“Jamie, we are not discussing my sex life!”
With Jonah out of earshot Dare lowered his voice, speaking rapidly for Jamie’s ears only.
“Jonah! Walking! Let’s go!”
“Any breakfast going? I’m starving?”
“Yeah I’ve camped with you two before, it’s too near the knuckle for me.” Ian said mildly. Dare, hearing rather more tact in that than Jonah did about wanting to give them space and not overwhelm them at a fragile time, chipped in before Jonah debated it further.
“Look at you without crutches.” Ian approved, taking a seat at the table. “Dare said you were nearly off the pain meds altogether now. And this is Miss Poppet I suppose? Hello sweetheart. Where did the boat come from?”
“We hired her.” Dare put coffee on the table along with the pastries and pulled out Jonah’s chair for him. “She’s done the job beautifully for exploring the local area, a lot of it is only accessible by water.”
“It’s a beautiful place from what I’ve seen of it.” Ian accepted a pastry and poured himself coffee. “You seem to be doing very well here.”
“That can wait.”
“No, it can’t.” Dare didn’t trouble to change his tone in front of Ian; he had known them well enough and long enough to not be surprised by it. Jonah shot him a rather hurt glare and Dare shook his head at him. “No. You know the schedule.”
“You and Jamie are obsessed with the schedule.” Jonah said exasperatedly. “It’s over the top now, it doesn’t need to be this rigid and it’s not necessary-”
“We spent about the first month doing not much but eat and sleep.” Dare said wryly. “But there’s an excellent GP in the village and the landlord at The Swan is living with a very talented Physiotherapist, and they’re both keen sailors and knew Jonah’s name. He’s got above and beyond support from both of them. I think Jamie – the physio – drops in on his way home from work, he’s in several times a week and he’s great with Jonah, Jone likes him.”
“I wasn’t either.” Dare said bleakly. “I was expecting nightmares, flashbacks, but he was going stir crazy in the cottage and at the time he couldn’t even cope with more than ten or fifteen minutes sitting in the car, not long enough to go anywhere interesting – so Jamie suggested it and I rented the boat just for him to be able to be comfortable and rest while he got to a change of scenery. I wasn’t sure he’d handle it but he first day we took the boat out, the first hour we were on the water, he just relaxed, he didn’t want to stop. We’ve taken the boat out for days at a time, she’s been the best medicine for him yet. She’s comfortable, I can handle her as well as he can without it taking much work so I’m watching him and not sails and tillers, and Jone can lay in bed in the saloon if he needs a rest and still be out on the water. The rests are important. That’s what he’s doing right now under protest, we’re starting to have to treat it as a chore he has to get done.”
“It’s only half past nine in the morning?” Ian pointed out, a little concerned. Dare nodded, whistling Poppet away from a particularly muddy patch she was considering rolling in. Few people understood this other than Jamie and Dunkley.
“But you’ve always had him on a schedule, it was the only way you’d get him off the yacht to eat meals or do anything else.” Ian said dryly.
“Through the villages – although plenty of distance between them, it’s about three miles down to Ludham. Most of the villages are on the water, it makes shopping easy. We haven’t sailed down to shop in Wroxham yet, that’s the largest town – Dare, we could do that this morning, go all the way down?”
“We’re not going around Wroxham without the wheelchair.” Dare said definitely. The same expression flashed back to Jonah’s face, Ian saw it somewhere between exasperation and embarrassment.
“I don’t want you to just ‘manage’.”
Even by Dare’s normal standards that sounded like a brick wall.
“I know.” Jonah’s mouth twisted as he glanced at the back of Dare’s head. “It’s been hideous for him and he’s been amazing. He always is. But the mother henning I could do without, I’m a lot better now than I was when we first got here and he needs to let go a little. Not much, but a little.”
“They’re a long way out from Wroxham.” Jonah pointed out. “Three to four hours on those little boats and it’s still early, not even eleven am yet.”
“Have you seen a day boat go by?”
“Do it anyway please.”
Jonah scowled but came back into the saloon to take a seat on the sofa. Dare gave him a look over the coffee pot.
“There’ll be no room for Ian to sit.”
“There’s plenty of room.” Ian pointed out from the far bench. “I’m fine over here. Make yourself comfortable.”
Jonah put his legs up on the seat but casually, bracing one elbow on his knee. Dare brought mugs across, handing one to Ian and the other to Jonah before he pulled the canopy closed and turned the heating up. He retrieved several pillows from the cabin where Jonah had stuffed them and pulled Jonah forward to stuff one behind him to lean on, putting the other under his knees although Jonah was flushed and glaring.
“Abandoned?” Dare called across to him as he stepped down to the staithe to pull the Sealark in and moor her. The man looked irritated.
“Yes. No sign of them. At a guess they were picked up on the road the other side of the woods here. The boat’s unharmed.”
“I’ll walk with you, I’m fine.”
“No problem.” Ian said easily, reading the situation and picking up Poppet’s lead from the table. Poppet took some persuading to go with him off the boat and Dare picked her up to carry her onto the staithe where she politely accompanied Ian, but with many hesitant glances back.
Dare slid the saloon door shut when they were out of sight, sitting down beside Jonah.
“Right. You can’t push like this. I know you want to keep up appearances, I know you’re embarrassed but this is Ian. He’s family and he knows what you’ve been through.”
“I’m a lot better.” Jonah gave him a frank glare, leaning on the table. “If you won’t let me try anything but your and Jamie’s precious schedule how do we know what I can handle? I’m managing without the crutches, there’s barely any pain now unless I move suddenly, I’m sleeping fine, I feel better.”
“I know you do.” Dare said gently. “Mostly because we’re careful. I know it’s frustrating.”
“You don’t look like one and he understands. And that’s how we’re going to do it. People are going to have to start taking us as they find us.” Dare said definitely.
“I’m fine, I’m not going to break.”
Ian was as observant as he was a good liar, and Jonah often didn’t notice those kind of social lies, tending to take people very much at face value. He looked up in clear disappointment, he loved Ian, but accepted Ian stooping to give him a quick, gentle hug.
“Thanks for a lovely day, I enjoyed it. The waterways around here are beautiful. See you tomorrow.”
“Thanks.” Dare mouthed at him as Ian gave him a swift hug in passing. Ian let himself out and a moment later Dare heard his car start up out in the drive space in the corner of the meadow. He moved Jonah’s mug out of the way and crouched in front of him, running a hand gently through his hair to smooth it back.
“I don’t want to go to frigging bed at five pm in the bloody afternoon! This is ridiculous, leave me alone!”
“Did you knock your head? At all. Jonah.”
“I’m going to make sure of it.” Dare promised him. “However hard this is you do not get to take risks with yourself like that, you could have done serious damage.”
“I know.” Dare said calmingly.
Ian arrived around nine the following morning to find a strange car beside Dare’s. He let himself into the kitchen, tapping at the door, surprised there was no sign of Poppet.
“Hi Jonah.” Ian leaned against the stairs wall, deeply sympathetic. “Did we over do it yesterday?”
“More sitting upright, more talking and people around, not getting actual rest which isn’t chatting or cleaning the kitchen.” Jamie said severely without the faintest diplomacy, not that Jonah appeared to be offended, he was still holding onto the man’s hand which was not something Ian had ever seen him do with anyone but Dare. “That adds up to a lot, not a bit.”