|Winter was here in earnest now, and one morning, Jo woke to see snow falling past her window. She had been into Armiford a few days before to do her Christmas shopping and was glad she’d managed to finish it all. She knew she wouldn’t be going very far if the snow continued. She dressed quickly in the cold room and was soon downstairs making the fire up in the lounge. She knew Jack would be home soon since he had been working the night shift and she went into the kitchen to put the kettle on to boil.|
Jack came in through the front door, banging his boots as he did so, just as she poured the water into the teapot. She placed the teapot and cups onto a tray and headed towards the lounge with it.
“Morning, Jo.” Jack stopped her on her way to give her a quick kiss, which she returned before depositing the tray in the lounge. As she passed back through, he was removing his boots and she kissed the top of his head on the way past.
“Do you want something to eat?”
“A sandwich would be great. Thanks Jo.”
“I won’t be long. You go into the lounge where it’s warm.” Jack smiled after her and did as he was told. He stood in front of the fire for a few minutes to warm himself up, before going over to the sofa and flopping down on it. He’d had a busy night and this was the first chance he’d had to sit down since he’d started his shift. He removed his tie and unfastened the top button on his shirt, glad to be able to relax at last. Jo returned with a couple of plates and passed one to him.
“Thanks. Just what I need.”
“My pleasure. Do you want some tea?”
“Yes, please.” Jo poured them both a cup before she started on her breakfast. They ate in a companionable silence, the crackling of the fire the only sound in the room. When Jack had finished he put the plate on the tray ready to take through to the kitchen.
“Is there any more tea in the pot?”
“There should be,” Jo replied between mouthfuls. Jack lifted the lid and saw there was plenty left.
“Do you want one, too?” Jo passed her cup over and he refilled them both. Jo smiled her thanks as she finished her toast and put her plate on top of Jack’s. She came over to sit on the sofa with him and he pulled her into a hug.
“Yes. I’m glad to be home, now. Especially as the snow is coming down like mad.”
“Are you back in tonight as well?”
“No. I have a couple of days off, thank goodness.”
“That’s good. You’ve been there every day for the past few weeks.”
“I know. We’re so short-staffed that I’m lucky to have any time off.”
“I’m glad you have. I hardly ever see you at the moment.”
“It can’t be helped, though. Hopefully we’ll be getting some more doctors, soon, which should help lighten the load a little.”
“That sounds hopeful.”
“It is. Though if the snow continues to come down like it is now, I may have to stay there between shifts as it might be impossible to get through.”
“Oh, Jack! I hope not!”
“So do I, but it might happen, so you’ve been warned. I promise I’ll let you know if it happens.”
“I’m going to have to go and get some sleep, I think. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Will you wake me up for lunch?”
“Are you sure you want waking for lunch?”
“Yes. I want to be able to spend some time with you and when I go back I’ll be working early shifts, so I need to be able to sleep tonight.” He stood up at this point and stretched. “Night, Jo.” He gave her a kiss and departed to bed.
Jo took the tray back through to the kitchen and washed up before returning to the warmth of the lounge. She stood at the French windows for a while, watching the snow falling lazily from the sky and settling onto the garden. Then she turned back to the room and hunted out her shopping, intending to spend the morning wrapping presents.
Jo soon had presents and paper scattered across the floor and any other available surface as she wrapped the many presents she had bought for her family. When she had finished, she surveyed the mess she had created and sighed before turning to and collecting the parcels up. She deposited them in the corner of the study, where she could cover them with an old sheet and then went back to tidy the rest of the mess up. By the time she had finished, it was nearly one o’clock. She crossed the hall to the kitchen to start on lunch. When she was organised, she went to wake Jack.
“Time for lunch, sleepyhead,” she said as she shook him. He grunted and tried to roll away, but Jo grabbed the bedclothes and pulled them off him. This woke him up thoroughly since the room was cold. He opened his eyes to see Jo standing over him, smiling sweetly.
“What time is it?”
“Quarter past one. You wanted me to wake you for lunch and lunch’s ready.”
“Oh. Okay. I’ll be down in a few minutes, Jo.” Planting a kiss on his nose, Jo let the covers drop and departed for the warmth of the lounge.
Left alone, Jack yawned and debated rolling over and going back to sleep. He decided against it as he knew if he slept any longer, he would be wide awake when it came to going to bed at the normal time. He struggled out of bed and had a quick wash and got dressed, before going downstairs. He found Jo in the lounge, just finishing her sandwich. He picked up his plate and ate his own sandwich, whilst Jo poured him a cup of tea. When he finished Jo took his plate and disappeared off to the kitchen. She was gone for quite some time. Jack wondered what she was doing and went looking for her. He found her in the kitchen preparing vegetables.
“What are you doing, Jo? It’s freezing in here.”
“I thought we could have a stew for dinner, so I need to get everything prepared and put in the oven, now. If we keep the door closed, the kitchen will be warm when it’s ready, so we can eat in here without having to make the fire.”
“Fair enough. Hurry up though and come back through to the lounge. It’s far too cold for you to stay in here for long.” Jo nodded and continued with her task. When it was ready, she put the stew pot into the oven and turned it on. Closing the door behind her, she went back into the lounge and the warmth. Jack was sitting on the sofa, listening to the radio, so Jo came across and snuggled up to him, placing her cold hands up his jumper to warm them back up. As they came into contact with his skin, he flinched.
“Hey! Take them back out! They’re freezing!” Jo just laughed and he had to pull her hands back out himself. He kept hold of them so she couldn’t get away and tickled her in retaliation, before pulling her into him for a kiss. They snuggled onto the sofa together and listened to the radio until Jack realised Jo had dozed off in the heat of the room. Gently, he manoeuvred her so she was lying on the sofa and covered her with a blanket before disappearing into the study.
Once there, he shut the door and pulled some parcels out from under the desk. He quickly wrapped them and added them to the pile of presents under the cloth in the corner. Once he had finished, he tidied up and went into the kitchen to make a drink, before returning to the warmth of the lounge.
He deposited his coffee on the side table and made the fire up again. Sitting down in the armchair next to it, he found out his book to read until Jo should wake again.
Jo woke an hour or so later and stretched out along the sofa before she tried to untangle herself from the blanket. This took a bit of doing as she had somehow managed to wrap it right around her body and she couldn’t find the end. Jack took pity on her and came to help.
“Lay still, Jo. I can’t find the end if you keep on wriggling.” Jo stopped her struggles and waited patiently for him to locate it. “Ah! Got it!” He pulled and Jo nearly fell off the sofa as he did so.
“Be careful! You nearly landed me on the floor, then.”
“Did I? Ah, well, next time.” He just grinned maddeningly at her and left her to sit up properly. She stood up and departed for the kitchen to check on the stew. Once she was satisfied, she went upstairs to freshen up, before going back to the lounge. Jack had returned to his book, so Jo curled up in the corner of the sofa and picked up her own book. A companionable silence descended, broken only by the crackling of the fire. As the room began to darken, Jack suddenly spoke.
“Turn a light on, please, Jo. I’ve just got to an exciting part and I can’t see anymore.”
“Why don’t you turn the light on?”
“Because you’re nearer to the switch.”
“You’re nearer to the curtains and they need drawing first.”
“You could do that while you’re up.” Sighing, Jo rose and closed the curtains, before turning the light on. As she passed him, she glanced at his book.”
“What’re you reading? Agatha Christie? The butler did it.”
“Jo! Don’t tell me the ending! I want to work it out for myself.” Jo just laughed and curled back up on the sofa. She was soon bored of her own book and needed to do something else. She wriggled, earning herself a glare from Jack who wanted to finish his book.
“Have you worked it out yet?”
“No. I won’t be able to, either, if you keep talking to me. If you want something to do, why don’t you go and make us a drink and let me finish this in peace?” Jo did as she was told, dropping a kiss onto his head as she passed him. Jack turned the page and he became once more engrossed in the story, hoping he could finish it before Jo returned.
He was lucky. He was just closing the book as she returned, carrying the tray. Smiling up at her, he waved it triumphantly.
“I was right!” Jo just smiled at him and poured the tea.
“Dinner should be ready in an hour or so.”
Jack came over to join Jo the sofa and they talked happily on, enjoying the chance to spend time in each other’s company without any interruptions. When Jo glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, she reluctantly stood up and went to check on dinner. Five minutes later she called Jack through to the kitchen and they sat down to stew and dumplings. Their evening continued much the same as the afternoon, until Jo yawned and they retired to bed.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Many thanks for the encouraging comments from the last chapter.
Ariel, I don't know what you mean about the last sentence being ominous.... *looks innocent* ;-)
This is the penultimate post for Part V.