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The next morning, Jo woke to see a note from Jack on the bedside cabinet.

Gone to shop. Back soon. Jack xxx

Jo climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom. When she was dressed she went down to the kitchen. Turning the ring on underneath the kettle, she then found some cereal for breakfast. She had just finished when she heard the front door bang closed and footsteps crossing the hallway. Jack poked his head into the kitchen and smiled when he saw Jo sitting at the table.

“Good. You’re up. I have a surprise for you.” He crossed the kitchen and gently pulled her to her feet. “Close your eyes and no peeking.” Jo looked suspiciously at him.

“Just what do you plan to do with me?”

“Nothing. Close your eyes.” He smiled persuasively and Jo sighed. She really wasn’t in the mood to be surprised, when she was still feeling low. She did as she was told, though, and allowed Jack to lead her out of the kitchen. He led her slowly across the hall and into the lounge. He stopped her once they were inside the room. “Okay. You can open them now.” Jo opened her eyes and was immediately grabbed by two sets of hands.

“Jo!”

“Auntie Jo!”

The voices cried out simultaneously, and Jo found herself being pulled into a hug with Robin and Daisy. She returned the embrace, glad to see the two girls. Jack stood to one side, pleased he had thought of inviting them over for the day. Jo was the first to recover herself.

“It’s lovely to see you, girls, but shouldn’t you be at school?”

“Miss Annersley has allowed them the day off to visit you,” Jack replied, as he put his arm round Jo’s waist and led her to the sofa. “You’ve had a rough few days and I thought they might cheer you up a little.”

“Thank you, Jack. It’s a lovely surprise.”

“I’ll leave you girls to it as I’ve a few things to do this morning.” Jack departed, leaving the three of them to sit down and catch up.

“We’ve missed you, Auntie Jo,” Daisy told her as she came to sit next to Jo on the sofa.

“I’ve missed you, too, Daisy-girl. I can’t believe how tall you’re getting. Do you ever intend to stop growing?”

“I can’t help it. Uncle Jem says I’m going to be tall like him.” Jo laughed.

“Yes, you probably will be, but you’ll have no clothes to fit you soon, if you keep it up at this rate.”

“How are you, Jo?” Robin asked, seriously. “Jack just said you needed cheering up.”

“I’m fine, Robin. I had an appointment at the Sanatorium yesterday and it just put me down in the dumps a little, that’s all.” Not for worlds would Jo tell them what had really happened over the past few days. She could barely bring herself to think about the nightmare again, never mind relate it to two schoolgirls. It was still too vivid in her mind. Robin looked shrewdly at Jo, but said no more on the subject. She guessed it was more than just the appointment that had upset her. At sixteen, she was beginning to see a lot of things her elders hadn’t told her about. She said no more on the subject.

The three of them spent a lovely morning together, catching up on all the news. Jo listened to Robin’s and Daisy’s chatter, allowing it to wash over her and dissipate her own troubles for a while. When Jack called them to the kitchen for lunch, he was pleased to see that Jo looked much happier and she wasn’t wearing the anxious look she had had for the past few days. He kept the chatter light as they ate their lunch and suggested that Robin and Daisy might like to unpack their boxes whilst Jo rested after lunch. This was quickly agreed, though Jack made no mention of when they would actually move back in with them. Robin was wise enough to guess that Jack wanted to spend some time alone with Jo whilst he was home and she didn’t expect to move back until just before he was due to go back.

Jo slept soundly for two hours after lunch, only waking when Jack came into the room with a drink for her. He smiled as she opened her eyes and looked at him.

“Here you go. Drink that first, then come back downstairs.”

“Thank you for inviting Robin & Daisy over, Jack.”

“My pleasure.” Jack came to sit on the edge of the bed. “I thought you needed some distraction and knew you were missing having them here with you.”

“When are they going to move back here?”

“I thought they could come back a few days before I have to leave. I want to have you all to myself for once.” Jo’s face had fallen slightly at his mention of going back, but she managed a small smile at his wanting her to himself. Jack noticed, however. He said nothing and pushed it to the back of his mind. He wanted Jo to enjoy her day. He left her to her drink and went back downstairs to the lounge, where Robin and Daisy were indulging in a game of Snap.

Jo duly joined them fifteen minutes later, and the four of them spent a cosy afternoon together, playing board games. When it came to making dinner, Robin and Daisy insisted that they did it. They disappeared off to the kitchen, leaving Jo and Jack alone in the lounge. Jack came to sit with Jo on the sofa, and she curled up into his arms.

“Enjoyed yourself?”

“Yes. It’s been gorgeous to see them both, though it’s a shame they have to go back tonight.”

“Their stuff is all at your sister’s house. They wouldn’t have the time to go back there before school in the morning.”

“How are they getting back?”

“Jem said he would collect them on his way home.” Jo nodded and laid her head on his chest. The day had been busier than she was expecting and she was still recovering from her pneumothorax the previous day. Jack just held her, understanding that she was making the most of the quiet to have a brief rest.

Fifteen minutes later, Daisy announced that dinner was ready. Jo sat up looking a little disorientated. She had dozed off in the quiet of the room. Jack smiled at her.

“Go and have a quick wash to wake yourself up.” He pulled her to her feet and she disappeared upstairs whilst he made his way to the kitchen.

Once they had finished and washed up, they all went back into the lounge to make the most of the time left until Jem came to collect Robin and Daisy. Jem appeared about eight o’clock and the girls reluctantly took their leave. As reluctant as Jo was to say goodbye to them, she was secretly relieved. She flopped thankfully onto the sofa, whilst Jack went and made them a drink. When he came back into the lounge, he saw she was struggling to keep her eyes open.

“Go on up to bed, Jo. There’s no point trying to stay awake just for me.” Jo yawned and stood up. She took her drink from him and started to the door.

“I think I will. I had no idea those two could be so tiring. Night, Jack.” She kissed him and departed bedwards.




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