"You're right..."

"I know that. And I don't get tired of hearing, believe me," she said, flashing her cocky smile.

Cris couldn't help but show a tiny smile.

Before he could say anything, the people around them became louder.

"Look, they're coming." Mari pointed and made Cris face the pool.

From the other side of the pool, the swimmers came out from the locker room one by one.

"Look at them. They're surprised by the crowd," his cousin said, not hiding her joy.

"It's like they've never seen so many people interested in swimming," Cris commented as he tried to locate his boyfriend.

"I'm ready to bet all my money that this crowd is because of Nelson."

Cris couldn't disagree. But he was too anxious to say anything.

Where is he?

And then his boyfriend finally appeared.

Nelson was the last one to come out of the men's locker room.

The moment he stepped into the pool area, the crowd cheered louder.

He, like the other swimmers, seemed surprised by all the spectators.

But the next moment, his surprise gave room to a smile as he waved to the crowd, making them grow louder.

Mari laughed at the scene. "Just what you'd expect from a professional swimmer. He knows how to please the fans."

Cris let out a real chuckle, but when Nelson looked at his direction and smiled at him, he blushed.

"Haha, you're such a girl in love, Cris," Mari made fun of him, poking the manager's cheek.

"Shut up," he said, but he didn't dislike.

"Even so, you better make sure people know that he's your man," Mari said, indicating something with her chin.

Cris looked in that direction.

Three girls around his age were cheering louder than the rest of the crowd. And thanks to the red signs filled with hearts they held, it wasn't hard to figure out for whom they were supporting.

"Look, little cousin. That girl in the middle wrote 'I love you, Nelson'," Mari said in a low voice, looking at him through the corner of her eyes. "Are you gonna let her say that to your man?"

"Why are you trying to make me cause a scene here her?"

"Because it would be fun," she said with a serious face.

"I won't make a scene nor pick a fight with that girl. I'm not that kind of boyfriend," he said turning away from his cousin and the girls.

"Oh, really? That's funny coming from someone who crashed a wedding party just to make out with his boyfriend and make sure no one would flirt with him," Mari said with a serious face.

"That was... I was a kid back then..."

"And is that same kid who described the taste of his boyfriend wiener because he overheard a girl from his class talking about how handsome he was?"

Cris blushed and looked away. But that wasn't fast enough to hide his guilty smile from his cousin.

"I'm not the same person..."

"The same person who—"

"Fine! What do you want me to do, huh?" Cris snapped, but still kept his voice down. "Make a scene here? I don't think Nelson is ready to have people finding out that he's dating another guy."

"Yes. He's not ready," Mari said, her smile turning sly. "But you're dress as a girl today"

Cris pressed his lips.

"You're like a demon standing on my shoulder and telling me to go to the dark side," the manager mumbled.

"Yes, I am. Now go on. Do it. No one will ever know," she leaned closer to whisper in his ear.

With his face red, Cris turned in his boyfriend's direction.

"Go, Nelson! Win this for me!" he shouted above the noise of the crowd.

The people around him noticed and looked at him. However, the rest kept cheering the same way, as if nothing had happened.

But Nelson had heard. With his face red, he waved awkwardly at his boyfriend.

Then he followed the other swimmers to begin the tournament's formality.

Cris turned to his cousin with his cheeks burning.

"Are you happy now?" he asked in a hushed and embarrassed voice.

Mari, on the other hand, didn't seem bothered by the stares they received.

All she did was laugh.

"Yeah. Especially because of that," she said, turning to the girls with the signs.

They were staring at Cris with nasty looks. They whispered something between themselves and walked to the other side.

"Did you see their faces? That was priceless!"

"Glad you enjoyed my embarrassment," Cris muttered, still trying to ignore the stares. I like to embarrass Nelson, not myself...

"Always, little cousin. Always," she said, patting him on the back.

Cris gave up and turned back to the pool.

The swimmers were already standing on the starting block.

It's time, the manager thought, holding his breath.

Cris couldn't help but remember all what he and Nelson had gone through.

From the moment they met until they became more than just friends.

Please, let him win, he prayed in his heart. Please, let him swim his best today...

I don't care about our celebration later... I just want him to do his best so we can continue as swimmer and manager...

Cris only had eyes for Nelson now.

      Withhis heart beating wildly, the manager watched as the whistle blew and theswimmers jumped into the water.    

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