Jacko pulled up in the carpark of the diner in scenic Summer Bay. The engine idled for a few minutes before he turned the key and switched it off. He felt nervous and couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a mistake. Liz shouldn’t have got involved with Hardcore the first time around let alone tracking him down. Still, he smiled, there was a good reason he supposed remembering the bright blue eyes of Gabby and Toby. There was only one person they could have inherited those from. He grimly smiled before climbing out of the car and heading to the diner.
Come to think of it didn’t he owe the other man a hard time for not revealing he was a cook? Whatever sort of occupation was that for someone like Hardcore Harris? He asked himself as he walked in through the door. Surveying the people in there he noted that some of them were quiet as he moved through the place and he chuckled to himself thinking of the dark glasses and the dark suit he was wearing, obviously out of place in a small town like this. He took off the glasses and moved to a seat at the back sitting himself down and looking around before picking up the menu.
“What can I get you Darl?” a pleasant woman asked him moving to stand near his table.
He looked up and smiled.
“I see you have lasagne on the menu.” He said. “Is that cooked by Roman?”
“You know our Chef?” Irene asked him.
“Sure do. I have the lasagne and chips. With a coffee. “ he murmured pleasantly. “And if he’s not too busy tell him that Jacko says hello.”
“Sure thing darl.” She murmured and moved away toward the kitchen.
He waited a few minutes and then grinned as he saw Roman striding towards him.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Waiting to talk to you. “ Jacko said quietly mindful of people listening in. Like the bustling woman in the loud print dress who seemed to have been wiping the same table for the past ten minutes.
“Well, I don’t want to talk to you.”
“Fair enough,” Jacko said quietly.
Roman gave him a searching look before he turned and began striding away.
“I’ll tell Ella that you said hello.” Jacko murmured watching as the other man stalled mid-step before carrying on. He disappeared into the kitchen and Jacko smiled knowing that he’d got to him. He waited sitting calmly at the table as his meal was sent out of the kitchen and then drank not one but three cups of coffee until finally, he was the only one left in the diner.
Roman stepped out of the kitchen and ushered Colleen and Irene out of the door. He locked it before heading over to the table where Jacko was seated and pulled up a chair sitting opposite.
“Okay.” He muttered.
“You look like shit.” Jacko proclaimed.
“And you look like a male model.” Roman shot back.
“Now the introductions are done let’s get down to business. I was asked to look you up.”
“Ella?” Roman asked feeling dread in the pit of his stomach. His entire life was about to change and he had no idea if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He thought of Martha sitting at home and frowned.
Jacko watched the other man carefully, taking in his breathing and the way his eyes drifted at the mention of Ella. He pulled out the photograph that Ella had supplied, or rather Liz, and placed it on the tabletop between them.
He’d originally wanted to go for subtle but well Hardcore had made chatting about old times impossible.
“What are you showing me here?” Roman asked swallowing compulsively as he looked down at the photograph.
“You know what it is Hardcore.” Jacko drawled.
“She had my kids.”
Kids, plural, Roman thought with a smug emotion going through him before he sobered and thought about what this meant for everyone.
“Yes.” Jacko murmured. “And they are back in Aus.”
“They want to meet me,” Roman said knowing that Jacko could tell that he wasn’t asking a question. The other man nodded anyway and was watching the play of emotions on his face Roman thought unable to control his expressions faced with memories of Ella let alone the thought of children. His children. “I need to tell people.” He said finally.
“Give me a call when you are ready,” Jacko said sliding a business card across the table towards him..
“Security?” Roman asked glancing at the details on the embossed card.
“Yup, we is doing quite well too.”
“We?” Roman asked despite his natural inclination to keep back.
“James, Pete and I,” Jacko said quietly. “Ella got us into it when we came back.”
Roman flinched at the mention of Ella again let alone the other men of his unit They were reminders of a past he didn’t want.
“Ella.” He breathed her name like a sigh and paused looking up at Jacko. “She single?” he asked against his will.
“In the process of getting a divorce.” Jacko murmured calmly. “She’s pretty busy with three kids.”
“Three?” Roman muttered folding his arms.
He didn’t like the idea of Ella being with someone else let alone having their kid and knew that he hadn’t been quick enough to hide his expression.
“Yeah, there is a brother to them.”
“What are their names? When is their birthday?” Roman asked feeling those and more questions rising up in him.
“Toby and Gabby.” Jacko hid a grin at seeing the expression on the other mans face.
“Tobias,” Roman said immediately.
Jacko reached for his cup and took a sip of the now cold coffee not giving anymoe away than he’d already told him.
“It is isn’t it,” Roman said slowly.
Jacko nodded once.
“Why didn’t she…” Roman trailed off and looked up at Jacko.
“Bit hard to tell you anything with you in prison.” Jacko murmured quietly. “We told you not to take the blame for what Gardy did.”
Roman flinched at the other man’s name before he felt the weight of depression settle down on his shoulders.
“So, what does she want?” Roman settled for asking.
“The kids want to meet you.”
“Not Ella?” Roman picked up on.
“She’s not called Ella. Her name is Liz.”
Roman flinched again feeling a strange pain go through him like the reverting back to her former name was in some way a rejection.
“Fine. So just the kids. “
Jacko nodded and placed the cup on the table. He seemed like he was waiting a moment to see if there was going to be anything more said before he stood but all Roman could think about was the photograph in front of him and how everything was going to change now.
“I’ll call,” Roman said quietly when Jacko was near the door knowing he needed to say something and watched as Jacko nodded again.
“Sure thing Hardcore.”
Roman watched as his old friend moved through the door and looked back at the picture.
“Twins.” He said slowly, his finger tracing the outline of their faces in the picture and his heart sunk as he realised that to meet them he would have to face Ella, or rather Liz, and he had no idea if he were strong enough to withstand seeing her.