We were busy all week preparing for our Christmas party on Saturday. As I mentioned previously, I had already done the baking and frozen it, so I spent the week helping Doc with cooking for our Open House. Thanks to Rick sending over a bunch of leftovers from the wedding dinner, we didn't have to worry about suppers for a couple days. Alex and Deanna were at the apartment, but were planning on coming back to the farm on Wednesday. Alex was on call Tuesday night, so he wanted to stay close to the hospital, and they wanted to give Doc and I some more time alone since we weren't going on our official honeymoon until after the holidays.
Jessie and Heidi were happy to see us and also happy to see their pal, Scruffy, come home. We had to put baby gates in the doorways to the kitchen to keep the dogs out while we were cooking. Scruffy was more challenging, since she could easily hop onto and over the gates. She was already trained to stay off the counters, table, stove and wood cook stove. I had accomplished that with a squirt bottle. Training her to stay out of the kitchen was harder as she was up and over before I could squirt her. So I had to pick her up and put her down outside the gate. When she was really persistent, I put her in her carrier. Eventually, she got the hint.
Wednesday mid afternoon, Scott Fletcher called. He said he needed to come out and talk to us about something. We put coffee on and waited. Alex and Deanna got home before the detective arrived. When he got here, he told us it had to do with Jane. The Carmichaels offered to go upstairs to give us privacy, but Doc and I said we were okay with them hearing whatever it was Scott had to tell us. They had met him at the wedding.
“The Richards' might need you after I leave”, he said to Alex.
“That sounds ominous”, I said. Doc's face was devoid of colour.
“First, I want to tell you how much Bruce and I enjoyed the wedding. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was lovely. Meredith, you have a great voice, that song you sang was just perfect. Now, I'll get right to it and I will be direct. There's no other way to be.” He took a breath. “Meredith, that phone call I got when we were dancing *was* about Jane. I didn't want to tell you about it on your wedding day and I wanted to give you a few days after to just enjoy yourselves and not think of her. I would have preferred to wait until after the holidays but I know you are going away.”
“What is it, Scott?” Doc asked.
“I got more details the other day. Jane tried to commit suicide on Saturday.”
“On our wedding day”, I said. “Did she plan it that way?”
“We believe so. And there's more – She did it just after 5pm local time.” Jane was in a prison in Quebec, five provinces away. “Which is 2 our time.”
“The time the wedding was supposed to start”, I said aloud, but mostly to myself.
“That c**t!” I'd never heard Doc utter that word before. His face was red with anger. “You said 'tried'”, he said to Scott. “She didn't succeed?”
“No, she didn't. “She was on suicide watch as she'd been very depressed and the corrections staff knew about you two getting married on Saturday. The guard that was watching her went to the bathroom and in that time, she tore her sheets up and hung herself.” I gasped. “When he returned to her cell, he cut her down and administered CPR, which saved her life. She's unconscious, but they expect her to come out of it. They don't know if there will be brain damage, but she's not on life support, she's breathing on her own.”
“My God”, Doc said in shock.
“The letter she left for the prison staff said she couldn't live without you, Julian”, Scott continued. “She left a letter for you and the institution couriered it to me.” He took an envelope out of his brief case and held it out to Doc.
“I don't want it, Scott.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I don't want to know what she said to me.”
Alex spoke for the first time. “Scott, can you hold onto it for a while, in case he changes his mind?”
“I'm not going to change my mind”, Doc said firmly.
“That's okay if you don't”, Alex told him. “But Scott will keep it in case you do.”
“Don't patronize me, Alex. I'm not a child.”
“Of course you aren't, Julian. I was just thinking that you might change your mind.”
“I won't.” Doc got up from the sofa and walked down the hall. I heard the back door open and close and got up to follow him. Alex stopped me. “Let him go, Meredith. Let's give him his space.”
Scott got up to leave. Alex and I walked him out. Deanna said she would check the kitchen and make sure all burners on the stove were off – Doc had been cooking for the party. Scott said he would keep us apprised of any new developments. “I don't think Jane will try to contact you when she regains consciousness, but I'll speak to the warden and let her know that Julian wants no contact with her.”
“I don't want any contact with her either, Scott”, I said to him.
As we stepped out onto the porch, we heard screaming. It sounded like it was coming from the barn. The three of us ran down the steps and toward the sound. The horses were inside and were neighing. As we got closer to the barn, I could hear hooves connecting with wall – Buddy tended to kick his stall walls when he was stressed.
We got to the barn and I opened the door and stepped inside. The screaming was coming from the area where I keep the straw. I hollered at the horses to “quiet down” and went into the other side. Doc was standing there screaming at the top of his lungs with his hands bunched up into fists. Alex and Scott followed behind me.
“Doc, please stop”, I asked of him. He didn't. “Honey, you're upsetting the horses.” I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around him and held him close.
He stopped screaming and said in a quiet voice “I'm sorry, Meredith. I didn't mean to upset them.”
“I know, Doc.” I let go of him and stepped around to face him. His face was tear stained. I reached out and put my hand on his cheek. “It's going to be okay, honey.”
Doc took a few steps and put his back up against the wall separating this section of the barn from the other. He sank down to the floor and sat there with his knees bent, his arms wrapped around them and looking straight ahead. I sat down beside him and Alex sat on his other side. Scott squatted down in front of him. “Julian, I'm sorry. If I'd known you'd react like this, I wouldn't have told you about Jane or the letter.”
“It's not your fault, Scott”, I said to him. “This is all on Jane.”
I put my hand on Doc's arm. “Doc, what is upsetting you? That Jane tried to kill herself or that she made the attempt on our wedding day?”
“Talk to us, Julian.” Alex spoke for the first time since we'd entered the barn.
Doc turned his head to face our therapist. “I guess both. I hate her, but I don't want her dead. I want her to leave us alone. I know we are supposed to forgive those who do wrong to us, but I just can't in this case.”
“That's a conversation to have with Father Stevens, but let me help you with your feelings about what Jane did a few days ago.”
“She ruined our wedding day.”
“Doc, no! She did not!” I said to him with more emotion than I meant to. “That was and always will be the happiest day of my life! I'm not letting her ruin it. No way.”
“I wish I had your resolve, Meredith.”
“Look at it this way, Doc. She made the attempt on her life at the time we were supposed to be getting married..... BUT... the wedding was delayed by over an hour because of that accident I got stuck behind with my wedding party. So, besides the fact that she didn't succeed, it didn't happen when she wanted it to. If you let her ruin the day, you give her what she wanted. She wanted to ruin our memories of our wedding. Don't let her.”
“I never thought of it that way”, he said in a voice that seemed far away.
“Meredith, could you and Scott please give me a few minutes with Julian?” Alex asked.
“Sure, Alex.” I got up and went into the other section of the barn.
“I better get going”, Scott said to me. “I'm already late for dinner. Please let me know how Julian is doing. I'll keep you updated on any new developments.”
“Call me instead of Julian. If it's something I don't think he will deal well with, I'll talk to Alex before telling him.”
After Scott left, I spent some time with my horses while I waited for Alex to finish talking with Doc. They had settled down once Julian stopped screaming, but I wanted to give them some loving. I was seething with anger at Jane for what she was doing to my husband. I feared he was having a breakdown but I fervently hoped he wasn't. He had been my rock the previous spring when I was going through all those surgeries and the other crap Jane had flung at me. It was little wonder that this might have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Even the strongest of us have a breaking point.
A while later, they emerged from the other room in the barn. I went to Doc and gave him a big hug. “How are you, honey?” I asked.
“Better, thanks to you and Alex.”
I looked at Alex. “He is better but he needs a rest. No more cooking for him today, Deanna and I will put everything away and clean up, then we'll get supper for us all. I suggested that you cancel the party, but he said he needs it to keep busy. I told him we will all help as much as we can.”
“We sure will, Alex. If he doesn't want to cancel the party, that's probably best. If he didn't have something to do, he might sit and stew about things.”
“I agree. I'm going to go back to the house and help Deanna. You two spend as much time out here as you need.”
“I'm sorry about upsetting the horses, hon”, Doc said to me after Alex had left the barn.
“Don't worry about it, Doc. They've settled down now.”
He walked down the aisle to Lilly and Blossom's stall. When he got to it, he opened the door and went in. I quietly walked down and looked in. Doc was standing there with his face buried in Lilly's neck and his arms wrapped around it. I was in shock. This was something I sometimes do – mostly with Buddy - when I'm upset, but I never in a million years expected Doc to do it. Not even with Lilly, the horse he adopted and seemed to have a special bond with.
I walked back up the aisle, letting him having his space. To pass the time, I tidied up a bit. When Doc came back to the front area, I gave him a kiss. Looking into his eyes, I could tell he'd been crying again. I put my arms around him. He held me tight. “I'm sorry, Meredith. Jane messing with us on the day of our wedding was just the last straw.”
“She didn't mess with us on our wedding day, honey. She *tried* to, but Scott didn't tell us about it until today. He kept our wedding day free of Jane. I'll always be grateful to him for that.”
“Me, too, Meredith.”
“Ready to go back to the house?”
“Yes, let's go.”
Back at the house, he headed straight upstairs. A couple minutes later, I heard the shower running. I figured that was what he was doing. I went up the stairs and into our ensuite bathroom where I shed my clothes and stepped into the shower. “Let me have that, Doc.” I took the washcloth and soap from him and proceeded to bathe him. He'd already washed his hair. “Are you okay, honey?”
“Yes, Meredith. I'm feeling better now. You are right. We won't let that sow tarnish our memories of our wedding. I'm going to call Scott tomorrow and tell him to return that letter to her. That should send a clear message that I do not want to hear from or about her again.”
“That's a great idea, Doc. Hopefully, it will get the message across.”
After I finished washing him, he wanted to wash me so I let him. When we got out of the shower, I dried him off, then he opened the cupboard under the sink to get the cleaning supplies out. “No, Doc. I'll do that in a few minutes. You are not allowed to do any work tonight. Let's go get dressed. Do you want to go downstairs for supper or do you want it up here?”
“Up here, I just want to get into bed. Though I don't want to be rude to Alex and Deanna.”
“Let's ask them to eat up here with us. The bedroom is certainly big enough.” I helped him into his pyjamas and pulled the bed covers back for him to get in, then pulled them up over him. I got the bed remote and put the head up so he could sit up in comfort. After getting dressed, I cleaned the tub and picked my dirty clothes up off the bathroom floor. True to form, Doc had put his in the laundry hamper. I did the same with mine and went downstairs to talk to our temporary housemates. Julian was watching a medical documentary on TV.
“How is he?” Alex asked me as I entered the kitchen.
“He's better, but I think he's tired. Probably mentally exhausted. He wants his supper in bed tonight. You two are welcome to join us up there.”
“Is he okay with that?” Deanna asked.
“Absolutely. He just doesn't feel up to coming downstairs. BTW, you will never guess what he did in the barn.”
“What did he do?” Alex asked me.
“After you left, he went into Lilly's stall. When I went to see what he was doing, he had his face buried in her neck with his arms around her. He stood there for quite a while.”
“I know! I never thought I would ever see the day when he'd do something like that. Though he did head for the shower as soon as we came into the house.”
“I don't think he will ever change about that, Meredith.”
“I don't expect him to, Alex. I love him just as he is.”
After we'd eaten supper, Alex and Deanna took our plates downstairs. They wouldn't let me go down to help with cleaning up. “Let me know when you are ready to go to sleep”, he said to me. “I'm going to give him a sedative tonight.”
“I don't need one”, Doc said.
“I don't want you tossing and turning. You're going to be busy the next few days and you need your rest.”
Doc and I spent a bit of time together before going to sleep. We talked about what had happened. “I'm sorry, hon”, he said to me. “I know I've been a pain in your rear over this.”
“No, you haven't, Doc. You've been upset and that is perfectly understandable. I, too, wonder when it's going to end.”
“We've been through the wringer, Meredith. But it's going to end now. As I said, I'm going to ask Scott to send the letter back to her unread. She can't call us as we've changed all our phone numbers – cells and the house phone. And she certainly can't come here. She'll be in prison for many years. We don't even know what, if any, effects she will have from the oxygen deprivation. She may not be in any kind of condition to even try to contact or come after us when she regains consciousness.”
“You said 'when', not 'if'. You're sure she will come out of it?”
“Not 100%, but according to Scott, the doctor there thinks she will. I don't want to know anything about her anymore, though.”
“I do. I want to know if she comes out of it and what kind of shape she is in.”
“Meredith, God help me for saying this, but I hope she never comes out of it.”
“That's understandable, honey. I'm sure the Almighty understands.”
We talked for a while longer, then I went downstairs to get Alex to give Doc the Ativan. He said he'd be right up. When he came into our bedroom, he had a vial and syringe in his hand. “I don't need that”, Doc said to him.
“Yes, you do.”
“No, Alex. I am fine.”
“Julian, how can you expect Meredith to follow your medical orders when you yourself won't follow mine?”
“That's different, Alex.”
“No, it is not. Now, turn over onto your left side and pull your pj pants down at the hip.”
I have to say, I got a certain amount of pleasure at seeing Doc being made to follow medical orders, given all the times he's made me to follow his. However, that was tempered by the fact he was feeling so bad about Jane's latest attempt to cause us grief. I hated seeing my love so upset.
Julian finally gave in and turned on his side and lowered his pants. Alex swabbed his hip and gave him the shot. Doc flinched as the needle went in. I was surprised, but then remembered he had not had many needles in his life, except for routine vaccinations. Getting shot by one of Jane's friends was the first time he'd really needed medical attention for anything.
“Julian, when was the last time you had a physical?” Alex asked Doc.
“I get a prostate check every year, I just had it a month or so ago.”
“Just a prostate check? Nothing else?”
“Hmmmm...... maybe I should give you a physical in that exam room you two have at the end of the hall.”
Oh my God. Alex knew about our exam room? Doc and I both turned a hundred shades of red. How did he know?
“No, it's okay, Alex”, Doc said.
“I insist, Julian. We'll wait until your life settles down a bit, though. Have a good night, you two.”
After Alex left the room, I asked him if he was all right. “I'm fine, Meredith.”
“I saw you flinch as the needle went in, honey. I know you aren't used to them.”
“It stung a little. Come to bed. I don't have long before I'll be asleep.”
I got in on my side. “Do you want me to hold you, Doc?”
“No, I want to hold you.” That told me he really was feeling better. When he's feeling down or when he's sick, he likes me to hold him, not the other way around.
“Doc, how did Alex find out about our private room?”
“I don't know. Did we leave the door unlocked after we used it last?”
“I don't know but if one of us goes to check it now, he'll hear us and I'll be embarrassed further.”
“I'm not going to check, Meredith.” He was mumbling. I knew he was almost gone.
After he went to sleep, I lay there in bed thinking. I hadn't wanted to say anything to Doc because he was so upset and I needed to be strong for him, but I was really worried. I'd thought everything would end with Jane's sentencing, but I evidently thought wrong. The fact that she was trying to get to us from prison told me she was not going to let it go. I wondered if she really wanted to die or if it was just a ploy, a way to get to write a letter to Doc and to have him feel sorry for her. She knew the guard would not be gone more than a few minutes and would cut her down when he saw her. If she would do that, what else would she do from behind prison walls? Did she still have people out here who would help her?
I decided to try not to worry about it. For the time being, Jane was incapable of doing anything. I tried to get to sleep, to no avail. After a couple hours of tossing and turning, I got up and went to the bathroom. Then I went to Alex and Deanna's room. “Alex”, I whispered.
He woke up right away. “What is it, Meredith? Is it Julian?”
“No, it's me. I can't sleep. Can you give me a shot, please?”
Alex sat right up. “You don't often ask for a sedative, Meredith. What's up?”
“Just can't get this latest episode from Jane out of my mind.”
“Okay.” He got out of bed and put his robe on over his pj's. I wondered if he always wore them or if it was because he was here, with other people – other than Deanna, of course. Deanna didn't stir. Alex got his bag from the closet and closed the door behind us. “Let's go downstairs for a few minutes. I want to talk to you first.”
We sat down in the living room. “What's going on, Meredith? Why can't you sleep?”
I sighed. “I can't get Jane out of my mind, Alex. I'm afraid this crap with her is never going to end.”
“You've been pretty calm all day, did these thoughts just start tonight?”
“No, but I couldn't say anything earlier. Julian needed me to be strong for him.”
“I know it must have been hard to see him so distraught.”
“It was. When we went through that door in the barn and I saw him there screaming, I wanted to jump in my car and drive to Quebec and kill Jane. She has no right to do this to us!”
“I agree. She doesn't. But she did it anyways.”
“Alex, do you think it's possible she never meant to die?”
“Anything is possible, Meredith, but people who hang themselves are usually pretty serious about it. It's not like taking an overdose where you can call for help after you swallow the pills.”
“True, but she knew the guard would be gone for only a few minutes.”
“Yes, but what if he was delayed? She didn't know if he had to pee or otherwise.”
“Jane is pretty ballsy. I think she could have been doing it so that Julian would feel guilty about marrying me. Leaving the note for him guaranteed that he'd be told of either her death or her attempt to kill herself.”
“Yes, that is possible, but let's not dwell on it. The important thing is for you and Julian to get on with your lives. She cannot get to you anymore, unless you let her.”
“That's what we have decided to do. Julian is having the letter sent back, hopefully that will get his point through.”
“And her therapist in the prison will work on her issues with you and Julian. In fact, I think I will call the prison and talk to him or her and let him or her know what she's done to you two. With your permission, of course – and Julian's.”
“You absolutely have mine, Alex. By the way, how did you find our …. uh …..room with the exam table? We keep it locked.”
“It wasn't locked. I was vacuuming upstairs when you and Julian were at the hotel. I opened the door to do it.”
“Damn, Doc was last out, he must have forgot to lock it.”
“Why do you have it, Meredith?”
“Uh …. Julian thought I'd be more amenable to him checking my cyst if he could do it at home.”
“That's why there are restraints on it?” I could feel the heat of my face getting redder. “It's okay, Meredith. What activities you two do is between you and nobody else. I just have one question.”
“Can Deanna and I use the room?”
I was so shocked, I didn't know what to say. “Y-yes, I'm sure that …. would be.... fine”, I stammered.
“Don't worry, we'll clean up after ourselves and I see there's a small autoclave in there.” Knowing that my therapist was into kink was a little too much information. Thankfully, he changed the subject. “Now, we both need to get to sleep. I have to work in the morning and you will be busy helping Julian.” We went upstairs and I got into bed. Doc was still fast asleep, aided by the sedative. Normally, he would be wide awake with me out of the bed. Alex gave me my shot and left the bedroom. I turned toward Julian and watched him sleep in the moonlight. I reached out and put my hand on his cheek, then brushed his hair off his forehead. In bed is the only time his hair is out of place – unless he's outside in the wind. I was trying to get him to drive with his window down in nice weather and let the wind whip through his hair, to no avail. I felt the sedative taking effect, so I leaned over and kissed him, then I was out like a light.
The next couple days were busy with party preparations. Doc called Scott and told him of his desire to have the letter returned to Jane and that when she regained consciousness, she be told he does not want to hear from her again. The sealed envelope should tell her that he had not read it. Other than that, we did not talk about Jane. Doc was back to his usual self. I was glad of that and, while I was still worried about her trying to contact us again, I put it out of my mind and concentrated on the party.
The party was a huge success. We had such a good time and there were no unexpected events like last year when Charlotte gave birth to Julie Anne in our downstairs bedroom. Of course, the almost one year old had to be carried around in her Uncle Julian's arms as much as possible, though he had to hand her back to Charlotte when he had to refill food and drink trays, bowls, dishes etc. Everything was laid out on the dining room table and guests could help themselves whenever they wanted.
Scott got Doc and I together and asked if there was somewhere we could talk privately. Doc found Charlotte and handed Julie Anne to her, despite the child's loud protests, then we went upstairs to Doc's library. “What's up, Scott?” I asked after we sat down.
“I wanted to update you on things. I hope you are okay with that.”
“As long as it's not something that's going to ruin our good mood”, Doc replied.
“It's not bad bad but not great either. I sent the letter back. Yesterday, I got a call from the warden. She said that Jane is conscious now. She doesn't have a lot of physical impairment, just a bit of trouble walking but they will work on that with her.”
“What about cognitive impairment?” Doc asked.
“This is the part you may not want to hear, depending on your perspective.” The detective drew in a deep breath. “Jane has memory loss. She doesn't remember anything about her life after you left her, Julian.”
“None of it?”
“So she doesn't remember what she did to us?” I asked.
“Does this mean she will get out of prison?” Doc wondered.
“Oh, no. She will serve her sentence.” I sighed with relief. “When they told her what she'd done to you two, she was shocked and she feels bad for what she put you through.”
“Bullshit”, Doc said. He doesn't swear often. When he does, you know he is very pissed off. “I don't believe her. It's a ploy.”
“Perhaps, Julian. But it's something that cannot be proven or measured.”
“Are you okay, Doc?”
“I'm fine, hon. I don't like it because I want her to remember and understand why she is in prison, but there isn't anything that can be done. Sometimes in cases like this, memories will return with time.”
“Yes, this is what I was told.” Scott said. “The good thing is that you don't have to worry about her trying to contact you.”
“Did they give her the letter back – that she wrote to me?”
“No, not yet. They feel it's best not to for the time being. I'll let you know if things change. I hope this hasn't upset you.”
“No, it's fine, Scott. I'm glad you told us”, Doc said.
“I'm going to go downstairs now, unless you have questions.”
“I don't, but I'd like to stay up here with Meredith for a few minutes.”
“Get hold of me if you do have any questions or concerns.”
Doc and I were sitting on the settee and I moved closer to him. He put his arm around me. “You okay, honey?” I asked him.
“Yes, I'm fine. How about you?”
“I'm okay, Doc. A little pissed that she doesn't remember what she did, but it is what it is, we can't do anything about it. And, as Scott said, at least we don't have to worry about her trying to contact us. If she is telling the truth, she won't remember any of her contacts either.”
We sat together for a few more minutes before making our way back down to the festivities.
After the last guest had left, Alex and Deanna helped us put the leftover food away and take all the plates, utensils etc to the kitchen. We'd run the dishwasher a few times the next morning. We sure were glad to have the extra hands helping out as we were both exhausted.
Up in our bedroom, I got out of the Mrs Claus outfit I was wearing and draped it over the arm of the love seat we had in the room. Doc glared at it. “Oh, all right”, I said with an exaggerated sigh.
“Thank you, hon”, he replied.
“I'm just so tired, Doc.”
“I know, hon – but I don't want our bedroom to get cluttered with clothes laying about.” I let him have his way about most of the house, especially the bedroom, but the computer room is mine and I let it get a bit cluttered with computer stuff and papers. He does try to get me to put important papers in the file cabinet. Sometimes I do, but I can always find something when I need it.
I collapsed on the bed naked, too tired to even get my nightgown out of the dresser drawer and put it on. Doc got it for me and helped me into it. “How's your arthritis, hon?”
“Making itself known.”
I thought a moment. “About six or seven.”
“You've been busy this week with helping me and you were on your feet a lot tonight, it's no wonder you are hurting. I'd give you your pain medication but I know you had a few drinks. Sorry, hon.”
“It's okay, Doc. I know that the two don't mix. Just come to bed and hold me.” He turned off his lamp and lay down on his back. I curled up to him and laid my head on his chest. He wrapped his arm around me. “I'm so glad the party was such a success, honey. I know you put a lot of work into it.”
“I really enjoyed it, Meredith. Cooking isn't work for me, I love doing it. It sure took my mind off things. And now we need to get to sleep, tomorrow is going to be another busy day, with cleaning up here and going to Charlotte and Ben's for Julie Anne's birthday lunch.”
I went to sleep feeling better about things than I had in a long time. I just hoped that Jane's memory loss was real.