With Love, Barcelona.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sophia has been pressured to be perfect all of her life. She's never had her own way and has never been truly happy. Until now. Romance, friendships, and adventures begin after she makes a life-changing decision.

Submitted: April 18, 2017

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Submitted: April 18, 2017

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  “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Sophia thought to herself as she sat on an airplane at Heathrow airport on a rainy Sunday evening. She was about to fly off to sunny Barcelona and her mind drifted off to the previous day.

 

  She was sitting at her office in central London looking out at the permanently grey sky, waiting for the clock to struck 5 so she could leave work. Once she left the office, she got the same train at the same time, sat in the same seat of the same carriage that she sat in every day and got stared at by the same people. She was only 24 and she felt like her life was the same day on repeat. Boring, monotonous, empty.

She shuffled around in her bag looking for her keys to get into her flat which was about 25 minutes away from her office. She moved in there two years ago when she got the job working as an accountant for MKWD Enterprises, a couple of months after she graduated from Oxford.

Sophia entered her flat, dumped her bag and jacket on the sofa and went straight to the kitchen to put some pasta on the hob to boil without wasting any time at all. She was starving and hadn’t eaten since her lunch break. Whilst she waited for the food to cook, she decided to turn on her laptop and scroll through her Facebook page. Pictures of her friends and people she went to school with popped up with them looking so happy with their partners, their families or even their new-born babies and it just made her feel even more lonely.

Something on the screen suddenly caught her eye. It was an advert about one of those back-packing trips around Europe and she clicked on it. She had always wanted to travel and see the world, experience something different than what she was used to. Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Geneva, Venice were just some of the places that the list included and she began to think about it.

“Surely I can’t,” she muttered to herself, even though every part of her wanted it so much. She needed this. She needed to get away, to feel something more, this couldn’t be all there was to life. The mouse hovered over the big yellow icon that said ‘BOOK NOW’ and she double clicked on it without thinking twice. There was no going back now.

 

  “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking and welcome onboard flight B267 to Barcelona,” said the pilot startling Sophia, who let go of her thoughts that lead up to this decision. A wave of many different feelings made her stomach turn as she held on to her seat’s armrest tightly.

After two hours and twenty-two minutes, the wheels of the plane touched down on the runway and Sophia looked outside her window at this new place that she had only ever dreamed of seeing. The sound of seat belts unbuckling made her want to scream with anticipation and after about 10 minutes of people shuffling around in the overhead lockers and making their way out of the plane, her feet hit the tarmac. The first thing she noticed was that the atmosphere was heavier in Spain and a wave of hot air hit her face but to her it was almost liberating. She felt free.

 

 

There was a blue and white bus waiting to take all the passengers to the main terminal. After going through passport control and baggage reclaim, Sophia followed the EXIT signs and looked for a person holding a sign saying ‘Pass-portable’ – the name of the company that organised the trip. She looked around and finally, she spotted the sign that was being held by a beautiful woman with perfectly tanned skin, long and luscious dark hair and big brown eyes.

 “Ciao, welcome to Spain, you must be Sophia,” the woman said in a cheery loud voice with a very Spanish accent. “I am Luciana, your guide. It is lovely to meet you.”

 “Hi, it’s great to meet you too,” Sophia replied, as she took her cardigan off and tied it around her waist since she was starting to feel the heat.

 She followed Luciana outside where there was a group of people chatting to each other, holding their suitcases and taking photos of the Spanish flag that was flying in front of the airport’s entrance. She soon realised that this group of people were her new travel companions that she would be spending the rest of this trip with. She felt so excited.

 

  Sophia woke up at 7am the next morning because she had passed out shortly after arriving at the hostel the previous evening. She had planned to meet the group of people from the airport the night before but after reaching her room, she decided that it could wait until she had rested and was feeling fresh. The room was quite spacious and colourful with pale yellow walls, a desk in the corner and a decent sized bathroom, it was much better than what she’d expected. It was called ‘Los Tres Compañeros’ which meant ‘The Three Companions’ - according to her little Spanish dictionary she had picked up at Heathrow’s Duty Free- and it was right on the seafront, in the heart of Barcelona.

  She walked outside on to the tiny balcony to see the view when it was just starting to get light outside, the sun rays reflecting on the morning waves. There was a ferry passing by in the far distance and on the beach, two young girls were on their morning jog followed by a big black dog that was running in and out of the sea playing happily.

An hour and three outfit changes later, Sophia finally made her way to the breakfast room at the hostel where, the rest of the group were tucking into pastries and sipping on deliciously smelling coffee. She poured herself a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal and sat down between Nathan and Carah that she had briefly met on the journey to the hostel – she was really good at remembering names. Socialising with random people was something almost unknown to her since she’d never really had time for that in school or university. She was the awkward bookworm that studied for far too many hours each day aiming to be the best in all of her classes just to make her parents proud. This though, this was different. She didn’t feel awkward or scared or even guilty that she was doing her own thing for once and having some fun.

 

  “So, does anyone know what the plan for the day is yet? Luciana didn’t really say anything yesterday,” she asked looking at both Nathan and Carah briefly.

  “I’m not entirely sure but I think we get today to ourselves so we can go around and do our thing and then tomorrow we get a proper guided tour. I’m so excited to take photos,” Carah replied enthusiastically.

  “That’s pretty cool actually, it means we can explore in our time. We should definitely go down to La Barceloneta Beach this evening, I’ve heard the sunset there is amazing! Great for your photos too Carah,” Nathan added in a calm voice.

  “Sounds like a plan, are you guys ready to get lost in Barcelona then? Because I’m hopeless at reading maps,” Sophia admitted whilst the others giggled and pushed their chairs away from the table.

 

  They went around the city for hours; they walked along La Rambla Street which was packed with tourists, past the La Sagrada Familia -which was absolutely breathtaking- and they also had some tapas at a restaurant nearby. During the day, Sophia took in everything around her and got to know Nathan and Carah better by talking about their lives; their favourite food, their hometowns, their families and hobbies.

  Finally, they wandered down onto the beach when the sun was just starting to fall, painting the sky countless shades of orange, purple and pink. They found the rest of the group there too, taking photos and sitting on towels spread out on the sand. Carah ran over to them, leaving Nathan and Sophia behind still staring at the fiery sky and for a few minutes no one spoke.

 “Bet you don’t get this over in London then do you, Soph?”

 “The only colour the sky ever has in London is grey and even when there is a nice evening people are way too busy to appreciate it.”

 “I’ve not been to London before, heard there are loads of great things to see there, you don’t seem too impressed though.”

 “Don’t get me wrong, London is great in many ways but when you’ve lived there all your life you start to notice all the bad stuff. People are always in a rush, they never acknowledge anyone around them, they barely even smile.”

 “Well, good thing you got away then isn’t in? You don’t seem like you’re like one of those people,” he said, turning his head to her grinning.

  And then she noticed it, his smile. It lit up his face, it made his blue eyes sparkle, he became so much more attractive in that moment and she felt something flutter inside her. She hated her smile, she hated her teeth but his was captivating. She snapped her head back to look at the sunset after she realised she spent too long staring at him and started walking towards the group before he figured out what she was thinking.

 

As she approached the group she noticed that Carah was giggling away with one of the other boys in the group. Carah wasn’t particularly beautiful but she was incredibly funny and outgoing which made her a really fun person to be around. Nathan walked behind her and joined the group too, picking up a couple of beers out of the cool-box some of the guys had bought for everyone and handed one over to Sophia.

“Thanks. I’ve never really drunk beer before. I’m more of a wine person,” she said and cracked the can open.

“Well isn’t this trip all about new experiences?”

“Yeah, you’re right. It’s not bad actually, I expected it to have a really heavy taste but it’s good.”

“Thought you’d like it, I mean you are English after all, you guys love ‘pints’ don’t you?”

 And there it was again, that smile.

 Everyone stayed up drinking beers for a long time, the sun had now gone down and the sky was a midnight blue colour with thousands of twinkling stars scattered around. Sophia was already on her third- which was a lot for her- but she didn’t care, she was having fun sharing different stories with everyone about embarrassing moments of the past. She could feel the beer getting to her head but she could also feel herself letting loose, being more open, talking more and even laughing out loud.

  At around midnight they decided to head back to the hostel and Nathan insisted on walking Sophia to her room because he could tell she was a bit tipsy. They walked side by side in silence and suddenly he held her hand. Her first instinct was to pull it away and walk faster. She probably would have done so if she was sober but instead she just held on to his hand and felt her heart about to explode in her chest.

  Sophia woke up the next morning with a smile on her face, jumped out of bed, got ready as fast as she could and walked downstairs to meet everyone in the breakfast room.

 “Will Nathan remember holding hands? Will he say anything? Should I say anything? No, I’ll play it cool, it wasn’t anything serious,” she thought to herself as she spotted Nathan and Carah sitting in the same places as the day before.

 “Good morning guys. How’s the hangover?”

 “All I can say is that whoever discovered coffee is my hero,” mumbled Carah while she held her head in her hands.

  Nathan laughed and looked at Sophia. She could feel his eyes burning holes into her body but she knew she’d turn the colour of a tomato if she made eye-contact with him. She felt nervous and it’s not a feeling that she was used to so she sat there having her breakfast in silence listening to everyone else talk.

  The rest of the day passed by really quickly as the group were shown around museums, admired the amazing architecture of the Spanish buildings, walked through art galleries and were exhausted by the time they got back to the hostel.

  “I hope everyone enjoyed the tour today and learned a bit more about our beautiful Barcelona. I don’t want to make you feel like this is a high-school trip with all your days planned out for you, so you can spend the rest of your stay here as you please. I will be available at any time if you need help with anything,” Luciana said to everyone with a smile and walked off.

Sophia sat down on her bed and took her sandals off. They were a pair of new gladiator-style sandals that were made out of brown leather and were quite comfortable but wearing them all day had made her feet sore. She desperately needed a shower after being in the scorching heat so she started undressing and turned the shower on a cool setting. Just as she was about to step into it she heard a knock on her door and got a fright. She wrapped her towel around her and opened the door slightly just to see Nathan’s face, and suddenly she felt as if she was completely naked.

 Nathan’s eyes dropped to admire her body from top to bottom without him being able to stop them. He turned his eyes back to Sophia’s face and tried to catch his breath.

  “Um, sorry. Um, we’re all going down to the beach to go night swimming and I… I wanted to see if you were interested,” he explained in a wobbly and out of breath voice.

  “Yeah sure, could you wait two minutes for me to get my stuff?” she replied and smiled to try and make it seem as if it wasn’t a big deal that this hot guy was talking to her as she stood there half-naked.

 

 She quickly closed the door and rummaged through her suitcase trying to find the brand new blue bikini she had bought at Victoria’s Secret in London. After getting dressed, she grabbed a beach towel and ran out the door to meet Nathan that was perched against the wall waiting for her.

“Okay, I’m ready. Is Carah down at the beach already?”

  “Yeah she went down there with that guy she’s been speaking with, Johan I think he’s called.”

  “Oh yeah, they’ve been flirting all day. She told me that he’s from Denmark and that she’s finally found someone that is funnier than her.”

  They both started laughing because it was typical Carah to say something like that and they walked towards the beach. It was already dark but because the moon was almost full and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it wasn’t pitch black and they could see around them. They hadn’t had the chance to go swimming yet and Sophia was really excited because she loved the water, she’s taken swimming lessons since she was four and had even competed in swimming competitions in school. They both dived into the warm water, and swam over to the rest of the group, who were all splashing around, trying to dive each other under the water.

 “Bet you I can beat you at a swimming competition,” Nathan said to Sophia.

 “Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” she said and started swimming as fast as she can with Nathan following her.

 They swam for ages and finally, Sophia stopped after being ahead of Nathan the whole way and stood up in the water waiting for him to catch up with her.

 “Okay, okay you win. Are your half dolphin or something?” he gasped trying to slow his heart down once again and swam over to her,“How many more times are you going to take my breath away today?”

  “I told you not to be too confident about it. I’ve swum since I was four years old, love.”

  By this point they had swam far away from the rest of the group and were completely alone. She could feel Nathan getting closer and closer to her. And she didn’t move away. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her towards him and kissed her slowly but passionately. She held his head between her hands and kissed him back and the world stopped turning, the waves stopped crashing, the voices in the distance disappeared, everything else didn’t matter. They stayed there kissing for what seemed like forever and then they heard Carah calling their names and something about beers so they stopped, looked at each other and started swimming back without saying much more.

 “There you guys are, thought you’d floated off to freaking Italy or something! We’re off to that little shop over there to get some booze, are you guys coming with?”

  “Carah, didn’t you just get over a hangover?”

  “Yeah, so? Don’t be boring you two, we’re on holiday!”

  “Well I guess a couple more beers won’t do too much damage,” Sophia said and before she got a chance to look at Nathan Carah pulled her along to the shop.

  “Oh my God Soph, Johan is so sweet! He keeps complimenting me and saying how happy he is we met. Is this even real?”

 “I know right? Everything is perfect here,” she replied with excitement.

“Woah, wait. I know that kind of smile! Did you and Nathan FINALLY make out?”

 “Finally? What do you mean?”

 “Oh come on Soph, he’s been into you since the second he saw you! Even a blind person could see that. So, same beers as yesterday?”

 

They bought two six packs of beer and took them back to the beach where Johan and Nathan were talking about watching the Barcelona football game the next day live at the ‘Camp Nou’ stadium. Around midnight, most of the group started to head back to the hostel, except Carah and Johan who had gone back into the water while Sophia and Nathan lay on the beach sipping on what must have been their fourth or fifth beer -so they were both quite drunk once again.

 

  “So, Sophia Anderson, what made you decide to come on this trip?”

  “I was bored with my life I guess.”

  “Is that all you’re going to give me? I’m trying to learn all your deepest, darkest secrets here.”

“You’re going to have to get me a lot drunker than this to get ALL of my secrets. Basically, I’ve always done what everyone else wanted, my parents mainly ruled my life and I just wanted to make them proud. I’ve just tried and tried to always be the best I can and eventually I found myself lonely and sick of the way my life was going. I just wanted something fresh and different which is why I’m here and to be honest it’s my best decision yet,” she turned her head and looked at him who was now leaning on his elbow staring at her.

 

  They sat up talking, laughing, drinking and kissing all night and just before they headed back Nathan jumped into the water one last time. Sophia decided she was too drunk to do so and sat there looking at the sun slowly rise when she heard a phone that wasn’t hers ring. She looked over and realised it was Nathan’s, that had been covered with sand without him noticing, so she picked it up to put it back onto the towel but without meaning to she saw a message from someone called Alaina.

 “Miss you so much. Can’t wait until you’re back,” it said followed by a heart and kiss emoji.

She hadn’t meant to read it, it just caught her eye. She felt her stomach drop. She knew it was too good to be true, of course he had a girlfriend, of course he was ‘that kind of guy’. Nothing good ever happened to her. She felt the tears stream down her face, gathered her stuff and stormed off before Nathan had a chance to stop her. She was so disappointed, of herself more than him. She’d let herself go with him, she barely knew him yet she sat there sharing her life with him and all her thoughts and fears.

She ran back to her room, locked the door behind her and crumbled into a sobbing mess on the floor but she wasn’t crying just because of this incident but because she felt like she deserved better. She had done nothing wrong to anyone other than herself all her life and yet she had never found happiness and fulfillment in anything she did and every time she came close to it, life laughed at her and slapped her in the face.

She woke up sometime around noon after she’d fallen asleep crying. Her head was throbbing, her eyes were puffy, her body was still salty from the water and her hair smelt like the ocean.

  “Right, enough with the breakdowns. I didn’t come on this trip to find my Mr Perfect anyway,” she said and promised herself she would never let some guy like Nathan make her cry again.

She showered, put on her favourite blue floral playsuit and walked down the corridor to Carah’s room – knowing that Nathan was with Johan watching the football.

 

  “Hey Soph, I was just about to come and find you.”

  “Well great minds think alike then don’t they? I was wondering if you’d be interested in hitting the town for some shopping therapy?”

  “Would I be interested? ‘Shopping’ is my middle name! I’ll just get dressed and I’ll meet you in 10 minutes in the lobby. Let’s go and do some damage.”

 

  The girls spent all afternoon going in and out of shops, trying outfits on and taking photos with Carah’s camera. After the shops started closing they ended up at a cocktail bar drinking Pina Coladas and chatting about hot celebrities and films they were obsessed with.

  “Today’s been so much fun! Nothing’s like a good ‘girls day’ right? Do you and Nathan have any plans later?” Carah asked and took another sip of her cocktail that was decorated with one of those little umbrellas and a slice of fresh pineapple.

 Sophia’s stomach dropped once again.

 She had done really well trying to avoid the thought of facing him all day because she knew he’d come looking for her.

  “Actually, I’m trying to avoid him. He’s playing with me Carah! I saw a text from some Alaina girl saying how much she missed him.”

  “What? Are you sure she’s not a friend or something? He just doesn’t seem like that kind of guy, and trust me I’ve been around A LOT of them” she looked at her disappointed.

“It makes sense though, he’s barely said two words about his personal life, he’s obviously hiding something and I don’t think many friends would text him at 6 am in the morning saying ‘Can’t wait till you get back’ with heart emojis.”

“Maybe you should just give him a chance to explain, you never know!” she paused and nodded at the bar, “Now let’s go and do some shots and head back.”
 

  They eventually got back to the hostel and Carah went off to find Johan so Sophia decided she’d go for a walk on the beach. She loved that beach. There were no beaches near her in London and it reminded her of her childhood and the rare occasions on which her parents would take her somewhere near the coast during her summer holidays. It was so peaceful on that beach at night and it was September so the tourist season was slowly dying down.

 “Sophia! Sophia wait up,” a voice shouted in the distance and she didn’t even need to turn and look to know who it was. She recognised his voice, she knew it was him.

  “Hey, I’ve been looking all over the hostel for you, Carah said you might be here. Where’d you go last night? I thought we were having a good time.”

 Sophia bit down on her lip to try and stop herself from doing what she promised she wouldn’t. She saw his eyes searching hers desperately for answers, genuinely concerned.

  “Look, Nathan, I just need you to be honest with me. I don’t know if kissing girls you meet is a hobby of yours but kissing guys for fun isn’t something I do on the regular.”

“Woah Soph, what are you talking about? I didn’t kiss anyone else. You’re the only girl I’m interested in.”

“I’m not stupid, I saw the text Nathan,” and now she was crying, “And this poor girl, Alaina, is waiting for you and you’re here making out with me as if she doesn’t exist.”

 Nathan smiled and shook his head.

“Why are you smiling? If you’re trying to make this go away with a cute smile it’s not going to work!”

“Sophia, stop. Alaina isn’t my girlfriend, she’s my sister.”

“It didn’t seem like the average text you’d get from your sister at 6 am in the morning. And why have you never mentioned her and your family before?”

“My mum died when I was eight and Alaina was really young. My dad then worked for days on end and we moved around a lot because of his job so yeah I took care of my sister a lot. We’re really close. Also, she’s back home in Pennsylvania, so when she sent that message it would have been midnight back there, she often texts me before she goes to bed. I never mentioned this because every time I do people just feel sorry for me and that’s not what I want, plus I didn’t exactly have the best childhood so I don’t like to talk about it too much.”

 

Sophia had never felt more stupid in her entire life.

“I’m so sorry Nathan. I’m such a complete and utter idiot.”

“I love it when you sound so English and I’m glad you think my smile’s cute.”

They both laughed and Nathan pulled her close and hugged her, towering over her. For the first time ever she felt happy, truly and completely happy as if her whole life had been leading up to this moment. She hadn’t only found love through this experience, she had also found herself. Barcelona had been amazing. Life-changing. And this was just the first stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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