to feel you Vida….”
Vida’s hand pushed him backwards a little, she looked him over, shirt untucked, hair messy, lips red and swollen “You should get back in there” she told him, “And I should go find a room”
He fell back against the door of his apartment and rubbed his neck, “I have three” he told her pleadingly.
“You know I can’t stay with you now, it’d be wrong”
She saw him clench his fists, “You’re right….”
“I’ll call you, I’m here until Tuesday, OK?”
He nodded, then helped her into the lift with her things, kissing her briefly before she pushed the button to go down to reception, he stood there in silence for a few minutes afterwards before heading back indoors for the third degree from Cleo.
Rui almost exploded down the phone when José told him what happened with Cleo.
“It’s not funny” the older man argued “I finally feel good about this and -“
Rui interrupted “And real life happened, look - she didn’t run away in horror did she? She said she’d call”
José breathed out deeply, “That was two days ago Rui, and I’ve done nothing but obsess over my phone, it’s embarrassing”
That was true, he’d been at training and kept taking his phone out of his training jacket pocket which led to much ribbing from his staff - but worse than that, his players. He was strict during training, their phones were to be left in their lockers, after many raised eyebrows he lied and said he was waiting on a family call.
“So call her” Rui said “She has been working yeah? Probably busy, but call her anyway, tell her you’ve been waiting”
José snorted “Isn’t that the most uncool thing anyone could ever do?”
Rui answered firmly “Telling a woman you want her? Uncool? I’m not even answering that”
They signed off a few minutes later, José still wrestled with the idea of calling her first, he showered and went down to get dinner - he needed more time to think about all of this. He considered Cleo’s impromptu appearance in two ways - Vida had seen him in Father-mode, something which bothered him, he had jumped way ahead into the future in his mind, it was always a worry for him, meeting a woman who accepted his family commitments. Secondly, it had brought him a little more time to improve on his romancing technique, he’d got Vida to his bedroom seamlessly but he had been nervous, he was convinced that she sensed that, she had been unknowingly reassuring, making all the right noises, stretching beneath him, gripping his hair - he knew it was all to try and make him relax.
“You’re miles away” she said, before nodding at the seat opposite him and placing down her laptop bag against the table.
“Oh, hey, sorry” he answered, a little flustered that he’d not even seen her walk into the restaurant.
Vida frowned, “Don’t be, coffee please” she said to the waiter who approached to remove José’s plate, “Good day?” she asked as she unwound the silk scarf from her neck and buttoned down her shirt.
Her ease with life always blew his mind, “Yeah…..” he replied, arm resting on his seat and legs spreading wide “Was good, and you?”
There was a semi-awkward pause when the waiter placed Vida’s coffee cup down and refilled José’s, Vida bit her lower lip and thanked the young guy desperate for him to move out of earshot.
“I did almost text” José divulged, as he stirred his coffee.
“What stopped you?” she asked back instantly, sipping her coffee.
José smiled bashfully and showed her his phone, she squinted as she read a message in the box ready to send, it simply read “I enjoyed last night”
“Was that the bit before your teenage kid strolled in to your apartment?” Vida challenged, god - he liked that, his eyes narrowed and he took time to answer, drinking his coffee painfully slowly, his eyes on her the entire time, she waited with anticipation, following his cup as he placed it back down, her mouth slightly open.
“The bit where you were underneath me actually” he said quietly before licking his lips.
“Ah OK” Vida responded, “See I preferred the part outside your front door where your hand desperately tried to get down the front of my jeans, but we’re all different aren’t we?”
Fuck. José’s throat became dry as hell, he rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand, he felt anything but in control right now, she was smirking - at him! Smirking!
“You’re forgetting the bit where you begged me repeatedly to fuck you Vida. Bill please” he called to the waiter who had been just out of earshot for the last few minutes, he’d said it with a certain arrogance that he knew she’d appreciate, her face told him he was right.
Vida grinned as she stood, swinging her laptop bag across her body as he paid up, they walked to the lift in total silence, remaining innocent at all times until it opened, they both stepped inside and the door closed.
“Why are you shaking your head?” He asked as his hands gripped her hips tightly, his mouth bruising her neck and teeth nipping gently, “I think you liked me saying that” he added as he reached her lips and gently kissed them, “I should have called you shouldn’t I?” he asked, pulling away and looking at her.
“Why should you?” she asked, her own hands now touching down his body, from his chest to his stomach and back up again, eventually winding around his neck as he held her in place.
“To apologise…..” he answered quietly, the lift pinging at the top floor.
They separated and walked down the hallway to his door, he took her things and kicked it open, allowing it to close by itself as his mouth continued to dominate hers, “Can I just check….” Vida said pausing him and pulling away, he watched as she opened every door and cupboard in his apartment, “You don’t have any teenage kids hiding anywhere”
José smiled, totally embarrassed even now “I am sorry, you do know that” he said softly when she returned back to him, on the edge of the entrance to his bedroom, “Hmm….” she mewed as she pushed him backwards and over to the bed.
“Are you happy?”
José had asked that question at possibly the most inappropriate time ever, Vida had edged him backwards so the backs of his knees collided with the end of the bed and sent him flying onto the mattress. Her hands urgently tried to remove his clothing, disregarding unimportant things like buttons and zips, she was forcefully tearing away the material of his shirt when he pushed himself up with his elbows, gripped her face and asked her.
“I will be when you are totally naked” she answered breathlessly, still pulling at the cotton and being deprived by his hands which kept her an arms length above him.
Vida had seen his expression change, a flicker in his eyes and the upturn of his top lip - he was turned on as hell but right in that moment he needed to know the answer, before sex complicated anything.
“I’m serious” he stated and then repeated the question, Vida loosened against him and then retreated from his grasp. José rearranged himself and joined her, edged right up against the pillows in a cross legged position, the fury in her face visible.
“Sorry” he said deeply while straightening himself, “It’s important to me that’s all”
Vida pulled her hair to the side and bunched it into a black elastic band, her breathing had regulated and she stared at him for a few seconds - his mannerisms were nothing unusual to her, they’d spent more than enough time getting to know one another, more than enough time just being friends who occasionally got close but never any further, she respected his seriousness and his humility ; the latter was a massive shock to her given his media persona, but right there in that moment and for the first time in a long time she wanted to be with someone in all their entirety. And what had he done? Halted it. Again.
“No, I am not happy” she complained, arms now folded and back stiff against the pillows.
José swallowed and rubbed his chin, “Why?”
“Because apparently I am useless at the one thing that matters”
“THIS” She shrugged, “Having real relationships”
José shifted further up towards her, his shirt still showing evidence of where she had pulled at it “I asked you because I want to know if you’re serious about this” the second the words left his mouth he regretted them, she looked mortified.
“I don’t believe you’re even questioning that” Vida said, her voice cracking “I’ve never hidden how I feel”
That was true.
“OK OK I am sorry, poor choice of words…..” his right hand had pulled her face down towards his and his lips pressed gently against her, “I’m worried…” he told her quietly, easing her down lower and pulling back the bedding, she melted against him “Why?” she asked, her nails scraping at his sides after he removed his shirt and carefully placed it over the bedside table. They kissed slowly, the whole time unhurried and gentle, Vida’s knee lifted upwards and his hand instinctively fell and his palm spread across the denim clad skin, she gripped his hair tightly as he wound his tongue around hers - competing with her the whole time.
José paused and knelt up above her, his dexterous fingers undoing the button of her jeans and sliding them down her legs, eyes widening as her freckled skin was revealed to him properly for the first time, he leant back on his ankles and stared down at her “I’m worried that I won’t be enough….”
Vida spun her legs around and joined him towards the end of the bed, she had been desperate to lay her mouth on his chest ever since they’d been in that swimming pool in Moscow, she traced along his collarbones and down the middle of his body, he bit his bottom lip when she licked the hollow of his throat, teeth nipping on their way up his neck and to his jaw, “I just….” she paused when his hands snaked under her shirt and lifted it above her head “Really need you now….”
José’s throat grumbled, “That would make you happy?” he asked with a husk, unzipping his trousers and kicking them off, Vida nodded furiously, “And what if this changes things?” he questioned again, body following her backwards, “I want it to change things” Vida specified, “I want you to be in love with me”
“Vida….” he said under his breath, eyes scanning her curves underneath him and in no sign of going anywhere, anytime soon, “You want something you already have” he said as his right hand stroked down her side and gravitated inside her black silky knickers.
José had played this moment out in his mind so many times, each time slightly different but nothing he could have imagined would ever come close to what really did happen. That initial feeling of her slickness against his hand and the way her hips jutted against him was indescribable, her head had shot backwards against the pillows when he began to pleasure her, he watched on, suspended above her, “Fuck” he groaned, angling himself into a more comfortable position so he could kiss her at the same time, she flopped her thigh across his when he pulled her against him on his side.
“You feel so good” he whispered, she kissed him hard and fervently, her passion for him honest and real, “José please……you’re killing me…” she groaned when he relinquished his digits and pushed her hands above her head underneath the pillows, a tight grasp on her wrists causing her to writhe in anticipation.
He smiled handsomely at her, her face was bright red and her eyes heavy with a certain craving and desire - he hadn’t experienced a woman quite so unashamedly responsive before, “Why am I?” he questioned, the massive lump in his boxers shorts making her eyes widen, “I haven’t even started yet….”
Vida giggled and pushed up against him but his strength was too much for her, he held her there - both wrists in one hand while he yanked off his boxer shorts and lowered his body down on to her, careful not to restrict her movement, “Do you know why I wanted to wait?” he asked, his tongue prodding against hers, their lips never more than a few millimetres apart, Vida mewed - too concerned with feeling good to speak, “Because I knew you’d be like this….”
That sparked her interest “Like what?” she challenged, wriggling free of his grasp and pushing his chest upwards, he let her - amused by her feistiness.
“I knew you’d have no inhibitions…and trust me that’s not an easy word to learn”
Vida chuckled, so did he, “I knew you’d be yourself if we waited…” he explained, voice trailing off as he effortlessly pushed forwards, gently making contact with her, a sharp inward breath emanating before their hips actually met fully and they acclimatised to one another.
That first time was needy and lustful, José winced at the way she pinched his lower back as she came and Vida’s wrists were just beginning to bruise when he let go, they lay back against the white linen on his bed and looked up at the ceiling, the pair of them speechless and clammy.
“Are you happy?”
“Do you have anywhere to be?” he asked after a long, sleepy silence. Vida’s head had been laid on his chest for some time now and her nails scraping rhythmically across the littering of silver hair he had there, his hands moved through her hair before settling just above her hip.
Vida stopped what she was doing and looked at him with a blissed out expression “Trying to get rid of me?” she questioned with an arched eyebrow, “Imposing on your bachelor way of life am I?” she added, making him roll his eyes in a timely fashion.
“Quite the opposite actually” he told her, motioning that her head return to his chest “I just wondered”
“Well” she began, her mouth kissing his collarbone softly “Matthew is home tonight but he can wait, I’ll go see him in the morning”
José sighed happily, “When you called me” he started then paused, “The other night?”
“Hmm” Vida answered, the vibration of her voice on his chest making him sigh deeply.
“I was sat in my car, looking around at all the other cars wondering why the fuck I do it”
Vida leant up on her elbow and then eventually moved on to her front so she could look at him as he spoke, he slouched down under the sheets a little bit so his face was in direct line with hers “You can’t be serious?” Vida asked, “You love it, that’s why you do it”
José weighed up what she had said, “I used to love it a lot more” he admitted, lips pressing against hers and beginning the most fluidly passionate and salacious kiss, his hand kept her where she was, gripping at her backside and then feathering up her back and into her hair.
He stroked her face with his thumbs when he pulled away, “I’m sure you know what it’s like, from being with Luis, it’s tough”
Vida’s eyes narrowed, the mention of his name making her feel cold and detached all of a sudden, José shook his head when he felt her body freeze and move a little further away, “Sorry, I…..wasn’t thinking” he said earnestly, “I’m an idiot”
Vida sat up and took a long drink of water from the bottle on the bedside table, José fluffed his pillows and sat back against the headboard, his naked chest gloriously on display and his silver hair messed up to high heaven, Vida turned back to look at him - “Don’t apologise, you have every right to know what happened”
José threw his hands through the air “No…absolutely not” he urged, “I can’t hear about that”
Vida nodded gently, “OK well just know that I was foolish for ever giving him another chance”
José blinked “OK but no more” he pleaded, he was in too much of a euphoric state to be able to contemplate the thought of some other guy treating her badly, it angered him then but he had no right to show it, now it was different. Totally different.
“He was a fucking pain in the ass to coach” José said quietly, almost to himself but she heard, “Pep on the other hand, good boy”
Vida giggled, “I’ll tell Matthew you said that”
He smiled, “This rivalry bullshit, it’s hilarious you know that? I know that guy inside out, ask him next time you see him”
Vida smiled playfully, “Go on, what dirt do you have on him?”
“Hmm that’s for another time….”
She had by now been lured back under the covers and back into his tight, warm grasp, her left leg lazily hooked across his hip, the conversation had stopped when José’s wandering right hand made its way underneath the silky knickers she had pulled back on “God you feel good” he groaned into her ear, the sentence that followed made her mouth drop open, he smirked with an arrogant ease, nodding subtly before moving on top of her.
“You’re all mouth” Vida teased while his mouth kissed down the middle of her body, he paused and made eye contact with her “Hmm… you’ll see…”
When he reached her stomach he unhooked her knickers, making a remark about why she even had them on in the first place, he slid them down her legs, kissing around her knees and back up her inner thighs, talking deeply the whole time, “I don’t make promises I can’t keep…” he said, the very tip of his tongue tasting her for the first time, he felt himself harden and absentmindedly jut his groin against the mattress, “Fuckkkk” he spoke, warm breath on her skin.
“José…..ohmygod….” she sighed and moaned, her hands raking through his hair and then gripping his forearms, “You weren’t lying” she half-giggled as he began to lick and touch her with devastating cadence, she felt a smile form and he paused, “DON’T STOP NOT NOW” She begged, “You ready for this?” he asked, his hand spreading across her abdomen, Vida nodded but he’d already begun his mission to give her the most devastating demise of her life.
“Told you” he stated when he moved back up to the pillows, she had pulled one over her face as she came down from the incredible high, she’d been making weird and dramatic noises for at least five minutes and when she eventually moved the pillow and looked at him, for the first time she saw that trademark Mourinho confidence beaming back at her.
“Well?” he questioned, knowing full well how good he’d made her feel.
“Should never have doubted you….” she said, her hand across her face, “Amazing…”
José laughed to himself and then located his phone, it was after Midnight, he’d missed several calls but he didn’t care, “I never asked you” Vida said as he went to get them both a drink.
He turned to look at her from the bedroom door, his white boxer shorts accentuating his gloriously tanned skin, “Asked me what?”
“If you were happy”
Vida pulled the sheet up above her knees as he walked back over and gripped the side of her face, “Right now? More than you’ll ever know”
Manchester United - 0 Tottenham Hotspur - 3
“Vi, sweetness, I love you, but what the fuck?” Matthew quizzed as she sat staring into nothingness while the three of them ate a leisurely late dinner.
“Oh leave her alone” Pep chimed in, exchanging a knowing glance “Not everyone operates at 100% all the time like you do”
Matthew, disgruntled by his partner’s put down tried a different angle, waiting for Vida to finish chewing the last bit of her lobster ravioli, “Well, I know it isn’t work, you were fabulous today and you know it, so it must be…..”
Pep tossed his napkin down, knowing any further attempts at ceasing the blond man’s non-existent skills of deduction were fruitless.
Vida’s eyes widened in horror, she more or less knew that Pep was more than clued up on how things had turned sour whilst they were in Madrid, and to his credit Pep hadn’t pried - he wanted to say he thought Luis had been a Grade A jerk to make her feel better and not awkward around him but backed off.
“I haven’t spoken to Luis in ages, just drop it yeah?”
Vida stood and self consciously strolled over to the ladies, once in the cubicle she took out her phone and scrolled through her Twitter timeline. Tweet after tweet about the United result, “Mourinho’s Meltdown” imminent, had he really lost it this time? It irked her uncontrollably, her thumb hovered over his number but she talked herself out of calling. He wouldn’t be home for at least another hour yet, they’d agreed he would call her the day after the game before she returned to London but part of her felt very much like that depended on the result.
“Fuck” she sighed to herself, not telling Matthew about the two of them probably wasn’t the wisest thing she could have done, but she didn’t want the agro, the questions, the inevitable judgements. She calmed herself down and walked back out, sitting back between the pair of them, “OK look” she began, getting both of their undivided attention ”Luis and I….. it’s never going to happen, so please just leave it” she aimed that comment at Matthew, “And I want us all to carry on and not let it effect us” that was in the direction of Pep - both men nodded furiously “And I am seeing someone new, but it’s very very early days and…” she stopped, wondering how to word it, but she didn’t need to worry.
Matthew and Pep looked at each other, that stupid reading one another’s mind thing they had going on freaked her to the core “José?” they both mouthed discreetly.
Vida let out a wry smile which gave them their answer.
By 11:30pm she was in a taxi heading over to The Lowry, remembering to use the service entrance. She hadn’t called ahead, this could be a recipe for disaster, she had no idea how he was after a defeat. Vida tapped her nails against her arm as the lift made its swift journey to the top floor, when it pinged she took a deep breath and stepped out, slowly padding the plush red carpeted hallway which lead to José’s apartment.
“Fucking ‘ell” José complained when he heard a firm knock on the door, he blew out a lungful of air and paused when he reached the kitchen - that glass he had smashed just under half an hour ago was still scattered and waiting to be cleared up, he couldn’t leave it until morning. He berated himself under his breath as he swung open the hefty black door.
“Hi” Vida said with a nervous smile.
José’s head shot back in surprise, she was the last person he expected to see “Vida, what are you doing here?” he asked, not meaning to sound ungrateful or moody.
Vida gave him the benefit of the doubt whilst trying to style it out, “I, erm, Matthew has gone on somewhere after dinner so I’m at a loose end” she lied, beginning to suddenly feel like an idiot.
“God, come in, sorry, sorry” José urged as he touched her shoulder and pulled her inside, she followed him, noting the broken glass - so that’s how he was after a defeat…
She looked him over, he was tired, on edge - she hadn’t seen this side of him before, preseason had been taken seriously of course, but America was a far cry from Manchester “Drink?” he snapped, she shook her head.
“I think this was a bad idea….” Vida said, “I’ll leave you to it”
“What?” José spat indignantly as he stared at her, glorious curves being hugged by a dark blue sweater and for a change, a knee length grey skirt “You as well?” he finished, and then waited for her reaction.
She stopped, at least ten feet from him and placed her hands on her hips “Me as well what?” she asked with the same level of assertiveness as he’d displayed.
“Leave me to it? Leave me to what hmm? My own thoughts? About how I’ve lost it?”
Vida’s eyebrows shot up her forehead, he clearly wanted to thrash this out with someone “Yeah exactly that” she answered, desperate to see him at his absolute furious worst. He swaggered over to her, his white shirt creeping from out beneath his black woollen sweater and his hands firmly lodged in the pockets of his Armani trousers “You agree with them?” he asked, hot breath in her face.
Vida licked her lips and watched his eyes fire up, “What if I do? I’m allowed my opinion aren’t I?”
José smirked, this was why he was drawn to this woman, the very last thing he wanted right now was someone nodding and smiling and rubbing his shoulders telling him he was the greatest - Vida had been challenging with him from the very start, from that first meal in the restaurant to his fee during the World Cup, she thought his wealth was farcical for what he did and hilariously, he couldn’t argue.
Vida’s eye glazed when both of his hands found the curve of her hips and directed her backwards until her body hit the kitchen worktop, he spread his legs as though he was about to be frisked and then leant forwards so she had no means of escaping whatsoever.
“Hmm go on then, tell me, tell me your opinion” he asked, words trailing off when his swollen and warm lips made contact with the side of her neck.
“I think you’re over emotional” she told him, trying not to react to his intense ministrations, “Stubborn, arrogant, too self aware….ughhhhhh”
“Don’t even think of stopping Vida” he said insistently, just his right hand working underneath her sweater and coming into contact with the softest skin he’d ever touched, she winced as he snaked his hand around the back of her body and unhooked her bra seamlessly.
“You care too much…” she spat “And you’re……” she had to pause when he flung the silky pink garment across the room, using misdirection to divert her eyes while he unfurled his belt and pulled down his trousers “I’m what?” he demanded “WHAT?”
Vida hopped up onto the counter and voluntarily spread her legs wide for him, allowing him to take control and pull her back downwards and on to his groin “I’M WHAT?” He asked again, “Sexy as fuck” she spluttered as his hand readied them both, his hips jolting upwards in one violent, needy movement.
It didn’t last long, and it was a guttural, sweaty and feral affair.
Shortly after, they sat with their backs to the kitchen cupboards drinking from a half empty bottle of red wine, “£450 this cost me” José told her as he glugged and then handed it to her.
Vida shook her head “They really do need their heads testing your bosses”
José laughed heartily, almost falling to the side and impaling himself on some of that broken glass from earlier “What’s your real opinion?” he asked, this time with a certain amount of shyness.
Vida wiped her mouth free of wine stains and placed the bottle on the floor, “I think you’re very good at your job José”
“Why did you come here?”
“Because I care about you”
He scoffed self deprecatingly “It’s been a while since someone cared about me Vida”
“That’s nonsense” she proclaimed “You have children who care, and friends”
He eyed her, “I mean like this”
“Well, all I can say is - get used to it”
September 8th 2018 - England v Spain, Wembley Stadium.
“José, good to see you again” Luis said, with sincerity as he held his hand for the older man to shake.
“You too” José answered, gripping the Spaniards hand a little harder than intended.
“Wow! Some reunion eh?” Pep chimed in, trying to make the mood a little less intense, “And at Wembley!”
Luis beamed, he was clearly thriving being back in the fold of football management “Well, it nearly didn’t happen” he divulged “It’s true, I nearly took refuge in my bike and moved to Italy”
José’s eyes popped “Really?” his instant thought was of Vida, and whether she and Luis had discussed this possibility together, “What stopped you?” he spat before Luis had time to explain.
The lean man stood even taller, and with more authority upon knowing he’d ruffled the feathers of the great José Mourinho, “Don’t worry José, nothing to do with she who shall remain nameless”
Pep and José glanced slyly at one another, “I didn’t mean…” José began but Luis swatted the air as if to imply he didn’t want to anticipate a conversation about that, right now “I need to go, enjoy, both of you”
Luis patted both men on their shoulders before vacating the corporate area, “Fuck, that was embarrassing” José whispered as he and Pep took a seat to watch the teams warm up, “You’re sweating José, why are you so intimidated by him?”
José shrugged, “I don’t know…. he’s so….” he paused, “Not me”
Pep nudged his colleague, his one-time trainer “You’re threatened by Luis?”
José felt ridiculous, “A little, wouldn’t you be?”
Pep angled his body towards him now, noting the expensive powder blue shirt “Which one of you is Vida with?”
José rubbed his eyes, “Me, I know… I get it, fucks sake, this conversation never happened”
Pep let out a throaty laugh, “José, Luis is a great guy, charming, handsome, fit” these adjectives really didn’t help José’s self esteem one bit, Pep leant in a little closer “But he’s also morally bankrupt, yeah? He’s really bad at doing the right thing, so chill out” Pep slapped his cohort’s forearm and began to leaf through the match day programme absentmindedly.
“We’ll never make Wembley” Vida complained as she and Matthew let another jam packed tube train pass them by “Why the hell did you have to drink so much?”
Matthew’s face was glowing, partly down to the gin cocktails “Oh loosen up Vi, we’ll get the car tomorrow, and anyway you could have driven”
Vida’s eyes narrowed, “No I couldn’t, not in this city” her aversion to driving through London was well known, “You bloody idiot” she added for good measure, “I bet José’s being as enigmatic as ever sat there next to Pep”
They both looked at one another and laughed loudly, “Fuck me…. imagine when Luis sees them both!”
Vida winced, “I’d rather not”
They clambered onto the next train, cameras and folders unceremoniously hanging off their limbs and getting in the way of pretty much everyone on the carriage, sick of saying sorry so many times Matthew declared “WE ARE FUCKING SORRY EVERYONE!”
Vida held in her hysterics until they reached Chelsea, “Oh my god…we pissed off so many people”
Matthew looked at his watch “We have an hour”
Vida grimaced, “I can’t cope with the three of them, can you?”
Matthew linked arms with her as they made it up to street level and walked towards his flat, “Hmm, good point, amazing catering at Wembley I’m told though”
Vida shook her head “A few salmon blinis is not enough to persuade me Matthew, let the guys have their fun, I’ll text José”
“Must say darling, you are looking well” he was always so rubbish at pointing these things out - Vida had gained a few pounds in the last few months, noticeably on her chest, so much so that Pep’s eyes almost popped out when they had met for dinner a few nights before.
“I’ve gone up a cup size - you can say it” she quipped “And so what, he makes me happy, and he also takes me to incredible restaurants” she shrugged.
“Fair play” Matthew said as he playfully slapped her backside and opened the front door.
“They’re not coming” José told Pep at half time, “Late in from work” he added.
Pep smiled thinly “Probably for the best”
Pep had persuaded José to hang around afterwards, Luis was in the middle of his press conference as they stood outside, mingling and chatting, Pep felt somewhat protective of José, never allowing him to veer too far away and out of his eye line. When José indicated he was off to use the gents Pep followed much to his annoyance, “This is madness” the Portuguese man told him, “I’m older than you for fuck’s sake Pep! Let me go to the bathroom alone!”
Pep backed off and sauntered back over to the conversation he had momentarily halted.
José was thankful of the peace in the toilet block, he splashed his face with water and then dragged one wet hand through his silver hair, “Let you out of his sight then?” came a disembodied voice, one that was more than familiar.
José didn’t move as Luis came into focus in the reflection of the mirror, “I don’t know what he thinks I’ll get up to without his supervision” he said, now turning and drying his hands on a paper towel.
Luis folded his arms as he casually leant back against the sink, “Enjoy the game?” he asked quietly.
“Of course, congratulations”
Luis smiled hollowly “You don’t mean that, why would you?” he spat.
“You played good Luis, that’s why”
José stood up straight, even with the most perfect posture he didn’t come anywhere near as close in height to Luis, “You wanted her from day one” Luis challenged, cutting the crap “Someone else’s woman, and José had to have her”
José shook his head, “It wasn’t like that and you know it!” he said, half laughing.
“Funny to you is it?”
José smirked, “Not at all, but she left you because you were a jerk”
Luis was riled now, his neck muscles flexing and straining, “You’re not me José, you will do well to remember that….I’m the only guy she will ever be infatuated with, all this - whatever you have with her now, it won’t last, why do you think she’s not here hmm?”
José sighed, “She’s working Luis” he informed him as he went to walk off, tired of the desperation and clear denial from the younger man.
“Make her scream do you José?” he asked, body still strong and his demeanour arrogant, José was a little stunned at such a personal question.
“I’m not answering that, have some respect”
José pushed past the crowd of people and located Pep, “I’m leaving” he told him loudly, before exiting the stadium and hailing the first cab he saw.
The taxi driver, somewhat starstruck by José kept conversation to a minimum. José was thankful - tipping him handsomely as he directed him to pull up outside the family home in Chelsea, his ex-wife wouldn’t be expecting him and he knew the kids were both out, he’d arranged to see them on the Sunday, maybe even invite Vida to join them for lunch. He hadn’t decided yet. He leapt out and walked quickly down the paved path which lead to the automatic gates, “What are you doing here?” His ex-wife asked, as though it was a massive inconvenience.
“You’re busy?” he replied, stood in the doorway to the house he’d paid for, just desperate for an invitation inside, if it didn’t arrive soon he would barge his way in regardless.
“No….” Rina admitted slowly, moving aside and allowing him to pass.
“I just…” he began, lingering in the hallway wondering why the hell she’d had it painted green, “I need somewhere to think”
Rina sauntered past, hips swaying and her neatly cut bobbed hair bouncing “Sure… you know your way around” she told him, returning to the living room and her most recent box set.
“No boyfriends hiding anywhere then?” he teased, casually leaning against the doorframe, Rina frowned “Having you as an ex-husband really hinders your love life José” she batted back smartly, igniting a playful laugh from him.
Eventually he moved to join her on the grey suede sofa, he let her watch her TV show as he slouched down, legs spread out in front of him and did as he’d said - think.
“So come on” Rina said, after almost an hour of silence, zapping off the television “Who’s upset you?”
José turned his head to the side, damn he was still so good looking she thought, “I can always tell when you’re annoyed” she added, crossing her legs.
“You don’t need to know” he answered dismissively, gaze redirecting to the fireplace where she had copies of the same photographs of the kids that he had in his apartment in Manchester.
“No, that’s true” Rina said, not fussed either way “Let yourself out yeah?”
“Wait” he called just as she stood and walked over to draw the curtains before heading upstairs to bed, “It’s Vida….”
Rina’s eyebrows knitted together - yes, Cleo had told her she had met a woman called Vida while at her father’s apartment, Rui too had told her about this mysterious photographer José had met in Russia, but that was as much as she knew. Was she his girlfriend? She had no idea.
“Vida” Rina repeated, just to be sure, “The woman you met in Russia?”
José rested his elbows on his knees and sighed, “Yeah….That’s her…”
Rina sat back down “OK, go on”
It was the second time José had confided in someone about this, he trusted both Rui and Rina with his life - the pair of them had been his rock through various stages of his career - he had remained cordial with Rina, for the sake of the children mainly but also - several years on from divorce they both realised that this friendship had blossomed and become something which they both relied upon from time to time. Rina had been through her fair share of disastrous men and they were comfortable enough to be able to discuss all of their dating woes and dramas.
“Wow” was Rina’s initial reaction, not a million miles away from Rui’s.
“Vida is clearly a very special girl”
José felt his throat tighten and a fluttering sensation emanate in his chest when she said that, he coughed, trying to get rid of the feeling “Y-yeah” he croaked, “I’m…..” he paused wondering whether saying it out loud quite so bluntly would make him feel any different, “I really like her…”
Rina shook her head, “We both know it’s more serious than that, have you told her?”
José smiled, dimples popping in both of his cheeks “Not in so many words” it was true, he’d told her she was wanting something she already had but he’d not told her flatly that he was in love with her, “I should, I know I should, because Luis would, it probably has!” he ranted, now standing.
“What makes you say that? Does she talk about him?” Rina asked, trying to calm him down.
“Nah…..I’m imagining it, because he gives off this incredible confidence, and how could any woman not be attracted to that for fucks sake! He’s done what he intended, he’s made me doubt how she feels, how I feel….. he’s won…”
Rina took a huge deep breath now, she’d never seen him quite so wound up over a woman “Jesus, calm down, the only thing he’s done is get under your skin” she advised, rubbing his shoulder “You have to speak to Vida, she’s the only person who can reassure you properly, go, now!”
José kissed her on the cheek and quickly left, knowing Matthew’s apartment was only a few minutes down the street and around the corner, he could hear activity before he even reached the front door, knocking loudly to get their attention.
“Oh hi, come in, where’s the Catalan?” Matthew quizzed as he yanked José’s sweater sleeve into the porch, “He’ll be here later” José advised, pulling his sleeve back into place.
“VI IT’S FOR YOUUUUUUUUUUU” He yelled as he kicked the door shut, José looked the tall, blond man up and down, “I take it you’ve had fun?” he mocked, Matthew tried to reply but got distracted by his own slurring and gave up.
Vida remained rooted to the floor, surrounded by old 45’s, “Hey” he said calmly as he knelt down beside her, tucking a piece of wayward hair behind her ear and then kissing her lips tenderly “Good day?” he asked.
“It just got better” Vida told him with a broad, beaming smile.
He pulled her to her feet and placed his hands on her sides, he’d seen her that morning but it was like he was seeing her for the very first time again “You’re very beautiful” he said quietly, initiating a slow and calm kiss, his tongue respectfully encouraging hers into his mouth, when he pulled away her cheeks were flushed “I need you to come with me” he whispered to her, hands now raking through her hair “Hmm, what for?” she asked, practically melting into his arms.
“I’m going to make you scream….”
“Matt’s only concern was missing out on the catering” Vida said with a snort as they took a taxi a few miles West to the hotel they were calling home for this week at least.
José had been intense ever since leaving Matthew’s apartment, almost to the point of rudeness when they left - Vida had been mindlessly chatting to him about work and José had made no attempt to hide his eagerness for her to bring the conversation to a close. She had given him a disapproving look when he tapped his watch, “A year’s wages to you and I that fucking watch” she remarked, igniting an uproarious guffaw from her best friend. When they eventually left José gripped her wrist tightly, she struggled a little but then went with it when she heard a low growl fill the air as his free hand came into contact with the back of her neck.
“So how was the game? AND the catering?” Vida asked, he’d not been listening to a word - not really, just looking out at the city then back down at Vida’s thigh bulging against the fabric of her slim-fit tartan trousers, “FINE” he snapped, at the end of his tether with chit-chat, his mind was on all things carnal and it frustrated him that they weren’t in that hotel room yet, that she wasn’t beneath him yet, that she wasn’t screaming his name….Yet.
“So” she started, knowing they were edging closer to the front of the hotel “Presumably you want to get me in there and make me scream straight away…but can I not shower first?”
The taxi driver let out a loud cough, god if only they could record conversations like these for monetary gain… José glared at her, eyes fiery and not dissimilar to a few weeks previous when she’d dropped in unannounced after the loss against Tottenham, “Vida” he answered, after what was the world’s most deafening silence “You ask too many questions” he finished with a long, weary sigh.
They entered the hotel in silence, and then the lift in silence, she could hear him breathing heavily as he took long purposeful strides down the corridor to his suite, he held the black card against the sensor of the door handle and pushed it inwards, his arm around her shoulder and making sure she walked in first.
“Hey, through here” he advised, as she went to walk left into the small kitchen area to grab herself a drink, he stood still and waited for her to respond to his directions “We are in a bossy mood this evening aren’t we?” Vida remarked as she ran her index finger down the side of his face and did as she was told.
The bed had been made but turned down for the evening, the lush navy blue duvet felt cool and soft to the touch. Vida, childlike in her demeanour stood at the foot of the bed and then fell backwards letting out a relieved groan as the mattress took her weight and cushioned her aching limbs. José watched, his eyes glazed when he saw her hands rest on her abdomen just above the button of her trousers, allowing the smallest strip of skin to become visible. He removed his cufflinks and placed them back in the presentation box then rolled up the sleeves of his light blue shirt, keeping his trousers on.
“You’ve been on my mind all day” he said deeply as he positioned himself astride her on the bed, his knees in alignment with her hips, Vida kept her eyes closed as he spoke “So hard to concentrate….” he added and then placed both of his hands flat on her stomach, they were warm and rough and she winced a little - one reassuring squeeze soon settled her back down.
“Keep still” he urged when he carefully moved his hands up inside her sweater and gently leant over her body to remove it entirely from her, she stretched her arms upwards and left them there, revelling in the way he replaced the now discarded fabric with his fingertips. José stared at her, really stared at her - from the very tips of her fingers, to her wrists, elbows, forearms and shoulders, his head dipped and the sensation created by his lips on her collar bones caused one long, high pitched mewing sound.
Vida scrambled upwards against his shirt, her eyes now wide open and her pupils enormous “How do you do this?” she whispered, helping him unbutton the garment “Do what?” he questioned as he bent backwards to toss his shirt onto the luxuriously carpeted floor.
”Turn me on so much…..”
José didn’t answer, he just stared right at her, his eyes darting across her face and his chest rising and falling with dramatic heaviness “Shhhh” he eventually said with a smirk, “Again… too many questions”
Vida smiled thinly and then touched down his chest, he loved this indulgence, the way she wanted to touch him, kiss him, please him…But he stopped her, and then asked her to turn over, he slid her trousers down her legs and then settled above her, his hands spread across her back and then began to stroke downwards, and across to her ribs and down to her lower back, he dug in his fingers hard, making her groan and whisper under her breath. Eventually he carefully hooked his middle and index fingers under the waistband of her knickers, Vida shuffled a little to accommodate the removal but was then content to flop back down and let him continue with what appeared to be a well planned mission to thrill.
“How do you feel hmm?” he asked as he scraped back her hair so his lips could kiss just under her jaw, Vida reached around and managed to find his back “Relaxed….and HUGELY turned on….” just as she answered he’d begun to kiss and lick down her spine, noting every single freckle on his comprehensive journey down her body, “Ohfuck….” he sighed when he reached her backside and watched as she spread her legs just that little bit wider so he could touch between her thighs.
“Hmm please José…..” she asked, voice muffled by the pillow she was now hugging.
José swallowed and then swept his right hand underneath her, the feeling of her wetness overwhelmed him and he felt a familiar stirring in his boxer shorts, Vida arched her back a little bit more, teasingly revealing more with each well timed movement until finally she was up on all fours and begging him to take her.
“Now?” he asked as he began to work himself in his right hand as the digits on his left hand pushed inside of her, “Jesus, fuck Vida…..” he spluttered as she tensed on him, his breathing starting to become uncontrollable, and he’d not even begun properly yet!
He inched inside of her, her body bent forwards and she yelled out “Aghhhhh!” which momentarily worried him but after a few subtle angle changes and making sure her body was supported by bringing his thigh up to her side they found a perfect, mind-blowing rhythm.
José gripped her hips when he knew his demise was on the way, never afraid of turning the air blue Vida told him quite bluntly “Fuck….god…They’ll make us move rooms when I come Mourinho, I swear to god, fuck, ohmygod, how….can you….FUCK!”
José had increased his tempo and was dripping sweat all across her back, he grit his teeth as she started to grind backwards against him making him pause all movements entirely and just watch in awe at how her body was working against his “Fuckme Vida, this will kill me… You will kill me…Agh, ohhhhh fuckkkkkkkk”
Vida went to scream, but nothing materialised.
“Caesar salad?” he asked, Vida shook her head “Had that yesterday”
José threw down the room service menu and dialled down to reception, “Fuck it, we’ll get pizza”
“What?” he asked when he finished ordering the food and caught her staring at him, her post sex body was still blotchy and clammy and she wouldn’t let him near her yet “Nothing” she lied - in no way brave enough to tell him how totally in love she was with him, “I need a shower, you coming?”
Vida turned the handle and giggled as he waited against the mosaic tiled wall like he was queuing in the supermarket “C’mere” she prompted from under the jets of water as they began to get warmer, she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply, it was a nice feeling - he told her that, he used the word nice, he used the word safe - she made him feel safe, she listened and she kissed his face, all over, down to his neck and back up again, she lathered up his hair and rinsed the suds, she did everything a woman does when she’s crazy about a guy - and he knew that, she knew that - they both felt the same, but neither of them wanted to go first.
“Vida….?” he said softly as he towelled his hair in the bathroom.
“Yeah?” she replied, stood a few feet from him and running a comb though her wet hair.
“I didn’t make you scream did I?”
God, there it was - that vulnerability again.
“No, you made me feel so good that I couldn’t scream” she told him earnestly, “You made me feel light headed”
He smiled sweetly, he wanted to know, for some perverse reason that he was better than Luis “And that’s better than making you scream?”
Vida pecked him on the lips “Of course. I think the pizza is here”
“Great pizza” Vida said, before devouring the last bite of the last slice, José nodded in agreement and then drank the last few sips from the bottle of beer they’d shared, “Great pizza, even better….” he left the remark open ended, blinking as he waited for her to finish the sentence.
After careful consideration she opted for “…Company?”
“You know Vida…” he paused to remove the pizza box from the end of the bed, Vida waited, wondering what was coming, watching his every move until he returned to the bed which swamped the pair of them.
“For a woman who is outspoken 90% of the time, you can be very shy…”
Vida shrugged, “I don’t think there was anything shy about how I just behaved with you”
Her defences had come up in an instant “Do you?”
José’s eyebrows raised and a cheeky smile formed, “Maybe not…” he pulled her in tightly to his chest and she kissed his neck, her muffled voice telling him “I’m not shy…..I just..”
“What?” he asked deeply, lips pressing to hers as her face looked up at him, he wanted her to say how she felt so desperately, he’d orchestrated this whole thing so that they’d end up having this very conversation.
“Struggle to say certain things”
José tipped her face back slightly and led her into a glorious and head spinning kiss, it was intimate, slow and full of purpose and honesty, her hands clawed at his sides desperate for him not to pull away, not to stop, his chest growled when her nails gently scraped over his hip bone and settled there, “Keepgoing….” she whispered into his mouth, grateful when he did as asked and sank his tongue back inside her mouth. José had seamlessly moved her gently on to her back, his right hand stroking under her left thigh and raising it up so it was taut against his body. Her hips had been moving the whole time, subtly jutting upwards and back down again, her back arching off the mattress and then back down again when he firmly pressed with his hand in the middle of her body.
It felt the most natural thing on the planet, except this time there was no real end game - he’d done the job he set out to do after being intimidated by Luis - he’d made her go wild for him, beg for him not to stop - Now, the calm after the storm it was tender but no less passionate or pleasurable. He was never too far from her face, occasionally glancing down and admiring his own movements, or burying his face in her neck to put off the inevitable, “Fuck…” he moaned, eyes closing tight and his body halting all movements, Vida felt his body tighten above her, she stroked his face telling him to open his eyes, he did as asked “You feel amazing…” she told him, “You make me feel amazing….”
“Hmmmm Vida, I’m so close…..”
He was so mindful of being selfish, she could tell “Don’t hold back…” she had said, her legs now falling to the side of his body and spreading wide, thankful for the freedom of movement he dropped both hands to her hips and proceeded to grind out his frustration.
Afterwards he’d apologised, telling her “I won’t do that again” in between gasps for breath, Vida had laughed, a puzzled expression on her face “Why the hell not?”
“You didn’t….” he nodded, not wishing to say it out loud.
Vida snorted, “You’re an idiot”
He’d got up to fetch water and was surprised to return and find Vida sat up, full of life and vigour - he felt exhausted, “So much energy…” he remarked as he handed her a glass of water.
“Not too bad yourself you know” she reminded him, “And if I remember correctly a few weeks ago you had me up against your kitchen work top..”
José smirked, age was just a number he thought, yeah he would probably pay for the exertion in the morning but what the hell.
“So tomorrow” he started, now back under the duvet “I’m seeing the kids, around 1pm….how do you feel about coming with me?”
Vida couldn’t hide her initial shock, “Erm…”
He shook his head “It’s too soon, don’t worry it’s fine” he meant it, he wasn’t trying to be passive aggressive, god it had only been a few months after all.
“No, no, I would love that” she told him, her head lifting off of his chest “Seriously, I would” she added for further confirmation.
José ran his fingers through her hair and then guided her head back down to his chest, praying that she continued dropping those occasional light kisses down his ribs and back up to his throat, “Hmmmm” he sighed when her tongue lapped at a small area near his shoulder where she had nipped at then soothed.
“I want this all the time….” he said mindlessly, causing her ministrations to come to a halt, he froze - instantly convinced he’d fucked things up, it didn’t matter that he’d spent all this time treating her properly, courting her, putting off sleeping with her until he knew it was right, making sure her feelings for Luis had totally dissipated, he was sure he’d just undone almost 3 months of chivalrous pursuit in six words.
Vida licked her lips when she made eye contact with him, it both scared the shit out of her and excited her what he’d just said, “Yeah? Why?” she asked bluntly.
José smiled, she wanted him to say it, he hadn’t been entirely sure “Because I’m crazy about you”
She grinned manically back at him, which only spurred a similar grin from him “That’s OK then” she told him, he raised his eyebrows, asking “Is it?”
Vida nodded, her nails gently grazing his neck “Yeah, I’m crazy about you too”
They both laughed at their cryptic exchange, both still feeling vulnerable and wishing for the moment to be over so they could move on with their lives, “We’re both really fucking bad at this aren’t we?” Vida stated, “José…..I’m painfully aware that I’m in love with you”
José’s face hardened, he kissed her fervently, his stomach doing summersaults and his blood coursing through his veins, he nibbled her bottom lip before pulling away “You went first, I admire that” he said “I wanted to tell you properly ages ago”
“What stopped you?” she asked.
“Luis” he admitted.
“Luis?” she questioned, backing off a little.
José nodded, “The guy intimidates me, you know….he’s a tough act to follow”
Vida shook her head, “You have no idea how incredible you are do you?”
“Vida?” José asked as she continued to studiously read her menu, the kids had ordered, he had ordered, Vida felt understandably without an appetite “Could I please just have coffee?” she asked the waiter who nodded and told her that was no problem at all.
“Are you on a diet?” José's son, Mario questioned, his eyes looking her body over.
José snapped “Hey, don’t be so rude”
Vida placed her menu back down “No, it’s fine, I’m not on a diet no, but I had a massive pizza last night” she explained, the teenage boy considered her answer thoughtfully.
“I guess the best thing you could do today is exercise then, not just drink coffee”
José shook his head in disbelief, “Ohmygod, I’m so sorry Vida, seems the boy left his manners at home today”
Vida giggled, then looked at Cleo who hadn’t diverted her eyes away from her phone the whole time they’d been sat there, “I’ll be doing a lot of cardio later on don’t worry” she told Mario and then squeezed José’s thigh under the table.
“She’s talking about sex” Cleo said brusquely, Mario’s face screwed up and he too now took out his phone - mainly to hide the sheer embarrassment his sister had caused.
“CLEO!” José said loudly, his cheeks flushing a little upon realising his daughter really was quite astute and not at all unaware that he and Vida were having a physical relationship.
“Don’t stress” Vida whispered as she leant in to José’s ear, “It’s fine” she kissed him ever so gently under his ear and he shivered, his eyes closing until a familiar voice made them spring open.
“Well José, aren’t you going to introduce us?”
Cleo and Mario slammed their phones back on the table upon hearing their mother’s voice, while José - smooth to the eighth degree kissed Vida gently on the mouth before looking at his ex-wife.
Cleo, confident as ever answered before her father could “This is Vida, dad’s girlfriend”
“Yes thank you Cleo” José said, his tone unimpressed as he stood and pulled a chair for Rina to take, Vida smiled warmly and offered a knowing look to the older elegant lady “Nice to meet you”
Rina nodded, then swished her hair “You too, it’s nice to put a face to the name, José has told me a lot about you, as has my wonderful daughter” she said, with a sarcastic emphasis on the word wonderful.
“Hmm, has he really?” Vida asked, her shoulder nudging José’s, he smiled crookedly, attempting to take in possibly the most surreal scenario he’d been faced with in years, “I’d love to see your pictures sometime” Rina said with generosity “I gather you were involved with his first season?” she asked pointing at José.
Vida was enjoying discussing her work - more than in fact, she was thriving on telling another grown up some of her incredible anecdotes - she had cleaned up a lot of them, just for modesty of the people involved but she didn’t hold back on that first shoot she and Matthew did at United.
“Matthew - my business partner had sacked his assistant director on the third day, something to do with asking players for autographs, he’s really strict about bothering the talent on shoots” she explained to an in awe table of ears, even the kids “So I drove from Glasgow, where I was living at the time, through the night, down to Manchester, arrived in the pouring rain, soaking wet hair and I arrived at Carrington - met Rui first I seem to recall, then José, who instantly got me a cup of tea”
José smiled thoughtfully as she spoke, she had added so much detail, so much depth to what was, for him - another run of the mill day at work. Yeah, when he’d met Vida again in Russia and she’d said they’d met before he remembered her well, but with a guy like Matthew in charge it was tough to enjoy things, “Matthew….my god… he’s a slavedriver” José interjected, Vida glared at him “That’s how he gets results” she explained “Anyway I will never forget that cup of tea José, it was hideous!”
The four of them laughed “I make no excuses” José added “What I lack in tea making skills I make up for in other departments”
His arm had casually slunk around her back and his hand was rhythmically stroking the top of her shoulder, when the food arrived he didn’t want to move, that grumble in his chest when she edged across the table to grab her coffee ignited a charged exchange of looks, Rina noticed immediately, she felt a slight lump in her throat, recalling how happy José had made her once - she was jealous of them both.
“Excuse me, it’s Matt” Vida said as she pointed at her phone and moved away from the table to answer.
José finished up his pasta and laid his cutlery back down across the plate, “Well?” he asked, dabbing his mouth with his napkin.
“She’s cool” Cleo chimed in, “Yeah, she is” Mario added, backing up his sister.
José shook his head in the direction of his kids, “I was asking your mother, get back to your phones” he demanded, much to Rina’s despair “I am trying to limit their time on those things José, that really doesn’t help you know”
He moved in close to his ex-wife, “It’s important that you like her Ri….” he said in hushed tones “Seriously…”
She looked at him with harsh emerald eyes “She’s great” she told him “And I can tell the both of you are sickeningly in love”
José sipped his wine, “How?”
Rina checked the kids were engrossed in their social lives before answering “Please José… I know you too well, you’ve rearranged your trousers a dozen times…I’m happy for you both”
“Now Vida, please don’t overreact” Matthew begged after he had just spent three whole minutes advising her the assignment he had taken with the Spanish National team, including a trip to Croatia the following day would need to be fulfilled by her because he was having some sort of love crisis with Pep.
“NO NO NO NO” She shouted, “I’m not overreacting, I’m telling you NO”
Matthew knew she’d be like this, “Vi, please, take any assistant you want”
“Cassie?” she snapped immediately - that kid was the only human being she would ever allow to be her assistant in the absence of Matthew.
Matthew winced, Cassie cost money, “Yes, yes OK - Cassie”
Vida hung up and looked back over at the table, she strode over just in time for the goodbyes, telling the kids and Rina how she’d loved spending the afternoon with them, they returned the sentiment, Rina leaning in and kissing her on both cheeks “You look good with him” she whispered then patted her on the shoulder.
“Home?” José asked as he paid the bill, the waiter swiped his American Express and Vida remained silent, “Hmm?” he prompted, then thanked the waiter before gripping her hand in his as they walked back towards their hotel.
“I’m hungry” she told him, making him stop and look at her, confused as hell “We just left the restaurant” he advised, in two minds about walking back in to order her some food.
Vida placed her hands on his chest and kissed him, right in the middle of West London, with traffic, people - some presumably journalists - definitely journalists, she knew they hung out around there to try and get a juicy scoop - all watching. Anyone within a few feet of the pair of them were treated to a sublime masterclass in french kissing, “Fuck” he groaned when she stopped, “I’m hungry for that” she told him, “I want more of that…..”
He didn’t need any further not-so-subtle hints, they returned to their hotel as fast as they could.
“Who called?” José asked, blissed out and on his back while she had sinewed herself around him, unable to move just yet.
“Matthew” she said “I’m going to Croatia tomorrow”
José’s heart stopped beating, he was sure. He half-laughed, he knew full well why Croatia but he asked anyway.
“Matt can’t make the shoot, the team shoot” she told him, her body getting ready for the fallout and untwining itself from him in preparation.
Ok, team shoot he thought, Croatia. No big deal.
“Cool, have you met the Croatian guys before?” he asked, trying to be unperturbed by the fact she would most definitely see Luis out there.
“It’s for the Spanish squad” she admitted, “Training, pre match, match and post match”
He cackled nervously “You’re joking, yeah?”
Vida had sat up on the bed now, her legs crossed and the duvet covering her body, “I’m professional, you do know that don’t you? It’s work, that’s all” she explained.
José scoffed, “That guy Vida, he’s far from over you!” he told her loudly.
She rubbed her eyes, “I don’t care, I’m not interested in him”
José stood up, pulled on his boxer shorts and paced around the room ranting at full speed about how he couldn’t cope with knowing she was in the same room as him, she listened - let him burn himself out and then walked over to where he was stood, his body was so tense, so tight.
“I just met your kids, your ex wife…” she began softly, hands taking his, “I told you I’m in love with you, that I want this to be a longterm thing”
He gazed at her with deep brown eyes, his worry palpable “It isn’t you that I don’t trust Vida”
She sighed, “What can he do? Tell me? Because I’m there to take his picture and that’s all”
José placed one hand on her lower back and pulled her in for a long, tight embrace “I’ll kill him” he said bluntly before reiterating, “If he tries anything, I WILL kill him”
I FINALLY WROTE A NEW CHAPTER!!
5 months later….
Luis fell back on the presidential style bed in his room, room - it was more like an apartment, this much room would sell for millions in his resident Barcelona. He breathed out deeply, his hand resting on his belt as he closed his eyes and listened to the city outside of his window - he liked London, and what he had seen on this visit had not changed his mind but he hankered for some peace and quiet. One night left then he could fly home, his engagement in Dublin went well - the 2020 draw went exceptionally well and he and his staff were pleased with the group they had drawn. Luckily for his staff, they could go home. Luis had agreed to take part in various press engagements, he was rueing that decision now.
He pulled his phone out of his jeans pocket and thumbed through Twitter, his heart stopping when he saw a rare tweet from the @VCMC account, “Matt and I have 5 spaces left on our guest list for tonight in BSq! DM us now! VC”
Luis shot up, his elbow resting on his knee as he read it a million more times, Vida hadn’t spoken to him since that day. The day she arrived to complete the team photographs for the UEFA Nations Cup in Croatia. God, that seemed so long ago. He chewed his thumb nail then opened Google Maps, he was within walking distance of Berkley Square, fuck it was tempting. He had spoken with Pep a few times in the last month or so, his schedule so monumentally busy that sometimes the calls he found time to take were jovial, but to the point. Pep was the one who told him Vida and José had split, he’d kept the need to contact her in check - hadn’t until now even looked at any of her social media accounts, not that Vida ever gave a lot away online.
Luis rubbed his eyes, and looked at the time. He’d call the kids back home, then decide.
“Thanks for coming, I do appreciate your support” Vida said to José as he tugged her elbow to a quiet corner and advised of his departure, they’d remained civil - even gone out a few times as friends, texted quite a lot but there was still a fair bit of unresolved tension there, on a couple of occasions they’d almost spent the night together but José had halted proceedings.
“My pleasure” he told her, slipping his arms into his luxurious black woollen coat and then kissing her lightly on both cheeks, “Dinner sometime next week maybe?” he asked, not pushy in the slightest.
Vida tossed her curled hair to the side, trying to hide her flushed cheeks - even after dating him he was still capable of making her blush, he found it adorable - not that he would ever tell her that “Yeah, why not” she replied cooly, with a brief smile - trying not to come over as awkward.
José swallowed, the noise at such a level meaning he could divulge his darkest tactical secrets and no one would hear, he bit his lip with a nervous energy “Vida, I…”
“Vi darling, you’re needed over here, sorry José” Matthew said as he put his arm around Vida’s shoulder and walked her in the direction of a group of students desperate to talk to her about technique. She turned her head back and mouthed “Sorry” at him, he nodded, his eyes totally lovesick and his body weak for her. He took long strides as he left, the cold air a welcome refreshment “Fuck” he said under his breath before hailing a cab.
“Was I interrupting something?” Matthew whispered, “You looked very close”
Vida rolled her eyes, “I’m not even answering that”
For the last 5 months Vida had been celibate, sober and fully dedicated to her work. She and Matthew had secured new premises in a sought after part of London, thanks to successful negotiation and a cash injection courtesy of Pep - their gallery was thriving and this evening was proving that. Vida had been scouting new talent at the nearby art schools and colleges and letting them use the gallery for free publicity in return for help running the website and online store and there was a real collective feel about the place. They were both knackered - no question, but it was what they had both dreamt of, the knowing glances across the room induced several outbursts of hysterics during the evening, neither of them could quite believe it.
“Actually, I am going to an art gallery tonight” Luis told his teenage son who was impressed to say the least “So don’t ever say my life is ruled by football…..OK, fair point!”
He joked for a few minutes longer then said his farewells. God, he missed them when he was away. He was running a handful of product that his daughter had packed for him, through his hair when he felt his phone vibrate - a reply to his message on Twitter “Sure Luis, give our doorman your name when you arrive, Jo” He congratulated himself, although felt a little concerned that Vida herself hadn’t replied. It was risky.
There was a reasonably sized queue when Luis approached, he shoved his hands into his pockets and leant casually against the wall, then feeling the dropping temperatures rubbed his hands together. A couple of queuing strangers spoke to him, asking him why he was in London, he chatted then advised them that his kids said he needed to learn to switch off from football, he kept back the vital information that he and the co-owner used to be embroiled in a passionate relationship.
“Luis Enrique Martinez” he told the doorman, who was as wide as he was tall, the guy squinted at the guest list, Luis could see his name written at the bottom in biro and almost pointed at it - his notorious lack of patience for this type of thing almost getting the better of him.
“Go on mate” the guy said, unhooking the rope then closing once Luis had suavely manoeuvred his way through and up the three black marble steps which lead to the gallery’s main room.
A pretty blonde haired waitress offered him a glass of champagne immediately, he took it out of politeness, he despised that stuff. His eyes were instantly drawn to a tryptic set of pictures taken in Madagascar, he was enthralled - he knew they were Vida’s straight away. He was staring at them with such concentration and adoration that he hadn’t realised she was stood right next to him, “Haven’t lost your ability to manipulate I see Luis” she said, he looked at her, his eyes widening. Five months was a long time not to see someone you cared about as much as he did Vida.
Her hair was darker, shorter but he loved it, her eyes just as mesmerising as he remembered and her body, it was adorned in designer jeans and an off the shoulder sweater, she looked sensational.
She shook her head then nudged his body with her shoulder “Chill out, I’m messing around, I told Jo it was OK to accept your request. Why are you in London?” she asked.
He was struck by how laid back she was, how she didn’t shudder with stress or upset upon seeing him after his past behaviour, “Um, work, always work” he advised, mouth agape as she giggled at the surrealism of having both José and Luis in the gallery in the space of an hour, “Wanna catch up then?” she asked, pulling him by his hand through the packed room and to a tiny back office area, “Sure you’ll be OK?” She asked Matthew who was in the process of arranging a few sales, “Of course, don’t be a prick eh Luis?” he jibed without even looking up at the Asturian.
They left via a side exit, Vida wrapping her scarf twice around her neck and informing him “I’m starving, you?”
“Sí Sí…” he garbled, unable to say anything else, “Vida….” he said stopping dead in a cold, damp alleyway, she spun to face him “Yeah?”
“You don’t see me for five months after I….” he paused, “I was so awful, and now you want to go eat?”
“What would you rather do Luis? Argue? Or shall we behave like adults, go eat and talk?”
Luis was expecting some highbrow Michelin-Starred Mayfair restaurant as opposed to Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner in the heart of Camden, much to his surprise the food was exceptional, they sat on a bench below an outdoor heater, the vibrant atmosphere reminded him a little of home. He soon began to feel comfortable, leaning in after he’d finished his burger asking Vida “Cerveza?”
“I quit” she told him, Luis raised his eyebrows with shock “How come?” he asked, sitting back down, curiosity stronger than his desire for beer.
Vida shrugged “Alcohol makes me feel out of control, it was causing issues for me” she admitted “Little bit like men”
Luis flashed her a handsome smile, his eyes twinkled and without any motive at all he pulled her towards his chest and held her there for some time, his left hand stroking through the curls gently “I’m sorry, you do know that?” he whispered “I am so so sorry”
Vida pulled back, then nodded, “I won’t have beer but I’ll have tea”
Luis laughed heartily, “You’ll never quit that stuff hmm?”
“Here” he said handing her a cardboard cup, he too opting to keep a clear head and not drink any alcohol.
They slowly walked down towards the lock, pausing on the bridge as they looked out across the water, the Christmas lights reflecting and twinkling against the brickwork, one barge passed and waved as they went underneath where they were both stood.
“Pep told me about you and José” Luis said, the pair of them elbow to elbow, holding onto their warm cups for dear life.
“Yeah he said” she replied flatly, sipping her tea.
“If it’s any consolati-“
“It’s not, so please don’t” she interjected, “Me and José are still very close” she advised him “He was at the gallery earlier, he’s very supportive Luis”
He liked hearing his name on her lips, he had to stop his long term memory from engaging right in that moment, it wasn’t the time or place for impure thoughts.
“Good….” he lied, “That’s good” he lied again.
Vida quaffed “You don’t mean that, it kills you that he actually managed to make me happy”
“Vida…I, I don’t want confrontation, you're damn right it kills me you and him ever had anything because I know it’s my fault, my fuck up”
Vida didn’t answer that.
“Where are you staying?” he asked.
“Me and Matt live together, we rent a place near Chelsea”
Vida gazed down his body, lean and lithe as ever, “You look good Luis”
“So do you” he answered, quicker than he’d have liked.
“Why did you do it? In Croatia?”
He winced, then turned around so his back was against the bridge “To make you jealous” he surmised, “You were flirting with me the whole time..” he stopped, held his finger in the air expecting that she wanted to accost him for the insinuation it was anything other than professional “FOR THE PICTURES, I know, I get it, but I was an ass…..”
“Nah, I did it on purpose” she spat, with attitude “I enjoyed seeing you want me, it amused me”
Luis laughed right from his gut, so loud that it reverberated on the water “So it wasn’t for the pictures?”
“Partly, but I liked how you made it blaringly obvious that you had it bad for me”
Luis was speechless, “Fuck Vida..” he groaned, again trying not to engage longterm memory.
“Cassie hated me for it”
He had hoped she would skirt around the subject of his wooing of Cassie, he’d not been proud of that “I regret that so much you do know that?”
“Cass doesn’t, often regales of her passionate night with you, even asks if you used those moves on me”
Luis covered his face in embarrassment “I was drunk, so was she”
“I know” she answered, “I knew she was exaggerating when she told me that you made her come within three minutes”
Luis’s eyes narrowed, tentative about asking what she meant but deciding not to ask for clarification.
They stood in silence until their cups were empty, “Thanks for letting me look around the gallery, it’s fantastic”
Vida smiled politely, “No problem”
Luis wondered if her barriers being up were all part of her new regime, no drink, no men, no emotions… “How are the kids?” she asked, out of the blue.
“Great, really great. Andreas was so impressed that I was going to a gallery”
“Just married Mig, was so over the top - well, you can imagine, the kids obviously had to have €1000 outfits each, fucking crazy” he said, shaking his head furiously.
Vida giggled, that was Gabriela all over.
“How close are you to José?” Luis asked, pulling her in front of him, his hands on her shoulders.
“We go to dinner, he repeatedly tells me how much I’m missing out on fabulous wines, then we go home….” she waited, “Separately. We’ve not been physical since we broke up, he thought it would complicate things”
“And what did you think?” he asked, worry in his voice palpable.
“That he’s right, doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to though” she said, honestly, “But I’m not in love with him if that’s what you’re asking”
Vida licked her lips as the cold air dried them just as quickly again “This is extremely unexpected, you, me, here, now….. presumably you’ll be long gone by tomorrow and I’ll be back to being infatuated with Madagascan Pochards…” her words trailed off as he moved his face down and kissed her gently, she grinned when he pulled back to clock her reaction, pleased that her eyes were glazed and heavy, confidently - he lifted her chin with his index finger and noted her swollen lips - a result of his romancing “How about for a few hours at least - being infatuated with an Asturian football manager?”
Matthew yawned loudly after he had ushered the last few stragglers - he couldn’t be rude, they’d spent a fortune. His mouth had hurt from grinning and repeatedly thanking them so he stood with his back to the locked door and closed his eyes, the place was a mess.
“Jesus” he whispered when he looked at his wristwatch - almost 1am, grabbing a black sack he shook it open and began to fill it with various items of dropped food and paper cups. A light knock startled him momentarily but when he saw the figure stood there he had no reservations about letting him in.
“Wow” José remarked on the scene in front of him “No manners some people huh? Need a hand?”
Matthew quietly thanked him and tossed him a handful of black sacks, José didn’t think twice and immediately got stuck in with absolutely no reservations about dirtying his Armani trousers, “No Vida?” he enquired without any hint of desperation.
Matthew winced inside, breaking the news of Luis being back on the scene wasn’t his job, and was he really ‘on the scene’? It seemed he was in London for work not on a mercy mission to win her back, even still - Matthew opted for diplomacy.
“Ah she was exhausted, I told her I would clear up”
From on bended knee José looked up at the blond man, Matthew was transfixed by the power he could command with just a silent gaze, “You’re a good friend” he said, eventually before returning to his dustpan and brush “She adores you” he added.
Matthew stood and took the bulging bag from the older man “Well, you know us José - the oldest of friends, now come on the rest can wait - drink?”
José nodded and followed him into the back office, Matthew managed to locate the remaining two bottles of beer and cracked them open before knocking his against José’s for good luck, “So come on, why are you here at this time of night?”
José snorted as he reclined, his legs spread wide like he was fully at home “You don’t need to be a genius to work it out” his self-mocking tone made Matthew frown, “Oh fuck” he sighed, “What is with the pair of you?”
José shrugged, and placed his beer down on the desk to his right “I took her to dinner the week before last” he began, Matthew knew how this ended but he pretended to be surprised “Then we got to my place, it was all great, you know…. on the sofa…. we kissed” José leant forwards now, his elbows on his knees “Vida was asking me…. telling me… she wanted more but I…”
“You couldn’t?” Matthew asked, “She told me”
José grimaced, part embarrassment, part panic “Course she did…”
Matthew also leant in now, as though they were engaged in some sort of clandestine exchange “Why José? Why reject her when you know what she wants?”
“I came here to talk to her, to explain why I finished it”
“Well” Matthew said, as he stood and patted José’s shoulder “She ain’t here, and neither should we be, now come on, drink up - speak to her in the morning yeah?”
José licked his lips, “I told her it was work, her work, my work….we’d never see each other, never have time for a relationship but really, truthfully I know we could make it work”
Matthew stood on the spot, leaving one small light on, figuring he should probably listen for Vida’s sake “It’s…” he stopped, rubbing his chin for a few seconds while Matthew waited “Luis, simple” he held his hands out in front of him like it was some huge relief.
“Luis?” Matthew questioned, puzzled look on his face “Luis Enrique?”
José swallowed, “Yeah”
“Jesus José…” could the timing be any worse?
“I know she speaks to him” he spat “And I know it’s my problem that I can’t handle that, so I figured I should break up with her”
“Great apartment” Luis remarked as his slim body rested against the well appointed sleek work tops of their modern kitchen, “Very you”
“Well, Matthew picked most of this stuff but yeah, it’s OK” Vida answered as she filled two cups with boiling water and tea bags.
She passed him his cup and looked at him properly close up, aside from his devastatingly handsome features which could turn the head of any woman she thought he looked different, never one to beat around the bush she came right out and said it.
“When did you last have sex Luis?”
Luis, who was mid-sip of his tea almost choked and had to cough loudly for a few seconds until he could breathe normally again, Vida stood defiant with one arched eyebrow as she watched “Erm, god, well” he struggled, “About 4 months ago” he answered, now fully in control of his lungs.
Vida nodded, “Gabi and Miguel married, that must be some major head fuck”
He smirked, “He’s great with the kids, I can’t ask for more than that”
Vida walked across to him so she was in his turning circle and moved one hand up to his face, his chin was rough from a few days of not shaving and she let her fingers feel the prickles, he didn’t move a muscle “You’ve changed Luis” she said softly, “I don’t know what it is but you have”
“Do you remember when we were flying to Madrid? Before my press conference?” he asked earnestly, her hand now falling away and back down by her sides, she nodded.
“You couldn’t tell me, with total honesty that you loved me” he paused, “Because of him, your feelings towards him…”
Vida protested “Luis don’t….”
“I have to Vida, I’ve had this inside me for so long! Now, even now, I look at you and I see that you love him, maybe I needed to come back and see you, see if that look was still in your eyes and it is, what does he do Vida? Tell me, tell me and I’ll do it, I’ll do it better, I’ll be better”
Vida pulled both of his hands together in hers “Listen to yourself, you want to change because of José? Why? You’re polar opposites”
She didn’t waste any time, her hands snaked around his neck while his gripped her sides, their kissing was intense and forceful, the gnashing of teeth and simultaneous groans only stopping when they heard Matthew’s key enter the lock of the front door, they sprung apart like guilty teenagers, red face and flustered when Matthew found them.
“Didn’t expect a welcome home party” Matthew remarked, placing his keys on the side “Vi, a word before I pass out through exhaustion?”
Luis nodded subtly, his cheeks cooling.
“José stopped by, he told me the reason he broke it all off was Luis”
Vida bounced up off the edge of her bed in frustration “What?! I don’t so much as text the guy in 5 months and now he’s here and José decides to tell you that?!”
“I’m sorry, just the messenger, although yeah the timing is shitty”
“Fuck” she sighed, “I’ll tell Luis to go, this is all too weird”
new Luis Enrique fic on the way following on from this...
continued in the new fic Desafiante : https://archiveofourown.org/works/17896667/chapters/42247898
Vida went through a speech in her head a dozen times before returning to the living room, sighing out deeply she whispered “Fucks sake” as she laid her eyes on Luis, who was fast asleep with his hands by his sides and his head lolled back against the sofa.
She considered shaking him, shouting his name, but she knew he was a deep sleeper - any effort to ruse him now would be futile so she pulled the thick wool blanket from her own bed and covered him over, he didn’t move a muscle. Vida stared down at him for a few minutes, her brain fuzzy with weariness, it had been a surreal night, she certainly hadn’t expected when she got up that morning to be doing this at 2am. Luis’s long, slim legs suddenly twitched and he slumped further down the sofa.
“Ohgod” she said quietly, looking at the ceiling, “LUIS” she said at normal volume, no response.
She bent down against the arm of the sofa and shook at his elbow under the blanket, if this didn’t wake him and prevent the world’s stiffest neck she would give up and leave him there, “Hmm?” he asked, deeply, eyes closed.
“Luis, wake up” Vida told him firmly, “It’s late, come on”
He blinked open his eyes and then shot up, embarrassed by how he’d been found, unceremoniously spread across Vida’s sofa - hardly the cool demeanour he usually exuded, “Sorry” he said with a stretch, “I’ll call a cab?” he said, as though it were a question rather than a statement.
Vida folded her arms, in two minds about turfing him out or allowing him the benefit of the warm, comfy sofa, she watched as he took out his phone and opened the Uber App, “Luis it’s fine, have the sofa”
“Sure?” he asked for confirmation.
“Yeah, sorry shouldn’t have woken you”
He smiled thinly then pulled his shirt over his head, staring at her the whole time, hands now removing his jeans and taking great pleasure when Vida’s lips parted at the sight of his legs and torso, “OK, I have to go to sleep” she mumbled as she backed away towards her bedroom door, he bid her goodnight but she was rooted to the spot, “OK look, my bed is big enough for two people to sleep and not be touching so just come on” she garbled, he had responded in Spanish and taken three long strides over to where she was stood, visibly tired.
“Vida” he began, “If this is too weird then say” he had overheard a couple of things she and Matthew had been talking about regarding José, and as much as he wanted her back he didn’t want to be a bastard - he’d spent too long behaving that way, and look where that had gotten him.
Vida rubbed her temples, and then pushed open the door - silently he followed her, removing his watch and placing that and his phone on the bedside table, “I fly back at 4 tomorrow afternoon, maybe I’ll come and buy something from the shop before I go” he said, legs swinging under the duvet and relaxing.
“Yeah ok” Vida told him, her body in the most awkwardly rigid position on the planet, god he smelt so good, that would linger - Luis’s scent always lingered on linen, she swallowed, listening to him clear his throat and then contentedly sigh out.
“José broke it off with me because of you” she told him, still facing away from him.
She turned onto her side, body level with his “Yes, really”
She could just make out his facial expression from the scraps of light edging through the curtains, he wasn’t smug, the opposite, “Fuck…I don’t know what to say Vi….”
“Nothing, there’s nothing you can say”
“Do you love him?” he asked, edging closer so they both met in the middle of her bed.
“Yes, yes I do”
Ouch, that hurt.
“Yet….” he began, testing the water by placing one large warm hand on the curve of her hips “I’m here, lying next to you….” his mouth found hers like a sonar radar, she let him kiss her deeply, longingly - with way more energy than should be legal given the ungodly time of night, “Luis….don’t” she said pulling away, “Don’t what?” he asked calmly, removing his hands from her body completely.
“Don’t make me want you….”
He laughed deeply, “You think this is all a coincidence hmm?” he challenged.
“Probably not” she deduced “But I can’t hurt him, not like this”
Luis kissed under her ear softly, his arm underneath her body and pulling her down to the crook of his neck, she went with it because having him there next to her felt good, so good “Any other day and…”
“Shhh” he interrupted, “You don’t need to justify anything, go to sleep…”