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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks for your reviews, Ivohenry, Kathryn & Pauline.  They're always much appreciated & encourage me to continue posting this saga.


On Friday morning, Jo was up early to wave Robin and Daisy off to school. She felt tearful, knowing that she wouldn’t be at home to greet them that afternoon. Jack came downstairs just as the girls were donning their coats and slipped his arm around Jo. She pulled away from him to kiss Robin and then Daisy. They both promised to come and visit her at the weekend, before going out into the cold January air to set off for school. Jack closed the door behind them and followed Jo back into the warmth of the lounge.

“Something’s bothering you, Jo.”

“I’m fine, Jack.”

“I can come with you, if you want. Stay with you while you settle in.”

“No.” Jo curled up in the corner of the sofa and laid her head on the arm. Jack recognised the signs as she began to try and withdraw from him, building barriers around herself. He came across the room to where he could see her properly and gently stroked her hair out of her eyes.

“Don’t, Jo. I don’t want you to hide away from me. I want to be able to help and support you as much as I can. I can’t do that when you put up barriers between us.”

“I have to, Jack. It’s the only way I can deal with this.”

“No, it isn’t. You have me to talk to. You don’t have to go through it alone.”

“Yes I do. You need to be concentrating on getting yourself well, not be worrying about me.”

“Don’t be silly. Of course I’m going to worry about you. I wish this didn’t have to happen, but I want you to be well enough to welcome our baby into the world next month. That’s why you’re being admitted. Not because you have tuberculosis, but because you need to gain what strength you can to have our baby. I want you to introduce him to me, not some nurse.”

“I’m so scared. What if I don’t make it?” Jo’s voice was barely audible, but Jack caught it. He kissed her, cupping her face in his hands and wiping the tears away with his thumbs.

“You’re allowed to be scared, Jo. It might seem like a step backwards, but it’s not. I promise I’ll come every day. I’m here for you, whatever happens. I love you, Joey and I’m not going to just sit back and watch you give up fighting. I never have done, not even when you were first diagnosed and we were living on the Sonnalpe. I gave you my rosary because I thought it would bring you some comfort. I thought having something solid would help you when your spirits were low. I know you still have it, even after all these years.”

“It did help, it still does. I don’t think I ever thanked you for that gesture that night.”

“I didn’t want thanking. You getting well again was enough thanks for me. You didn’t realise how much I cared for you, even then. I knew I couldn’t stand by and not try to help you. I can’t now, either. I know you don’t want me to come with you, but I’ll come this afternoon.”

A knock came at the door at this moment, followed by Jem’s voice calling out. He came into the room rubbing his hands together.

“It’s cold out there this morning. Are you ready, Jo?” Then he saw Jo curled up on the sofa and Jack knelt next to her. “Everything all right?”

“Just give us a couple of minutes,” Jack replied.

“I’ll go and put the bag in the car. Is that it in the hallway?”

“Yes. Thanks Jem.” Jack stood up and helped Jo to her to her feet before drawing her into his arms for a last hug. “Don’t be afraid, Joey. You’re going to survive this.” Together, they went to the hall and Jack helped Jo with her coat, before donning his own to walk her out to the car. Once he had settled her into the passenger seat he slammed the door to and spoke quickly to Jem.

“She’s rather fragile at the minute, Jem. Ring me once you’ve settled her, won’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.” He stood back and waved as Jem drove off down the lane, before going back inside to wait anxiously for that telephone call.

It was three hours later when Jem finally rang. Jack snatched the receiver up and was relieved to hear Jem’s voice on the other end.

“How is she, Jem?”

“Quite tearful and upset. She fell asleep about half an hour ago.”

“What happened?”

“She was very quiet on the way there and just stared out of the window. She was completely calm, as if she was afraid to cry, which was worrying to say the least. She eventually broke down and has been tearful up until she finally dropped off about half past eleven.”

“She petrified she’s not going to survive this time. I’ve tried to reassure her, but I don’t think she’s listening. She was putting up defences this morning, trying to withdraw into herself. She did it each time I went off to war. It’s as if she doesn’t trust that any of us are there for her and that she has to try and cope with it all alone.”

“Hmm. I just hope it doesn’t go against the reason why she’s here. She needs to rest properly, and I don’t want her to be doing anything at all. I just hope her imagination isn’t going to go into overdrive again. I was reluctant to allow her the hour I gave her for writing when we thought you were dead, but I had no choice in the end.”

“Nightmares?”

“Worse than when she first arrived here.”

“I’ll come over and sit with her this afternoon, if you could lend me Andreas. I’m not allowed to drive for another week.”

“Are you sure you’ll cope with the lights?”

“I’ll manage. I can turn them off in Jo’s room and use the lamp. She obviously needs some moral support.”

“I’ll get him to call round later. You can spend a few hours with her and I’ll give you a lift back when I finish.”

“Thanks.” Jack rang off and went to make himself some lunch. Jem went to check on his latest patient.



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