Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 46 – Farewell and Welfare
The first thing he did when he got up on Wednesday morning was to try and get hold of Kayleigh again but he had no more luck that day than he had all week.
By the time he’d put the bed’s together he only had time for a quick sandwich before driving to Nettlefield to pick up Anne who had been staying with a succession of friends before she had to return to Ethiopia.
Courtesy of the Satnav he found the address with ease and after a quick cuppa they were soon on their way.
As he drove home he was thankful that the house would have a visitor again even if it was just for a couple of days.
Anne and Jack ate together on Wednesday evening and then she enthusiastically reviewed her sojourn and spared no detail in the telling.
On Thursday he took Anne to the Hen and Chickens where Gemma and Elise had arranged a farewell lunch for her before she flew back to Addis Adaba on the next day and when they walked into the pub the other guests were already there.
They were all people whom she had come to know as a result of her sister Katie’s illness and subsequent passing, the Vicar Paul Massey and his fiancé Martina, Matron Gemma Frost who organized all the nursing care, Nurse Hannah Peters, her sister Sarah who was Katie’s Verger, local girl Elise Riley and Doctor Carole Anderson who was not only the clinical lead on Katie’s care but was also her friend.
There was however one notable absentee, Kayleigh Robinson, so once everyone was settled at the table and the wine was flowing he asked Gemma where Kayleigh was.
“Something came up” she replied which to Jack felt very much like a brush off.
He didn’t say anything though he just bided his time and kept her wine glass topped up and by the time the coffee arrived she was totally bladdered and she dropped her guard.
“So where did you say Kayleigh was?” he asked her casually
“She’s seeing a specialist” she replied
“Really?” he asked “Why?”
“Because of the lump” Gemma answered
“What lump?” he asked her directly
“Oh God I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone” she said and put her head in her hands.
“Everything ok over there?” Anne asked
“Too much wine” he replied and laughed
“I’ll take her outside for some fresh air”
Once outside he sat her at one of the tables and said sharply
“Now tell me everything”
After Gemma had spilled the beans completely he told her to call me as soon as she knew what was happening and she agreed, but just as they were returning to the meal her mobile rang and she took it out of her bag and looked at the screen.
“It’s Kayleigh,” she said
He nodded to her to answer it, which she did.
When she had finished she put her phone away and too his unasked question she said
“She’s at the breast clinic”
“And?” he asked
“She’s having a scan” she said “She’s seeing the specialist again tomorrow lunchtime for the results”
“Ok” he said and they went back to the table.
The next morning Jack was up very early so he could drive Anne to Heathrow where he parked in the short stay and took Anne into the terminal and after she’d checked in and dropped her bags he walked her as far as the security gate.
“Thank you for everything” she said and kissed him warmly
“Katie thought the world of you”
“I’m afraid Katie thought me a better man than I actually am” he responded
“She was a very good judge of character,” Anne said
“Goodbye” and she kissed him again before going through the gate.
After paying for the parking he returned to the car and was very soon on the way back to the village and it was eleven o’clock when he parked in the Plaxton Park car park.
Gemma had already phoned him to say Kayleigh was with Carl.
He knew he was early but he didn’t know exactly when Kayleigh was leaving so he was happy to wait as long as necessary.
Jack had a good view of her car from where he was parked and as he waited he prayed for the right outcome.
“Don’t worry Jack” he heard Katie say, “It’s a good news week”
It was twelve thirty when he saw Kayleigh emerge from the main entrance and he didn’t mind the fact he had been waiting for an hour and a half he was just pleased he hadn’t missed her.
Jack got out of the car and intercepted her.
“Hi Kayleigh” he said
“Hello Jack” she answered without looking at him “I can’t stop”
“I know” he said, “You have somewhere important to be”
“Yes, Yes” she replied
“Which is why I’m coming with you” he stated
“But...” she started “How did yo…?”
“Come on we’ll go in my car” he insisted before she had chance to think about it and she got in the car without protest.
She sat quietly for a moment and he took her hand and said
“You don’t have to do this on your own”
And Kayleigh began to cry.
When they got underway Kayleigh was still dabbing at her eyes with a hankie.
“I asked Gemma not to tell anyone” she said, “I can’t believe she broke my confidence”
“She didn’t” he said and Kayleigh looked puzzled
“I was suspicious of your absence at the lunch yesterday” he told her “So I got her pissed”
They drove into the driveway of a big private house, in Lower Hawthorne which was the home and office of an eminent specialist in all things mammary.
“I always considered myself a bit of a breast specialist myself you know,” he said trying to lighten to mood
“You’re just a tit man, there’s a difference” Kayleigh responded accompanied by a weak smile.
He parked the car and they sat quietly in the car and it was Kayleigh who broke the silence.
“I’m scared Jack” she blurted out “I’m scared I’ve got cancer, I’m scared I’m going to die”
“Aren’t you getting a bit ahead of yourself?” he queried
“I’m not brave like Katie, she was so calm, so serene” Kayleigh said “But I’m terrified, and what will happen to Carl if I die”
Carl was her disabled husband who needed perpetual care.
“We will cross each and every bridge as and when we reach them” he said holding her hand “I will be with you every step of the way”
Then he hugged her and she completely broke down
After several minutes she calmed herself down and said
“Thank you Jack, I’m ready now”
They got out of the car and walked into the doctors and seated themselves in the lavish reception
“Why did you do it privately?” he asked
“I didn’t want to go on a list” she replied, “So Carole did a referral for me”
“So why this one in particular?” he asked
“Gerald is a friend of Carole’s, she trained with him when she was a junior” she replied
“I see” he said although he wasn’t really interested in the whys and wherefores he just wanted to keep her mind busy while they were waiting.
After she had explained he didn’t need to think of another question, as there was a buzz from behind the receptionist’s desk.
“Mr Upjohn will see you now” she announced
He gave Kayleigh’s hand a squeeze and she said
“Come in with me?”
So they stood up and walked into the consultant’s office.
Twenty minutes later they were sat in the car and Kayleigh was sobbing uncontrollably in his arms, but they were tears of relief.
The lump turned out to be a cyst, which could be easily removed with a rather large needle.
An appointment was made for Monday morning at the same private hospital where she went for the scan.
“Do you want me to come with you?” he asked
“Yes please” she replied
While they sat in the car she phoned Gemma and gave her the good news and the relief in Kayleigh’s voice as she spoke was palpable.
“Oh and there’s no need to phone Jack, he already knows”
Kayleigh smiled as she listened to Gemma squirming in response.
“He got me drunk,” said the tinny voice
“I know he did” Kayleigh said sympathetically
Jack couldn’t hear her response but Kayleigh said
“Yes he is a rotten swine”
As we were driving back to Turnoak in the bright evening sunshine Kayleigh suddenly asked
“Do you have any visitors at the moment?”
“No just me on my lonesome” he replied
“What about Anne?” she asked
“She’s gone back to Ethiopia today” he answered and then there was a long silence.
“Do you want some company?” Kayleigh asked coyly
“Always” Jack said
Then after a few moments she continue
“I know I’m a terrible woman, ignoring you, keeping you in the dark, and then wanting to be with but once in a while it’s nice to feel like I’m part of a proper couple, and I feel that with you and…”
“And today you need that more than ever” he continued for her
It was dark when they got back to the village and once he got her inside she stayed with him until Monday when he drove her to a private hospital in Finchbottom where he stayed with her throughout the procedure and then drove her home afterwards and for 24 hours they had perfect peace and each other.
But the universe hadn’t finished messing with their lives just yet because on Tuesday morning Kayleigh was called to the hospital as Carl’s health had deteriorated dramatically and Jack barely saw her for a week and but then he finally lost the fight and Carl Robinson died.