Chapter 19

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"Hey, good lookin, watcha cookin, eh?"  Campbell enquired, sniffing the air on entering the kitchen that night. His wife appeared to slave over two simmering pots, stirring them before moving on to carefully line trays with butter paper. "Baked clams. Jacket potatoes. Think I'm gonna have a go at shepherd's pie too." she replied, wiping sweat off her brow as she watched him sit upon the counter and stare at her as she cooked. "Such a lot! We got guests comin o'er or somethin? It's not dad again, is it? He's gonna bug me bout gettin fired from my job, that man!" she heard him grumble at the thought of possibly entertaining his father.  "No, it's not dad. It's someone quite similar to im, but ya love im." she answered in the negative, putting him at ease. "Yer dad, then?" he guessed, playfully juggling the tomatoes which he found in the grocery bag beside him, finding nothing better to do with his hands.  "Keep guessin...an' love, quit jugglin the tomatoes. I need those." she ordered, snatching them away, much to his dismay! "Ere, ya can juggle the oranges instead!" she offered, handing him the round fruit on seeing him pout. "This is why I love ya, Yvonne Georgia Bain! Now, give us a snog, you!" he exclaimed, cheering up before hopping off his perch and pulling her towards him for a kiss.
"Campbell, not now...I'm cookin..." she scolded, feeling ticklish as she felt his hands travel further down from her hips where he'd originally placed them. "Think our guests are ere. Let's not keep em waitin,love. I'm gonna check on the pie." she wiggled out of his embrace on hearing the doorbell.
"Eddie?!  Francine?! What're ya doin ere?" a surprised Campbell cried out on seeing their special guests at the door.  "Ivy invited us o'er since we were in town. I'd beat jetlag to see my ol pal after all these years! Gotcha somethin." Eddie greeted with a wide grin, holding out a bottle of wine."Wine from the best Tahitian winery." Francine added. "Posh! Well, c'mon in. Ivy's been workin er arse off, cookin up a storm in there to please y'all. Lemme take yer coats. The kids are gonna be so happy to see their uncle Eddie an' aunt Francine." an ecstatic Campbell invited them in, taking their coats politely. "We've got gifts for em too." Francine revealed sweetly, holding out a bag of goodies for the kids. "Ya shouldn't have...! Better not be anythin too expensive, ya posh tossers!" Campbell teased.
"Muse. My muse- my lovely Francine." Eddie exclaimed charmingly, making his wife blush as they sat down on the carpet to play Scrabble after dinner. "Museum. More points for me!" Ivy boasted when her turn arrived. "Museum?! That's such a booooring word, right, kids?" Campbell muttered in a mischievous tone. "Right-o, dad!" the kids chimed in, while their mum rolled her eyes at them. "Let's fix that, shall we?" he remarked suddenly, and before she could stop them, the trio had begun to dismantle her tiles until only one word MUS remained!  "Oi! That's cheatin...Cami, quit it! I mean it!" she protested once he'd changed museum to music (he's favorite word!) and stolen her points from her childishly! Eddie felt a tear roll down his cheek on seeing the family's banter, unable to control himself as he stormed out onto the balcony for some fresh air. Campbell and Ivy exchanged confused looks, before he decided to go check on his old pal.
"Ya ok, mate? Got a bit emotional there, did ya?" Eddie turned on feeling Campbell squeeze his shoulder reassuringly. "Uh..sorry...I just wish I could've spent more time with my Rowan like ya do with her kids, ya know,Campbell? Yer a better dad than I was, lad." he whispered apologetically, feeling sorry for himself but hiding it as he broke into a slight smile for Campbell.  "Oh, don't say that, mate." Campbell whispered back. "Well, if I'd been half the dad ya are, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have turned to drugs." came the sudden revelation from a sorrowful Eddie.  "What?!" Campbell cried out in horror on hearing his confession.
"It's somethin I haven't openly admitted it to anyone...not even to er. But the day, his body washed up along with his surfboard, they found drugs in his system. I thought he'd been a clean young boy till I saw the needle marks on his arms that day. If I'd just paid more attention, Cam..." Campbell held him consolingly as Eddie broke down and sobbed, unable to continue further.   "It's not yer fault, Eddie. Don't guilt yerself, mate. C'mon...lemme give ya a lift home, eh? It's the least I can do, mate. C'mon, now." Campbell comforted, not knowing what else to do or say as he led his distraught friend back to the living room and shutting the balcony door behind them as he did. He'd always assumed everything was hunky-dory in the McKenna family, but as he embraced his weeping pal that night, he realized everyone had their problems and issues- big and small.

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