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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for your lovely reviews.  I'm glad it came across well since I wasn't sure whether to add in the bit about Jack feeling rather left out.  It is something that does happen & I know my own husband felt a little lost after C was born. 

Finally, Jo gets some good news....


A few days later, Jem appeared in Jo’s room, unexpectedly. She was feeding Stephen at the time and he had to patiently wait for her to finish before she noticed he was there. While she was winding him, Jem came across to her and brought the other chair with him. She smiled up at him as he sat down.

“Hello, Jem. I wasn’t expecting to see you.”

“I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m fine. Just bored of my own company. When can I go home?”

“That depends on your X-rays when you have them later.”

“It’s not that time again, already, is it?”

“I’m afraid so. Do you think you could manage at home?”

“I don’t know till I get there.” Jo knew better than to just say she would be fine.

“I know that. I just don’t want you getting into another cycle of worry and frustration because you can’t cope and won’t ask for help. It’s going to be hard for you to adjust, since you’ll have to be responsible for him twenty-four hours a day and you’re only allowed six of those hours up at the moment. I’m not prepared to risk increasing your time up until I’m happy with your own progress.”

“Everyone will be at home to help, though.”

“They won’t be there all the time, Jo. Robin and Daisy will be at school during the day and the twins are boarders in any case. Jack won’t be there all the time, either, once he comes back to work.”

“I know. I just need to establish a routine for us. It’s hard to do that in here, when the nurses are still looking after him for a lot of the time.”

“It is, but I don’t want to end up with you being ill again. As much as you want to go home, I need to ensure that your health isn’t going to suffer. It would be beneficial to you if had some outside help at home during the day, at least. You wouldn’t have to worry about the housework as well as looking after Stephen, then.”

“I don’t know if I want an outsider coming in to my home and taking over things.”

“It wouldn’t be like that, Jo. They’d only be there to help you with things like cooking and cleaning, which you certainly won’t have the time to worry over when you do go home.”

“I’m still not sure.”

“Have a talk to Jack about it. I’d rather you be able to manage with help than set yourself back trying to do too much.” Jem stood back up and replaced the chair. “Someone will come to take you to X-ray after lunch and I’ll call in again to discuss everything with you when I’ve had a look at them. I’m not sure whether I’ll have time to come back today, so don’t expect it but, I’ll definitely come in the morning.”

“Okay.” Jo watched Jem depart and concentrated on Stephen who had become rather fed up of being in the same position. Jo rose and went over to the bed with him where she could lie him down and play with him more easily.

When Jack arrived at visiting, he found the room empty and guessed that she had been taken for X-rays. He made himself comfortable in one of the chairs and closed his eyes while he waited. He was startled when a hand gently touched him on the arm.

“Jack?” He opened his eyes to look into Jo’s anxious black ones. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine, Jo. I must have dozed off while I was waiting for you to return.” He hauled himself upright in the chair and smiled at her. “Have you been to X-ray?”

“Yes. I’ve just got back. It’s not like you to just doze off. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I am. I’ve just been busy sorting a few things out at home and had a few late nights, that’s all. Did you have a think about getting help in?”

“Jem came down this morning and suggested the same thing.”

“I’m not going to pressure you into it if you really don’t want it, Jo. I just think it’ll help if you don’t have to worry about the housework and the cooking.”

“I know. I just feel as if I’m failing if I can’t manage everything.”

“You aren’t failing. Your sister has Marie and Andreas and she doesn’t have your health problems. It’s not an admission of defeat if we get some help in. If anything, it’s a good thing as you won’t be worrying about everything that needs to be done when you should be resting.”

“I suppose so. Who would we get, though? I doubt there’s anyone around who wants a job doing the housework and cooking.”

“I can ask around. Marie might know of someone as well since she’s the housekeeper at Madge’s.”

“Okay. I just hope it’s someone we can trust.”

“Don’t worry about it, Jo. I’ll make sure whoever we employ is trustworthy and reliable. I don’t want to have to go searching for someone else at short notice.” Jack moved the conversation on and Jo managed to suppress her worries for the time being.

Jem appeared just as Jack was preparing to leave. He greeted them both and pulled the spare chair over to the bed, on which Jo was sitting. Jack took Stephen and dropped into the other chair.

“I wasn’t expecting you till tomorrow, Jem,” Jo remarked.

“I know you weren’t but, I have a few minutes to spare, so I thought you’d like to hear today.”

“Well?”

“How would you like to go home tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Jo looked incredulously at Jem.

“Yes. I don’t see why not. You’re improving all the time, now. Do you think you could all manage, Jack?”

“I’m sure we can. That’s wonderful news, Jem,” Jack replied. Jo remained silent, stunned to hear that she was to go home the next day. Although she was desperate to get home, she hadn’t been expecting to be allowed so soon. Therefore, Jem’s announcement had come as something of a shock to her. Jem watched her and realised what was going through her mind.

“I’ll still be calling in to check on you, Jo. I want to continue with monthly X-rays and pneumothorax every three months for a while. I'm not increasing your time up, yet, so you'll have to do some serious thinking about how you manage your six hours for now. Hopefully, if you continue as you are doing, we’ll be able to increase it next month.”

“I’m sure we’ll all manage between us. The girls break up for Easter in a few days, so there’ll be plenty of us to take care of Stephen.” It was Jack who spoke after a brief silence. Jo was still looking dazed and both Jem and Jack saw that she would need some time to adjust to the news. Jem rose and replaced the chair.

“I have to go or I’ll be missed. I’ll call in tomorrow morning. Jack, could you come to collect her just before lunchtime?”

“Of course. I’ll be here about eleven if that’s okay?”

“Perfect. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He glanced at Jo and an unspoken understanding passed between the two men. Jem gave Jo a brief kiss and she flung her arms around his neck. Understanding her need, he just returned the hug with interest before extricating himself and departing.

Jack had taken Stephen over to the cot and laid him gently in it, before he came to sit next to Jo on the bed as Jem left. He pulled her into his arms and felt her trembling as the reaction set in. He just held her close as she cried silently, relieved to be finally going home, but also apprehensive at how she would manage with only six hours’ time up. As she finally became calm once more, Jack pulled back to look at her.

“We'll manage, Jo. The girls have almost a month this holiday so they'll be at home to help us adjust to a new routine. We can settle in as a proper family and that's what you've been so desperate for over the past few weeks.”

“How am I going to manage with only six hours?”

“We'll think of something. Stephen will sleep in our room for now so you won't need to save too much time for night feeds. Hopefully, he'll stop one of those soon and then you'll only have to get up to him once. You already take some rest when he sleeps during the day, and I'm sure we can manage to look after him between us at other times as well. The girls will all want to spend some time with him.”

Jo just looked dubious and Jack saw that she wasn't really listening to him. The bell had rung for the end of visiting just as Jem had appeared, so Jack knew he was on borrowed time before he was told to leave. He was reluctant to go until he was sure she wouldn't be worrying but a nurse appeared to collect Stephen and he had no choice. He kissed Jo, collected his hat and coat and departed under the nurse's glare.

Jack walked along to Jem's office and knocked briefly before entering. It was empty, though the presence of Jem's coat and hat told him that he was still in the building. Crossing to the desk, he scribbled a hasty note requesting Jem to check on Jo if he had time. He then set off for home to break the news to Robin and Daisy.



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