So on Saturday morning it was with a feeling of relief and not trepidation that Jack took a phone call from his Solicitor Christine Prunot from Curtis, Mitchel and Lovegood.
After the usual seasonal preamble regarding who did what over Christmas and New Year she proceeded to say that she had received a firm offer for one of his property’s.
His Uncle Daniel had invested heavily in bricks and mortar and he had an extensive portfolio, but when Jack had inherited his estate and found out exactly how large it was he resolved to redistribute a large chunk of his wealth to worthy causes, however a lot of that wealth was tied up in property so he instructed Christine to begin realizing some of his real estate assets and Barraclough Ventures were interested in a large plot of old industrial units in Northchapel.
Under normal circumstances he would have jumped at the chance but after Kayleigh’s revelation and her clingy character in the aftermath of it he didn’t feel able to disappear for a couple of days so he was hesitant to agree to go and meet with the potential buyers.
“I’ll give it some thought and call you back later” he said
“Who was that?” Kayleigh asked
“Christine Prunot” he replied “She wants me to go to Northchapel for a business meeting”
“You’re not going are you?” she asked with alarm
“Well it is important” he said “But…”
“I just had a an idea” he said “we could both go”
“Oh yes” she agreed with relief
Barraclough Ventures head offices were in Abbottsford but they had satellite offices all over the county and beyond, so they were meeting Samantha Barraclough and Isabelle Decoene in the Northchapel office.
They decided to stay overnight in a very luxurious Hotel, called the Doll’s House and agreeing to go proved to be the right decision for them, firstly the meeting with Barraclough Ventures, who were planning the regeneration of the former Industrial Power House of Downshire, went exceedingly well and the property sale was settled and secondly on a personal level it was a perfect getaway.
When they got back to the village Kayleigh was much more relaxed and they quickly settled down to the pre New Year routine of splitting her time between Jack and her disabled husband Carl while Jack divided his time between her and the Club.
That was until one afternoon when he was making his way down the stairs and the doorbell rang.
“Ok I’m coming” he called and got to the front door as quickly as possible and on opening it he discovered Kayleigh standing on the other side in tears.
“What’s happened?” he asked as he pulled her into the house and quickly closed the door and she threw herself into his arms.
It was some minutes before she had composed herself sufficiently to be able to speak.
“I’ve just come from the Vicarage,” she sobbed
It was apparently now widely known that Katie was stepping down as Vicar of St Lucy’s and that Paul Massey would be taking over from her but it wasn’t as yet generally known that she was dying.
But this would all too soon become apparent as her condition had begun to deteriorate in the two weeks since he had last seen her.
Katie was determined to vacate the Vicarage and make room for Paul who was trying to establish himself in the village.
He was at that time lodging at the Hen and Chickens, which was not the most suitable accommodation for a man of the cloth or for a layman, not that he would have minded staying there if it meant not putting Katie out of her home.
But Katie was of a mind to go, but she didn’t want to end her days in a hospice, although she had been offered a place at Plaxton Park, she’d spent too many hours at the hospice bedside of sick parishioners ministering to them as they slipped into the next world to want to breathe her last in one herself, and Kayleigh new that feeling herself as she had done it for half a lifetime with Carl.
Paul would willingly let her slip her mortal bonds in her own home but Katie was a practical woman though, and she knew the vicarage was too small to accommodate a hospital bed and all the other paraphernalia required for a terminally ill patient.
So it looked like she would face the end in the one place she most dreaded which is what brought Kayleigh to Jacks door in tears.
And they began to flow once more at the retelling of it.
They sat on the sofa and he consoled her as best he could and then it occurred to him, a light bulb moment, the perfect solution had presented itself.
“What about here?” he suggested,
“It’s a big house and there’s only me”
Kayleigh stopped crying and was staring intently at him
“We could easily get a bed in here with enough chairs for the visitors and the downstairs bathroom is across the hall”
Kayleigh looked around the room and then in the direction of the bathroom when he mentioned it and then back at him
“You would do that?” she asked
“Yes” he replied “of course”
“There will have to be twenty four hour care before the end,” she said
“There is a spare room” he replied
“Katie won’t agree,” Kayleigh, stated, “she won’t want to be a burden”
“What is it about sick people not wishing to be a burden?” he said crossly
“When my time comes I plan on being a burden to all and sundry”
“She’s not you” Kayleigh rebutted
“That’s true enough, I’ll go and talk to her,” he suggested
“We’ll go together,” Kayleigh said
“Ok” he agreed
“She’s resting now but we can go later” Kayleigh said with a nod and there were a few minutes of uncomfortable silence before he put his arms around her and said
“We will convince her because it’s the right thing to do and she is so deserving”
After spending a cold winter afternoon on the sofa with Kayleigh, regrettably they couldn’t dwell there too long as they had a difficult yet pressing task to undertake.
So they left the house and walked the short distance to the vicarage as the snow lightly fell again.
Once inside they had a long, emotional and at times tearful visit with Katie but by the end of it they had managed to persuade her to accept his offer and move into White Rose Cottage as soon as all the arrangements could be made.
After which they left the vicarage emotionally drained and physically exhausted but nonetheless elated at having achieved their objective.
“Well I need to go and see Carl” Kayleigh said when they reached her house
“I’ll leave you here then” he said “I need some essentials from Stephenson’s”
“Ok” she replied “Will I see you later?”
“Of course hon” he almost responded but substituted “Kay” in place of “hon” just in time, Kayleigh blushed because she knew what he was going to say and got in the car, then she said
“I’ll call you”
Jack then walked across to Stephenson’s, he didn’t need much just bread and milk mainly but by the time he had wandered around the shop he had a basket full.
As he was approaching his house a car pulled up outside Gemma’s house and a distinguished looking gentleman got out of the driver’s side and hurried round to open the passenger door.
He then proffered his hand to the passenger who took it without a second thought and he helped the lady out of the car.
The lady in question turned out to Gemma herself who gave him a wave and a smile.
“Hi Gemma” he called
“Jack how are you?” she asked amiably
“I’m fine thanks” he answered and glanced in the direction of her escort
“Oh how rude” she said “Jack this is Craig”
“Craig this is my friend and neighbour Jack Morehouse”
“Nice to meet you Craig” he said and shook his hand
“You too Jack, I’ve heard a lot about you”
“Oh dear” he exclaimed, “Have you known Gemma long?”
“Yes quite a while” Craig said as she opened the front door and stepped in, “She’s my baby sister”
“Really?” Jack said “Well she is much loved in the village because she’s one of the angels”
“Yes she’s always been like that” he said proudly
“Are you visiting for long?” Jack asked
“Just for a few days”
“Well it was nice meeting you,” Jack said
“Likewise” he concurred and they shook hands again
When he got to his front door he noticed the damage on his front step, it had needed attention when he first moved in and he had been meaning to get it sorted but there had been no urgency so he let it slip.
But the frost and ice of winter had made its presence felt and there was a corner broken off one slab and another one was badly cracked, so he would have to get someone to replace them.
It had to be up to snuff with all the comings and goings of the next few months with Katie taking up residence.
When he got inside he phoned a local girl, Emily Bills, who lived on the outskirts of Purplemere and kept his garden in order and she also did hard landscaping.
But he only got her voice mail so he left her a message asking her to come and quote for some hard landscaping work.
Jack replaced the phone on the cradle and went to the kitchen and started preparing dinner so that when Kayleigh returned from seeing Carl he would make them both a delicious Spanish omelette.
On Saturday Kayleigh spent the day with Katie and Jack had such a lazy day that he didn’t even bother to get dressed and the most strenuous thing he did was put a frozen dinner in the microwave.
He did however take a phone call or two, one of which was from Emily Bills in response to the voice mail he left her the day before.
“Hi Emily” he said, “thanks for ringing back”
“Hello Jack” she responded, “I got your message, I trust “Hard Landscaping” isn’t a euphemism for one of your perversions”
“No its not” Jack said laughing “I need you to give me a quote for a new front path and doorstep”
“I can come on Monday morning” she said
“Why do you want a new path anyway?”
Jack explained that the path was in need of repair and that future events required that it be in optimum condition but he was evasive as to the nature of the afore mentioned events.
The other phone call was from Kayleigh, which was much longer in duration than the previous one due to the subject matter, namely the arrangements for Katie Watson’s palliative care.
They had had a prolonged conversation with Katie’s primary physician Carole Anderson who was very receptive and thought it was an excellent solution although she didn’t know Jack as well as Katie and Kayleigh but she had heard good things about him.
Part of the discussion was making the arrangements for when the medical equipment could be delivered and they provisionally settled on the first Monday in February, Dr Anderson would take care of all the details and all Jack had to do was ensure the lounge was sufficiently de-cluttered to receive a hospital bed and all its associated paraphernalia.
He awoke on Sunday morning to find the thaw had set in and the snow was beginning to clear away and as it was Sunday it was time to reacquaint himself with the lord, unfortunately Kayleigh wasn’t going to be with him as she was with Katie.
So he left home early on a bright winter morning and walked alone to the Church, it was a milder morning than it hand been of late but the atmosphere was rather frosty, there were lots of hushed whispers and sideways looks, people talking behind their hands and the like, so by the time he was seated in the church he was not feeling the love after the very unchristian behaviour of the other congregants.
It was apparent that he and Kayleigh were the talk of the village as they had been observed embracing when she arrived at his house in tears, which was ironic really as they were normally very discreet, and on that occasion he did nothing other than comfort her.
It was only when Gemma and Elise arrived that someone actually spoke to him.
“Morning Jack” they chorused
“Hi girls” he said “so you’re talking to me then?”
“Oh don’t mind the small minded” Gemma said giving the Rubber Necker’s one of her looks.
After the service Reverend Paul Massey approached Jack and spoke to him at the back of the church, and they were quickly joined by his girlfriend Martina Wingrove, it was the first time Jack had seen her for a few weeks and she looked wonderful and it really warmed his heart to see the two of them together.
As the minutes passed by more and more of the congregation came and shook his hand or gave him a smile because it was now common knowledge that he had extended his hospitality to the Vicar, so by the end there was just the hard core of village witches who stood their ground and looked daggers at him.