Taxi to the Emerald Isle – Chapter 5
DISCLAIMER: I am not connected to Emmerdale and its characters, which belong to ITV
Aaron and Jackson were sitting in the kitchen at Smithy Cottage. Jackson replaced his phone on the table after taking a call.
"Who was that?" Aaron was asking about the identity of Jackson's caller.
"That was Declan. Apparently, his insurance company are going to pay out for the rebuild of the house and he wants me to go back and look at it."
"That's a big job, rebuilding a big house like that!" Aaron remarked.
"Well, I don't think he expects me to do it!" Jackson smiled at his husband, "He wants me to sit in on the meeting with the builders, to make sure they're not ripping him off!"
"Wouldn't it be the insurance company they'd be ripping off?"
"Well, technically, yeah; but his future premiums will go up if the builders charge too much!"
"I see. When are you going?"
"Next Wednesday," Jackson started to make plans, "I'll have to book a flight; and get a taxi to the airport."
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"Babe, I was wondering," Jackson looked pensive, "Now my mum's out of hospital, would you look in on her while I'm gone?"
"Yeah, 'course I will! You know that."
"There's not a lot you can do over in Ireland, is there?"
"I suppose not! I just thought you might like some company, that's all."
Jackson put his hand on Aaron's, "You know I'd like that, but I'll be there and back in no time. Will you miss me?"
"You know I will!" Aaron leaned across and gave Jackson a kiss.
"I'll miss you too."
Aaron had arranged to meet Adam at the pub near his work. Their lunchtime meetings were becoming a bit of a habit now; and, sometimes, Ryan would join them if he could co-ordinate his lunch break.
They were just having a bite to eat when Ryan arrived and sat with them at their table.
"I've seen a job that would be right up your street!" Ryan addressed Aaron, "It's on our notice board at work. Our company has a workshop next door that does car servicing and there's a vacancy for a mechanic."
"Aren't you going to apply for it?" asked Aaron.
"Nah! I'm happy with what I'm doing and the money's about the same. But I thought you might want to think about it."
"Well, I would, but Jackson's off to Ireland next week and, if he's still working for Declan, I'll be going back too!"
"Ah! True love!" Adam fluttered his eyelashes and grinned at Aaron.
"Shut up!" said Aaron, looking embarrassed, "Anyway, it's your round!"
Aaron quizzed his friends on their living arrangements. Adam was still renting a room and Ryan was still sleeping on the sofa at his friend's place. "Why don't you pool your resources and rent somewhere better; between you?" Aaron asked.
"It's still expensive," Adam replied, "though I suppose two of us could afford somewhere round here if we shared."
"Plus we'd save on travel from Hotten to the new town," Ryan added.
"Well then, seems like a no-brainer to me," Aaron chuckled.
Ryan and Adam looked at each other; for once, their friend may have had a bright idea!
Later that day, Aaron was back home at Smithy Cottage, waiting for Jackson. He smiled when his husband walked through the door. They sat in the kitchen with a cup of tea.
"How's Hazel?" asked Aaron.
"She's getting there!" Jackson smiled at Aaron, "She was asking when I would be going back across the water."
"Is your job still open; with Declan?"
"I don't know for sure. He wants me to advise him next week on the quote for the restoration, but I'm not sure what happens after that. I know he's sold his holiday lodge business to raise some capital, so my old job is no more! I suppose I'll know more when I see him!"
Aaron looked a bit apprehensive, then he spoke, "Ryan told me that there's a vacancy for a mechanic next door to where he works. I said I didn't know if you were going back permanently, so I said I couldn't apply for it anyway."
"I see!" Jackson rubbed his chin, "Well, the money would come in handy and it would be a pity to let the opportunity slip away. Why don't you go for it, babe? I don't want to get in your way!"
Aaron kissed Jackson fondly.
"What's that for?" asked Jackson.
"That's just for being you!"
When Wednesday came, Aaron kissed Jackson goodbye and waved to him in the departing taxi. He had, just that morning, received written confirmation that he had been successful in his application for the mechanic's job. He did not really expect to get it, but Patrick Kelly's glowing recommendation had obviously impressed the manager of the workshop. He was pleased that he would, once again, have some money coming in, even though he would have to travel every day from Emmerdale to Hotten Newtown. On the plus side, he would be able to see his mates every lunch time!
On arrival in Ireland, Jackson took a taxi to Declan's house; or what was left of it. He felt a pang of sadness when he saw the burnt-out shell which had once been a beautiful house. The builders had set up a Portacabin in the grounds where the meeting was to be held. Declan greeted Jackson on his arrival and they met the contractor's to go over the details of the proposed works.
On the Friday, Aaron was eagerly anticipating Jackson's return. He sat in the kitchen; it was his last day of 'freedom'; as he was due to start his new job the following Monday. He heard a car horn outside and imagined that it must be a taxi, bringing his husband back to him. He jumped up and raced outside, but he was not prepared for the sight which greeted him. There, parked outside, was Declan's Hilux pick-up, with Jackson nonchalantly leaning on the bonnet!
"What are you doing with that?" asked a surprised Aaron, "Did you nick it while Declan wasn't looking?"
"As if!" Jackson laughed, "It's mine! Well, sort of! Declan hasn't got a use for it so he suggested I take it as it will be of more use to me; it's on a sort of long-term loan. I said I'd buy it but I haven't got that much dosh at the minute; but Declan said not to worry about paying him back yet. He's grateful for my help with the builders and for my work in the past."
"You didn't tell me about this when you called me!" Aaron looked stunned.
"I wanted it to be a surprise!"
"It's THAT alright! How did you manage to get it on the plane?"
"I came over on the ferry, you div!" Jackson replied; tutting.
"You said about your 'work in the past', does that mean you don't work for him anymore?"
"That's right! But I've got some more good news! Declan has a mate, Rob Rogers, who's the boss of a construction firm; they're building new houses on an estate in Hotten Newtown. Anyway, he's got me an interview with this Rob fella on Monday. He reckons it'll be a formality as, with Declan's say-so, the job should be in the bag!"
Aaron hugged Jackson. His husband had to smile, he was amazed how far Aaron had come; at one time, he would never have hugged him openly in the street!
"So, you gonna be my personal chauffeur?" asked Aaron, "If we're both working in Hotten Newtown, you can give me a lift in this!" Aaron gesticulated towards the pick-up.
"I'm glad I have my uses!" Jackson chuckled as the pair headed indoors.
Two weeks later, both Aaron and Jackson were settling in to their new routine. They often met Adam and Ryan in the pub at lunchtime and, one Tuesday, Aaron and Jackson were sitting at a table, looking at a local newspaper, when the other two arrived.
"What's in the news?" quipped Adam, "Price of oil gone up, has it? Or has someone blown up the Houses of Parliament?"
"We're looking for a place to live," Jackson replied, "Paddy's been really good to us, but we feel we're getting under his feet, well, his and Rhona's."
"Looking round here are you?" Ryan chipped in, "I hope you've got a couple of million in the bank!"
"It's not that bad," Aaron said, "It's pricey, yeah, but now we're both working, we should be able to afford it!"
"Well, me and Adam have been looking, as you know, but most places are still out of our price range, even if we club together," Ryan looked crestfallen.
Aaron had another one of his bright ideas, "How about if four of us were to club together?"
The looks on the other three's faces were priceless.
"Are you serious?" Adam said.
"Look!" Aaron replied, "We all get on well together, don't we? As you said, it's expensive round here, but four of us could easily afford it! Plus, we all work on the doorstep, so we'd have no travel costs. All our money could go towards rent and other bills. Makes sense to me!"
"Do you know," Jackson looked at Aaron, "Every now and again, you really amaze me!"
"Don't tell me," Aaron looked as if he was about to be shot down in flames, "you hate the idea!"
"No, I don't!" replied Jackson, "I think it's a great idea! That's if Adam and Ryan are agreeable." He looked at their two friends, who nodded.
"Bags I don't have to wash Aaron's sweaty socks!" Adam laughed.
"Oi! Watch it you!" Aaron gave his friend a stern look, but it was all in fun.
"He's got me to do that for him!" Jackson giggled and put his arm around Aaron's waist.
"Well," Ryan said, "are we all agreed then?"
"All for one; and one for all!" Adam cried, making them all laugh.
They all set about scouring the newspaper for suitable accommodation.
After a short search, the four lads had found a three-bedroom, end of terrace house on the new development close to Jackson's construction site. It was only a few streets away from where Aaron, Ryan and Adam worked, so it was ideal for all of them.
A few weeks later, they all arranged to meet in the Woolpack on the night before their move to Hotten Newtown. All their friends wanted to share a drink with them; Paddy, Rhona, Marlon, Chas, Hazel and Pearl.
"I can't believe you're going to be moving away...again!" Chas said.
"We're not going far," Aaron replied, "It's not like going over the water again; unless you count the river!"
"We're going to lose our 'live-in' babysitters!" joked Paddy.
"Don't worry," Aaron said, "I know I'm Leo's godfather; I won't shirk my responsibilities!"
The next day, the quartet moved into their new abode. Being a modern house; on the ground floor it had a living room, kitchen and downstairs toilet; and upstairs, as well as the bedrooms, there was also a bathroom. The largest bedroom even had a small en-suite. "It's not a 'lavish' one like you're used to, squire," he teased Jackson, "but it IS ours!"
"At least we won't have a queue for the bathroom in the mornings!" Jackson quipped.
In the evening, the four lads sat down in the living room; all tired from their exertions.
"Well," said Jackson, "we haven't made out a rota for cooking yet, so I don't know whose turn it is to cook dinner!"
"Oh, I've got to get used to living with another comedian, have I?" Adam grimaced, "I thought Aaron was bad enough!"
"Oi!" Aaron chastised his best mate.
"I think a pizza might be the answer," Ryan said.
"Good idea," Aaron replied, "You're obviously going to be the brains of the outfit...God help us!"
"Right, decide on what you all want; and I'll phone," Jackson took charge, "That place in the Newtown shopping mall looks OK. I expect they deliver."
Later, the lads shared their pizzas and some cans and chatted happily like friends the world over.
"That pizza delivery guy was quite fit!" Jackson said as he munched on his slice, "I should have asked him to join us!"
"You're not supposed to be looking!" Aaron replied, "I thought you only had eyes for me!"
"Oh dear!" Adam rolled his eyes, "You two are not going to have a domestic already, are you?"
"Who, us?" Jackson replied with a cheeky grin and put his arm around his husband's shoulders.
"OK, guys," Ryan said, "We know you are living in domestic bliss, there's no need to prove it!"
They all laughed.
On the morning after they had moved in, Adam was sitting in the lounge, eating a bowl of cornflakes, when Aaron appeared from upstairs.
"Sounds as if you and Jackson had a good night last night!" he teased Aaron, who knew full well what Adam was referring to.
"You shouldn't have been listening!" Aaron looked slightly embarrassed.
"It's not my fault; the walls in these places are paper-thin!" Adam defended himself, "I'll have to buy some earplugs!"
"We're not that noisy!" Aaron protested, "We've got used to keeping it quiet, with other people in the house; Paddy, Hazel and so on."
"Fair point! Mind you, the walls back in the village were pretty thick!"
"Well, me and Jackson will try to keep it down in future to protect your modesty!"
"Don't worry about it! You should hear me when I'm on the job with a bird! You've never heard so much howling! Like a dog in heat!"
"Ewww!" Aaron looked disgusted, "Too much information, mate!"
Jackson had just come down the stairs and heard the end of the conversation, "Are you talking about what I think you're talking about?"
"Yeah, you got it, lover man!" Adam teased.
"You're just jealous 'cause you haven't got a girlfriend and you're not getting any!" Jackson got his own back.
"Well, when I do, be prepared! That's all I'm saying!" Adam replied, as he sauntered into the kitchen to return his bowl. He then left for work.
Jackson drew Aaron into a hug, "Did he really hear us, last night?"
"So he says!" Aaron answered, "But don't worry, he can't have us arrested; we ARE married!"
"Yeah," Jackson had a dreamy, far-away look.
"Penny for 'em?" Aaron looked into Jackson's big brown eyes.
"I just can't believe that run of bad luck we had in Ireland; and I thought the Irish were supposed to be lucky!" Jackson joked.
"Yeah, but we're not Irish, are we!" Aaron stated the obvious.
"That reminds me!" Jackson had suddenly remembered something, "When I came back from Ireland, I bought a lottery ticket when I stopped to fill up the Hilux at the petrol station; I forgot all about it!" He disappeared upstairs and then reappeared quickly with his retrieved ticket.
"Still in my wallet," Jackson waved the ticket at Aaron, "with all that's been going on, it completely went out of my head!"
"We can check it online, can't we?" asked Aaron, reaching for the laptop, "You read out the numbers and I'll have a look."
As Jackson slowly recited the numbers on his ticket, he could see Aaron's face light up as he did so.
"You've got five numbers and a bonus!" Aaron announced excitedly, "That's two hundred and twenty grand!"
"Are you sure?" Jackson did not believe it; he almost thought that Aaron was winding him up, "Are you looking at the right date?"
"Look for yourself!" Aaron turned the screen to face Jackson.
Jackson looked at the screen in silence, then at his ticket. He suddenly jumped up and yelled, "Yes! We've won! We've won!"
Aaron hugged Jackson and jumped up and down with him.
"What will you do with the money?" Aaron asked.
"What will WE do with it, you mean. We're partners now remember, what's mine is yours and all that!" Jackson smiled lovingly at his husband, "Though one thing's for sure, I can pay Declan for the Hilux; then it will really be ours to keep."
"That's my Jackson, you always did have scruples!" Aaron giggled.
"I just like to do the right thing by people," Jackson defended himself.
"I know. You're a good man; that's why I love you so much!" Aaron leaned in to kiss Jackson's lips.
"We're going to be happy here, in this house; I can feel it!" Jackson squeezed Aaron tightly, "I love you too!"
They kissed again, sealing the strong bond that they had always shared.