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Jo slept the clock round, with no sign of the nightmare. When she finally woke the next morning, Jack had just returned to the bedroom, a cup of tea in each hand. He smiled as he deposited the cups on the bedside cabinets and climbed back into bed next to her. Jo snuggled up to him and he placed his arm around her.

“You look much better this morning, Jo. How did you sleep?”

“I feel much better. I barely remember getting into bed, I was so tired.”

“I’m not surprised. You were exhausted when you stopped writing yesterday. Let’s have a lazy day today and just see what happens.”

“Okay.” Jo closed her eyes and dozed again, whilst Jack picked up his book. Suddenly the telephone bell pealed through the house. Jo groaned at being disturbed by Jack as he jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to answer it. Jo could hear a muffled conversation, but took no notice as she closed her eyes once more. Normally, she was loath to stay in bed once she was awake but, today, she was feeling rather lazy and determined to make the most of the chance. That was spoiled, however, when Jack re-appeared in the room.

“That was Jem. Apparently, you have an appointment at the Sanatorium in two hours.”

“Two hours? Do I have to go?” Jo’s good mood evaporated and she felt as if everyone was conspiring against her being able to enjoy the time alone with Jack.

“I’m afraid so. You can’t afford to miss appointments.” Jack sat down on the bed and put his hand on her shoulder, but she rolled away from him to face the window. She was trying not to give way to her tears. Jack watched her, concerned. He realised that she was retreating away as she found herself back in the position of patient once more. He wished he could have put the appointment off for another day, but he knew it wasn’t possible.

“Do you want to use the bathroom first?”

“No.”

“Joey? You can talk to me, you know.”

“I know. I just want to be alone, for now.”

Sighing, Jack went to the bathroom. He wished Jo would talk to him instead of withdrawing into herself. He had tried to persuade Jem that she would be better to have pneumothorax in a couple of days, but Jem had been adamant that today was the only appointment available. As Jack wasn’t currently working at the Sanatorium, he had been unable to check for himself and had reluctantly agreed to it. He knew that Jo would not be up to doing much for the rest of the day and that she would be out of sorts the next day, too. He thought of something to brighten up the next day for her and smiled to himself.

When he had finished in the bathroom, he returned to the bedroom and saw Jo still lying in the same position. He went and knelt down so he was on a level with her. He gently wiped the tears away from her cheeks and kissed her. When he pulled back, she managed a watery smile and he grinned back at her. Jo was suspicious at once.

“What are you plotting, Jack Maynard?”

“Me? Nothing. Come on, up you get. The quicker we get there, the quicker it’s done.” He pulled the covers from her and dressed, leaving Jo to get up and go to the bathroom.

They were soon both downstairs eating breakfast. When they were finished, Jo washed the pots, whilst Jack got the car out. Soon, they were on their way to the Sanatorium. Jack glanced over to Jo and saw her face darken as they neared their destination. He parked up and they both climbed out and went inside.

“I’ll be waiting here for you when you’re finished, Jo.” He kissed her and left her to find her own way to X-ray.

When Jo finally returned to reception, Jack was waiting as he had promised.

“How was it?”

“Just take me home, Jack.” She was breathless and in no mood for any of his questions. Seeing this, Jack helped her out to the car and drove quickly home in silence. Jo stared moodily out of the window. She hated having to go through X-rays and pneumothorax every month and resented the fact that she was then reliant on someone else to help her for the rest of the day as she recovered. They reached home at this point in her thoughts and Jack was helping her inside and upstairs, where she soon found herself back between the sheets. Jack lay with her until she fell asleep, hoping his presence was a comfort to her.

It was mid-afternoon when Jo woke. She lay in bed and wondered what to do. She had no breath to move, but she knew she wouldn’t sleep any more. She picked her book up from the bedside cabinet and started reading, but it didn’t hold her attention for long. She let it drop onto the bed and fell to brooding. When Jack came to check on her, he found her staring vacantly at the wall, her book unheeded on the bed. He came to sit with her.

“How long have you been awake?”

“An hour or so.” Jo didn’t move her gaze.

“You should have called me. If I’d known you were awake, I would have come up.” Jo didn’t reply. “What’s wrong, Jo?”

“Nothing”

“Something’s bothering you. You’re not normally like this.”

“I’m just fed up of it all, Jack.”

“All?”

“Being ill. War. You not being here.” Jo was struggling to hold back her tears. Jack pulled her into his arms and she let them fall.

“It’s all right, Joey. You’re allowed to feel fed up sometimes. You’ve had a tough three years or so. The war can’t last forever. And you will get better. It’ll just take time, that’s all.”

“Will I? It doesn’t feel that way at the moment.”

“Of course you will. The stress of the last few years haven’t helped but, now, we’ve got a lovely home and family nearby. You are improving, though it may not feel like it at the moment. You’re bound to have times when you feel down and nothing looks positive. Today is one of those days. You’ve had an emotional few days, what with the air raid and then having to go for pneumothorax today.” Jack held her gently, careful not to cause her any more discomfort than she was already in. He wished he could help her more, but he knew that being there for her when she had days like this was the most important thing. He wished he didn’t have to go back in two weeks’ time. He looked down and realised Jo had fallen back to sleep, worn out by her emotions. He gently extricated himself and went to fetch a drink and his book. He wanted to be there when Jo woke again.

The pealing of the telephone woke her an hour later. Jack went to answer it as Jo allowed the room to come into focus. When he came back, he was smiling broadly.

“How do you feel, now?”

“My head aches.”

“Do you want some painkillers?”

“Yes, please.” Jack obligingly fetched the required painkillers for her and she took them, thankfully. I need to make a start on dinner, now, otherwise we won’t be eating tonight. Will you be all right for half an hour or so?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. I’ll wake you when it’s ready. Is there anything else I can get you?” Jo shook her head, and then winced as the pain moved. Jack kissed her and left her to sleep whilst he prepared something for them to eat.

When he returned to the bedroom with their dinner, Jo was still sleeping. Jack woke her and she sat up and took the tray from him. They ate in silence, then Jack took their trays back downstairs and washed up. When he returned to the bedroom, Jo was reading. She smiled up at him as he sat down beside her. He returned the smile.

“You look happier, Jo.”

“I feel it. Thank you, Jack. I don’t know how I would have managed to get through the last few days without you.”

“I’m glad I could help. I know it’s hard for you to deal with it all, sometimes, but don’t think you have to go through everything alone. I want to be able to help you and support you, but you have to tell me when you feel unhappy or fed up. I’ll always listen so, please, don’t block me out. I love you, Jo and I want to share your pain and happiness. I want you to be able to think of me as your husband, because that’s what I am.”

“I know. It’s just that, sometimes, I find it hard to forget you’re my doctor.” Jack just hugged her. He saw she was still tired and allowed a companionable silence to fall on them as he held her in his arms. Soon, Jo was sleeping again.



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