''Katie, don't go too far'', Chleo called out.
She was sitting in the park with Erin watching Ryan and Katie in the playground. Erin laughed as Ryan scowled up at Katie, who was hanging upside down off the monkey bars.
''Do you ever think about settling down? Having your own kids'', Chleo asked her.
''Settling down?'', Erin scoffed, ''I'm only 26, I have plenty of time for that''.
''I suppose, it's just weird cause I've never really not been settled down'', Chleo said.
''Oh you shut up moaning, you got a mad rich boyfriend, who you should marry sometime soon by the way'', Erin added smiling, ''you've got two gorgeous children, the three of them adore you aaand you can still fit into the same clothes you wore when you were 16''.
''That is true, I am still dead sexy'', Chleo said pouting, ''what did you and Josh talk about before we arrived yesterday?''.
''Oh nothing, just, travelling and such'', Erin shrugged, then she smiled, ''I ended up talking about sex''.
''Oh my God Erin you freak, you hadn't seen the guy in years, you don't go bragging about your sex life'', Chleo giggled.
''I know, it just came out'', Erin explained, ''I couldn't think of anything to say so I started talking about Spanish sex''.
''Oh Erin, if he didn't hate you before he hates you now'', Chleo laughed.
''Oh no, I just, I was trying to act like I act around you guys'', Erin said putting her head in her hands.
Chleo rubbed her back and smiled. They watched the kids for another while, until Ryan ran over crying about Katie hitting him, Katie followed arguing that he had hit himself. Chleo rolled her eyes, said goodbye to Erin and the two children were dragged back to the car. Erin while trying to keep a straight face during the whole affair couldn't help but laugh at Katie's red face peering out the back window. She headed back towards the bus stop to go home. She shuddered as she walked down through the park, she tried to avoid Hilltown at all costs only coming down if she was really bored or if someone really needed her. She had a constant fear of running into her Mother.
Sitting on the bus she leant her head against the cool glass and thought about what Chleo had said, she would love children, lots of them, but she couldn't be a Mother. She would be useless, she didn't even know how to change a nappy, and anyway she'd need to find 'the one' first. She couldn't just go get knocked up, she'd never last as a single parent. The bus came to her stop and she hopped off. She pushed the heavy gate into the apartments open and went in. She decided to walk the stairs, she hadn't had any real exercise in a while. Halfway up she cursed herself for choosing the stairs, and when she finally arrived at her apartment she fell on the couch out of breath. Her cat jumped up on her chest and purred.
''Hello Mr. Cat'', she muttered, ''miss me? No. Course you didn't, you're just using me for food''.
The cat jumped off her and ran to his bowl. She filled it up and went into the bathroom, as she turned the shower on she debated over whether she was bothered to make dinner. She finished her shower and decided that bed was more important than food. She dried her body and lay on top of her blankets, her hair still wet. She looked down at her stomach, flatter than it used to be, everything was more toned, she felt better about her body now that she did when she left Ireland. Erin stretched across her bed and sighed, she was starting to get bored of Ireland, but she couldn't leave again. She had only come back.
Josh was staring in the mirror, his Mam wanted him to shave off his stubble, he was waiting up here until more people arrived so he didn't have too. She would forget about it as soon as she'd had a few more glasses of wine anyway. She had insisted he wore a shirt and suit trousers, but once again after a a few drinks she wouldn't notice the jeans and t-shirt. He ran his hand through his hair and checked his teeth. His phone buzzed in his pocket, he took it out and rolled his eyes.
''Hey Josh, got your message''.
''Coming over, to visit'', she said.
''Oh'', he said in suprise, ''I didn't think you'd want to''.
''No, I think it's a good idea''.
''Yeah, yeah it is, oh Jane I have to go, my Mam is throwing a party I gotta get downstairs'', Josh said as he heard Chleo distinctive laugh in the hall, ''bye''.
He hung up and threw his phone on his dresser and ran downstairs, Chleo, Dan, Erin, Billy and the guy he presumed was Dean were standing there, one by one handing their jackets to his little cousins, who insisted on taking the coats.
''Hey'', he said hugging them one by one.
''This is Dean'', Billy said when Josh came to him.
Dean stuck out his hand which Josh shook.
''It's great to meet you'', Josh said.
''Likewise'', Dean said looking over his shoulder.
Josh frowned and let go of Dean's hand.
''Well, everyone is all over the place, but my Dad set up the gazebo outside and nobody is out there'', Josh said, he wanted to talk to his friends without disruption.
They all went to the garden, it was a warm night and the sun was setting leaving a pink glow on everything. They sat around the table, as Josh brought out various types of drink.
''You really want to avoid going in there don't you?'', Dan laughed.
''You have no idea'', Josh said, ''if it's not my Mother it's my aunties hanging out of me, can't get a break''.
They had been out in the garden for 3 hours, the last 2 of which had been spent listening to Dean drone on and on about life as a gay model in Ireland. Chleo was currently sniggering at Dan who was falling asleep in his chair, Josh looked over at Erin who was staring into space and taking huge mouthfuls of wine. Billy looked slightly embarrassed at his boyfriend's behaviour, he was looking into the house tapping his feet.
''Josh you could be a model'', Dean said crossing his legs, ''well if you got taller''.
He giggled loudly and slapped Billy lightly on the shoulder. Josh smiled and shook his head.
''I modelled for a bit'', Chleo said, slighly tipsy.
They all smiled, she had never modelled.
''Yup'', she continued, ''I did American Vogue, did you know that Deeeean?''.
''I doubt it'', Dean said cocking his head and crossing his arms.
''Whaddaya mean you doubt it?'', Chleo said frowning.
''You are clearly not couture enough'', he said, in what they presumed was a mocking tone.
Chleo pretended to look offended, then she relaxed her face.
''To be honest darling'', she said giggling, ''I doubt you're an underwear model''.
''Why is that?''.
''I don't think your penis is big enough'', she said bursting into laughter.
Billy let out a little laugh only to be shushed by Dean's expression. Josh laughed too, Dan's contribution was a snore.
''I'm just going to go to the bathroom'', Erin said smiling.
As she got up from the table Dan woke up with a start.
''What's been going on?'', he said.
Chleo relayed the story back, exaggerating bits and adding in a cat fight between herself and Dean, they all laughed except Dan who appeared very worried at his partner's behaviour. He shook his head and frowned then turned to Josh.
''Still into Graham Fields?'', he asked him as the others began talking about something else.
''Yeah, I actually met him, last year in Milan'', Josh said, ''he gave me a signed photograph and everything''.
''Ooh bet that's worth a fortune'', Dan said taking a swig of his beer.
''Do you wanna see it?''.
''Yes'', Dan said sitting up straight, ''I mean sure''.
''I'll be right back'', Josh said.
He ran into the house, through his family and took the stairs two at a time, he opened his bedroom door and went in shutting it behind him, if any of his aunties noticed they'd be straight up after him. He turned around.
''Oh'', he said.
''I'm sorry'', she said going red, ''the bathroom was being used and I remembered you had an en suite so I came in here and I was on my way down but I saw the photos so I had to stop and look...''.
''It's fine'', Josh smiled.