Taxi to the Emerald Isle – Chapter 1
DISCLAIMER: I am not connected to Emmerdale and its characters, which belong to ITV
The driveway was long, straight and tree-lined, approaching a large mansion which had white walls and many windows. Broad steps, with balustrades on either side, lead up to double entrance doors. Aaron gazed out of the taxi in amazement, "Looks like Declan has landed on his feet here!" he quipped.
Jackson was also taking in the view. "Wow!" he gasped in awe. "What a place!"
"Are you sure Declan said we could stay here?" Aaron asked, almost as if it was too good to be true.
"Only for a few days, until we sort out somewhere to live," replied his husband.
They unloaded their luggage from the taxi and paid the driver, then climbed the steps to the front door and rang the bell. The door opened and there stood Katie, grinning at them in recognition. "So, you found it alright! Did you have a good trip?" she said as she stood to one side to allow them access.
Aaron took in the sight that greeted him; a large hall which had a staircase climbing to a landing. He could see that the landing ran all around the walls at first floor level.
"Yes thanks, we had a really good journey," Jackson answered Katie's question as he copied Aaron's actions; taking in the view of the grand entrance hall.
"Drop your bags here," Katie said, "and come and say 'hello' to Declan. He's in his office."
Katie led the way to a ground-floor room at the back of the mansion. The room had wood-panelled walls and a huge, full-length window behind a large, sturdy mahogany desk where Declan was sitting. Declan rose from his seat and held out his hand to greet them, "Jackson! Aaron! Welcome to my house!"
"Thanks," Jackson replied for both of them.
Declan opened a desk drawer and pulled out a set of keys which he handed to Jackson, "You'll need these for the Toyota," he said, smiling, "It's parked round the back."
"Cheers, Declan," Jackson was very appreciative that his new job came with its own transport, "I'll take good care of it!"
"That's one good thing," Declan said, looking at Aaron, "your husband here will be able to help keep it on the road!"
"No need for that," Aaron chipped in, "Those Hilux's are supposed to be indestructible! By the way, Declan, I just want to say thank you for putting a good word in for me...with your mate."
"Think nothing of it. You're a good mechanic and he needs someone to replace Seamus, it seemed the obvious solution. You start on Monday; I'll give you the directions."
"Won't he want to interview me first?" Aaron looked a little apprehensive.
"Who, Pat? Nah, we've been friends since school; my recommendation is good enough for him; it's just up to you now, to prove what I said to him was right!"
"I told him, Aaron, you're good with cars and you're a grafter," Declan looked at Jackson who was smiling about the praise being heaped on his husband, "You both are! Anyway, I must get on; I'll ask Katie to show you to your room."
A little later on, Aaron and Jackson had dropped their bags on the floor of their room and were looking out of the window at the lush green scenery.
"Declan's so lucky," Jackson mused, "living in a place like this."
Aaron slipped his arm around Jackson's waist, "We're pretty lucky too, being able to stay here!"
Jackson turned his head towards Aaron and they kissed softly, "Are you happy? Have we done the right thing?"
Aaron took Jackson's hands in his own and looked him straight in the eye, "I'm happy...I'm with you aren't I? And, yes, we've definitely done the right thing!"
Aaron gave Jackson another quick peck on the lips and looked around the room. His eyes came to rest on the large, four-poster bed, "I've never slept in a four-poster bed before!" he said.
"Well," Jackson grinned, "there's another thing you can cross off your 'to do' list!"
"You're an idiot!" Aaron replied as he crossed the room and opened a door on the far side, "I wonder what's in here...Jackson! Look at this!"
Jackson followed Aaron and looked through the doorway. There, before his eyes, was the most luxurious bathroom he had ever seen. There was a sunken Jacuzzi in the centre and a huge shower in one corner. "Wow! That's the most lavish en-suite I've ever clapped eyes on!" he gasped.
"Hark at you!" Aaron chuckled, "Lavish en-suite! I'll have to start calling you the lord of the manor!"
"Shut up!" Jackson drew Aaron into a hug as they laughed together, "I do love you, Mr Livesy-Walsh!"
Aaron kissed Jackson passionately and started to undress his husband. Jackson grinned at Aaron and let him strip the clothes from his body.
"I want you to show me how much you love me," Aaron said with a lecherous smirk.
After the couple had 'Christened' the Jacuzzi, they decided that they were hungry and, after getting dressed, they headed down to the ground floor again, where they bumped into Katie at the foot of the stairs.
"So, have you got everything you need?" Katie asked with a smile.
"Yeah, that's a lovely room, thanks," Jackson returned her smile.
"The Jacuzzi's amazing!" added Aaron, hoping that his grin was not giving the game away about his and Jackson's earlier activities!
"Glad you like it," Katie continued, "If you're hungry, I could ask Mrs O'Sullivan to rustle something up."
"Mrs O'Sullivan?" Jackson queried.
"Yes, she's our cook," Katie explained, "I'll show you where the kitchen is and introduce you."
Aaron and Jackson followed Katie down a hallway and into a large kitchen where a plump, middle aged lady with auburn hair was slicing some tomatoes. Katie made the introductions and Mrs O'Sullivan sat the boys down at a rectangular table in the centre of the room. Katie left them to it.
"Now then lads," Mrs O'Sullivan had a smile on her round, kindly face and spoke with a gentle Irish brogue, "Would you like some soup? I made some of my own fresh vegetable soup this morning; it won't take long to warm some up."
"Please don't go to any trouble on our account," Jackson protested, "A couple of sandwiches will do us fine!"
"Nonsense!" Mrs O'Sullivan would not take no for an answer, "A couple of strong lads like you need proper food inside you! I've got some nice home-made steak pie in the fridge."
Mrs O'Sullivan prepared the soup; and the pie with some potatoes and vegetables. Aaron and Jackson felt that they were being spoilt.
"This is delicious!" Jackson said, sincerely.
"Yeah!" Aaron added, "I've never tasted such nice, tender steak before!"
Mrs O'Sullivan smiled, "Thank you; I'm glad you like it! It's fresh Irish beef."
"If my Mum cooked like you," Aaron continued between mouthfuls, "I don't think I'd have ever left home!"
Mrs O'Sullivan chuckled; she was always happy when her efforts were appreciated.
By the time Monday came, Aaron was getting nervous. He always exuded an air of confidence, yet he was apprehensive when meeting new people and this was the first time he would be meeting Patrick Kelly. His trepidation was made worse by the fact that Mr Kelly would be his new boss and he wanted to make a good first impression.
"You OK?" asked Jackson, sitting in the driving seat of the Toyota pick-up; he was giving Aaron a lift to Patrick Kelly's estate, which was next to Declan's.
"Yeah, fine!" Aaron answered.
"You seem a bit quiet, are you worried about the new job?"
"Nah! Well...perhaps a little bit!"
"That's only human!" Jackson reassured him, "You'll be fine, don't worry!"
They drove through the gateway of the property that they had been directed to; a metal nameplate bearing the name "Kilgannon Castle" was affixed to one of the heavy stone pillars next to the gates. As they rounded a corner on the driveway, Aaron almost gasped in surprise. There, in front of them, was a huge stone-built structure with castellated turrets and large, ornate windows and doors.
"It really IS a castle!" Aaron said.
"Well, the clue IS in the name!" Jackson's sarcasm had not diminished since Aaron had known him.
"Yeah!" Aaron sat with his mouth open, "But I thought that it was just called that; I didn't think it was actually a castle!"
Jackson pulled up in front of the castle and shared a quick kiss with Aaron before his husband climbed out of the pick-up.
"Good luck, babe!" Jackson smiled at his husband; then waved as he headed off.
Aaron rang the doorbell and waited. He felt totally isolated at that moment, like a little kid on his first day at school. A tall, slim, smartly-dressed middle-aged man with dark hair answered the door.
"Hello, you must be Mr Livesy!" he said.
"Yes, that's right," Aaron replied, "Are you Mr Kelly?"
"No, I work for him! I'm Brian, his assistant. He's expecting you; I'll let him know that you are here."
Aaron was instructed to wait in the entrance hall. He had been impressed by the one at Declan's house, yet this one had to be twice the size. The stone walls were decorated with coats of arms and a stag's head stared down at him from above. Aaron felt as if it would need to give him a nod of approval before he could venture further into the huge building!
Brian returned and ushered him through a set of huge double-doors into a very large room. The plush carpet and fine furniture gave an air of opulence to the place.
A well-built, blond, blue-eyed man in a smart suit rose from a well-padded leather settee and extended a hand in greeting, "Mr Livesy?" he said.
"I'm Patrick Kelly," replied the man, who instantly reminded Aaron of the actor Daniel Craig, "Please; take a seat."
Aaron sat next to Mr Kelly on the buff-coloured settee. He sank into the cushions, but tried to sit upright and not slouch.
"So, Aaron...Declan tells me you are a good mechanic!"
"Well, yeah, I do know my way around a motor!" Aaron said, although he was not convinced that his statement sounded very impressive, "I do have all the necessary qualifications."
"Let me fill you in on the details of the job," Mr Kelly continued, "I own a car-hire company. We offer a chauffeur-driven service to our clients. I have a fleet of twelve luxury cars. Your job will be to keep them all on the road. They need day-to-day safety checks, plus routine servicing; some of which will be done at specialist dealers, so you'll be driving them to the garage in Dublin as and when required. You'll need to keep logs of the service histories; on the computer. You'll need to liaise with head office so that cars are not 'in dock' when they're needed on the road. You'll also be responsible for looking after my car, my wife's car and those of my two sons. I also have my private collection of four cars. Think you can handle it?"
"Yes, I'm sure I can!" Aaron said, confidently.
"Good!" Mr Kelly said, "Seamus, my current mechanic, is leaving. He'll show you the ropes before he goes. There's also a lad, Niall, who does the valeting. He's an apprentice mechanic, so he's able to help out. I'll also introduce you to Feargal, he's the manager of the fleet operation and he'll also be your line manager. Any questions?"
"How much does the job pay?" Aaron asked, becoming more comfortable with the 'interview' situation.
"I have your CV from Declan and I know what you were earning before. I'm offering a lot more than that, although some of your wages will go towards a peppercorn rent for the accommodation that goes with the job. I need someone 'on site' as security for the motors. I'm sure you'll be quite comfortable in the Calf Pen!"
"The Calf Pen?" Aaron frowned.
"Don't worry!" Mr Kelly laughed, "It's not as bad as it sounds. It's a single-storey building in the rebuilt farm complex that was once used for cattle...a barn conversion. It's very tastefully done; like a bungalow. Seamus lives there now, with his wife; and when he leaves, it will be all yours."
"If I'm moving in there, can my partner move in with me?"
"Oh yes, Jackson isn't it? Declan's told me all about it. Yes, that's not a problem. Anything else I can tell you?"
"No, I don't think so, thanks Mr Kelly."
"Please, call me Pat! Everybody does! Except my wife; she calls me Paddy! It's a term of endearment with her; but usually I don't like people calling me that!"
"Thanks Pad...er, I mean Pat!" Aaron stuttered over the name.
"We're a small company; everybody is on first-name terms and we all work as a team. I'm sure you'll fit right in!" Pat said with a friendly smile, "I'll get Brian to show you where you'll be working."
Even though it was on Pat's land, within walking distance of the castle, Brian gave Aaron a lift in Pat's limousine to the converted farm where he was due to start work. Aaron was impressed; he had never ridden in a Rolls Royce before, even on a very short journey!
On one side of a flat, concrete square stood a row of lock-up garages which, Aaron was to discover, contained Pat's collection of cars. Forming another side of the square was a large stone structure which housed the main workshop to service the hire fleet. Opposite the workshop was the 'Calf Pen' which Pat had mentioned earlier.
Brian took Aaron into the workshop where a muscular young man with ginger hair and a beard was checking the tyre pressures on a Mercedes. He stood upright as they approached.
"Seamus, this is your replacement!" Brian said with a smile.
Seamus extended his hand, "Aiden, isn't it?"
"Oh, sorry! I never was any good with names!" Seamus looked slightly embarrassed, "This is Niall," he said, gesticulating towards a young guy who had just joined them.
"Nice to meet you," said Niall as he shook Aaron's hand.
Aaron smiled at Niall; he was about Aaron's height and build. He had a baby-face, short brown hair, green eyes, a button nose and full lips. It struck Aaron how the term 'pretty' would be an apt description of him; rather than 'handsome'.
After the introductions were out of the way, Seamus showed Aaron around and, after a bit of induction, the three men took a break in a partitioned-off area which contained a small kitchen and an office. They sat at a table in the kitchen, having a tea break.
"So, you're off to pastures new!" Aaron struck up a conversation with Seamus.
"That's right," Seamus answered, "Off to Dublin! My wife works there and I've managed to get a job in a big car dealership, so we're going to buy a place of our own in the city."
"It'll be a bit of a change from this!" Aaron suggested.
"It will indeed! But then, I suppose THIS is a change from what you've been used to?"
"Not really! I was 'out in the sticks' where I worked before."
"Anyway, I expect you'll see Dublin before long," Seamus said, "Pat's main office is there; it's where Fergie works, so you'll probably get the guided tour from him."
"Fergie?" Aaron looked confused.
"Yeah; your line manager!" Seamus said, as if Aaron should have known who he was talking about, "His name's Feargal Maguire, actually, but everyone calls him Fergie."
"I see!" Aaron said.
Just then, the telephone started ringing in the office and Seamus went to answer it, "That will probably be him now!"
Niall looked at Aaron, "So, who have you met up at the big house so far?" he asked.
"What, the castle?" Aaron queried.
"Only Pat," Aaron answered, "He seems alright."
"Yeah, he is; and his wife, Clodagh. It's the twins, Liam and Connor...you'll need to watch your back with them!"
"How do you mean?" Aaron was intrigued.
Seamus interrupted them by returning after finishing the call, "Niall, the boss is asking if the inside of the Mercedes is finished."
Niall shook his head and rose from his seat to attend to his duties, "You'll find out!" he said to Aaron, with an enigmatic look.