Thursday, 31 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 38 – Shop till You Drop

When he went in to the house Katie fussed around him like he’d been gone for a week, which was a bit over the top but he thought it was nice to be missed.
It was one of the things he missed out on when he lived alone, having someone to come home to.

Over the preceding week Katie had begun to spend ever so slightly more time in bed each day and less on her throne in the kitchen.
Jack had thought for a while that she looked visibly different each time he saw her, which he convinced himself was just his imagination but having not seen her for 24 hours he realized it was not.

Marion had made lunch and the three of them sat and ate it together in the kitchen and while they sat at the table Marion said that while she was in England she really wanted to go shopping, but she didn’t really want to go alone.
However as Katie and Jack, for quite differing reasons, were unable in the former and unwilling in the latter to assist her, they set about finding a suitable companion.
After much deliberation between Katie and Jack they decided the perfect choice would be either Gemma or Elise or indeed both so he phoned Gemma that afternoon and she was thrilled to be asked and said she would speak to Elise and set something up.
Low and behold not an hour later Gemma knocked on the door and after introductions invited Marion round to hers for tea and a chat with her and Elise, who would be arriving shortly.
So Marion grabbed her things while Jack cleared away from lunch, after which Katie said she needed a rest so he carried her upstairs and settled her down,
“She’s definitely getting lighter,” he thought as he walked back down the stairs.

He was feeling a little tired himself but he made himself a coffee and went to his study to do some work until it passed.
Despite having woken himself up with the coffee he couldn’t concentrate, random thoughts kept filling his head, and all of them were about Kayleigh.
He leant back in the chair and reflected on how wonderful their bonus night together in Grangemouth was and wistfully looked forward to the next time and promptly fell asleep.

He woke up just in time to see the nurse leave and hear Marion, who had returned from her afternoon tea appointment, fussing around her sister and when Jack walked into the kitchen she had already got the evening meal well underway.

All the chat at dinner was about Marion’s new best friends; apparently they all got on famously.
He quickly snapped out of his silly mood and listened as
Marion said that she particularly wanted to go to Hanratty’s in Abbottsford because it had always been her favourite, and Marks and Spencer, for knickers and stuff, but mainly she just wanted to shop at the British stores she didn’t get in Alaska.
Purplemere had quite a good shopping centre and would probably have met most of Marion’s needs, apart from Hanratty’s but Gemma and Elise volunteered to take her to the Phoenix Shopping Centre in Abbottsford and make a day of it, so they were going to be out all-day on Thursday.
Inside, Jack was delighted, but he didn’t show it, and later he chastised himself for being a little jealous about having to share Katie.
The intervening days passed without incident and the green-eyed monster didn’t appear again.

On Thursday morning Gemma was knocking on the door even before the nurse had arrived and Jack watched as Marion and Gemma trotted off excitedly down the path to be met by an equally excited Elise at the end of it.
Almost the very moment Elise’s car pulled away, George Dallas, the nurse arrived and another day was off and running.
Kayleigh texted to say that Carl was having a bad day and she would be staying with him all day.
It seemed like an age since Katie and he had spent the day together, just the two of them but after breakfast he asked her
“Do you wish you could have gone with the girls today?”
“Good grief no” she responded with a scoff “I hate shopping”
“Really?” he asked astonished that there was actually a female of the species who detested shopping
“Yes” she replied, “I buy everything on line”
But then she corrected herself
“Bought everything on line”

They spent a very pleasant day together and Katie managed to resist the urge to take an afternoon nap so she could beat Jack at crib again and they had eaten supper and cleared away and were half way through “The Lady Vanishes” before Marion returned laden with bags and spent the next hour telling them all about her day and so enthusiastic was she in her description it was difficult not to be interested.

Bright and early on Friday morning when he opened the door it was to the familiar faces of Nurse Hannah Peters and his friend and lover Kayleigh Robinson.
“Hi you two,” he said
“Good morning” they chorused and he kissed them both.
After he had closed the door Hannah asked
“I’m a bit early,” she said looking at her watch “is she up?”
“She’s in the bath” he replied, “come and have some coffee”
“I’ll go up and see her first” Kayleigh said

When she came back down Fifteen minutes later Hannah went up and as they sat drinking coffee he asked
“How come you’re here so early?
“I’ve come straight from the hospital” she replied and added coyly “I just wanted to see you”
As the morning went on it was obvious to Jack that there was more to it than that.
She was excessively tactile, and occupied his personal space at every opportunity, she was like his shadow apart from half an hour when she was engaged deep in conversation with Katie upstairs.
“I’m a terrible person Katie” she whispered
“I’ve been sitting at my sick husband’s bedside and all I can think of is Jack”
“That’s understandable” Katie said
“But I feel so guilty, so disloyal” she retorted
“Well you shouldn’t, you gave up everything after Carl’s accident, that’s how loyal you have been and now you have allowed yourself to feel alive again, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it, life is too short, and no one knows that better than I”
“I’m sorry Katie, I’m so selfish” she said and hugged her friend
“Hush” Katie said
“Carl is your past and Jack is your future but for now you have to walk the line between the two, but one thing you must not do is to allow guilt to corrupt either”

When she came back downstairs she was in touchy feely mode again, though not to the point of rubbing up against him like an overly friendly puppy, but she was like sticky glue and followed him everywhere.
Eventually he could take no more when she followed him into the utility.
“What is the matter with you today?”
“I just want to hold you and kiss you” she replied and wrapped her arms around him
“Well we can’t do anything about that at the moment” he said and kissed her “We are not alone”
“What if we were?” she asked
“That would be different” he replied “but we’re not”

Just before midday Jack was sitting at the kitchen table talking to Katie and Kayleigh was perched on the kitchen counter.
The Vicar was reading aloud from an old magazine, it was an article about a charity fancy dress Parade, there was a picture from the event which Katie showed them showing three individuals all with black curly wigs, black faces with white circles around their eyes.
All of them were wearing typical golliwog or minstrel costumes of red, white and blue.
“It was during the annual Charity Event that three individuals dressed as minstrels allegedly caused offence” Katie began “a police spokesman said “we have received several complaints and are investigating the circumstances””
“Sounds like a waste of police resources to me” Jack said
“Hold on there’s more” Katie interrupted “the spokesman went on to say that “in addition to trying to find the minstrels we are also seeking the whereabouts of the Jackson 5””
All three of them were laughing and Katie was in tears when Marion came breezing into the kitchen and didn’t have a clue what all the frivolity was about.
They all had lunch together and Jack and Kayleigh were both independently trying to figure out how they might grab half an hour of private time to no avail but as they were clearing away after lunch all their prayers were answered as Gemma was ringing to invite Marion to go over to Purplemere for the afternoon, there were apparently some things that Marion couldn’t get the day before.
So that was that, “Thank you God”
As soon as Katie settled down for the afternoon Kayleigh would get to hold her lover like she’d been craving all day.

When Jack was upstairs putting Katie to bed
“Are you ok?” Katie asked, “You seemed a little distracted today”
“I’m fine” he lied
“I think Kayleigh is the distraction” Katie said
“How could she not be” he agreed
“She wants you every bit as much as you want her, you do know that?” Katie said and Jack kissed her forehead and said
“I love you Katie Watson”
“Of course you do” she said smugly
“Just one thing Jack”
“What’s that?”
“Get her to sing again, when Carl has gone, make her sing again” she said and closed her eyes
“For you anything” he said and closed the door
Katie was a very perceptive woman, sharp as a knife, and the combination of her illness and the medication could quite easily dull the blade, but it hadn’t.

After he put Katie to bed and he wandered downstairs and as he approached the kitchen he caught sight of Kayleigh staring out the kitchen window.
He walked up behind her and hugged her and she leant back against him.
“Penny for your thoughts”
“Save your penny, they’re all about you” she said and turned to kiss him.

They spent the afternoon on the sofa in his study, just holding each other, while they listened to music, nothing more than that and they stayed there until Marion phoned to say not to cater for her at dinner, as she and Gemma would eat out.

Suitably refreshed after an afternoon of relaxed intimacy with the man she loved Kayleigh kissed him goodbye before she left to sit with Carl and then Jack went to the freezer and selected a pasta bake from the well-stocked freezer and put it into the oven to warm.
Half an hour later he made a cup of tea and went upstairs to wake Katie.

After drinking her tea Katie asked if she could have another bath and after telling her off for forgetting she didn’t need to ask he ran her a bath and helped her get in.
At six o’clock he was sitting in the kitchen when the front door opened and Doctor Anderson walked in with her medical bag.
“Hello” she called
“In the kitchen” he called back
For a variety of reason he hadn’t seen her for a while and when she walked in she was dressed in her familiar professional garb.
“You’re looking very lovely doctor” he said, “Do you want to feel my pulse?”
“Behave yourself” she said “I can kill as well as cure, where is she?”
“Upstairs” he replied “she’s in the bath”
“Ok” she said, “I’ll go up and see her”
“Then will you feel my pulse?” he asked
“Stop it” she said “or I will hurt you”
“Something smells nice,” she added
“Not as lovely as you” he said cheesily
“Behave,” she said and laughed
“Are you going to eat with us?” he asked
“Yes I’d like that” she replied
As he walked her to the stairs he thought that, as she hadn’t seen Katie in a while he should warn her that she might notice a significant difference.
“I know what to expect,” she said

They ate together and Jack could see Carole assessing what Katie was eating and making a mental note.
Her portion size had decreased significantly over recent weeks and when he helped her into the bath it was obvious that there was less flesh on her bones.
Jack had noticed just carrying her up the stairs that there was less of her.

After they had finished eating, Carole helped him clear away and then said she had to make a move and when she opened the door she met Marion coming the other way.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 37 – Winters Last Hurrah

In the early hours of Mothering Sunday morning Jack was gently shaken awake.
“You have to go darling,” Kayleigh said and kissed his neck
“What? Ok” he said
She had reluctantly woken him early in the morning so he could sneak back to his house before the household were up and about.
So it was on a dark Sunday morning in March after a lingering goodbye kiss in the kitchen that he slipped out the back door.

Jack exited her garden via the side gate and quietly opened his own kitchen door and found the house was in total darkness so he sat in Katie’s chair and went out like a light.
However he didn’t sleep for long as he was woken by the nurse at 7.45.
After she had left Jack took Katie a cup of tea and she said he could go back to bed if he wanted as Marion was going to get her up for the day.
He was grateful for the suggestion but he didn’t bother though, instead he settled for a long leisurely shower instead.

After showering and dressing for the day he decided that as they had guests and as he was up so early anyway he would set about preparing a roast dinner.
As they had company he served dinner in the dining room, a rare treat as he had only used that room on a handful of occasions since he’d lived in the house.
Along with the roast pork he even made Yorkshire puddings, which he normally had great success with but on this occasion, much to his embarrassment and Katie’s amusement, they came out more like Yorkshire biscuits.
Later when the nurse came and asked her what she had eaten that day she delighted in stating “Roast Pork and Yorkshire biscuits”
And then she fell about laughing.
Jack thought it was lovely to see her in such high spirits’ even if the joke was at his expense, it was well worth it.

It turned out to be a beautiful spring afternoon, the warmest day of the year thus far by some distance so after lunch Katie sat on the patio while he cleared away the lunch things and Bob and Marion went out to explore the village.

When he had put away the last of the dishes Jack made a drink and went out to join Katie on the patio.
As he put her mug on the table she took hold of his hand and said
“I know I’ve said it a lot but, thank you Jack, you’ve made me so happy”
“It was worth it just to see your face” he said and kissed her forehead.
As he sat down he added
“We just have to find the other one to complete the coven”
“You are so cheeky” she said and laughed

The warm spring interlude continued for the next few days but as the week went on it proved to be a false dawn and the cold weather returned with a vengeance and before the following weekend was out so did the snow.

With Marion and Bob in the house and the routine with the nurses running like clockwork he found himself with a bit of time on his hands.
His first thought was a night away somewhere with Kayleigh but Carl was still very poorly so that was a non-starter.

So after speaking to the girls and making sure they were comfortable with it he decided to pay some attention to his day job, namely the Waterside Club, so he locked himself away in his study for most of Monday and waded through all the emails that had accumulated.

The week passed by quite routinely and without incident apart from the excitement surrounding Kayleigh’s first appearance at White Rose Cottage for more than two weeks.
Katie was delighted to see her best friend and proudly introduced her to her sister.

Marion was going to stay in the UK for a couple more weeks, at least, but on Friday Bob had to fly back to the states so Jack drove them to the airport while Kayleigh looked after Katie.
It was a bitterly cold day but compared to Alaska, Bob and Marion thought it was quite pleasant.
He dropped Bob and Marion at departures and did circuits around the block for the next twenty minutes while they went inside and said their goodbyes and Marion was in tears when she got back in the car and Jack had to comfort her, which was never his strong suit and they eventually got back to the village mid-afternoon.

Having spent time alone with her on Friday, Katie suggested he take Kayleigh out for the day on Sunday to cheer her up a bit, take her out of herself, so on Sunday after church he left Marion looking after her sister and drove out of the village just as it had started to snow.

They had no planned destination other than to get out of Turnoak and find somewhere to eat lunch, so as they reached the Finchbottom Road they made a conscious decision to turn left and head towards the “Granges” which were a collection of villages and hamlets comprising of West, East, Upper and Lower Grange and Grangemount, Grange Forest and Grange itself but they had no particular destination where they were going to head to as neither of them had been to the Granges before.
So they chose Grangemount village and The Old Bell Inn, in particular because Kayleigh’s tummy grumbled.
“The Old Bell Inn it is then” he said and they both laughed

It was bitterly cold as they got out of the car and the snow began to fall hard and fast as they approached the Inn.
Once inside the old Tudor Inn they found a cosy welcoming fire burning in the hearth and a bar full of customers.
They enjoyed a pleasant afternoon and the meal was excellent, it was only pub grub, but it was excellent pub grub, but most of all they enjoyed just being together.
In fact they were so absorbed by each other that they didn’t realize the other customers had been slowly drifting away until there were only five remaining, including them.

After Jack had settled the bill and Kayleigh wrapped up against the cold they stepped out into the carpark and it was obvious that the disappearing customers weren’t the only thing they hadn’t noticed,
“Oh dear” they exclaimed
The snow which began to fall hard as they arrived had clearly continued to fall and it was laying quite thick.
“Well I think we’re in for an interesting journey” Jack said
“Is it safe?” she asked
“We’ll soon find out” he retorted “Come on”
Jack took her hand and they started to walk gingerly across the carpark just as a car drove hesitantly towards them and when the new arrival pulled up alongside them the driver wound down the window and said.
“If you’re thinking of leaving, I’d think again”
“Is it bad?” Jack asked
“There is a tree down on the Finchbottom Road and the only other road out of Grangemount is up a 1 in 4 hill” he said and the man wound his window back up, so Jack and Kayleigh looked at each other and did a U-turn and headed back to the welcoming fireside of the Inn.
Fortunately they had stopped for lunch at an Inn and not just a pub so they went to the reception and managed to secure their last room.

At first glance Jack thought the room was a bit small and dingy but then they had been a bit spoilt with the hotel they stayed at in Sharpington so he chastised himself for being such a snob, Kayleigh on the other hand was just happy that they had a room together.
Jack sat on the bed and while Kayleigh was in the bathroom he phoned home to tell Katie and Marion they were snowed in, in Grangemount.
Katie said she suspected as much as the nurse was having to stay at the house, as she couldn’t get out of the village, that put his mind at rest so he said goodnight and promised to be back as soon as possible the next morning.

It was a lively evening in the bar as Kayleigh and Jack were not the only stranded guests and even some of the staff were stranded and were going to be sleeping in the bar that night.
As a result of the convivial atmosphere some drink was taken, quite a lot in fact but not enough for them to turn their noses up at bacon and eggs the next morning.

They got away from Grangemount just after 10.30 and had a cautious yet picturesque journey home.
When they returned to Turnoak he dropped Kayleigh outside her house, partly because she wanted to get up to the hospital as soon as possible and assuage her guilt for enjoying every second she was away from him by spending the rest of the day with her husband, the other reason she didn’t want to go to Jacks was that she didn’t really want to be seen in polite company wearing the previous days underwear, so she got out and gave a “cheerio” and a wave, they’d said a very adequate good bye back at the hotel.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 36 – The Second Angel

Saturday began in much the same way as any other day of the preceding weeks.
Nurse, bath time, breakfast and visitors, same old same old,
With one notable difference namely a constant stream of text messages from Sarah updating him on the progress of Katie’s sister Marion.
The flight leaving from Alaska was delayed, which meant they missed there connecting flight in New York which meant waiting to get on the next available flight and all of this information was conveyed to him via text, which meant he was up and down like a seesaw.
Finally the message came saying they were on their way, this meant instead of the flight landing early on Saturday afternoon it wouldn’t arrive until tea time so they wouldn’t arrive at the house until well into the evening so he left Sarah to arrange for their collection from Heathrow after that he heard no more, and as annoying as Sarah’s constant texting became, he soon found that hearing nothing was ten times worse.

Just before lunch he went into the kitchen and found Katie sitting on her throne with her arms folded and a real sulky expression on her face.
“What’s up grumpy?” he asked
“Shut up I’m sulking” she replied curtly
“I can see that” he responded “but what are you sulking about?”
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with Marion, we always Skype on a Saturday morning at breakfast time, breakfast time here yesterday bedtime for her, but this morning nothing” she said despondently
“I wouldn’t worry, it’s probably just the weather, they have a lot of it up there you know” he suggested
“You’re a great help” Katie retorted
Katie soon shook off her sulky mood and spent the afternoon soundly thrashing him at crib.
He had had numerous more texts firstly from Sarah updating him on arrival times and then from Martina, who along with Paul was meeting Bob and Marion Clode at Heathrow.
They had picked up the baton as he had to stay with Katie in order that she wouldn’t suspect anything, which she undoubtedly would have done had he gone himself.
So as it was, Katie and Jack spent the afternoon and early evening as they would any other day until Martina texted just after five to say
“Flight landed”
The nurse came slightly earlier than usual to attend to Katie in the usual manner and then stayed later than normal.
Meanwhile he was preparing dinner; again this involved frozen meals and a preheated oven, the only difference being that he had to cater for more than the two of them.
Just as he showed the nurse out Jack received another text from Martina
“20 minutes away” it read
Katie hadn’t yet reappeared downstairs, which was not a bad thing as it meant he didn’t have to distract her, but it was time to find out where she had got to.
So after he had checked the food wasn’t burning he went upstairs and found her lying on the bed asleep and he sat on the bed next to her and took hold of her hand in his,
“Katie” he said softy, but there was no response
“Katie” he said again a little louder and she murmured before opening her eyes
“Oh Jack” she said surprised “Oh dear I only closed my eyes for a second”
“It’s time to come downstairs for supper Hon” he said
“Can I have it in bed tonight?” she asked
“No not tonight” he replied
“Oh go on,” she begged
“No” Jack said and stood up “now come on lazy bones”
He knew only too well that in not many more weeks she would be having all of her meals in bed
“You’re just mean” she said and begrudgingly got up

He did however concede to her request for a piggyback down the stairs.
Jack had just deposited her in the kitchen when there was a knock at the front door.
“Who can that be?” Katie said, “I hope it’s not more visitors”
Then as an afterthought she added
“Sorry God”
“I’ll go and see,” he said
When he got to the front door and opened it he found Martina and Paul standing there either side of a slightly older version of Katie, and behind them was a tall thin gaunt looking man who Jack assumed to be Bob.
“Hello” he said, then in a whisper he added
“She’s in the kitchen”
“Who is it?” Katie called
“It’s Paul and Martina” he called back
“Ok” she answered
“Come in, come in” he said
There was a brief period of silent greetings and handshakes then Jack led the way up the hall to the kitchen with Marion following closely in his wake.
Katie was stood at the table laying place mats and cutlery as he walked in.
“I think you might need to set a few more places,” he said
“Why?” Katie began to ask and then Jack stepped aside and for a moment there was complete and utter silence
“Maz?” Katie asked, “Is that really you?”
“Who else would it be?” Marion replied as she walked towards her floundering sister and they embraced.
“How?” Katie uttered as tears welled up in her eyes
“It’s all thanks to Jack” Marion said and she began to cry as well.
After an emotional five minutes Marion gathered herself sufficiently to say
“Look Bob is here as well, you haven’t seen him since the wedding”
After Bob and Katie had been reintroduced Marion unbuttoned her coat
“But you haven’t met this one yet” she said and laid Katie’s hand on her bump.
“A baby?” Katie said and then the tears rained down again.
After the tears had subsided Katie turned her attention to Jack and wrapped her arms around his neck
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said “God bless you Jack”
Then Marion joined in and it all got a bit messy, and he was really way out of his comfort zone.
“Let’s eat” he said and kissed the two women on the forehead

They were all sitting around the table after the meal drinking coffee when Bob asked
“Is there a Hotel nearby?”
“Yes there is” he replied “but you’re staying here”
“No we can’t impose on you any further” Bob protested
“You have already done so much for us,” Marion added
“Nonsense, you’re staying here and that’s an end to it” he insisted

Martina had to leave after the meal as she was meeting up with her Sister Anne and driving to their mums for mother’s day.
So Jack helped Bob and Paul retrieve the Clode’s luggage from her car and then Bob and Jack left Paul and Martina having a snoggy farewell on the doorstep and carried the bags upstairs to one of the spare rooms.

As it was a special occasion Jack opened some wine and they sat around chatting.
When Katie got up and went to the loo Marion said
“You are a very kind man”
“Nonsense” he said rather embarrassed “let’s change the subject”
“What would have happened if you hadn’t been here when she had to leave the vicarage?” Bob asked
“Katie could have stayed at the Vicarage until the end if she’d wanted to; Paul was in no hurry to push her out, he was quite happy staying at the pub”
“Rather” was Paul’s only contribution
“The truth of the matter was Katie wanted to get out of Paul’s way, but didn’t want to go into a hospice so as I live alone here in a huge house, and I’m semi-retired it seemed like the perfect solution”
“You are a kind man though” Marion persisted
“I’ve been very lucky in my life and when I was in a position to help someone who is much loved in the village, I took it” he said
“Katie needs company, someone to help occupy her time and her mind, so that’s my role, so now can we change the subject”

Just after Katie returned Jack received a text from Kayleigh which simply read “I need to see you, please” but it wasn’t until about an hour later that he could act on it.
It was when Paul excused himself as he still hadn’t finished writing Sunday’s sermon.
By that time Bob was sitting in an armchair snoring loudly and Katie and Marion were talking 10 to the dozen completely oblivious to their surroundings.
So Jack decided to take his chance and leave with Paul
“I’m going to leave you two to catch up as I need to stretch my legs so I’m going to take a wander and get a nightcap at the Hen and Chicks”
“Ok” Katie responded with a knowing look, she guessed it wasn’t a nightcap he was going out for.
“Don’t wait up” he called

He walked with Paul as far as the Vicarage and then he turned down the lane by the Church, which led to the Bridle path that ran along the back of the houses, he followed the path until he reached the end of Kayleigh’s garden and he could see some of the house lights were still on.
Keeping in the shadows Jack made his way up to the house and tapped on the glass, it took a few minutes, but Kayleigh came to the door, she gave him a weak smile and opened the door.

“Thank you for coming” she exclaimed and wrapped her arms around his neck and almost squeezed the life out of him
“I didn’t know if you were coming,” she said
“Marion and Bob arrived today so I couldn’t get away and then I had to come round the long way,” he responded when she had released her grip and allowed him across the threshold.
“Is everything ok?”
“I just needed you to hold me” she said as she reattached herself to him.
“I’ve missed you so much”
She had spent more than a week at Carl’s bedside as he battled his pneumonia and long lonely hours at night when she couldn’t sleep and she had to take refuge in her studio pouring out her emotions into her music.
“I’ve missed you too”
“Please tell me you can stay?”
“Of course I can stay” he said and she hugged him tighter.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 35 – Finding the Watsons

Monday passed without incident and was an uneventful day and on Tuesday George Dallas was the nurse of the day and was in a very chipper mood and while he attended to Katie Jack searched in the lounge for the Vicars address book, which only took him a few minutes to locate, and it took another five to find the information he was looking for and he was just leaving the lounge as George was coming down the stairs so he offered him a coffee and after checking his watch he accepted and while they sat in the kitchen he found out the reason for his chirpiness.

Just after George left, the phone rang, and when he answered it, it was Paul Massey asking if, providing she was up to it, he could steal Katie away for a few hours for a Women’s Institute luncheon.
“I’ll ask Katie and call you back”
So he checked with the Vicar and she was actually quite excited at the prospect so he agreed.

After getting her ready he waved her off and then walked down to the doctor’s surgery to see the receptionist Sarah Peters.
After taking her to one side he gave her the names and addresses of Katie’s sisters and asked her to arrange tickets for them.
“I didn’t know she had sisters,” she said
“Nor did we” Jack answered and took his wallet out of his pocket and took a credit card and handed it to her.
“First class open return” he said “and charge it all to this”
“Yes Jack” she said “Leave it to me”

When he left the surgery Jack went across the road to the shop before returning home and that lunchtime while the Vicar was being entertained by the W.I. he had a quiet intimate lunch with Kayleigh.
It was a wonderful interlude and they were feeling very pleased with themselves, they would perhaps have been less pleased had they realized when Katie returned from her Women’s Institute luncheon she would be stepping through his front door for the very last time.

Katie had very much enjoyed her lunch date but she said she was quite tired and would have a little nap.
Jack and Kayleigh were also quite tired courtesy of their own lunch engagement so they fell asleep in front of the TV only waking when George the nurse knocked on the door.

After having attended to Katie, George said goodbye and then Kayleigh left for the day as well and Jack went up to check on the Vicar.
Katie was refreshed by her sleep and was hungry enough for supper though she chose to eat it in bed.
She fell asleep while Jack read her “The Chamber of Secrets”.

As February was drawing to a close the winter seemed reluctant to loosen its grip and as the week went on Katie was in increasing more discomfort and after lunch on a cold damp Thursday afternoon he phoned Doctor Anderson and Carole said she would be calling in the next morning to see if it was time to increase her meds.

Contrary to the old adage March came in like a lamb and gave the inhabitants of the Vale their first glimpse of spring and along with the early spring sunshine the lovely Dr Anderson arrived with an expression on her face that didn’t match the morning.
“I’ll go straight up,” She said

She was upstairs for about half an hour and her expression was no brighter when she came down than it was on the way up and she walked straight over to Jack and hugged him.
“Everything ok?” he asked
“I didn’t think we’d have to go onto the strong stuff for another week or two” she replied “It’s progressing faster than I imagined”
And for the next ten minutes Carole sobbed into is chest.

The new pain management was stronger than before but had a smaller window of effectiveness, which meant the nurse’s visits would increase and within a week or two would necessitate a nurse on duty overnight.
For his part Jack wanted to maintain some semblance of routine with Katie as long as possible so he kept up with the Harry Potter.

Carole gave the midday injection and in the evening Gemma Frost called in at the usual time, they chatted for a while and then as she was leaving she said
“See you at midnight”

Jack was starting to get used to the uncomfortable chair as he read another three chapters from “The Chamber of Secrets” and he only stopped at three, as there was a knock at the front door which he opened a few minutes before midnight to find Gemma standing on the step in the cold night air.
“Come in” He urged her “you don’t have to knock”
Gemma went straight upstairs and when Katie had had her injection Gemma left and Jack turned in for the night.

The rest of the first week of March passed in a comfortable routine in which, day by day saw Katie spending almost imperceptibly more time sleeping and weariness came over her at great speed.
Nothing much else happened though, he saw little of the village and his only contact with the world was through the visitors who came to see Katie and he saw very little of Kayleigh as Carl had pneumonia.

The only significant moment of the week was on Thursday when Sarah called round to see him.
“Any news about the sisters?” he whispered to her in the kitchen.
“Yes” she replied “and no”
“Ah” he responded
“I managed to track down Marion and her husband and they’re flying into Heathrow on Saturday afternoon” she said
“Excellent” he said thoughtfully
“You did mean for me to get two tickets?” she asked doubtfully
“Of course” he said “sorry for being so ambiguous”
Sarah paused for a second relieved she hadn’t over stepped the parameters of her brief.
“Anne on the other hand is proving to be a little more elusive, she and her husband are visiting outlying villages and I haven’t been able to contact her yet,” she said with a sigh before adding “she may not get here in time”
“All we can do is pray,” Jack suggested

After a week without seeing Kayleigh he was very low so Carole suggested he needed to get out for an hour or two, so on Friday lunchtime he left Katie in the very capable hands of Paul Massey, who would relieve him for a couple of hours, and he took a walk around the village and then ended up in the Hen and Chickens and in one corner he found his very good buddies Gemma Frost, Elise Riley, Sarah Peters and her sister Hannah.
“Jack” Elise shouted and the other three cheered when they noticed him as well, it was clear some drink had already been taken.
“Hello darling” Gemma said extravagantly as she stood up and kissed him.
“This is great” he said genuinely “I haven’t seen you all together in one place for an age”
Then Hannah, Sarah and Elise also embraced him.
After all the hugging and kissing Elise was about to go to the bar and get him a drink when Carol Pittman, the Landlady, arrived with a pint of best bitter.
“Courtesy of Bill Abbott” she said
“Thanks” he said and nodded in the direction of Bill and that set the trend for the afternoon as drink after drink appeared courtesy of appreciative villagers.
Jack had to take it a bit steady as it would not have been difficult to get completely shit faced, but eating a big lunch helped.
It was very enjoyable catching up with the girls and what they were up to.
Elise updated him on how things were going with his friend James while they ate, then Hannah talked about how things were progressing with another of his friends Gary Spiers and even Gemma joined in and proudly spoke about her new beau, Toni Vassell, who she had known for years but had only recently got together with him.
Sarah Peters who was the only one of the group as yet unattached though she was in love.
But her heart’s desire, Jacey Linton, another of Jacks friends and colleagues had as yet not done anything about their obvious mutual attraction.
For Sarah’s part she was embarrassed by her drunken behaviour when they all met up in Purplemere before Christmas and didn’t think he would be at all interested in her as she had been so embarrassing.
That was not however how Jacey thought at all, he didn’t find her embarrassing in the least bit, he thought she was lovely, what was holding him back was the fact that because she was so lovely she couldn’t possibly be interested in someone ordinary like him.
However just because Sarah was not in a relationship she still delighted in everyone else’s good fortune, Jack thought it was about time he gave Jacey a stronger nudge in her direction.
“So tell me what you’re all up to this weekend,” he asked
“It’s mother’s day weekend” they all said in unison.

Jack and Gemma walked back up the road together and she said she was being taken up to London for the weekend by her sons but Jack would have a very different weekend.

He spent Friday evening feeling a bit dopey as a result of all the lunchtime hospitality but he still managed to finish reading “the Chamber of Secrets” to Katie and then read the first three chapters of “the Prisoner of Azkaban” before they called it a night.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 34 – The Revelation

White Rose Cottage had a number of visitors during the course of the day; all of them sanctioned by the efficient Sarah Peters, but none of them stayed for long.
In the evening there was no repeat of the pretty nurse from that morning but instead they were blessed with a pretty doctor when Carole Anderson walked through the front door.
“Hello!!” she called “Anybody home”
“In here” Jack called back
He was alone in the kitchen at the time Carole walked in wearing a cocktail dress.
“Wow” he said “Aren’t you a bit overdressed for a house call”
“It depends who I’m calling on” she replied
“So why do we get the special treatment?” he asked
“Oh it’s not for you, I’m having dinner at Gemma’s”
“So it’s still going well with Craig then” Jack asked
“I can’t complain” she replied coyly, Craig Frost was Gemma’s brother and Carole had been dating him since Burns Night.
“Where’s Katie?” she asked changing the subject, a split second before the toilet flushed.

Carole took Katie into the lounge and did the medical stuff while Jack prepared the evening meal, well preparing was perhaps stretching a point as in reality he just put a frozen Pasticcio into the oven, and Kayleigh arrived just as Carole was leaving for her dinner date.

After dinner and when everything was cleared away it was time to get Katie upstairs for the night.
“Right miss” he said “Are you going to be Miss independent again or do you want me to carry you up”
“Carry please” she said quietly, like a naughty child.
Jack picked her up and instantly thought she was getting lighter, he carried her upstairs and Kayleigh followed behind them, then Jack sat her on the bed and Kayleigh took over.

On Sunday morning it was Jacks turn to be a greeter at St Lucy’s and he had to leave Katie in Kayleigh’s capable hands and after the service it took him an age to get away, partly because of his benevolence towards Katie but mainly because everyone wanted to hear about the drunken pensioner saga.
When he eventually returned home he was greeted by the marvellous aroma of Roast pork wafting down the hallway.
He went straight along to the kitchen to find Katie and Kayleigh hard at it cooking Sunday lunch.
“Wow roast dinner” he said “that’s great I’m starving”
The two women turned their heads towards him and simultaneously looked him up and down and said in unison
“At last”
“It wasn’t my fault” he said defensively and explained the circumstances of his tardiness and reduced them to laughter again with the retelling of the minibus incident.

After a delicious lunch Kayleigh and Jack cleared away while Katie sat in her armchair and chatted to them.
“As soon as we’re finished its Sunday Matinee time,” Jack said
“What do you fancy?”
“I don’t mind” Katie said
“Do you have “It’s a wonderful life”?” Kayleigh asked “I know it’s a Christmas film really but I love it”
“Oooh that’s my sisters favourite” Katie announced
“I didn’t know you had a sister,” Jack said and he didn’t know that despite the fact that they had dated briefly during their first year at University.
“I have two,” she replied proudly
“Older or younger?” Kayleigh asked
“Both older,” Katie replied, “I’m the baby of the family”
Kayleigh and Jack just smiled and nodded
“Anne is the oldest, and she and her husband Rory live in Ethiopia where they run an orphanage, and Marion lives in Alaska where she married a local man Bob and they run a Church School in a remote settlement”
“Wow, do you get to see them often?” Kayleigh asked
“No, no I don’t” she replied sadly
“When did you see them last?” I queried
“Seven years ago at Maz’s wedding” she replied and then Kayleigh asked the difficult question
“Do they know?”
“Yes” she answered
“Are they coming back to see you?” Again it was Kayleigh with the hard question
“No, I’m afraid not” she said sadly “they live too far away and they don’t have the money to fly over”
There was a brief silence when Kayleigh and Jack didn’t know what to say, Katie picked up on their failure and filled the silence.
“We write and email and talk on the phone when we can, we’ll get to say goodbye one way or another”

After the film Kayleigh stayed for supper and helped get Katie settled before she went off to see Carl and then he read the Philosophers Stone to her until it was finished.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 33 – Riding Out

On Saturday Jack rose early to a beautiful sunny morning, the nicest morning they had seen for several weeks.
Katie also woke early and prompted by the certain knowledge that her future didn’t hold many such glorious mornings she arose as well.
It pained him greatly on such a morning that he had to chastise her for attempting the stairs unaided.
“I came down on my bum” she said, “It was quite safe”
As a result of her solo ascent she was seated on her throne in the kitchen when the nurse arrived, a pretty thirty something with strawberry coloured hair, called Sandra, barely five feet tall, slender and pale skinned and a nature to match her countenance.

It had been a few days since George Dallas finally plucked up courage to call Lily Soames and enquired when it would be convenient for him to come over and ride Trojan.
“Anytime” she said “Just ring first”
“But?” she repeated
“I was just wondering if I could do it when you would be riding” he said “So we could…”
“Ride out together?” Lily said finishing his sentence or at least hoping that was the sentence he had in mind
“Yes” he said with relief
“How about Saturday, after I’ve mucked out” Lily suggested
“Great I’ll see you then”

On Saturday he had risen early and decided to go to the stables and rather than wait until after mucking out he would go early and surprise her as she was bound to be up early to muck out.

He walked across the yard and spotted a girl in her mid to late twenties walking a horse out of the stable, she was a petite slim and attractive girl with hair the colour of pure honey and the girls name was Lily.
“Blimey you’re keen” she said, when she saw the tall thin man thirty something man with pale skin and strawberry blonde hair, and she was hoping it was her he was keen on and not just the horse.
“I thought I would come and give you a hand with the mucking out and then we would be finished earlier and get a longer ride” he said
“Really?” she asked
“Yes” he said “I thought it would be nice and weather is set to be lovely”
“Great” she said “Grab a shovel”

It was nine o’clock when they finished cleaning the stables and feeding the horses and by the time they had changed and then saddled the horses, it was an hour later when they rode out of the yard in bright sunshine and under a clear blue sky.

They didn’t talk much on the ride as Lily was out in front on her chestnut mare, Hazel, and he had been quite preoccupied with looking at Lily pert bottom rising and falling in the saddle, to think of anything to say anyway.

It had been such a beautiful morning that they rode considerably further and longer than Lily had originally intended so on the way back to the stables they decided to walk the horse’s part of the way to rest them a little.
They were up in the hills overlooking Hawthorne and Lily suggested they walk up to Albaspina praesidio, the site of a roman garrison, which was a bit of a tourist attraction, but more importantly than that they had a coffee shop.
George readily agreed as it wasn’t particularly out of their way.
“I haven’t been there for years” Lily said “not since junior school”
“Nor me” George agreed
“Yes but they were still building it when you were at school”
Lily said and laughed raucously
“Cheeky” George said but laughed as well.

After a very welcome coffee and an even more welcome bacon roll they decided not to take in the ruins, but agreed they would do that another day after which they headed towards home, though they took the scenic route and talked all the way.
So as they were walking down the Mornington road, both spattered in mud, Lily said.
“So have you enjoyed riding Trojan?”
“Oh yes he’s a joy to ride” he replied and then added “But it’s the company that makes it more special”
Lily smiled as George had to look away to hide his embarrassment
“Well in that case we had better do it again” she said “But it won’t be for a few weeks, I’m booked solid”
George was elated at her first statement but was crestfallen at the second but found himself saying.
“What about dinner?”
“Oh yes, dinner I can do anytime” she replied and smiled broadly

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 32 – Rescue Mission

The next morning he left Katie sitting on her throne in the kitchen while he took a walk down to Stephenson’s to pick up some bread and milk and as he walked down the road he saw Elise Riley walking the opposite way carrying a bag of shopping and they engaged in conversation.
Jack was in a hurry as he didn’t really want to leave Katie on her own for any longer than necessary but Elise did like to chat.
But she obviously picked up on his anxiety as after a few minutes of chatting she suggested she could go and sit with the Vicar while he did the shopping.
He gave her a hug and a kiss and told her that the front door was on the latch.

He rushed around the shop and quickly picked up the essentials they had run out of and returned home and relieved Elise and the rest of the day passed off without incident as did Wednesday and Thursday, apart from a visit from Sarah Peters who called in to apologize for turning up with Elise without an appointment.
“That’s ok” he said
“Without rules there would be anarchy Jack” she said contritely
“And I broke my own rules”
“You’re being too harsh on yourself” Jack said but he suggested to her that perhaps visitors should be spread out across the day so Katie could rest between visits and Sarah took the suggestion on board.

Jack was seeing Kayleigh everyday but only for an hour or two across the day as life with Katie had seemed to settle into its own pattern and Friday was no exception until lunchtime at least when he found him back at the shop where he found Reverend Massey in a blue funk pacing up and down and muttering to himself.
“Hello Reverend, is everything ok?” Jack asked
“No Jack” he said “Everything is not ok”
“What’s wrong?”
“I have a minibus full of pensioner stranded in Mornington and no one to drive them back” he said
“Why? What happened to the driver?”
“He’s drunk” Reverend Massey replied
“You’re joking”
“I wish I was” he retorted and then proceeded to explain what had happened.
St Lucy’s had organized an outing for the pensioners of the Parish which consisted of a tour around the Finchbottom Vale, lunch in Mornington, and afternoon tea in Shallowfield beside Teardrop Lake before returning to Turnoak.
All was going well while visiting Mornington village, the church, the Manor and the famous Mornington Mills but while they were wandering around the village the driver sat in the Old Mill Inn and got plastered.
Everyone he had asked either didn’t have the confidence or the D1 entitlement to drive the bus.
Drivers who passed their car driving test, which was officially referred to as category B entitlement, before 1 January 1997 were automatically given D1 entitlement on their license to drive a minibus, assuming there was no payment involved from or on behalf of the passengers.
Jack did have D1 entitlement on his license and heard himself volunteering to drive the minibus for him, provided he could find someone to look after Katie while he did so.

So after lunch on Friday Jack left Katie in good spirits with Tania Carter-Thinn, who taught at St Lucy’s school, to keep her company while Kayleigh drove him to Mornington to collect the minibus and its occupants.
“What is the collective noun for a busload of pensioners?” Jack asked as they left the village.

It was nice to get out of the village and spent some time with Kayleigh, just the two of them even if it was only for a short time.
Kayleigh enjoyed it too and was in a very jovial mood.
On the way across the Vale it started to rain, and within five minutes the sky had grown really dark and thunder cracked in the distance.
Then the rain fell ever harder until the wipers could barely cope, as luck would have it they were just approaching a lay-by so very wisely Kayleigh turned into the lay-by to wait for the rain to abate.
“Well this is cosy I wonder what we could do to pass the time” she said and started nibbling his earlobe as the thunderstorm took hold.
“I didn’t think that was the reason we stopped here,” he said weekly
“It wasn’t, but when opportunity knocks”
“Fair enough” he conceded and kissed her as thunder boomed so loud above them that it shook the car.

When the thunder moved away and the rain had gone from deluge to persistent they reluctantly returned their thoughts to the reason they were on the rain soaked Vale in the first place.
On arriving in Mornington they found the minibus parked in the pub carpark and that its passengers had taken refuge inside the Old Mill Inn and a drink or two had been taken, Jack also learned that the driver had been taken into custody by Sgt Jones who was the local police presence.
Sgt Jones had also taken the minibus keys into custody and Jack had to walk over to the police house to retrieve them once he had proved he was in a fit state and was qualified to do so.
He was not an unreasonable man and actually saw the funny side but Jack gave him some complimentary tickets to the Waterside Club by way of an apology for the disruption to Village life.
And Sgt Jones suggested he get his charges on board quickly before he had some drunk and disorderly’s to deal with.
The two men were laughing and joking as they walked the short distance to the pub.
“Good luck” Sgt Jones said as Kayleigh marshalled the inebriated pensioners towards the minibus.

Once they had the drunken pensioners on board the bus Kayleigh got into her car and she was laughing as she drove away.
The journey back to Turnoak was very noisy and the passengers were boisterous and his ears were ringing by the time he returned to the village.
He parked the minibus in the church carpark and got out and went around to the passenger side and helped the inebriated passengers step down one by one.
“Thank you Jack” Mrs. Clark slurred as she stumbled down the step just as Reverend Massey emerged through the door at the top of the church steps.
“Oh dear me” he said as he looked at the walking wounded as they staggered towards their homes.

“Here you are Vicar” he said and handed him the keys
“I can’t thank you enough Jack” he said “and I don’t know what to say about their behaviour”
“Don’t be silly, it’s not your fault, and they were actually very amusing” Jack said “And they know some very unchristian songs”

When he got back to the cottage Katie was sat in the kitchen with Tania Carter-Thinn, who stood up and excused herself within minutes of his return.
As the front door closed Katie let out long sigh.
“Thank you God” she said looking to the heavens,
“Katie” he rebuked her
“I don’t mean it” she said, “Tania is a lovely person but a little too pious”

In the evening Kayleigh called in on her way to the hospital, it was only to be a short visit, but once she and Jack started to tell the tale of their afternoon adventure they made Katie laugh until she cried and time got away from her so she was late leaving and they didn’t see her again until Saturday.
Later that night as he sat in the uncomfortable chair next to Katie’s bed she said
“You’re a very kind man Jack”
“What’s brought this on?” he asked
“Well letting me stay here, in your house, in your bed, looking after me” she elaborated “and today driving the minibus to help Paul”
“We all have to do what we can as we go along the road” he said “that’s all”

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 31 – Overwhelmed

Saturday morning was a much quieter affair than the day before and he was up and dressed before the nurse knocked on the door, that days was called Molly, who he had seen before and they chatted briefly before going up to see the patient.

Mid-morning Katie was sat on her throne in the kitchen when they had two unexpected visitors, Elise Riley, who was an IT security analyst, and her friend Sarah Peters, Verger at St Lucy’s, receptionist at the Doctors surgery and organizer of the care rota.
They were very apologetic for not going through the proper channels, Sarah promised to chastise herself for usurping her own system but they were going out for a lunch date.
Elise was in a very serious relationship with Jacks friends and colleagues at the Club, James Lynch, while Sarah was hoping for a similar outcome with her heart’s desire, Jacey Linton, another of Jacks friends and colleagues who had as yet not done anything about their obvious mutual attraction, Emily and James were trying their hardest to rectify that situation.
“We were on our way out so we thought we’d just pop in and say hello,” Elise said.
They only stayed for half an hour then left them in peace to eat lunch.
In the afternoon he asked Katie what she would prefer TV or book and she answered
So Katie spent the next couple of hours wiping the floor with him until the new Vicar Paul Massey and his fiancé Martina Wingrove arrived.
They were staying that night as Jack was going to be at the Club late into the night as Jacey was on patrol with the Roving Angels.

They were all sitting around the kitchen table laughing and joking when there was a knock at the door, he checked the clock on the wall and thought to himself “that will be this evenings Nurse”.
But when he opened the door he found it was Gemma.
“Hi Gemma, I was right then” he said
“Right about what?” she asked
“I was just thinking that it’s time for the frumpy nurse to call and here you are,” he said
“You cheeky devil” she said punching his arm
After she had attended to Katie she joined the rest of them for an Indian takeaway.
Kayleigh wasn’t in attendance as she was feeling under the weather and she didn’t want Katie catching whatever it was that she had.

As they were demolishing their curry banquet Katie declared
“This is one thing I am definitely going to miss”
Now far from this putting a dampener on proceedings it prompted raucous laughter and a deep theological discussion on whether heaven could truly be heaven without Indian food.
In the end the consensus was that Indian and Chinese would be available but Pizzas would not.
After dinner Martina helped Katie get ready for bed and Paul and Gemma cleared away while Jack got into his work clothes.

As it turned out he had company on the drive over, or at least part of the way, as Gemma needed a lift into Purplemere as she had abandoned her car there when the snow started to fall, she didn’t like driving in snow so she left it and caught the bus.

On the journey they discussed a variety of things firstly her love life and how her relationship with her next door neighbour Tony Vassell was going, this was merely nosiness he was genuinely interested as it was important to him because they were both good friends of his, then he wanted to know how Hannah Peters was getting on up at Plaxton Park, this was also important to him as he had been instrumental in getting her the job, her answer in both cases was “Excellent”.
Finally they discussed Katie’s nurses and did he have any complaints about them.
“Not that I’m sending them for your benefit” she pointed out and laughed.
“I think they are all brilliant” he said “And so does Katie, nothing is too much trouble for them”
“They all love her that’s why” Gemma said
“You know Katie is completely overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, she doesn’t understand how much she is loved or how special she is and how much they appreciate her being in their lives.
When they reached Purplemere she directed him to the appropriate car park and he pulled up next to her car.
“Thanks for the lift Jack and for everything else” she said and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

After a long incident packed night at the club he felt a mixture of exhilaration and guilt, the former because he had forgotten how vibrant Saturday nights could be on a good night and the latter because he had enjoyed being there and not being at home and looking after Katie.
Because it had been such a great night he was the last to leave and arrived home just before 5 am.
He dumped his jacket and coat on the back of a kitchen chair and went upstairs to look in on Katie before he crept into the spare room and crawled into bed and fell instantly asleep.

Jack didn’t see or hear the Nurse that morning so he had no way of knowing which one it was that day.
Paul Massey went off early to St Lucy’s for the morning service while
Martina stayed to attend to Katie until he resurfaced.
Katie had wanted to go to church herself but as she was still recovering from the fever she got the last time she went, it was decided in her best interests that she should stay home, and credit to Martina for standing her ground.

She had a lot of visitors that Sunday, 12 in all and she had already had 4 before Jack got up and another 2 before he appeared in the kitchen showered and dressed for the day.
Within ten minutes of his arrival Martina rushed off to join her beloved Paul and Katie and Jack settled back into their own familiar routine.
Had he known however that she had already spent much of the morning with visitors he wouldn’t have agreed so readily to the six she had in the afternoon, and as a result it completely wore her out and Katie had a very uncomfortable night as she had unfortunately done too much.

Because of her poor night’s sleep and her obvious discomfiture the nurse gave her a sedative and Katie slept a lot of the day.
This enabled Jack to spend Monday afternoon in the loving arms of Kayleigh in her house.
Thankfully Katie had a much better night’s sleep on Monday night.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 30 – Enthroned Angel

While he was downstairs Kayleigh replied to his text and said she was snowed in up at the hospital but she would be home as soon as she could.
When he returned to Katie with her fresh mug of tea he said
“I phoned Carole, she’ll be here when the weather permits, and Kayleigh just texted saying much the same thing”
And as he sat back in the armchair Katie said
“She loves you, you know?”
“Why would Carole love me?” he asked flippantly
“Kayleigh loves you” Katie said
“I know” he said honestly “But not the way she loves Carl”
“Yes” she mused “she still loves him very much”
“She’s still in love with him” he continued “And Kayleigh will never leave him”
“I know it’s a real “till death do us part” kind of thing for her” Katie said “which is how it should be”
He nodded in agreement and added
“That’s why we spent Valentines apart”
“You love her very much though don’t you?” Katie said
“Yes I do” he replied “more than I have ever loved another soul”
“So its true love for you then” she added
“Yes it’s definitely that” he conceded
“What a tangled web we weave” Katie said philosophically
“Yes life can be very complicated”
“It’s not life that’s complicated, life is just life, its people who add the complication” Katie corrected him
“You are very sage Katie” he said
“Don’t mention food” she said “I’m still hungry, when’s breakfast?” he looked at his watch and said
“Not for a couple of hours yet”
“Damn” she cursed and holding out her mug “can I have some more tea then?” and she gave him her trademark lopsided grin as he took the mug from her.

He went downstairs to the kitchen and made her another mug of tea and as he was about to ascend the stairs with it the front door opened and Nanook of the North stepped into the hallway.
The figure was dressed in a fur hat, long winter coat with a heavy woollen scarf wrapped around the neck and knee length boots, although the occupant couldn’t be seen clearly.
“Carole?” he said, “What are you doing here?”
“I didn’t have anything better to do” she replied
As she un-wrapped the scarf from around her neck and took off her fur hat he asked.
“Where’s your car? I didn’t hear you pull up,”
She sat on the stairs and unzipped her boots
“Do the honours?” she said holding out a leg so he put down the tea on the hall table and pulled her boot off.
“I parked at the surgery and walked up” she replied as she held out the other leg “how’s Katie?”
“Fine, she’s just waiting for this”
He replied and picked up the mug of tea.
“I’ll take that up,” she said taking it from his hand before heading up the stairs so he went back into the kitchen and made drinks for the two of them.
Half an hour later, long after he’d finished his drink and had poured Kayleigh’s down the sink she came back downstairs and was wearing her overcoat again.
Jack walked out into the hall to meet her and asked
“Do you want a cuppa?”
“No” she replied “I need to get going”
She sat on the stairs and put on her boots and added
“Katie is asleep again, so you can leave her until the nurse gets here and I’ll pop in again later”

Ten minutes later just as tiredness was beginning to set in he had another visitor when Kayleigh’s smiling face appeared at the kitchen door.
“Hi Hon, you made it then, do you want coffee?
“No thanks I want some Valentine’s loving” she replied
“It’s not Valentine’s Day anymore Hon” Jack said
“It’s close enough” she responded as she unbuttoned her coat and kicked off her shoes then Kayleigh stepped in close and they kissed and his hands settled on her waist which then pulled her closer to him.
Her kiss was warm and sensual and every fibre of him tingled.
She pulled her lips away but still close enough that he could feel her breath as she spoke
“I want you so badly but I know we can’t”
“Later honey” he said “But we can have a cuddle on the sofa”
“That will have to do to be going on with” she said resignedly

The sofa was now in the study since the move around so they made their way down the hall and Kayleigh sighed with contentment as they cuddled up underneath a tartan throw and promptly went to sleep.

It was two hours later on that Friday morning after Valentine’s Day when Jack was rudely awakened from his slumber by a persistent banging sound.
Which was particularly annoying as he was snuggled up comfortably behind Kayleigh on the sofa beneath a tartan blanket and was in no mood to relinquish his privileged position.
But the banging continued and he suddenly remembered.
“Nurse” he shouted
“No, me singer, you Club owner” Kayleigh said and chuckled and then she added.
“I can dress up as a nurse if you like, blue cotton dress, puffy sleeves, starched white apron, black stockings and underwear optional”
She chuckled again
Bang, bang, bang,
“No” he said, “That’s the nurse”
“Oh shit,” Kayleigh exclaimed
Jack jumped up from the sofa and rushed to the door but before he went out he looked back and said
“I like the sound of the nurse’s uniform by the way Hon, so hold that thought”
Then he rushed down the hall to the front door where he took a breath and then opened it and the tall ruddy-faced figure of George Dallas was standing there.
“I’m so sorry George” he said “it was a bit of a long night, do come in”
“No problem Jack and how is the patient now?” he asked as he stepped inside.
So he briefly told him that after a restless night Katie’s fever had finally broken in the early hours.
He paused briefly at the foot of the stairs to ask if she had eaten anything and what fluids she had, had and then he went upstairs.
Jack went back to the study and found Kayleigh laying on the sofa with the tartan throw wrapped around her.

“It’s George Dallas” he said “he’ll be done shortly”
“Are you coming back for a cuddle when he’s gone?” she asked coyly
“Absolutely” he replied “I’m keen to learn more about the optional underwear”
“I meant optional articles of undies, not yes or no” she corrected him and laughed
“You stay here while George is upstairs and I will come and get you when he’s gone”
Then he kissed her and left her alone.

He was in the kitchen washing up when the George came back down.
“Ok Jack she’s still sleeping soundly, her temperature is fine, and I didn’t wake her so I have left her meds in a cup on the bedside table” he said
“You can leave her sleeping for another hour or so but no more than two”
“Thanks George” he said and showed him to the door.
“Were you serious about letting me ride your horse?”
“Absolutely” Jack replied “Any time you want to just liaise with Lily, she might even ride out with you”
“That would be nice” he said wistfully “Thanks Jack”

When the front door closed behind him he went back down the hall and enjoyed another hour long cuddle after which he left Kayleigh laying under the throw and went upstairs and looked in on Katie who was just getting out of bed.
“Morning Katie” he said
“Morning Jack” she responded “Is it time for breakfast yet?”
“Yes it is” he replied with a chuckle “do you want it in bed?”
“I think I’d like to come downstairs for it if that’s ok” she said
“Of course it is, bath first?” he asked
“Mm, please” she answered
He left her sitting on the bed and went in the bathroom and ran the bath.
“Can I come in” Kayleigh called as he was on his way back to get Katie
“Yes” they chorused and after five minutes of chatter
Kayleigh took over the bath routine and Jack went down to cook breakfast.

As Kayleigh had been up at the hospital all night she hadn’t eaten so she joined them for breakfast, obviously her overnight vigil had left a hole in her reserves, which needed to be filled, because she cleared her plate and had some off Jacks as well.
She nearly choked as she stole the second chipolata off my plate and I said
“Haven’t you had enough yet?”
“Not nearly enough” she replied

It was almost 10.30am as they sat at the kitchen table having consumed their full English breakfasts and were just finishing their tea when Katie yawned and Jack said
“Tired already, all you’ve done is eat and sleep since your fever broke”
“Well you know me and fried food, and that bed is so comfortable”
She replied
“There’s no reason why you can’t carry on sleeping up there” Jack suggested
“No I couldn’t,” she said definitely
“Of course you can” Jack insisted
“Where will you sleep?” Katie asked
“Well, in one of the other four bedrooms or my study” he replied
“You don’t need all the paraphernalia down here yet and you can see visitors up there just as well as in the lounge”
“You’ll be much more comfortable up there” Kayleigh added
“I’ll change the bedding of course,” he said “you were a bit of a sweaty Betty”
Then it was Kayleigh’s turn to yawn
“I need to get to my bed” she said and got up and kissed them both on the cheeks.
Jack followed her out of the kitchen and helped her on with her coat before kissing her goodbye properly.

After Kayleigh had gone he made Katie another drink.
“Are you ok sitting in here while I go and make the bed?”
“Of course” she replied “I rather like it in here”
Jack went upstairs and changed the bedding and after depositing the dirty set in the wash bin he carried the laundry basket downstairs.
“Your bed chamber is ready for you madam,” he announced
“Could I stay down here a bit longer?” she asked
“I don’t see why not” he replied.
So he set up an armchair in the corner of the kitchen for her with plenty of cushions, and she was very pleased with her throne.
“Great” she said, “now I can enjoy the view”
It was a nice view down the garden to the woods he had to agree though he rather took it for granted.
“More importantly” she continued, “from now on I’ll be closer to the food”
They both laughed but it was a pleasure she wouldn’t be able enjoy towards the end so to quote the Reverend word for word she said
“I intend to make the most of it while I can”

Later that morning, having discussed it with Katie first, he phoned Sarah at the surgery about resuming visiting.
Katie felt guilty for letting people down by not being able to see them, now that she was feeling better she was keen to try and reduce the backlog.
They didn’t see Kayleigh anymore that day or Doctor Anderson for that matter as an hour after speaking to Sarah they heard the news that a customer had collapsed in Stephenson’s Corner shop.
It happened as Carole was actually passing by the shop on the way to the surgery.
She attended to him and stayed with him until the ambulance arrived, which was some time as there were delays due to the previous night’s snow.
This made her exceptionally late for her rounds, which kept her, occupied for the rest of the day and as she was away for a family occasion that night and they wouldn’t see her again until Tuesday.

After lunch Katie went upstairs for a rest, and she slept all afternoon which gave Jack a chance to catch up on the laundry.
In the evening Katie had a couple of visitors, who she received in the lounge, and then a very apologetic out of breath district nurse called Gwen arrived.
When she had gone Katie and he had a very passable lasagne courtesy of the European home cooked Meal Mountain in the chest freezer.
After that Katie watched him clear away before he carried her upstairs where she got herself ready for bed.
Jack stayed on hand just by the bathroom door in case he was needed but he wasn’t and she emerged and made herself comfortable in bed.
“There’s nothing quite like fresh bed linen is there?” she said
“No indeed there isn’t,” he agreed
One she was settled they finished watching “The Philadelphia Story” and then he read a few chapters of Harry Potter before the long blinks set in and she was ready for sleep.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 29 – The Angels Wobble

Kayleigh sat with Katie for another ten minutes after they had settled her into his bed while Jack went downstairs to make a coffee.
While he was in the kitchen finishing his drink he heard the front door open and as he listened he realised it was Mrs Cohen.
Jack got up and went into the hall to head her off.
“Ah Mrs C” he said “a change of plan for today, the Reverend has come down with a fever”
She didn’t speak, but listened intently
“She is sleeping upstairs and will do so until the fever dissipates” he continued
“I know I haven’t done as good a job as you would but I’ve already done upstairs so can you just do downstairs this week”
“Of course dear” she replied and patted his hand.
He was taken aback, she had never called him dear before and there was even a hint of a smile about her lips.
Mrs C went about her chores and he returned to the kitchen and when he looked out the kitchen window he noticed it had started snowing.
He hoped it wasn’t going to be too disruptive as he was due at the club that evening, as he couldn’t spend Valentines with Kayleigh, as she would be with Carl.

Hannah Peters was going to come over and stay overnight to look after Katie, which given the good Reverends fever was fortuitous.
But if the snow amounted to as much as was predicted all the plans could easily go awry.
He wasn’t at all convinced that it would as the weather forecast tended to give the worst case scenario so as not to be embarrassed like they were after the great autumn storm of 88 so Jack expected the snow to be an inconvenience and nothing more.
Mrs Cohen left about 12.30 and as soon as the door closed Kayleigh appeared
“Has she gone?”
“Yes you can stop hiding now” he said and laughed
“It’s not funny she’s a very scary woman”
“Nonsense, she called me “dear”” he said
“See, I told you she was scary” Kyleigh explained
Jack left her in the kitchen and went up to check on Katie who was just stirring, he suggested soup for lunch, which he served to her in bed, though she didn’t eat much.
At one thirty Dr Anderson came through the front door
“Hello!” she called
“We’re in the kitchen Carole” Jack called back
“Where’s the patient?” she asked
“She’s in my room” he replied
“Why?” she asked suspiciously
He then told her of the events that lead to her sleeping beneath his duvet.
“Oh God” she said and rushed upstairs so he made some lunch for the three of them in time for her return.
He looked out of the window and was alarmed to notice the snow was not abating in the slightest.
He was beginning to get that sinking feeling, he had actually been looking forward to seeing everyone at the club, but with the snow falling thick and fast he suspected he was going to be disappointed.

Carole came downstairs a little happier than when she went up even though Katie’s temperature hadn’t yet broken.
She was satisfied she wasn’t getting any worse for the time being anyway, but the antibiotics she had just given her, she hoped would break the fever over the next 48 hours.
In the meantime she would spend a couple of hours sitting with her before going home, when she would have to leave for home while she could still get there.

As Carole sat with the sleeping Katie, Kaylie was making coffee and Jack was on the phone, first with Hannah who called to say she was unable to get out of Purplemere and was staying overnight with friends and then to James at the club to say he wouldn’t be paying them a visit after all and explained why and during the conversation James said that it was even worse in Purplemere.
“I’m sorry James” he said “I’ll get over and see you when the weather clears”

He was sitting in the kitchen with Kayleigh looking at the worsening weather and she said
“I really should get going”
“Do you think it’s safe?” he asked
“I don’t know but I have to try”
She always spent the important dates, Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve, Halloween and Valentines with Carl up at Plaxton Park even if she didn’t know if he knew she was there or not because Carl was involved in a devastating car accident that left him severely, physically and mentally disabled and in need of perpetual care and had not responded to any external stimuli.
“You could get stranded,” he said not wanting her to go
“I know” she replied “but I should be there even if he doesn’t know I am, it will be the first one I’ve ever missed”
“You don’t have to miss it,” he told her
“What?” she asked
“Go, I can manage here” he assured her
“What about Katie?” she asked, “She still has a fever”
“Carole has already told me what to do” he replied “and you can phone me for an update”
“And what if she deteriorates? What then?” she asked
“I would do exactly the same thing you would if you were here,” he answered but she still looked unsure so he continued
“Carl may not know you’re there but you do, go to him, I’ll be fine”
She walked around the table and sat on his lap then she kissed him.
“You’re a good man Jack” she said “and I love you”
“And I love you too, now go” he said urgently “before I change my mind”

While Kayleigh was getting her coat on in the hall Jack took another phone call in the kitchen, this time it was from another one of the rota of district nurses who was also unable to get through to the village.
Jack decided not to share the news with either Carole or Kayleigh because they would both have stayed.

“She’s awake,” Carole said as she came down the stairs
“And would love a cup of tea”
“Ok I’ll take one up” he responded then he told her and Kayleigh to call him as soon as they got to their destinations to let him know they got there safely.
Carole left first after promising she would do as instructed and then Kayleigh did the same and then they kissed, but not a goodbye kiss, but more of an “I wish I wasn’t going” kiss, then he opened the door and she stepped out into the snow.

After he watched Kayleigh drive off into the snowy late afternoon he went inside and drew all the curtains, turned on the lights and cranked the heating up before he went into the kitchen and boiled the kettle.
He made Katie and himself a drink, but before he carried them upstairs he went into what used to be the lounge and picked up a couple of DVD’s and the Harry Potter book he had been reading to her.
With the entertainment tucked under his arm and two steaming mugs in his hand he knocked on the door with his free hand.
“Are you decent?” he asked as he slowly pushed open the door.
“You don’t have to knock” she said weakly
“It’s the polite thing to do before entering a ladies boudoir” he said gallantly
“There you are Milady” he said as he put her tea on the nightstand
“Thanks” she said “I’m really gasping”
“I bought up a couple of films” he said with a frown as he drew the curtains and noticed the snow was falling faster.
“Or we could carry on with the book” he added as he put on the bedside lamp
“Could we just have some music?” Katie said “I don’t think I can concentrate on anything else”
“Of course, do you have a preference?” Jack asked
“Something classical would be nice” she replied “no Wagner or Mahler though, something light”
“I have just the thing” Jack said as he got up and left the room.
He came back about five minutes later with his tablet and connected it to the music player.
After a moment or two a selection of John Barry tunes began to play.

While Katie drank her tea Jack settled himself into the armchair in the corner, which was probably the most uncomfortable chair he had ever sat in, though in truth he only got it for decoration.
Ten minutes later he got a text from Kayleigh to say she had made it to Plaxton safely.
“I like this” Katie said after about half an hour, though in truth she kept drifting off to sleep while he passed the time away doing Sudoku’s, then the phone rang, and he picked it up and could see it was Carole Anderson
“Hey you” he said “I was beginning to get a bit worried”
“I’m quite safe” she responded “how’s the patient?”
“Sleeping” he replied
“No I’m not” interrupted Katie
“How’s her temperature?” Carole asked
“I’m not due to take it again for another half an hour” he replied
“Well take it now while I’m on the phone” she insisted
So he did as she asked and it hadn’t changed since lunchtime.
“Should I give her, her tablets now?” Jack asked
“No the nurse can do that when she gets there” she replied
“Ah” he exclaimed
“Ah what?” she asked suspiciously, so Jack told her about the phone call he took while she was in with Katie.
“I wish you’d told me Jack” she said crossly, “I would have stayed”
“That’s precisely why I didn’t tell you” he replied
“Were you that desperate to get rid of me?” she asked sadly
“Never that” he replied
Carole eventually conceded his motives were well meaning and gave him his instructions for the evening, and promised to ring again later.

It was about 7 o’clock when he woke up in the armchair after a short doze just in time to see Katie coming out of the bathroom.
As she stood in the doorway with the bright bathroom light behind her.
“What are you up to?” he asked
“I needed the loo” she replied
“I should have been helping you” he said
“I didn’t want to wake you” she said “and I don’t need help to pee”
So he helped her back into bed.
“If you promise to behave while I’m gone, I’ll make you some supper” he said “what would you like?”
“I’m not hungry” she said
“You should try and eat something” he insisted “how about some soup?”
“No not the soup again, it gave me wind” she answered
“I noticed” Jack said
“Oh, you didn’t?” she exclaimed and blushed
“I think my fever is getting worse” she continued fanning herself at the same time.
“Could I just have another cup of tea” she asked and sank back into the pillows.
“Of course you can?” he said but he didn’t think she heard the answer.

While he was in the kitchen he made himself a sandwich and ate it at the table before he went back upstairs.
After her cup of tea Katie said she felt up to watching something so he held up the two DVDs he brought upstairs earlier and let her pick.
So they watched “The Philadelphia Story”, well in truth he watched it while Katie drifted back off into a fitful sleep.
He touched her forehead and it was still burning hot but although the room didn’t feel cold she was shivering so he pulled the throw up over the top of the duvet.

About 9 o’clock the phone rang, so he got up from the armchair and hurried downstairs.
“Hello?” he said
“Oh Jack, thank God” Carole exclaimed
“Carole? Why are you ringing on the landline?” he asked
“The network is down because of the blizzards” she explained
“And it’s taken me an absolute age to get this number, I had to phone the Club first and spoke to someone called Kylie, then she phoned Jacey, who phoned James, who phoned Elise, she then phoned Gemma who spoke to her mum then her mum phoned me”
“I’m guessing the call from her mum wasn’t a quick one”
“No, she’s a chatty woman isn’t she?” Carole said with a laugh
“Well you got me in the end” he said
“Anyway how’s the patient doing?” she said back to business
“She’s still very hot and she’s sleeping a lot” Jack explained
“But she’s not sleeping soundly and she’s not resting comfortably”
There was silence from the phone so he continued
“I think that’s a good sign isn’t it? That means she’s fighting it off” he said hopefully
“How’s her appetite been?” Carole asked avoiding his question
“Not good” he answered “she hasn’t eaten much at all, but I’m keeping her hydrated”
“Hmmm” she responded
“Is hmmm good or bad” he asked
“Neither” she said “Keep watching her closely and hopefully the fever will break by morning”
“And if it doesn’t?” he asked
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, call me if there is a change” She said, her voice cracking “I’ll get to you as early as I can in the morning”
And then she was gone.

Jack slept in the uncomfortable armchair in his room beside the bed and woke up just after 2 am with pins and needles in his arm.
He gingerly picked up his dead arm with his unaffected hand while life flooded painfully back into it.
Having successfully restored blood flow to his stricken limb he walked downstairs to the kitchen.
While he waited for the kettle to boil he looked out the window and it appeared to have stopped snowing.
He opened the back door and looked out, it had stopped and the wind had died away and when he looked up he could breaks in the cloud.
He closed the door again and made a mug of Milo and went back upstairs and Katie was still restlessly murmuring in her sleep so he settled back into the armchair from hell, drank his Milo and dosed off again.

When he came to, an hour and a half later he forgot where he was, he couldn’t see much in the darkness and there were no familiar sounds to aid him, and then it dawned on him, there were no sounds at all, and the room was full of silence.
He quickly fumbled with the light switch on the lamp and eventually switched it on to reveal there before him, peacefully sleeping in his bed was Katie.
He stood up and walked to the bedside and sat down on the edge of the bed, she was breathing un-laboured and when he touched her forehead it was cool and clammy, her fever had broken.
Jack sat there for about 20 minutes just watching her sleep then quite suddenly she licked her lips and opened her eyes and after a moment she looked at him and smiled.
“Could I have an omelette?” she said “I’m starving”
And Jack burst out laughing.

While Katie sat in bed devouring a four egg omelette he went downstairs and phoned the Doctor
“Hello” A tired voice croaked
“Carole?” he asked not sure if he had just woken some poor unsuspecting stranger
“Jack?” she replied “is everything ok?”
“The fever has broken” he said
“Thank God” Carole responded “is she still sleeping?”
“No” he replied “she’s eating an omelette”
And they both laughed

He hung up the phone and picked up his mobile and he could see he had a signal so he assumed the network was back up so he sent Kayleigh a text with the good news then he went straight back upstairs to find Katie mopping up the last remnants of her omelette with her third slice of bread.
“Was that to madam’s satisfaction?” he asked her in his pompous butler’s voice
“Lovely” she replied wiping her mouth with her serviette.
“Have you had enough?” he enquired
“Oh yes” she replied “if I have any more I won’t enjoy my breakfast”
“What about another tea?” he suggested
“Oh yes please” she replied with a grin

Friday, 18 August 2017

Angels, Lovers and Songbirds Chapter 28 – The Grateful Angel

On Friday the pattern that they had quickly fallen into was to be broken when Paul and Katie would be picked up in a taxi and taken to the Bishops residence for high tea, a singular honour by all accounts.
Selfishly, on hearing this news the day before Jack thought that, that would be his chance to spend some private time with Kayleigh.
So as he watched the taxi drive away on Friday lunchtime he felt a tingle of excitement tinged with guilt, but predominantly excitement.
It was partly the secrecy and the planning as well as the anticipation but mainly it was his love of her that stirred him.
He dropped the latch on the front door and then went out through the back door via the kitchen, locking the door behind him.
Once outside Jack hurried through the side gate into Kayleigh’s garden and found the kitchen door open so he stepped in and called
And a grinning face appeared from behind the door.

Jack felt rather guilty after his sinful afternoon in his lover’s bed while Katie was being entertained by the Bishop, but not guilty enough to prevent him from enjoying Kayleigh’s company again when the chance next arose.

There were no visitors on Friday Evening as was to be expected as the Vicar was too exhausted after tea with the Bishop.
She slept for much of Saturday as well but on Sunday she was feeling much better, so much so that she felt in need of spiritual refreshment so after he helped her with her bath Jack wheeled Katie down to the church.
It was a cold damp foggy morning and he wasn’t sure it was altogether a good idea but he had her well wrapped up and Paul Massey, the new Vicar, had saved her a seat nearest the heater.
She was in sparkling form, almost up to her former best and she chatted enthusiastically with all those in earshot and she enjoyed the service very much and was much moved by Paul’s choice of hymns.
However by the end, she was flagging and although her spiritual self was indeed refreshed, her body was left exhausted again, which kept her confined to bed for the rest of Sunday and a large part of Monday.

Every morning Sarah Peters, Verger at St Lucy’s and receptionist at the doctors surgery, phoned him to see if Katie was up to visitors and Jack would say yes or no, having already consulted Katie to see if she wanted to or not, but the ultimate decision was his.
Katie would never turn anyone away no matter how drained she was, but on Monday he provisionally said yes.

Just after he’d hung up the phone there was a knock at the door and when he opened it, it was the nurse, a different one this time, a district nurse it turned out.
After she’d gone Jack had to carry Katie all the way upstairs for her bath and all the way back down as well.
Dr Anderson came around midday and was persuaded to accept Jack’s hospitality to lunch with them, not that it took too much persuasion, and he had noticed her visits had been particularly well timed of late.
In the evening it was a different nurse again, a pleasant enough woman though but somewhat sour faced.

After the Doctor had gone Jack and Katie ended up watching a lot of old movies together and in the evening after she had seen her visitors they were joined by Kayleigh and after they had eaten a sublime Lamb Curry donated by the Khan’s, Katie asked if Jack would read to her.
“Which book?” he asked and after about thirty seconds of deliberation she said
“Harry Potter”
“Which one?”
“Let’s start at the beginning “The Philosophers Stone” she said, “Hopefully we’ll get through all of them before the end”
Jack glanced at Kayleigh and he could see that she didn’t like to think about the end either, and like Jack she hoped it wouldn’t come for a good while yet.
Jack shook off the morbid thoughts and read to her for the next couple of hours.

Virtually the same routine was repeated the next day, only the faces and shapes of the nurses varied, but then on Wednesday evening Katie went down with a fever.
He called Dr Anderson immediately, she played it down of course, but he could tell she was concerned.
She told him what tablets to give her and in a reassuring voice said she would pop in the next day as usual.
The next day Kayleigh called in at 7.30am and tried to pass it off as coincidence but she was clearly worried.

Carole administered the usual meds and something else for the fever.
“That will suffice for now” she said and instructed him to check her temperature regularly and promised to return later in the day.
As Carole had done everything already she called the surgery and asked Sarah to cancel the nurse for that morning but to leave the evening one in place for the time being.

Despite her fever Katie insisted on having her bath as usual, claiming it couldn’t do any harm and would probably even help, and then she gave him one of her lopsided grins so he gave in providing she ate her breakfast first.
She duly complied and he carried her upstairs and sat her on his bed while he ran her a bath.
He helped her into the tub in the usual manner and as he didn’t want to leave her alone upstairs as he normally did, he pottered around upstairs, changing the bedding, putting towels away, that kind of thing.

Once Jack had done everything he called into her
“Are you ready to get out yet your ladyship?”
“In a minute peasant” she replied
He was still laughing when he noticed Katie hadn’t sorted anything out clothes wise, so he went down and chose some for her, underwear as well, and when he was halfway up the stairs he went back and got a clean nightie just in case.
Before he got back upstairs he was surprised to see Kayleigh walk in.
“Hi Hon” he said “I wasn’t expecting to see you until later”
“I’m not coming later, remember” she said
“Of course” he said “Well now you’re here you can help me with Katie”
They went upstairs and he put the pile of clothes on the bed and Kayleigh helped her out of the bath.
Jack withdrew while she dried herself, but after a few moments she went a bit wobbly so they sat her on the bed and Kayleigh finished drying her herself.

When they had finished their joint venture Jack said
“I sorted out some clothes for you”
She had a quick look and replied
“Have you been rummaging through my knicker drawer?”
“Yes I have indeed rummaged in your drawer full of drawers” he responded proudly
“Pervert” she said and laughed.
After a moment or two of inactivity he was getting concerned she would get cold so Jack decided it was time to get her moving.
“Right let’s get you dressed,” he suggested “or would you rather just wear your nightie?”
“Nightie and Knicks” she said weakly
He picked up a pair of pale yellow knickers from the pile of clothes, and handed them to Kayleigh who knelt down in front of her and got her pants on over her feet and then pulled them up to her knees.
Jack then encouraged Katie to stand up and hold onto him for support while Kayleigh pulled her knickers the rest of the way up.
“Oops” she exclaimed with a giggle “they’ve gone up my bum”
“Well putting knickers on isn’t my sphere of expertise” Jack said “but I don’t mind helping out”
“I don’t think you should be poking around up there,” Katie said
“I’ll get them roughly in situ and you can adjust them later” Kayleigh replied.
Once she had finished Katie sat back down on the bed and Kayleigh stood up in front of her and picked up her nightie and put in on over her head, she then put her arms through in turn and she prepared to pull it down as Katie released the towel.
“No peeking,” she said
“I can’t promise that” Jack said honestly “I am a pervert after all”
But as she let the towel drop Jack did avert his gaze until Kayleigh had pulled her up to her feet and the garment had covered her modesty.
They both held onto her while she adjusted her pants and when the final adjustments were made and the snap of elastic sounded no more she leant against Jack and hugged him tightly.
“Thank you Jack,” she said softly
“For what?” he asked
“For everything” she replied “for this”
“It’s no trouble” he said
“It’s a lot of trouble” Katie corrected him
“And it means a lot to me”
“My pleasure” he said “well you know what I mean”
She suddenly broke away and exclaimed
“I forgot to squirt”
“Not to worry” he said “that’s soon remedied”
So he went into the bathroom and grabbed her deodorant and returned to the bedroom where Kayleigh still had her standing by the bed.
She lifted her arms up one at a time while he squirted.
“Anywhere else?” he asked
“No that will suffice” she replied
“Sure?” he asked again
She nodded.
“Ok” he said and pulled the neck of her nightie out and gave a quick squirt down her front.
“Behave yourself” Kayleigh said and slapped his arm “you’re incorrigible”
They were all laughing when she went all wobbly again and fell against Jack limply.
“Oops a daisy” he said as he took hold of her.
Holding her firmly with one arm he used his spare hand to gesticulate to Kayleigh to turn back the duvet before he lowered her onto the bed.
“Let’s get you lying down,” he said gently
“No” she replied, “this is your room”
“Well for the next few days it’s your room” he insisted “I put clean bedding on this morning”
She didn’t have the strength to argue anymore so she lay down and as he and Kayleigh sat beside her on the bed she drifted off to sleep within a few minutes.