~17~ tête-à-tête

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“Will that be all, coach?” Boredom is apparent in my voice.

Navarro raises the cup to his lips. His eyes are still on a book of quotes. He gets through a lot of books. I’ve learnt that it’s best to remain in the background when he’s busy — just be part of the furniture. Or he gets snappy if you try to converse with him. Keep conversation to a minimal. Then get out of there. 

“Your coffee-making skills have improved considerably,” There’s a hint of a smile on his lips.

This is a surprise. Usually, he just grunts in the affirmative. 

I raise my eyebrows. “I’m glad…”

I’m unsure how to respond. Did he just praise my coffee? Very unusual. I remember the first time I made him his coffee. He took one sip and grimaced. Then he made me note down instructions on a pad of paper. I couldn’t leave the room until I’d memorised all of the coffee-making instructions. That took forty minutes — I have a terrible memory. It didn’t help that he’d make me start right from the beginning if I stumbled over a word. That man was evil. All he was doing was eating lemon cake, correcting me and adding new punishments to my workload. 

In the end, I didn’t bother making him his coffee that day. I turned into that girl from The Exorcist — demented. To shut me up, he gave me a slice of cake. He certainly has a fine palate. 

“Biscuit?” He offers the plate to me.

Why’s he being nice to me? Well, I am kinda hungry… 

“Don’t mind if I do.” I take one. My teeth crunch down on the biscuit. These are good biscuits. Tasty. Buttery. Navarro seems to be fascinated by my mouth. His brown eyes linger for a second too long. Guess no one told him it’s rude to stare…

I grin at him after I’ve swallowed my last mouthful. An appealing blush colours his cheeks. He blinks and directs his gaze back on the book. 

Smiling, I start to head back to the door.

“Close the door on your way—”

“Yeah, yeah. Hey, can I ask you a question?” I swivel around to face him suddenly.

“Depends what sort of answer you’d like,” He turns the page.

“Don’t get all “philosophical” with me.”

Navarro slams the book on his desk. All his attention is on me. “Fire away.”

I don’t bat an eyelash. “How did you get your limp?”

His mouth hardens. An impenetrable iciness transforms his features.

“Ah.”

“Never mind. I’ll just go,” I rush out. As I’m opening the door, his voice raises a level. 

“Van Hoff!” he says.“You’d better take a seat.”

***

Navarro talks about his injury in a matter-of-fact tone. Although, there’s a sense of resentment lurking beneath his calm exterior. He had his career mapped out in front of him. A year ago he was on top of the world.

Unfortunately, life’s never that easy. 

He was playing football professionally — I can’t say the name of the team. Even just thinking of the team’s name, makes me feel bad for him. I can still recall the pain etched on his face. 

It was a nice, hot, sunny day. Life was good. A perfect day to play football. Navarro was an up-and-coming professional footballer, who was playing for his dream club. Quite a superstar, eh?

Armand had proven that he was his own man. He didn’t have to follow the path that his dad has had set for him of joining the family vineyard. I got the impression his father wasn’t happy with his success. All was not well between Navarro Sr. and Navarro Jr.

But anyway, let’s get back to the match. What could go wrong in Armand’s world?

Just as he had dribbled pass three players, Armand was about to curl the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal when a lumbering freight train hit at him. An excruciating pain overwhelmed him. The last image he had before he lost consciousness was of the grinning defender stamping his studs deliberately onto his ankle and casually walk away.

That was end of Navarro’s dreams. 

However, there's still hope at the end of tunnel.

The consultant told him that there’s a strong chance that he can play again — that is, if he follows rehab rules carefully.

But this is Navarro.

He follows his own rules…

A/N: Please VOTE, COMMENT and SHARE! Do you feel sorry for Armand? :D Dmitri

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