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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for all your lovely comments as always. 

This is the penultimate part.


Jack was busy up in the spare attic room. He had just finished moving all the trunks and boxes to one side and was standing contemplating the best way to partition the room when Jo appeared, Stephen in her arms.

"What are you doing, Jack? You've been making so much noise up here that I can't get Stephen to settle."

"Sorry, Jo. I didn't realise it was his nap time. I was just seeing how much room there was up here for Anna." Jo came to stand beside him and surveyed the space he'd created. I should think there's plenty of space for a bed, a wardrobe, some drawers and a chair. I can't see her wanting much else."

"That's true. If I partition the space about here," he moved across the room and flung his arms out. "There's more than enough room for everything you mention."

"Will there be enough space for moving things about in the storage area?" Jack turned round and surveyed the remaining space before taking a large step backwards and turning round again.

"How about here, then? There's room for moving stuff in the storage area and still enough space to make a decent sized bedroom for Anna."

"That's perfect. Now, will you come back downstairs so I can get Stephen to sleep, please?"

"Of course. I'll just have a wash and get changed since I'm a bit dusty."

"I think that's an understatement. You should have put on some old clothes, rather than ruining a decent shirt and trousers." Jo led the way downstairs and took Stephen into the bedroom to try and settle him down for his nap. Jack came in a few minutes later and changed quietly.

Before long, they were both creeping out of the bedroom and downstairs. At the bottom, Jo turned towards the kitchen but, before she had gone more than a few paces, she heard a cry from upstairs. Heaving a sigh, she started back up them as fast as she could. Jack watched her go and went to make the tea himself. Once it was ready and he'd taken it into the lounge, he realised that Jo was still upstairs with Stephen. He sat down to wait for her for a short while, picking his book up to read. He was soon engrossed and when he looked up fifteen minutes later, he realised that Jo still hadn't re-appeared.

Setting off upstairs, he could hear Stephen's cries and entered the room to see Jo was becoming frustrated in her efforts to soothe him. He crossed to where she was sitting and took the baby from her.

"Let me try, Jo. You're just getting worked up which isn't helping either of you. There's some tea in the lounge, though you might need to make a fresh pot, now." He watched her leave before turning his attention to his son. "Now, young man. What's all this crying about?"

Jo set off downstairs, dejectedly. She felt as if she was a failure since Jack had had to come and take over when she should be able to deal with Stephen by herself. She automatically picked up the teapot and took it into the kitchen where she turned the ring on underneath the kettle. Sitting down at the kitchen table she put her head in her hands and tried not to cry.

Jo was still in the same position when Jack entered twenty minutes later. The kettle was whistling merrily but Jo was taking no notice. He'd finally managed to get Stephen off to sleep, but it had not been easy. Seeing Jo with her head in her hands, he turned the ring off underneath the kettle and came to sit next to her, pulling her into his arms. He could feel her trembling and was surprised.

"What's wrong, Jo?"

"I'm a failure at all this," was the muffled reply.

"No you aren't. It's just taken me twenty minutes to settle him and I was beginning to lose patience by the end. The only reason he's asleep now is because he was so tired he couldn't keep his eyes open."

"I shouldn't need you to help me with him. I should be able to do it myself."

"Jo, just because I came to help doesn't make you a failure. You're the perfect mother to him. Being a parent is a whole new experience to both of us and it doesn't come with a handbook. We just have to do the best we can by him and work together. I only came and took him from you because I could see how frustrated you were becoming. It doesn't mean you'd failed. Sometimes we need to try a different way and see if that works. I want to help with him when I'm at home. I don't want to be some distant figure that just does the disciplining when he's been naughty, like my father was. I want to be a part of his life.” Jack pulled back slightly and tilted Jo’s face to him. “Please don’t think you’re a failure because I helped out. You aren’t and you never will be. Just accept the help when it’s there and we’ll work it out together.”

“I’ll try.”

“That’s all I want. We’ll work out parenthood, eventually. It’ll just take us some time. What we need to do, now, is work out how we’re to get that attic room ready before Anna arrives.”

“When is she due?”

“She’ll be here on Monday. Luckily, Jem doesn’t need me over the weekend, so I’ll try and get the partition put up on Saturday between Stephen’s naps. I’m afraid I’m going to have disturb your sleep, though, if I’m to be able to get it done in time.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage for one day. Is someone going to help you?”

“Yes. Andreas is coming to give me a hand. He’s managed to acquire some boarding somehow and will bring it along with him.”

“Where are we getting the furniture from?”

“Jem told me that they have a bedstead in the outhouse we can have and there’s a chest drawers in the garage that we can clean up for her. I’m not sure where we’ll get a wardrobe from, but hopefully, one will turn up.”

“I’m glad we’ve given Anna the position. I don’t think I’d have been comfortable with someone I don’t know.”

“I thought as much. Hopefully, we’ve landed on our feet and she’ll do well.”

“I’m sure she will. She always worked hard at the school.”

“Do you have some bedding and towels for her?"

"Yes. They're in our bedroom in the blanket chest. I'll dig them out when Stephen wakes. I'm not risking going to do it now."

"I don't blame you. Leave him to sleep and we'll get them out to air later. For now, let's have some tea. This last lot will be stone cold by now." He gave Jo a final squeeze and she stood up to turn the ring back on under the kettle, feeling a little more reassured by Jack's words.



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