Chapter 41

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"Look how happy he is now... with that goofy grin... It doesn't even look like the same guy from before," Mari said as they watched Nelson stand on the highest podium. Despite her words, she was smiling too.

"Shut up... it's a big moment for him," Cris said, also smiling. Then he felt his heart swelling with emotion again. How long it's been since he was in that place? It where he belongs...

"Look at your goofy grin too." Mari poked her cousin on the cheek. "You're not gonna cry again, are you?"

"Shut up," the manager mumbled, cleaning his eyes, though it made no difference. He had cried a lot already. And I'll probably cry again.

Mari laughed but said nothing else as she pulled him for a hug.

Then, as Pernambuco's state anthem played, Nelson bent his back a little and the gold medal he had earn was placed around his neck.

The crowd burst with cheers and applause.

The manager did the same. And then he couldn't hold his emotions and cried out of happiness again.

He half expected his cousin to make fun of him, but when he glanced at her, her eyes were watery too.

She realized Cris was looking at her. When he grinned, Mari blushed and turned her head away.

As his cousin got him in a headlock, a man appeared by their side. He was one of the few around wearing a suit. Even so, he was smiling and applauding like the others.

"Hey, Marco. How was that? Nelson was awesome. Much better than expected, right?" Mari asked, nudging her ex-boyfriend with the elbow in a friendly manner.

The man showed no emotion as he cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief.

The wait became unbearable.

Cris bit his lips and leaned closer, almost shaking the man by the clothes. Just say it!

"He was better than most of the board expected," Marco finally said it. "I doubt your father will let him go after this. At least until the regional tournament, I believe Nelson is safe."

Cris breathed in relief, then he beamed as he turned to his boyfriend, still on the podium, waving to the crowd.

Then Nelson smiled as raised the medals.

A few flashes ran around him.

But when he turned to Cris, he blushed, his smile growing even more.

The manager's cheek became red as he felt his heart thumping louder.

"By the way, the other swimmer we were watching was also better than the expected," Marco went on, not noticing Cris was barely listening.

The manager glanced at the petite swimmer next to his boyfriend on the podium.

"Do you think they might still push him in Nelson's place?" Cris asked, his anxiety returning at an amazing speed.

Marco looked at him in silence for a while.

"If I'm being honest, I don't think so. Not in his place, at least. But I believe your father might want to hire him..." Marco trailed off.

"Which is basically putting them to compete against each other and then keep the best one," Mari completed the thought.

"Possibly... But if Nelson improves even more than today, I think he'll be okay."

Once again Cris sighed in relief. Then he looked in the man's eyes.

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