Authors: Netta Newbound
"Oh my God. Oh my God," I cried, grabbing Jon’s arm to steady myself.
I'd been saying she was sick for weeks, and Jon insisted I was overprotective, but I knew. Call it mother's intuition— call it what the hell you like—but I knew.
"Hey, come here, Vic. It still might be nothing." Jonathan pulled me into his arms.
I buried my head into his chest, trying to seek comfort from the familiar scent of him. But I could hear his heart hammering, and I knew he too was terrified.
"I'm confused," Frank said. "What does this mean?"
"Let's not speculate, Dad. Best to wait for the specialist's verdict."
After putting Emily to bed, I ran a bath. Then I lay immersed in coconut-scented bubbles until I was shivering cold and my skin was in danger of becoming as wrinkled as a walnut.
Wrapped in a fleecy dressing gown with my long brown hair twisted in a towel, I popped my head into Emily's room. She was asleep. I crept to her side and bent to kiss the top of her head and my stomach contracted.
As I turned to leave, a little voice whispered, "Goodnight, Mummy."
"Goodnight, my precious girl. I love you."
“To the moon and back.”
Emily’s tinkling laughter filled my ears and broke my heart.
I closed the door behind me, and then turned, pressing my back against it and sighing noisily.
A movement down the hallway made me turn with a start.
Frank stood half-in, half-out of his bedroom door, eyeing me, tentatively.
Frank was over six feet tall with broad shoulders, a rugged complexion and a head of thick greying hair. He was still a handsome and distinguished looking man despite the ravages of the stroke. Always very capable and powerful, he’d run the farm single-handed for years, only employing casual staff at the busiest times.
He’d also had a homekill butchery business that he’d operated from a converted old stone barn at the back of the property.
Finding himself bed-bound and helpless had almost been enough to kill him in itself, but between us, we’d managed. Now he was slowly regaining some independence.
“Sorry to disturb you. I keep intruding on your private moments."
"Don't be silly. You're as much a part of this as anyone." I pulled the towel from my head and threw it over my shoulder, running my fingers through my wet hair.
"She'll be fine, lass. Jon's right. We should wait and see what they say at the hospital."
I nodded, my lips trembling. "I've got a bad feeling about this, Frank."
"Come here." He walked towards me, his walking stick supporting his weak right side. I met him halfway, drawing strength from his calm, controlled, all-encompassing hug.
Frank was the closest thing I had to a parent.
Both of mine had died years ago, leaving me feeling alone and abandoned at an early age. I had no other family, none that I knew of anyway. Maybe there were some distant cousins knocking about in Puerto Rico, where I was born, but nobody significant.
Frank cleared his throat. "You okay now?"
"Yes, thanks. I needed that," I said.
"There are plenty more where that came from, you know."
I smiled at him. "Come on. I'll race you downstairs. Last one down makes a cuppa."
I sped off, listening to him rant and curse, and then chuckle.