They set out for Brighton bright and early on Saturday morning, and Sam found himself more nervous than he was willing to admit, although he didn’t quite know why. A rather giggly lunch in a tiny pub on the downs, where Anna and Bonnie were obviously well known, did a good deal to restore his equilibrium, and he was able to sit back and relax as Anna drove the last few miles to Downsview, and their meeting with Ted.
Sam hadn’t been to sure what to expect a private facility for the care of dementia patients to be like, and he was pleasantly surprised by the homely look of the place. They parked the Audi, and a large young man came quickly over to the car. Anna opened the door.
“It’s only me Pete.”
The man smiled.
“Sorry, Miss Marshall. I didn’t recognise the car, and we’ve been having a bit of trouble recently with prying eyes.”
“Bastards. This is my partner Doctor Henderson. Sam, this is Pete Moss, who stops people from making money by publishing stuff about the folks who live here.”
“Pleased to meet you, Pete.”
“Likewise. Doctor? Of medicine?”
“Do you do sewing? Justine has cut her hand badly, and the local NHS dragons are refusing to send anyone out over the weekend.”
“Sewing is my forte. I’ll get my bag and have a look.”
Sam followed Anna and Bonnie towards the noise of a small disturbance inside the big, rambling house. There seemed to him to be entirely too many people in the room.
“Clear the room please, Anna. Ideally just me and Bonnie.”
Anna swung into action, and the room cleared. Sam went in with Bonnie at his heels. He saw a very lovely woman with blood dripping from her left hand. She seemed to have that hand clenched around something, and he set about getting her to let him look at the damage.
“Hello Justine. I’m Sam. Me and Bonnie have come to see to your hand.”
“Bonnie. Bonnie come.”
Sam signalled, and Bonnie stayed at his side.
“Bonnie doesn’t like the blood on your hand. Let me clean it up and then she’ll talk to you.”
Justine extended her hand and slowly unclenched it. He saw a large piece of glass embedded in her flesh. Opening his bag he donned surgical gloves and took out a dressing pack.
“Okay Justine. Bonnie and I are going to clean you up now.”
He used disposable forceps to remove the glass from the wound, then swabbed the hand with strong disinfectant. Bonnie wrinkled her nose, but stayed still beside Sam.
“Good dog” he whispered.
The hand was bleeding sluggishly, and he decided it definitely needed stitches.
“Does it hurt, Justine?”
She thought for a moment.
“Can I sew it up then, so Bonnie will come and give you a cuddle?”
“Sew. For Bonnie.”
Being unsure whether or not his patient was on any medication, Sam opted to try and suture the cut without local anaesthetic. He called Bonnie a little closer then tried a stitch. Justine didn’t flinch, keeping her eyes fixed on Bonnie’s elegant, black face. Sam heaved an inward sigh of relief and set another dozen stitches as quickly as he could. Then he cleaned Justine’s hand again, and wrapped it in a clean bandage, fixing the bandage in place with elastic strapping.
“You’ll do. Now Bonnie will come and see you.”
He motioned the dog forward and Justine buried her face in the soft black fur. Anna re-entered the room followed by a big loose-limbed man and a uniformed nurse.
“You were brilliant. Nobody could get her to even open her hand.”
“I had Bonnie.”
Then he turned to the nurse.
“Is she on any medication?”
“I’ll give her a shot of penicillin then, just in case. It looks clean, but a shot wouldn’t hurt. I’ve put in self-dissolving sutures, so you won’t have the problem of getting them taken out.”
He turned to Justine, and taking a syringe from his bag he rolled up her sleeve and neatly popped an injection into the muscle. Justine didn’t twitch, but Bonnie regarded him approvingly.
The man beside Anna spoke.
“Thank you very much, doctor. I didn’t think they were sending anybody.”
“They didn’t. This is Sam. Sam, this is Ted.”
Sam drew off his gloves and put them in a disposal bag with the bloody swabs, used needles and other detritus. Then he held out his hand to Ted.
“Pleased to meet you.”
“Ditto. And even more thanks. Justine can be very difficult to deal with, but you handled her beautifully.”
“I had Bonnie.”
“You did. And she also has a weakness for handsome young men.”
“Not guilty. I reckon it was all down to a sagacious hound.”
After that the time passed easily. While Anna and Bonnie visited with Justine, Sam and Ted took a walk in the grounds. For a while they walked in silence then Ted cleared his throat.
“There were a lot of things I was going to say to you about Anna, but I don’t know if I can now. I saw the way you dealt with my poor empty wife. I saw kindness mixed with professionalism. Then I saw the way you looked at Anna. I think you two have a shot. Don’t lose it. Don’t lose her.”
“I won’t. I had a lousy marriage. It ended. I managed alone. Then I met Anna. I’ve got a second chance. I won’t do anything to jeopardise that. And I love her.”
“Then I hope we can be friends. I think a great deal of Anna, and I’d like to keep her friendship.”
“I don’t have a problem with that. And I do know that you were lovers. I don’t have a problem with that either. I just wanted you to know that Anna and I have no secrets.”
Ted coloured, then grinned.
“I’m glad you know. But I wasn’t using her.”
“I didn’t think you were. She wouldn’t be as fond of you if you were.”
A voice from the building interrupted their talk, it was Anna. “Come in, you two. Justine wants a tea party.”