Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 36 – The Second Angel
Saturday began in much the same way as any other day of the preceding weeks.
Nurse, bath time, breakfast and visitors, same old same old,
With one notable difference namely a constant stream of text messages from Sarah updating him on the progress of Katie’s sister Marion.
The flight leaving from Alaska was delayed, which meant they missed there connecting flight in New York which meant waiting to get on the next available flight and all of this information was conveyed to him via text, which meant he was up and down like a seesaw.
Finally the message came saying they were on their way, this meant instead of the flight landing early on Saturday afternoon it wouldn’t arrive until tea time so they wouldn’t arrive at the house until well into the evening so he left Sarah to arrange for their collection from Heathrow after that he heard no more, and as annoying as Sarah’s constant texting became, he soon found that hearing nothing was ten times worse.
Just before lunch he went into the kitchen and found Katie sitting on her throne with her arms folded and a real sulky expression on her face.
“What’s up grumpy?” he asked
“Shut up I’m sulking” she replied curtly
“I can see that” he responded “but what are you sulking about?”
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with Marion, we always Skype on a Saturday morning at breakfast time, breakfast time here yesterday bedtime for her, but this morning nothing” she said despondently
“I wouldn’t worry, it’s probably just the weather, they have a lot of it up there you know” he suggested
“You’re a great help” Katie retorted
Katie soon shook off her sulky mood and spent the afternoon soundly thrashing him at crib.
He had had numerous more texts firstly from Sarah updating him on arrival times and then from Martina, who along with Paul was meeting Bob and Marion Clode at Heathrow.
They had picked up the baton as he had to stay with Katie in order that she wouldn’t suspect anything, which she undoubtedly would have done had he gone himself.
So as it was, Katie and Jack spent the afternoon and early evening as they would any other day until Martina texted just after five to say
The nurse came slightly earlier than usual to attend to Katie in the usual manner and then stayed later than normal.
Meanwhile he was preparing dinner; again this involved frozen meals and a preheated oven, the only difference being that he had to cater for more than the two of them.
Just as he showed the nurse out Jack received another text from Martina
“20 minutes away” it read
Katie hadn’t yet reappeared downstairs, which was not a bad thing as it meant he didn’t have to distract her, but it was time to find out where she had got to.
So after he had checked the food wasn’t burning he went upstairs and found her lying on the bed asleep and he sat on the bed next to her and took hold of her hand in his,
“Katie” he said softy, but there was no response
“Katie” he said again a little louder and she murmured before opening her eyes
“Oh Jack” she said surprised “Oh dear I only closed my eyes for a second”
“It’s time to come downstairs for supper Hon” he said
“Can I have it in bed tonight?” she asked
“No not tonight” he replied
“Oh go on,” she begged
“No” Jack said and stood up “now come on lazy bones”
He knew only too well that in not many more weeks she would be having all of her meals in bed
“You’re just mean” she said and begrudgingly got up
He did however concede to her request for a piggyback down the stairs.
Jack had just deposited her in the kitchen when there was a knock at the front door.
“Who can that be?” Katie said, “I hope it’s not more visitors”
Then as an afterthought she added
“I’ll go and see,” he said
When he got to the front door and opened it he found Martina and Paul standing there either side of a slightly older version of Katie, and behind them was a tall thin gaunt looking man who Jack assumed to be Bob.
“Hello” he said, then in a whisper he added
“She’s in the kitchen”
“Who is it?” Katie called
“It’s Paul and Martina” he called back
“Ok” she answered
“Come in, come in” he said
There was a brief period of silent greetings and handshakes then Jack led the way up the hall to the kitchen with Marion following closely in his wake.
Katie was stood at the table laying place mats and cutlery as he walked in.
“I think you might need to set a few more places,” he said
“Why?” Katie began to ask and then Jack stepped aside and for a moment there was complete and utter silence
“Maz?” Katie asked, “Is that really you?”
“Who else would it be?” Marion replied as she walked towards her floundering sister and they embraced.
“How?” Katie uttered as tears welled up in her eyes
“It’s all thanks to Jack” Marion said and she began to cry as well.
After an emotional five minutes Marion gathered herself sufficiently to say
“Look Bob is here as well, you haven’t seen him since the wedding”
After Bob and Katie had been reintroduced Marion unbuttoned her coat
“But you haven’t met this one yet” she said and laid Katie’s hand on her bump.
“A baby?” Katie said and then the tears rained down again.
After the tears had subsided Katie turned her attention to Jack and wrapped her arms around his neck
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said “God bless you Jack”
Then Marion joined in and it all got a bit messy, and he was really way out of his comfort zone.
“Let’s eat” he said and kissed the two women on the forehead
They were all sitting around the table after the meal drinking coffee when Bob asked
“Is there a Hotel nearby?”
“Yes there is” he replied “but you’re staying here”
“No we can’t impose on you any further” Bob protested
“You have already done so much for us,” Marion added
“Nonsense, you’re staying here and that’s an end to it” he insisted
Martina had to leave after the meal as she was meeting up with her Sister Anne and driving to their mums for mother’s day.
So Jack helped Bob and Paul retrieve the Clode’s luggage from her car and then Bob and Jack left Paul and Martina having a snoggy farewell on the doorstep and carried the bags upstairs to one of the spare rooms.
As it was a special occasion Jack opened some wine and they sat around chatting.
When Katie got up and went to the loo Marion said
“You are a very kind man”
“Nonsense” he said rather embarrassed “let’s change the subject”
“What would have happened if you hadn’t been here when she had to leave the vicarage?” Bob asked
“Katie could have stayed at the Vicarage until the end if she’d wanted to; Paul was in no hurry to push her out, he was quite happy staying at the pub”
“Rather” was Paul’s only contribution
“The truth of the matter was Katie wanted to get out of Paul’s way, but didn’t want to go into a hospice so as I live alone here in a huge house, and I’m semi-retired it seemed like the perfect solution”
“You are a kind man though” Marion persisted
“I’ve been very lucky in my life and when I was in a position to help someone who is much loved in the village, I took it” he said
“Katie needs company, someone to help occupy her time and her mind, so that’s my role, so now can we change the subject”
Just after Katie returned Jack received a text from Kayleigh which simply read “I need to see you, please” but it wasn’t until about an hour later that he could act on it.
It was when Paul excused himself as he still hadn’t finished writing Sunday’s sermon.
By that time Bob was sitting in an armchair snoring loudly and Katie and Marion were talking 10 to the dozen completely oblivious to their surroundings.
So Jack decided to take his chance and leave with Paul
“I’m going to leave you two to catch up as I need to stretch my legs so I’m going to take a wander and get a nightcap at the Hen and Chicks”
“Ok” Katie responded with a knowing look, she guessed it wasn’t a nightcap he was going out for.
“Don’t wait up” he called
He walked with Paul as far as the Vicarage and then he turned down the lane by the Church, which led to the Bridle path that ran along the back of the houses, he followed the path until he reached the end of Kayleigh’s garden and he could see some of the house lights were still on.
Keeping in the shadows Jack made his way up to the house and tapped on the glass, it took a few minutes, but Kayleigh came to the door, she gave him a weak smile and opened the door.
“Thank you for coming” she exclaimed and wrapped her arms around his neck and almost squeezed the life out of him
“I didn’t know if you were coming,” she said
“Marion and Bob arrived today so I couldn’t get away and then I had to come round the long way,” he responded when she had released her grip and allowed him across the threshold.
“Is everything ok?”
“I just needed you to hold me” she said as she reattached herself to him.
“I’ve missed you so much”
She had spent more than a week at Carl’s bedside as he battled his pneumonia and long lonely hours at night when she couldn’t sleep and she had to take refuge in her studio pouring out her emotions into her music.
“I’ve missed you too”
“Please tell me you can stay?”
“Of course I can stay” he said and she hugged him tighter.