I felt rather guilty after my sinful afternoon in the garage with India while Katy was being entertained by the Bishop, and that’s not a euphemism by the way.
I felt even more guilty than normal, but not guilty enough to prevent me from disgracing myself with India on two more occasions over the next week and a half, while Katy slept.
But all that would come to end when India took delivery of her new toy box, filled with the goodies she and Maisie had ordered on my laptop.
The box was to be delivered to my house and Maisie would pick it up later in the day.
I would need to lie to Katy, and say that India had it delivered to me as it was a gift for her mum.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There were no visitors on Friday Evening as was to be expected as the vicar was too exhausted after tea with the Bishop.
She slept for much of Saturday as well but on Sunday she was feeling much better so much so that she felt in need of spiritual refreshment so after I helped her with her bath I wheeled her down to the church.
It was a cold damp foggy morning and I wasn’t sure it was altogether a good idea but I had her well wrapped up and Robert Hunter, the new vicar, had saved her a seat nearest the heater.
She was in sparkling form, almost up to her former best and she chatted enthusiastically with all those in earshot and she enjoyed the service very much and was much moved by Roberts’s choice of hymns.
By the end though, she was flagging and although her spiritual self was indeed refreshed, her body was left exhausted again. Which kept her confined to bed for the rest of Sunday and a large part of Monday.
Every morning Olivier, practise manager at the doctors surgery, phoned me to see if Katy was up to visitors and I would say yes or no, having already consulted Katy to see if she wanted to or not, but the ultimate decision was mine.
Katy would never turn anyone away no matter how drained she was.
On Monday I provisionally said yes.
Just after I’d hung up the phone another frumpy district Nurse knocked on the door.
Then after she’d gone I had to carry Katy all the way upstairs for her bath and all the way back down as well.
Dr Andrews came around midday and was persuaded to accept our hospitality to lunch with us, not that it took too much persuasion, and I had noticed her visits had been particularly well timed of late.
In the evening it was a different nurse a pleasant enough woman though somewhat sour faced.
It was clearly Molly’s idea to engage a succession of middle-aged frumps to ensure she wasn’t inadvertently supplying an endless number of additions to my stable of conquests.
During the day Katy and I ended up watching a lot of old movies together and in the evening after she had seen her visitors and we had eaten a sublime Lamb Curry donated by the Mahajak’s, she asked if I would read to her.
“Which book?” I asked
And after about thirty seconds of deliberation she said
“Let’s start at the beginning “The Philosophers Stone”” she said, “hopefully we’ll get through all of them before the end”
I didn’t like to think about the end, I hoped it wouldn’t come for a good while yet.
So trying to shake off the morbid thoughts I read to her for the next couple of hours.
This routine was repeated the next day, only the faces and shapes of the nurses varied, but then on Wednesday evening Katy went down with a fever.
I called Claire immediately, she played it down of course, but I could tell she was concerned.
She told me what tablets to give her and in a reassuring voice said she would pop in the next day as usual.
The next day Claire called in at 7.30am and tried to pass it off as coincidence but she was clearly worried.
Claire administered the usual meds and something else for the fever.
“That will suffice for now” she said and instructed me to check her temperature regularly and promised to return later in the day.
As Claire had done everything already she called the surgery and asked Olivier to cancel the district nurse for that morning but to leave the evening one in place for the time being.
Despite her fever Katy insisted on having her bath as usual, claiming it couldn’t do any harm and would probably even help, and then she gave me one of her lopsided grins so I gave in providing she ate her breakfast first.
She duly complied and I carried her upstairs and sat her on my bed while I ran her a bath.
I helped her into the tub in the usual manner and as I didn’t want to leave her alone upstairs as I normally did, I pottered around upstairs, changing the bedding, putting towels away, that kind of thing.
Once I had done everything I called into her
“Are you ready to get out yet your ladyship?”
“In a minute peasant” she replied
I was still laughing when I noticed Katy hadn’t sorted anything out clothes wise, so I went down and chose some for her, underwear as well, and when I was halfway up the stairs I went back and got a clean nightie just in case.
When I got back upstairs I put the pile of clothes on the bed and helped her out of the bath.
Then I withdrew while she dried herself, but after a few moments she went a bit wobbly so I sat her on the bed and finished drying her myself.
Despite our previous intimacy and the fact that we had made love in a Godalming Hotel she was still quite shy and wouldn’t let me dry the interesting bits.
When we had finished our joint venture I said
“I sorted out some clothes for you”
She had a quick look and replied
“Have you been rummaging through my knicker drawer?”
“Yes I have indeed rummaged in your drawer full of drawers”
I responded proudly
“Pervert” she said and laughed.
After a moment or two of inactivity I was getting concerned she would get cold so I decided to get her moving.
“Right lets get you dressed,” I suggested “or would you rather just wear your nightie?”
“Nightie and knicks” she said weakly
I picked up her knickers from the pile of clothes, pale yellow ones; I always liked yellow on a brunette.
I knelt down in front of her and got her pants on over her feet and then pulled them up to her knees.
I encouraged Katy to stand up and put a hand on each shoulder to support her weight while I pulled her knickers the rest of the way up.
“Oops” she exclaimed with a giggle “they’ve gone up my bum”
“Well putting knickers on isn’t my sphere of expertise” I responded as I tried to correct my error
“I don’t think you should be poking around up there,” she said
“Ok I’ll get them roughly in situ and you can adjust them later” I replied.
Once I had finished Katy sat back down on the bed and I stood up in front of her.
I picked up her nightie and put in on over her head, she then put her arms through in turn and I prepared to pull it down as she released the towel.
“No peeking,” she said
“I can’t promise that” I said honestly “I am a pervert after all”
And as she let the towel drop I was true to my word and didn’t avert my gaze.
Then I pulled her up to her feet so the garment covered her modesty.
I held onto her while she adjusted her pants and when the final adjustments were made and the snap of elastic sounded no more she leant against me and hugged me tightly.
“Thank you Simon,” she said softly
“For what?” I asked
“For everything” she replied “for this”
“It’s no trouble” I said
“It’s a lot of trouble” Katy corrected me
“And it means a lot to me”
“My pleasure” I said “well you know what I mean”
She suddenly broke away and cried
“I forgot to squirt”
“Not to worry” I said “that’s soon remedied”
I went into the bathroom and grabbed her deodorant and returned to the bedroom where she was still standing by the bed.
She lifted her arms up one at a time while I squirted.
“Anywhere else?” I asked
“No that will suffice” she replied
“Sure?” I asked again
“Ok” I said and pulled the neck of her nightie out and gave a quick squirt down her front.
“Behave yourself” she said and slapped my arm “you’re incorrigible”
We were both laughing but then she went all wobbly again and fell against me limply.
“Oops a daisy” I said as I took hold of her.
Holding her firmly with one arm I used my spare hand to turn back the duvet before I lowered her onto the bed.
“Let’s get you lying down,” I said gently
“No” she replied, “this is your room”
“Well for the next few days it’s your room” I insisted
She didn’t have the strength to argue anymore so she lay down and as I sat beside her on the bed she drifted off to sleep within a few minutes.
I sat with her for another ten minutes and then went downstairs to make a coffee.
While I was in the kitchen finishing my drink I heard the front door open and as I listened I realised it was Mrs Beamish.
I got up and went into the hall to head her off.
“Ah Mrs B” I said “a change of plan for today, the reverend has come down with a fever”
She didn’t speak, but listened intently
“She is sleeping upstairs and will do so until the fever dissipates” I continued
“I know I haven’t done as good a job as you would but I’ve already done upstairs so can you just do downstairs this week” “of course dear” she replied and patted my hand.
I was taken aback she had never called me dear before and there was even a hint of a smile about her lips.
Mrs B went about her chores and I returned to the kitchen and when I looked out the kitchen window I noticed it had started snowing.
I hoped it wasn’t going to be too disruptive as I was due at Georgia’s that evening, to spend Valentines with her.
My cousin Molly was going to come over and stay overnight to look after Katy, which given the good reverends fever was fortuitous.
But if the snow amounted to as much as was predicted all the plans could easily go awry.
I wasn’t at all convinced that it would as the weather forecast tended these days to give the worse case scenario so as not to be embarrassed like they were after the great autumn storm of 88.
So I expected the snow to be an inconvenience and nothing more.
Mrs Beamish left about 12.30 and I went up to check on Katy who was just stirring, I suggested soup for lunch, which I served to her in bed, though she didn’t eat much.
At one thirty Dr Andrews came through the front door
“Hello!” she called
“In the kitchen Claire” I called back
“Where’s the patient?” she asked
“She’s in my room” I replied
“Why?” Claire asked suspiciously
I then told her of the events that lead to her sleeping beneath my duvet.
“Oh god” she said and rushed upstairs so I made some lunch for Claire and I in time for her return.
I looked out of the window and was alarmed to notice the snow was not abating in the slightest.
I was beginning to get that sinking feeling, I had been looking forward to seeing Georgia even before the stolen glimpses of Katie’s treasures, but with the snow falling thick and fast I suspected I was to be disappointed.
Claire came downstairs a little happier than when she went up even though Katy’s temperature hadn’t yet broken.
She was satisfied she wasn’t getting any worse for the time being anyway, but the antibiotics she had just given her, she hoped would break the fever over the next 48 hours.
In the meantime she would spend a couple of hours sitting with her before going home to spend Valentines with her husband,
As Claire sat with the sleeping Katy I was on the phone, first with Molly who called to say she was unable to get out of Kiddlingstone and then to Georgia to say I couldn’t get to her.
When I phoned her she said that it was even worse in Roehampton.
“I’m sorry hon” I said “I’ll make it up to you on your birthday”
“I know you will” she replied, “I love you too”
Later when we were sitting in the kitchen looking at the worsening weather Claire said
“I really should go home”
“Do you think it’s safe?” I asked
“I don’t know but I always spend the important dates, Birthdays, Christmas, New Years Eve and Valentines with Brian”
“You could get stranded,” I said
“I know” she replied “but I should be there even if he doesn’t know I am, it will be the first one I’ve ever missed”
“You don’t have to miss it,” I told her
“What?” she asked
“Go home, I can manage here”
“What about Katy?” she asked, “She still has a fever”
“You’ve already told me what to do” I replied “and you can phone me for an update”
“And what if she deteriorates? What then?” she asked
“I would do exactly the same thing you would if you were here,” I answered
She still looked unsure so I continued
“Brian may not know you’re there but you do, go home, I’ll be fine”
She walked around the table and sat on my lap then she kissed me.
“You’re a good man Simon Fisher,” she said
That was the one thing I most definitely wasn’t, I might have made the right noises but the real me would still rather have nailed her on the kitchen table than done something noble.
“Go” I said urgently “before I change my mind”
Claire went upstairs to check on Katy before she left and I took another phone call, this time it was from another one of Molly’s frumpy district nurses who was also unable to get through to the village.
I decided not to share the news with Claire because she would have stayed.
“She’s awake,” Claire said as she came down the stairs
“And would love a cup of tea”
“Ok I’ll take one up” I responded then I told her to call me as soon as she got home to let me know she got there safely.
She promised she would and then we kissed, not a goodbye kiss, but an “I wish I wasn’t going kiss”.
Then I opened the door and she stepped out into the snow.