Jump to content
  • Join For Free and Get Notified of New Chapters!

    Are you enjoying a great story and want to get an alert or email when a new chapter is posted? Join now for free and follow your favorite stories and authors!  You can even choose to get daily or weekly digest emails instead of getting flooded with an email for each story you follow. 

     

    Timothy M.
  • Author
  • 3,490 Words
  • 6,961 Views
  • 63 Comments

The Cardmaker and the Caretaker - 21. Chapter 21 A Day of Surprises

…and a few secrets too.

Wednesday went by rather quickly. Michael clung to Patrick until he left for the shop around 11am. They spent time practicing English words while Peter and Grethe filled out forms and made other preparations for going to the hospital. Grethe had visited Mr. Archibald the day before, and she said he was actually feeling positive about the move. “He’s been clinging to the memories of his wife and their life together. When I told him about moving into a flat soon after Ivan died, Arthur said he could see the advantages of making a new start.”

Patrick exchanged looks with Peter, who smiled and told his aunt she’d probably made a good impression on their neighbour. “I’m glad you’ve already made a friend here, Moster.” No one mentioned the potential of more-than-friends, but of course it was early yet.

They’d talked about his meeting with Fiona over breakfast, and Grethe told them she’d spoken to Kim and Alice. They required regular bulletins about Michael, whom they considered almost like a nephew. She promised they would be the first to know, after her sister who had first priority as Michael’s grandmother. Peter more or less ignored the mention of his mother, which Patrick found strange. On the other hand, he knew his fiancé’s focus was on Michael.

The cleaners had called the day before and they were fine with dropping by around seven to discuss hours and price. That meant Patrick could join Peter and Grethe at the hospital around four and spend a couple of hours with Michael, before he went home. He used most of the afternoon to prepare his shop for being closed for the next week, including asking the shopkeepers next door to keep an eye on the premises, the way they did when he took a month’s holiday in July.

When he arrived at the Bear Ward and asked for directions to Michael’s room, in case he was in a different place, the face of the nurse lit up.

“You’re Lizzie Kern’s son, right?”

“Yes, I am. It’s nice to meet people who knew my mum.”

“She was an amazing nurse, with a great instinct for relieving our patients’ pain. Especially the babies who can be difficult to assess; they always did better on her watch.”

“My mum loved working here. She said everyone were devoted to helping the patients and their parents. The possibility of aiding sick people and especially children was the main reason she became a nurse.” Patrick had heard his mum say this many times, so he was certain enough to express this view. The pleased smile on the nurse’s face was a nice reward.

“Well, here you are; Michael is in here. I guess I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

“Absolutely, thank you for your help and the kind words about my mother.” They parted with mutual smiles, and Patrick knocked softly on the door, before opening it.

“Papa, Papa,” was the enthusiastic greeting from Michael, and Patrick hurriedly shed his coat and used the provided ethanol on his hands before he went over to greet his new son.

“This is for you – den er til dig,” he said and handed the boy a large envelope as he sat down next to Peter, who patted his back. Patrick didn’t feel he deserved much congratulation for recalling the Danish phrase, which was one of the first the boy had said to him. Every time he looked at the decorated egg by his desk in the shop, the cardmaker could hear the sweet voice as the boy presented the gifts to Peter and him.

“Yes, Spiderman, cool!” Michael exclaimed and held up the laminated card he had extracted from the envelope. The adults smiled and expressed their pleasure over the picture and his reaction. The Spiderman figure seated in the huge web wore the boy’s face, and the silvery strands radiated out in a network of support and caretakers. At the top Peter stood with Patrick and Grethe on either side. At the bottom the hospital was represented by a bear doctor flanked by flamingo nurses. To the left the Star Wars Lego figure of Obi Wan Kenobi guarded him with a raised light sabre, surrounded by various other cartoon favourites.

The boy pointed to each character and named them with glee. But he paused when he got to the guardian on the right side of the web. “Hvem er det?”

“He wants to know who the angel is.” Peter translated.

“So do I,” Patrick muttered. He was still confused about the image of a blond, barefooted protector clad in black leathers which had flashed into his mind when he was contemplating what to put in the last spot. Transparent wings hovered around his broad shoulders, and the badass attitude clearly said he'd deal with anyone and anything trying to mess with his charge.

“Patrick?” Peter nudged him gently.

“Uhm, yeah, that’s his guardian angel. He’ll protect him against harm.” He did his best to sound casual.

“Patrick siger, det er din skytsengel. Han passer på dig.”[1] Peter relayed the explanation, and Michael grinned and bounced a bit in excitement.

“Cool. Han ser sej ud, Papa.” Patrick could hear the approval in the bubbly voice and returned the grin as Peter told him their son thought the guardian angel looked ‘tough’ as well as cool.

They attached the card with magnets on the board opposite the bed, where he could see it all the time. Michael settled down for a quick nap, while the adults chatted. When the boy woke half an hour later, he, Patrick and Peter worked their way through one of the ward’s colourful books about the tiger with a bad heart, who got saved by a helpful bear. Michael grumbled about it being for babies, but he liked the fact he knew and could pronounce most of the words. A nurse came by occasionally to check his temperature and make sure he drank the juice and water set out.

At six o’clock Patrick said goodnight to Michael and hugged him, Peter and Grethe before he made the journey home. The cleaners arrived promptly at seven which boded well for their future reliability. He was surprised when the man introduced himself as the owner of the cleaning company and the two shy young women as his daughters.

“This is Neeta and Sonia, my oldest daughters. I hope they meet with your approval.”

“Of course, Mr. Kumar, and thank you for bringing them here yourself. Happy to meet you, Miss Neeta and Miss Sonia. Would you like some coffee or tea?” Patrick was pleased to see the girls answering for themselves, with Mr. Kumar eyeing them with fatherly pride. They all sat down at the kitchen table with mugs of tea and Moster Grethe’s wonderful Danish biscuits.

“Neeta and Sonia are studying, but would like to earn some money. I want them to be in safe place, and they will work hard to keep your home clean. Their mother taught them well, and I explained why you need exceptional standards.”

“I’m studying to be a nurse, Mr. Kern, so I understand why,” Neeta explained with a shy smile. She had a kind, but homely face framed by two long plaits of beautiful black hair. The younger sister would have been a stunning beauty if not for a fresh scar on the left side of her face. She wore a scarf over her short hair, and the loose folds hid most of the puckered tissue. Her brown eyes only met his briefly, before focusing on her tea or her sister.

“My fiancé Peter’s aunt, who’s staying with us, is a nurse. I’m sure she’ll be interested in hearing about your studies. Peter’s son Michael will have surgery tomorrow, which is why they aren’t here.”

Neither of the women showed any surprise, so their father had probably briefed them on this too. Patrick had decided to be candid about the household when he spoke to Mr. Kumar on the phone, in order to avoid any misunderstandings or awkwardness. He didn’t want to employ someone like his neighbour by mistake.

“I will be honest, Mr. Kern, and tell you why I want my daughters to work here. I asked around and I know you are nice man, who will not harm innocent people. Also, I have men like you working for me, and they show proper respect to my wife and daughters, and to lady cleaners. I can trust them not to assault the honour of women. Neeta and Sonia agree this is perfect place for them to clean.”

Patrick blanched and had a hard time keeping his composure at the devastating wave of anger and hurt from all three family members. He knew Sonia must have been sexually assaulted recently, and the trauma also affected those who loved her. He felt the incident had made her parents and siblings protective and supportive, but there was a thin bitter sliver of hate and self-blame cutting into Sonia’s proud soul. It made him want to help her, though he had no idea how.

“Thank you for your trust, and you should know it’s mutual. Letting strangers into my home has never been easy for me, but I’m confident this arrangement will work. My only worry is whether there will be enough to do for two people.”

“Why don’t you show us what the cleaning jobs are? Then we can discuss hours and pay, yes?”

“Certainly.” Patrick began with the kitchen, took them on a tour around the house, and explained how often he wanted cleaning done. Mr. Kumar took notes and seemed pleased. Sonia asked a few questions, and Patrick was surprised but relieved to notice her genuine interest made the earlier pain recede.

“I think you need two people for five hours two times a week,” Mr. Kumar finally pronounced. “You have tidy house, which makes cleaning easier. Vacuum cleaner is almost new, and we will bring special cloths to remove dust and wipe down surfaces and door handles. If five hours are too much, later we can reduce to four, yes? Or when little boy no longer needs extra clean home.”

“That sounds good, but I doubt I will need fewer hours even then. I’ve bought the house next door, and the old man who lives there, hasn’t been able to keep up with house-keeping matters. His children will help him pack up during the next six months, but I’m sure they’ll be happy to pay for the cleaning. This will probably mean extra hours during the summer, if you have time? And I’ll need cleaners for the joint place, both before and after various renovations. In fact, I guess you’ll both be finished with your studies long before I’ll be able to do without your invaluable help.”

Sonia seemed to brighten at the idea of extra work during summer and the prospect of being needed long term. Her father was positively beaming, when she spoke up with quiet confidence.

“My business studies will hopefully enable me to take over Kumar Cleaning when Father wants to retire. I’ve only just started, so you can count on me for several years, Mr. Kern.”

He wanted to tell them to call him Patrick, but sensed the formal address made them comfortable.

“Do you have any preferences on weekdays? And what time of day can you be here?”

“Fridays are good and Mondays or Tuesdays are fine too,” Sonia replied after a quick glance at her sister. “We both have the afternoons free on Tuesdays and Fridays, but Neeta has lessons scheduled on Mondays until two pm, so we wouldn’t be here before three.”

“I can take this Monday afternoon off, so we can arrive by noon as you wanted, Mr. Kern,” Neeta assured him.

“No, you don’t have to do that. Three o’clock on Monday afternoon will be fine. We’re having a hospital bed installed in the guestroom I showed you, and the whole room needs to be cleaned as well as the bathroom, because we hope Michael will be able to come home on Tuesday.”

They nodded, and Mr. Kumar produced a contract and explained about his wage demands, which sounded reasonable. Tuesdays and Fridays from one to six pm were chosen as the normal schedule. They filled out the form and signed it, and Patrick got the duplicate with the information he needed, including Sonia’s phone number.

“I will arrange for an automatic bank transfer every month. If for some reason the hours are more or less than agreed, we can deal with that by adjusting the subsequent months, right? The extra work in summer will be paid separately, once we find out how much it’s going to be.”

“Yes, very good, Mr. Kern. Sonia will keep track of hours and hand you invoice at the end of each month. It will be good way for her to learn the system.”

“I’ll be here on Friday and Monday to instruct you, but later on you’ll be given a key and your own code to the alarm system, so you’re not dependent on anyone to be here. Although I guess Michael and Aunt Grethe will be at home most days at least for the foreseeable future.”

“We will burn incense and say prayers to Dhanvantari[2] for successful surgery of your son, Mr. Kern.” He clasped Patrick’s hand in an earnest goodbye and his daughters nodded and added their best wishes.

“Thank you. We’re hopeful he will be fine, but nothing in this world is certain. I will let you know if plans change, and in this case no news is good news.”

After a few more polite farewell remarks, Mr. Kumar and his daughters left. Patrick indulged himself with a rare glass of whisky as he tried to forget the heart-breaking hurt he’d sensed in Sonia. But for some reason it kept nagging him, and he decided to listen to his instincts. He dug out his cell phone and made a call. Half an hour later he was finally able to relax and fix himself a quick sandwich while he waited for Peter.

When the doorbell rang at ten past eight, he left the kitchen to answer. He was a bit surprised Peter didn’t let himself in, but happy he was home earlier than expected. When he opened the door, he was taken aback to see a tall, beautiful woman with long blond hair smiling at him. She looked vaguely familiar, and the moment she opened her mouth he knew why.

“Hi Patrick, I’m Alice. Is my mother here or at the hospital?”

“Uhm, hi Alice, Moster Grethe is at the hospital with Michael. She’s staying there overnight. I don’t think she’s expecting you?”

“No, I know that. My modelling gig in Wales got postponed due to unexpected bad weather. I decided to jump on an airplane to London, so I could be here for my cousin. Is Peter at the hospital too?”

“Yes, but I’m expecting him home within the next hour. Please come in.” He backed up to let Alice into the house. She only had a small suitcase and a purse, so he assumed most of her luggage was still in Wales or wherever she was staying. As soon as she had gotten rid of her bags and coat she headed straight for him to deliver a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m so glad to meet the guy who’s making Peter happier than he’s ever been. I hope you don’t mind me arriving unannounced.”

“No, that’s fine, but you’re lucky I was at home. We were all at the hospital this afternoon.”

“Oh, I saw there were lights on in both houses before I sent the cab away. I would have gone next door to ask Mum’s new friend to put me up for an hour or two, if you hadn’t been here.”

“I’m sure Mr. Archibald would have been surprised but more than happy to offer you a cup of tea. Would you like one, while we wait?”

“I’m dying for tea, and a couple of Mum’s vaniljekranse.”[3]

“Those are the biscuits with a hole in the middle, right?”

“Yes…åh, sikke et hyggeligt køkken.[4] I’m not surprised Mum likes your house and the kitchen in particular. She sent me a few snapshots, but they didn’t do this room justice.”

She settled on a chair and looked around while Patrick made tea and dug out the biscuit tin. Alice was as relaxed and straightforward as her mother. He suspected she might come across as ill-mannered or pushy to a lot of Brits, but he found the lack of inhibitions refreshing. And the brief hug had shown him there was a tender heart and bright wits behind the classy and flawless exterior, all of which would probably ensure Alice a lucrative modelling career.

“How is Michael?”

“He was fine when I left. A bit bored with being in the hospital, and he’s surprisingly calm about tomorrow.”

“And Peter is trying not to freak out, right? Michael means everything to him. Well, you and Michael, I should say.”

“Right now, all of us are focused on Michael. But the surgeon was positive about the outcome when we spoke with him. There’s no guarantee though.”

“Yeah, that’s why I wanted to be here. Hopefully to celebrate the success, but if the worst should happen, I want to be there for Mum and Peter. Kim is going to arrive tomorrow.” She let the news slip out with a casual wink.

“He is? And he hasn’t told your mum or Peter either?”

“Nope, because they would have insisted it wasn’t necessary. But Kim told me there was no way he was going to be half a world away, when his family needed him. He’d already made sure his calendar could be cleared in case Michael got approved for surgery. As soon as the date was set, he bought the flight. I think he’s organized a few business meetings in Copenhagen, Berlin and London for the end of next week and the week after, in order to prolong his stay as much as possible.”

“Wow, that’s fantastic. I know Peter will be pleased, no matter what he says. How long are you able to stay for?”

“Unless the weather miraculously clears before Friday morning, I can stay until Sunday afternoon. But the shoot will commence on Monday morning, as the forecast is sunny for that day and the next. And that reminds me, can you book rooms for me and Kim at the hotel Mum stayed in?”

“There’s no need for that. The guest room is empty, because Grethe is staying at the hospital. I think she changed the bed linen this morning, so it’s all ready for you. The beds move apart, so if you don’t mind sharing with your brother, Kim could sleep here too. At least until Monday, when we have to reorganize the room to prepare for Michael coming home.”

“Are you sure, Patrick? I mean, Mum told me you’re unbelivably… uhm gæstfri[5]…uhm I don’t know the English word, but she said you opened your home to total strangers in the most amazing way. I guess I can see what she means.”

“Peter and Michael are my family now. Grethe, Kim and you are his closest, dearest relatives apart from his sister, and I hope you’ll be mine too. I don’t really have any relatives I care about, except for one cousin, and this house has been much too empty since my parents died.”

He paused to compose himself and take a mouthful of tea. A warm hand found his other hand and squeezed it in sympathy, but she didn’t say anything.

“To be honest, the house feels terribly empty right now, without Michael and Grethe’s presence. She’s the kindest, most warm-hearted woman I’ve ever met, apart from my mum. And I miss Michael’s voice and even the noise of his silly cartoons which make him laugh. Having you and Kim here would help, and I’m sure Peter will feel the same.”

The sound of the front door opening made them turn their heads, and moments later Peter called out.

“Patrick, I’m home. Why is there a suitcase… Vent lige lidt, jeg kender den frakke.[6] Alice?”

She started giggling and got up to face her cousin as he strode into the kitchen. “Hi Peter. Surprise!”

The delighted smile on his fiancé’s face confirmed Patrick’s decision to ask her to stay with them. Peter would need all the loving family support he could get for the next couple of days.

 

[1] Patrick says it’s your guardian angel. He looks after you.

[2] Dhanvantari is the Hindi god of healing.

[3] Vaniljekranse – traditional Danish butter cookies with vanilla.

[4] Oh, what a cozy / comfortable kitchen.

[5] Gæstfri = hospitable

[6] Wait a minute, I know this coat.

If you want to find out who the guardian angel is, please read my contribution to the Unintended Consequences Anthology.

Copyright © 2018 Timothy M.; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 52
  • Love 7

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments



It was worth nagging you!  ;-)

 

Things are getting a little crowded with Patrick, Peter, and Michael; Angie & Imp; Michael’s Guardian Angel, Sablo; Moster, Alice & soon Kim – in a good way. I guess this means that Peter only gets to share Theliel?

 

 

Along with Angie & Imp, this is by far my favorite of your stories! But I’m sure Team Rob/Team Jazz and Team Russ/Team Tor would quickly overwhelm Team Michael/Team A/I.

Link to comment

This story warms my heart more with each chapter!  Patrick is such a good person and who did he call? I know it was about what happened to Sonia. And now he's meeting Peter's cousins. Wonderful.  Now I going to click the link to find out who the bad ass leather clad angel is. :lol:

  • Like 4
Link to comment

Fantastic chapter really enjoyed reading it this story just gets better and better!!😀

  • Like 3
Link to comment

I am thoroughly enjoying this heartwarming and delightful story.  Many thanks.

  • Like 3
Link to comment

:D:D:D

 

@hohochan657 said he got hot and bothered by your antho? ;) Well, I'm on my way there after this comment! :lol:

 

Anyways, back to this story, I like everyone else, is extremely curious how well the surgery went. :)

 

Thanks for the amazing chapter, Tim! :hug: 

  • Like 4
Link to comment

Read this on my phone this morning.. too hard to type anything.. Nice chapter my friend. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment

:hug:  :2thumbs:  :heart:

I'm dying to find out who Patrick called about Sonia--there's no way he'd not try to help her.

A masterful weaving of the AI stories and this one...but what else would we expect? 

Hey, didn't need the translations--except for the bit about the coat.  :P

  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 0:39 AM, pvtguy said:

At last...I've been patiently waiting for the continuation of this story. I hope the next chapters follow more quickly (hint, hint).  Thank you, Tim.

 

Tony

 

LOL, I'll try. I've started writing the next chapter, but got distracted by reading today. Thanks for staying with the story.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 3:46 AM, droughtquake said:

It was worth nagging you!  ;-)

 

Things are getting a little crowded with Patrick, Peter, and Michael; Angie & Imp; Michael’s Guardian Angel, Sablo; Moster, Alice & soon Kim – in a good way. I guess this means that Peter only gets to share Theliel?

 

I'm glad you think so. ;) A prod now and then does remind me I have readers eager for more. Yes, I do have a tendency to end up with too many characters in my stories, but hopefully Sablo will be able to go home to Theliel soon, and the A.I. team may fulfill their mission shortly after. :P  But there are still cousins we haven't met, including Kim.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 4:31 AM, LadyDe said:

This story warms my heart more with each chapter!  Patrick is such a good person and who did he call? I know it was about what happened to Sonia. And now he's meeting Peter's cousins. Wonderful.  Now I going to click the link to find out who the bad ass leather clad angel is. :lol:

 

Thank you, LadyDe, that's great praise indeed. Yes, who did Patrick call? It's a secret for now :X , but you may find a hint in the very beginning of the story. More on that and the cousins soon. There are actually two stories to read in order to get the full picture of the guardian angel.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 4:56 AM, hohochan657 said:

Okay !  Warm and fuzzy feelings after being hot and bothered when I finished reading about Angel and Imp in the Anthology ...  Well, it's a semi-cliffee at the end of this chapter, because we're all dying to find out how well the surgery went for Michael ...  Dear Tim, please hurry up with the next chapter, pretty please !  (no hints from me :P just a plain, clear request)

 

Awww, hoho, I'm happy to make you go all :wub:  on me. What more could I ask for? Yes, yes, Michael's surgery will be fine, he has Sablo watching over him. ;)  But I shall try and write fast, so you can put those torches away. :lol: 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 5:55 AM, BlindAmbition said:

You didn't disappoint Tim.. I feel spoiled, also getting Angel and Imp. I beg you, don't give that poor sweet boy a bad surgery. 

 

Thanks, buddy and no need for begging. I wouldn't dare do bad things to the sweet boy, because there's a bad ass angel ready to chop down anyone who tries to hurt him. :o:rofl:  I'm glad the double dose made up for the long wait.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 9:22 AM, Daveh said:

Fantastic chapter really enjoyed reading it this story just gets better and better!!😀

 

Thank you, Daveh, that's a huge compliment, and very encouraging. :yes: 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 11:48 AM, BrianM said:

I am thoroughly enjoying this heartwarming and delightful story.  Many thanks.

 

You're welcome, Brian, and thank you for telling me. Feedback is the best incentive to keep writing. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 6:49 PM, Lux Apollo said:

A heartwarming chapter, overall. Family coming together!

 

Thanks, Lux. :hug:  You put your finger on an important aspect which I shall develop in the next chapters. Patrick has been without family and love for too long.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/15/2017 at 9:54 PM, Drew Espinosa said:

Anyways, back to this story, I like everyone else, is extremely curious how well the surgery went. :)

 

Thanks for the amazing chapter, Tim! :hug: 

 

LOL, Drew, you should know by now I'd never dare let anything bad happen to Michael. But, of course heart surgery is a major issue, no matter how well it goes, so there will be a long recovery phase. Don't expect to see Michael jumping about anytime soon.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/16/2017 at 2:31 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Read this on my phone this morning.. too hard to type anything.. Nice chapter my friend. 

 

thanks, tim. I'm glad you liked the chapter, my friend. :hug:  Hope it cheered you up.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
On 5/16/2017 at 4:28 AM, ColumbusGuy said:

:hug:  :2thumbs:  :heart:

I'm dying to find out who Patrick called about Sonia--there's no way he'd not try to help her.

A masterful weaving of the AI stories and this one...but what else would we expect? 

Hey, didn't need the translations--except for the bit about the coat.  :P

 

Tak, min ven. Well done on the Danish parts, you're getting more proficient all the time. :yes:  I'm delighted you liked the interaction of the two stories, I worked hard to make them fit - or perhaps I should say three stories, with Aditus' Cupid Central joining in.

The phone call mystery will be solved eventually, but LadyDe's and your instincts are good. :X 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
48 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

But there are still cousins we haven't met, including Kim.

Kim of the prodigious endowment…

Link to comment
Just now, droughtquake said:

Kim of the prodigious endowment…

 

:gikkle: trust you to remember that. :rofl: 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
39 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

Feedback is the best incentive to keep writing. 

Yes, but feedback seems to delay your writing progress. It’s a double-edged sword. If we stop giving you feedback, you'd have more time to write, but you’d also have less incentive!  ;-)

Link to comment

View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on.  We get it, because we feel it too.  Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.

    Sign Up
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..