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Author's Chapter Notes:

This is the last chapter of Part IV.  Thank you all for you lovely comments.  It's encouraged me to continue writing this. 

Part V will follow when I get round to writing it.


Jack’s last four days flew by, and before Jo realised, it was his last morning at home with her. They had done some serious talking about what was going to happen when he left. The rash at the Round House had turned out to be chicken pox and they were all quarantined for at least the next week. Jack had conceded that Jo should stay at home and not return to the Sanatorium. He understood her need for independence and agreed that this was a prime opportunity for her to be able to prove she was capable of living alone. He had spoken to Jem and made sure that he knew the reason why Jo was staying alone. Jem had been reluctant to agree at first, but Jack had told him that Jo needed the challenge, if she was to continue to improve. Jem had finally agreed on the proviso that Jo speak to her sister daily and, if she was struggling at all, to speak to him. He still felt that Jo was his responsibility, especially when Jack was away, and he would find it hard to relinquish that role so she could be the adult she was.

They spent a quiet morning at home, just enjoying each other’s company and making the most of the little time left to them. All too soon, the time for Jack’s departure arrived. He had arranged a lift into Armiford and was due to meet it at one o’clock. He disappeared upstairs to change, before seeking Jo. He found her sitting at the bottom of the garden.

“Jo? I have to go, now, or I’ll miss my lift.” Jo didn’t reply. She knew that if she spoke, she would break down in tears. Jack guessed how she was feeling and sat down beside her, wrapping her into his arms. They stayed like that for a few minutes, Jo drawing strength from him. Eventually, she pulled back and they kissed.

“Take care of yourself, Joey. I’ll be home again, soon.”

“I will, Jack.” He gave her another hug before walking back down the garden. Jo watched him go, her eyes full of unshed tears. Only when he was out of sight did she let them fall. She stayed at the bottom of the garden for a long time, her thoughts elsewhere. Only when the shade came, making her feel chilly, did she move.

“Right, Jo. Time to prove yourself.” She spoke out loud, as she stood up and shook her skirt out, before heading back to the house and her independence.



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