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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thanks for your comments.  :-D

The weeks moved onwards for Jo. Her sister made a point of coming for dinner one night every week, which broke the monotony for her. She looked forwards to the weekends when Robin and Daisy were at home and she had someone to talk to. The nights began to draw in and the weather took a turn for the worse, so she found herself stuck indoors unless she needed to go to the village. She had no wish to catch another cold since Jem had told her how lucky she had been last time. She might not be so lucky next time. She supposed taking care to avoid catching cold was something she must be extra vigilant about, now, especially if she wanted to continue improving.

A month after her cold, Jem came to collect her one afternoon. She had an appointment for a routine X-ray on her chest. She went along happily enough, knowing that she wasn’t going to have to go through pneumothorax as well. When she was finished, she had a while to wait before her lift home, so she went for a short walk in the grounds. She was just coming back inside, when Jem crossed the reception area.

“Jo! May I have a word?” Jo turned and followed him to his office. He led her to the desk and sat down, indicating she should do the same.

“What is it, Jem?” She suddenly felt fearful, as if he was about to give her bad news.

“I’ve just got your X-rays back. I know I said you could have pneumothorax every three months, now, but I think you should have it again today.”

“B-but why?”

“I want to make sure that that cold you caught hasn’t done any lasting damage.”

“You said it hadn’t settled on my chest.”

“I know. I’m just being cautious, Jo. I’d rather you had an extra pneumothorax than end up back at square one.”

“But what about my lift home? I’ll miss it.”

“You can stay here tonight and I’ll take you back in the morning when I’ve finished. I’ll let them know they don’t have to wait for you.”

“I have nothing with me, though.” Jo was desperately trying to think of excuses and Jem lost his patience with her.

“Go and have pneumothorax, Jo. I don’t have time to listen to you trying to think of excuses. I’m not going to change my mind.” He stood up and headed for the door, leaving Jo to stand and follow him. He saw her out and watched her head towards the operating theatre. He returned to his office and spent the next ten minutes on the telephone sorting out where she was to sleep and cancelling her lift home, before continuing with other matters.

Meanwhile, Jo made her way to the operating theatre, rebellion in her heart. She was upset that she had to go through pneumothorax again so soon and briefly wondered about just leaving. She sat in the waiting room contemplating this and trying to work out how she could get home without being spotted by someone. Before she had time to formulate her plans, a nurse entered the waiting room.

“Josephine Maynard!” Jo reluctantly stood up and followed the nurse through the door, where she was told to get ready. The nurse returned a few minutes later to escort her into the theatre.

“It says here that you aren’t due for this procedure for another two months?”

“I wasn’t, but J-Doctor Russell said I should have it today.” Jo had been so tempted to take the opportunity offered to her. She knew, though, that Jem’s wrath would come crashing down upon her with full force if she did so, not to mention Jack’s when he found out. She resigned herself to her fate and followed the nurse into the operating theatre.

Afterwards, Jo was left in the waiting room until a nurse came and escorted her to a small room where she was to spend the night. A pair of pyjamas were on the bed for her. She changed into them and climbed between the sheets. She was soon sleeping, never hearing Jem check on her an hour later as he went on his rounds. He made sure the blackout was up and deposited a book on the bedside cabinet for her in case she woke. He knew he shouldn’t have been short with her earlier, but she had been so exasperating, he had automatically reverted to being the father figure he had been to her for so many years.

Jem loved his young sister-in-law, and he hoped she realised that he just wanted her to be well again. He knew she had had to do a lot of growing up since the initial diagnosis four years ago, not just to cope with having tuberculosis, but also to be able to flee for her life and make it safely across the border between Austria and Switzerland. He wished he could have prevented her from having to make that awful trek, but he knew there had been no other options left to them. He had been constantly on edge the whole time, hoping and praying that she, Jack and the others had made it over the border. When his own departure had been delayed, he had still had no idea if she had made it to safety. It wasn’t until he reached Guernsey and Madge handed him Jack’s letter that he finally knew that she had. Not that the letter had done much to alleviate his worry. He had been shocked to see how ill she was when he went to collect her from Switzerland. Knowing her temperament so well, he had fully agreed when Jack had told him that he needed to get her home. Her imagination had been working against her need for complete rest and he knew that if he had left her where she was, she wouldn’t survive. That thought had been Jem’s darkest moment and one that he had kept firmly to himself, though he suspected that Jack had also known it.

He looked down at Jo’s sleeping form and silently thanked God for her survival. He was determined to do everything within his power to cure her. If that included the inconvenience of an extra pneumothorax to ensure a cold didn’t do more damage, then so be it. He gently swept her hair from her face and abruptly left the room to continue his rounds, thankful that she was still here and well on the way to recovery.

Jo slept the clock round, only waking when a nurse entered to remove the blackout the next morning. She rolled onto her back and yawned.

“Good morning, Mrs Maynard. Breakfast will be in half an hour in the dining room. When you’ve finished, Doctor Russell would like to see you in his office.”

“Thank you.” Jo sat up and swung her legs out of bed, as the nurse departed to continue her rounds. She washed and dressed, before making her way towards the dining room. She made a good breakfast and went to collect her things from her room. She had just made it down the first flight of stairs when Jem came along the corridor towards her. He was deep in conversation with another doctor, so Jo just smiled and continued down towards the entrance and Jem’s office. She sat down to await his return and opened the book she had found on the bedside cabinet.

It was an hour later when he finally returned to his office and Jo was fathoms deep in the story she was reading. Jem went into his office and grabbed his things before coming to tap Jo on the shoulder.

“Ready?” Jo jumped and looked up in surprise.

“Oh! Er, yes.” She closed the book and looked round for her bag and coat. Jem just smiled and picked them up from the floor where they had fallen, unheeded, as she read.

“Come on, then. I want to be out of here before someone else thinks of something I need to deal with immediately.” He set off towards the door at his usual pace, before remembering that Jo wouldn’t be able to keep up. He slowed down and waited for her, before continuing at a much more sedate pace. When they reached the car, Jo climbed in and Jem started the engine.

“Jem. Someone’s coming towards us.” He quickly reversed and set off before the person could reach the car. It wasn’t until they were out of the grounds that he slowed down.

“Well spotted, Jo. I’ve had enough of other people’s problems for one night.” He changed the subject. “How did you sleep?”

“Like a log. I never heard a thing until a nurse came and removed the blackout this morning.”

“Good. You were obviously in need of some rest. Make sure you take it easy for the next few days.”

“I know. I’ve been through it every month for the past four years.”

“Hmmm. That may be so, but I know you, Jo. You sometimes get carried away without realising it.” Jo stayed silent. She knew he was right. “I know you find it all frustrating, but you have to go through it for a good while, yet.”

“I know.” Jo sighed and turned to look out of the window at the scenery as it flashed past. Jem left her to her thoughts and concentrated on the road.

When he pulled up outside Jo’s house, he saw she had dozed off. He shook her gently.

“Jo? You’re home.”

“Huh?” She opened her eyes and saw they were parked outside her front door. “Oh. Thanks, Jem.” She scrambled out and walked to the door, where she scrabbled in her bag for her keys. Jem watched her go inside and close the door before driving off for his own home and bed.

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