They were enjoying a much-needed cup of Joe and relaxing around the kitchen table when the phone rang. Startled Mary nearly jumped out of her skin.
One look at Mary’s face and Michael had burst into a fit of laughter easing the tension they’d felt over the sick children.
Angelia had become so preoccupied with Mary and the children that she’d forgotten to call Caroline to let her know she’d arrived home safe and sound the night before.
“I see you finally made it home,” said the voice at the other end of the line. “I hadn’t heard from you in over two months and was beginning to worry.” Said the voice reproachfully.
“Caroline, how are you? I know. I know! I should have called.”
“I’m just fine, couldn’t be better. To tell the truth, calling you plum slipped my mind, so much has happened since I arrived home last night.” Angelia replied.
“Besides if you’d come back with me you wouldn’t be missing all the excitement!”
“Yes, you heard me right. I said, excitement.”
“No, not at all, besides, I don’t mind having all the fun!”
“I know, you’ve already told me you have better things to do then coming back here, that’s why I’m not going to waste my time by asking you to come home. Besides I don’t mind keeping my houseguests all to myself.”
“Yes, I said houseguests and no, it’s not a ploy to get you to come home,” said Angelia. “I don’t care if you come home or stay there. I’m having so much fun that I haven’t even had time to think about you, let alone miss you.” Said Angelia with a sigh, as she rolled her eyes heavenward.
“Of course he’ll object. You’re his meal ticket! So stay right there. Grant his every desire. Run to fulfill his every beck and call.”
“I agree, a break would help clear your head.”
“Well, Caroline I seem to remember a time when you could function just fine without that man’s twenty four hour influence!”
“Either way if you do come for a visit you really should come alone.”
“Surely the man won’t begrudge you a couple of weeks to visit old friends!”
Angelia gave a short, sharp, bark of a laugh. “What can I say. I do despise him!”
“Yes, you’re right! I think the greasy little worm asked you to marry him so he could get his grubby little paws on your money. There I’ve said it!”
“You know what, Caroline! Do as you please! You will anyway.”
“It's up to you. Come, don’t come. Marry him. Don’t marry him. It makes me no difference!”
“Well, guess what! It’s not me that’s so addlebrained that I’d take that man’s proposal serious to begin with!”
"Just do me a favor! If you do marry that scuzzball, don’t invite me to the wedding!”
"I’ve got to go! I’ve got company!” Angelia said hanging up the phone.
Michael had been watching the expressions fleeing across Mary’s face as they listened to Angelia’s one-side conversation.
He had seen her look of apprehension when Angelia had mentioned her houseguests and then something about Caroline coming for a visit.
“You’d like Caroline,” he said patting Mary’s hand reassuringly.
“That is if she ever decides to come back for a visit,” he said, cocking an eyebrow at Angelia. “It was actually Caroline’s late husband’s ancestors, who founded this town, in the early eighteen hundreds, consequently the name Gilfords Falls,” said Michael giving Mary some of the town’s history.
Mary suddenly turned as white as a sheet, tried to say something, couldn‘t and burst into tears.
Michael, dismayed by her tears, suddenly realized how truly worried and exhausted she really was. In his concern for the children, he had forgotten that Mary too was ill, and had been fighting for hours to stay conscious, as they worked to save the lives of her two critically ill children.
Scooping Mary out of her chair and into his arms, Michael again felt the heat of fever coursing through her body. “Where do you want this patient?” he asked, tightening his hold on her as she weakly fought to escape him. “I really think she needs some rest, don’t you?”
“I think you’re right,” said Angelia, carefully scrutinizing Mary. “Put her in the room next to Billy’s.”
Realizing that Mary was about to protest, she said, “land sakes child, you look about to fall on your face, now go on with you, it’s time you were in bed.”