Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 38 – Shop till You Drop
When he went in to the house Katie fussed around him like he’d been gone for a week, which was a bit over the top but he thought it was nice to be missed.
It was one of the things he missed out on when he lived alone, having someone to come home to.
Over the preceding week Katie had begun to spend ever so slightly more time in bed each day and less on her throne in the kitchen.
Jack had thought for a while that she looked visibly different each time he saw her, which he convinced himself was just his imagination but having not seen her for 24 hours he realized it was not.
Marion had made lunch and the three of them sat and ate it together in the kitchen and while they sat at the table Marion said that while she was in England she really wanted to go shopping, but she didn’t really want to go alone.
However as Katie and Jack, for quite differing reasons, were unable in the former and unwilling in the latter to assist her, they set about finding a suitable companion.
After much deliberation between Katie and Jack they decided the perfect choice would be either Gemma or Elise or indeed both so he phoned Gemma that afternoon and she was thrilled to be asked and said she would speak to Elise and set something up.
Low and behold not an hour later Gemma knocked on the door and after introductions invited Marion round to hers for tea and a chat with her and Elise, who would be arriving shortly.
So Marion grabbed her things while Jack cleared away from lunch, after which Katie said she needed a rest so he carried her upstairs and settled her down,
“She’s definitely getting lighter,” he thought as he walked back down the stairs.
He was feeling a little tired himself but he made himself a coffee and went to his study to do some work until it passed.
Despite having woken himself up with the coffee he couldn’t concentrate, random thoughts kept filling his head, and all of them were about Kayleigh.
He leant back in the chair and reflected on how wonderful their bonus night together in Grangemouth was and wistfully looked forward to the next time and promptly fell asleep.
He woke up just in time to see the nurse leave and hear Marion, who had returned from her afternoon tea appointment, fussing around her sister and when Jack walked into the kitchen she had already got the evening meal well underway.
All the chat at dinner was about Marion’s new best friends; apparently they all got on famously.
He quickly snapped out of his silly mood and listened as
Marion said that she particularly wanted to go to Hanratty’s in Abbottsford because it had always been her favourite, and Marks and Spencer, for knickers and stuff, but mainly she just wanted to shop at the British stores she didn’t get in Alaska.
Purplemere had quite a good shopping centre and would probably have met most of Marion’s needs, apart from Hanratty’s but Gemma and Elise volunteered to take her to the Phoenix Shopping Centre in Abbottsford and make a day of it, so they were going to be out all-day on Thursday.
Inside, Jack was delighted, but he didn’t show it, and later he chastised himself for being a little jealous about having to share Katie.
The intervening days passed without incident and the green-eyed monster didn’t appear again.
On Thursday morning Gemma was knocking on the door even before the nurse had arrived and Jack watched as Marion and Gemma trotted off excitedly down the path to be met by an equally excited Elise at the end of it.
Almost the very moment Elise’s car pulled away, George Dallas, the nurse arrived and another day was off and running.
Kayleigh texted to say that Carl was having a bad day and she would be staying with him all day.
It seemed like an age since Katie and he had spent the day together, just the two of them but after breakfast he asked her
“Do you wish you could have gone with the girls today?”
“Good grief no” she responded with a scoff “I hate shopping”
“Really?” he asked astonished that there was actually a female of the species who detested shopping
“Yes” she replied, “I buy everything on line”
But then she corrected herself
“Bought everything on line”
They spent a very pleasant day together and Katie managed to resist the urge to take an afternoon nap so she could beat Jack at crib again and they had eaten supper and cleared away and were half way through “The Lady Vanishes” before Marion returned laden with bags and spent the next hour telling them all about her day and so enthusiastic was she in her description it was difficult not to be interested.
Bright and early on Friday morning when he opened the door it was to the familiar faces of Nurse Hannah Peters and his friend and lover Kayleigh Robinson.
“Hi you two,” he said
“Good morning” they chorused and he kissed them both.
After he had closed the door Hannah asked
“I’m a bit early,” she said looking at her watch “is she up?”
“She’s in the bath” he replied, “come and have some coffee”
“I’ll go up and see her first” Kayleigh said
When she came back down Fifteen minutes later Hannah went up and as they sat drinking coffee he asked
“How come you’re here so early?
“I’ve come straight from the hospital” she replied and added coyly “I just wanted to see you”
As the morning went on it was obvious to Jack that there was more to it than that.
She was excessively tactile, and occupied his personal space at every opportunity, she was like his shadow apart from half an hour when she was engaged deep in conversation with Katie upstairs.
“I’m a terrible person Katie” she whispered
“I’ve been sitting at my sick husband’s bedside and all I can think of is Jack”
“That’s understandable” Katie said
“But I feel so guilty, so disloyal” she retorted
“Well you shouldn’t, you gave up everything after Carl’s accident, that’s how loyal you have been and now you have allowed yourself to feel alive again, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it, life is too short, and no one knows that better than I”
“I’m sorry Katie, I’m so selfish” she said and hugged her friend
“Hush” Katie said
“Carl is your past and Jack is your future but for now you have to walk the line between the two, but one thing you must not do is to allow guilt to corrupt either”
When she came back downstairs she was in touchy feely mode again, though not to the point of rubbing up against him like an overly friendly puppy, but she was like sticky glue and followed him everywhere.
Eventually he could take no more when she followed him into the utility.
“What is the matter with you today?”
“I just want to hold you and kiss you” she replied and wrapped her arms around him
“Well we can’t do anything about that at the moment” he said and kissed her “We are not alone”
“What if we were?” she asked
“That would be different” he replied “but we’re not”
Just before midday Jack was sitting at the kitchen table talking to Katie and Kayleigh was perched on the kitchen counter.
The Vicar was reading aloud from an old magazine, it was an article about a charity fancy dress Parade, there was a picture from the event which Katie showed them showing three individuals all with black curly wigs, black faces with white circles around their eyes.
All of them were wearing typical golliwog or minstrel costumes of red, white and blue.
“It was during the annual Charity Event that three individuals dressed as minstrels allegedly caused offence” Katie began “a police spokesman said “we have received several complaints and are investigating the circumstances””
“Sounds like a waste of police resources to me” Jack said
“Hold on there’s more” Katie interrupted “the spokesman went on to say that “in addition to trying to find the minstrels we are also seeking the whereabouts of the Jackson 5””
All three of them were laughing and Katie was in tears when Marion came breezing into the kitchen and didn’t have a clue what all the frivolity was about.
They all had lunch together and Jack and Kayleigh were both independently trying to figure out how they might grab half an hour of private time to no avail but as they were clearing away after lunch all their prayers were answered as Gemma was ringing to invite Marion to go over to Purplemere for the afternoon, there were apparently some things that Marion couldn’t get the day before.
So that was that, “Thank you God”
As soon as Katie settled down for the afternoon Kayleigh would get to hold her lover like she’d been craving all day.
When Jack was upstairs putting Katie to bed
“Are you ok?” Katie asked, “You seemed a little distracted today”
“I’m fine” he lied
“I think Kayleigh is the distraction” Katie said
“How could she not be” he agreed
“She wants you every bit as much as you want her, you do know that?” Katie said and Jack kissed her forehead and said
“I love you Katie Watson”
“Of course you do” she said smugly
“Just one thing Jack”
“Get her to sing again, when Carl has gone, make her sing again” she said and closed her eyes
“For you anything” he said and closed the door
Katie was a very perceptive woman, sharp as a knife, and the combination of her illness and the medication could quite easily dull the blade, but it hadn’t.
After he put Katie to bed and he wandered downstairs and as he approached the kitchen he caught sight of Kayleigh staring out the kitchen window.
He walked up behind her and hugged her and she leant back against him.
“Penny for your thoughts”
“Save your penny, they’re all about you” she said and turned to kiss him.
They spent the afternoon on the sofa in his study, just holding each other, while they listened to music, nothing more than that and they stayed there until Marion phoned to say not to cater for her at dinner, as she and Gemma would eat out.
Suitably refreshed after an afternoon of relaxed intimacy with the man she loved Kayleigh kissed him goodbye before she left to sit with Carl and then Jack went to the freezer and selected a pasta bake from the well-stocked freezer and put it into the oven to warm.
Half an hour later he made a cup of tea and went upstairs to wake Katie.
After drinking her tea Katie asked if she could have another bath and after telling her off for forgetting she didn’t need to ask he ran her a bath and helped her get in.
At six o’clock he was sitting in the kitchen when the front door opened and Doctor Anderson walked in with her medical bag.
“Hello” she called
“In the kitchen” he called back
For a variety of reason he hadn’t seen her for a while and when she walked in she was dressed in her familiar professional garb.
“You’re looking very lovely doctor” he said, “Do you want to feel my pulse?”
“Behave yourself” she said “I can kill as well as cure, where is she?”
“Upstairs” he replied “she’s in the bath”
“Ok” she said, “I’ll go up and see her”
“Then will you feel my pulse?” he asked
“Stop it” she said “or I will hurt you”
“Something smells nice,” she added
“Not as lovely as you” he said cheesily
“Behave,” she said and laughed
“Are you going to eat with us?” he asked
“Yes I’d like that” she replied
As he walked her to the stairs he thought that, as she hadn’t seen Katie in a while he should warn her that she might notice a significant difference.
“I know what to expect,” she said
They ate together and Jack could see Carole assessing what Katie was eating and making a mental note.
Her portion size had decreased significantly over recent weeks and when he helped her into the bath it was obvious that there was less flesh on her bones.
Jack had noticed just carrying her up the stairs that there was less of her.
After they had finished eating, Carole helped him clear away and then said she had to make a move and when she opened the door she met Marion coming the other way.