Johnnie and Owen's meeting with the medical council had gone reasonably well, so Johnnie thought. Considering the medical profession in general were somewhat critical of his work, the council itself hadn't that many objections – just as long as Johnnie himself did all the hard work.
He and Owen were waiting outside the meeting room waiting for a decision.
"So, if this goes well, they'll be a lot of changes then?" Owen asked, helping himself to some tea and wishing these stuffy meeting places served coffee.
"I've already asked Rose, she's keen on the idea of a slight promotion and of the prospect of working closely with the patients. I know I wanted private as well as health service patients but we will have to have a balance," Johnnie told him, accepting the fancy cup from Owen.
"Yes, well we know where most of the money will come from, if you and Rose are getting married, you'll need all the money you can get," Owen told him, stirring his own drink. "I hope you know what you're letting yourself in for Johnnie?" he raised his eyebrows.
"Rose is not like my ex you know Owen, she's not out for what she can get. Rose has a humble background, she's just happy at bettering herself," Johnnie defended his now fiancée.
"Hey, I'm on your side," Owen laughed, raising his free hand. "All I'm saying is, don't do all these expansions for the wrong reasons. If you take on too much, think of her. It's all very well making more time for the new patients but what about when you're married and you have a family? You need a fine balance Johnnie, make sure you get it right or it will be for nothing," Owen advised him.
Johnnie stopped pacing up and down the fancy waiting room and sat down. Yes, he did have Rose to think about and a future family. Would what came in with new patients from the health service be enough? He couldn't bring himself to discriminate against those who couldn't afford his private fees. He did still have a waiting list for those who wanted to stay at the clinic and only one person was ready to leave.
"Then we'll have to find that balance Owen," Johnnie replied. "I can't just take private patients, that would not be fair on those who can't afford my fees. So, we have to work out a way."
"I agree Johnnie but that depends what they say when we are called back in there," Owen nodded to the closed thick, polished oak door.
Rose was getting nervous for Johnnie as she waited his return. Laura made one of her rare visits to Johnnie's general office and sat opposite Rose.
"Anyone would think it was you facing the board," Laura told her.
"I've got a lot of confidence in him," Rose told her, wishing she'd go.
"I'm on your side Rose, okay, I know I got on your bad side when you arrived but you can't blame me, after his last assistants and not forgetting a certain sister. I thought you were just another hopeful, the others, apart from Martha all ran off or disagreed with his methods."
"Well, I'm not one of them am I?" Rose replied. "Just forget it, I'm here to stay, we're getting married and that makes all the difference. Did you know his ex?"
"Not really, she never deemed to visit the clinic, when he moved here and from what I can gather, she spent very little time at the old place. His patient co-ordinator came with him but was doing a terrible job. He was really defensive of you, I almost got fired," Laura joked.
Rose decided it wasn't worth continuing the hostility and let it go, since Johnnie would be telling her they both had to work together if his plans worked. When Johnnie returned, Rose couldn't tell how it had gone, until he put his arms around her.
"Well, seems like there are going to be a few more changes around here?" he told her when they'd kissed, something they didn't normally do in working hours. "So, what do you want your new title to be?"
"You mean besides Mrs JD Smith?" Rose teased him, playing with his more moderate design shirt buttons.
"Be serious Rose. You could be a receptionist, clinic manageress, take your pick."
"I'll go with whatever you want Johnnie. So, I'll call Donna then? We still have to go visit her dad yet. Maybe we can set off early tonight?"
"Yes, we should call and get some small token, check with your friend first eh? Rose, I have so many plans now but I want you to know, I will not overdo it to the extent we don't have any time to ourselves. You do know that love?" he asked her.
"Yeah, I know your work's important but I'd never think that you'd neglect me Johnnie. You just do what you have to and every teatime, I'll drag ya out – deal?"
"Deal love. Now, have you got much work to do? If not, we could sneak back to our room and I can do what you like the most?" he smiled.
"Yeah, there's nothing that won't wait but I had a call while you were out. You said I could answer your phone so I did and whoever it was hung up. Do ya think it was Simone?" Rose asked him.
"I don't know love," he replied, his arms around her neck and kissing just below her ear. "Until the telephone company invent a way for the public to tell who someone is when they hang up, we had best hope if it was her she will not bother ringing back."
"She'll get a real shock if I keep answering your phone Johnnie," Rose smiled into his side, her arm around his waist.
"Then maybe I should stop answering it love?" he moved her head to smile at her.
As they were about to leave, his phone rang again, Johnnie saying he would get it and if it was the annoying Simone, he would tell her not to call again.
"Let me answer it," Rose insisted as he crossed to his desk. "We just got rid of Martha, I can't go through that again."
"Rose, I promise it will not get as bad," he replied as he picked up the receiver and answered with 'Doctor JD Smith'.
"Johnnie, so you are there after all," came the still French accent though sometimes he thought she overdid it.
"Simone. Did you call earlier?" he had to know.
"Yes, it seems your assistant broke your rule of answering your phone," Simone replied sarcastically.
"Rose has my permission to answer my phone as my assistant but now, well you may as well know, I will be making the announcement shortly that Rose and I are engaged."
"What?" Simone raised her voice that Rose could hear, since she had her arm around his waist and was leaning her head on his back, since she loved the feel of his blue velvet jacket. "Tell me you are not serious?"
"Yes, I am serious so whatever you wanted Simone, forget it and I will thank you not to call again. I suggest you go back to Paris, there is nothing here for you now."
Rose was smiling. "That told her," she giggled behind him, Johnnie trying to waft her to be quiet.
"Well how rude of you Johnnie. I came back because I missed you and even though you snubbed me and made a fool of me at that party, I was still willing to forgive you. I tried to call several times but no-one was answering your phone."
"That's because Rose and I were away for the weekend, which is when I asked her to marry me. Don't play the 'I missed you' excuse Simone, it won't work. Rose and I plan to marry soon, I doubt you will want a wedding invitation?" he asked, knowing Rose was finding this amusing.
"Well, you hurt my feelings Johnnie, I hoped you'd forgive me for going away but we obviously weren't getting anywhere. I thought going away, when I came back then things would be different?" Simone continued.
"What? You mean I would have met more influential people to introduce you to so you could climb further up your social ladder?" Johnnie asked her as Rose almost spluttered.
He held his free hand over the phone and told her to shush. "I mean it Rose, this is not amusing," he whispered to her, trying to stop her putting her finger in a gap between his shirt buttons.
"Johnnie, are you paying attention to me?" Simone was asking him. "Is she there?"
"Yes, Rose is here, since I am in my office and she works here. This is the last time you call, do you understand Simone? I do not want to hear from you again and don't go telling everyone how I broke your heart, you did that to me and everyone knows it was you who left me. Now, Rose has my heart and I trust her with it. Bye Simone, I don't want to hear from you again," he repeated for good measure.
He put the phone down after Rose detached herself and put his arms around her.
"Happy now?" he asked as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"Well I hope she takes notice, I don't want to be on the front page of the social papers," Rose teased him.
"Forget it love, they won't be interested in her now she's not associated with me," Johnnie assured her. "Are we standing here or are you wanting me to take your underwear off in here and kiss you where you like me to?" he asked.
"Best not, Laura was here earlier, she might come back," Rose was still giggling.
"You two made friends then?" he asked as he opened the door for her.
A while later, as Johnnie was under the cover he'd put over him and his fiancée as they'd fallen on the bed, he crawled back up, making Rose laugh.
"Shush love, there will be people around at this time," he tried to warn her.
"Yeah, sorry. You make me feel so good Johnnie."
"Then I am glad to do so my love. I must remember to take out an ad in the morning newspapers, to announce our engagement."
"Do ya have to? I mean can't we keep it quiet?" she asked him, running her finger on his chest.
"You want to wait and announce we got married?" he smiled, going to kiss her cleavage, her bra just hanging loose.
"Well yeah, unless ya wanna make something big out of it?" she smiled back.
"Whatever you want love. We still have to set a date anyway. Why not ask your friend to be your maid of honour?"
"Oh crumbs, I've not even called her yet and told her, I forgot all about it, with waiting to see if you could go ahead and get more patients."
"Then go in the office after tea and call her. We were going to see her father but since we have been otherwise occupied?"
"Excuse me, it was your suggestion, mister can't keep his hands out of my knickers," Rose giggled.
"That is not true, that also includes other parts of me," he corrected her. "Want a demonstration?"
They were the last to arrive for tea, something the others were going to have to get used to while they were still living there. Rose went off after Johnnie unlocked his office, since she didn't want to call her friend from the entranceway.
It was Donna's mother who answered the phone.
"Oh, hello Mrs Noble, is Donna home yet?" Rose asked, since she'd no idea where her friend worked.
"Is that Rose? Hold on, she's in the kitchen. How are you dear?"
"Fine, I have something to tell Donna, she'll tell ya. How's Mr Noble?" Rose asked, since she was going to ask Donna anyway.
"We're on our way to the hospital, we're just waiting for James to arrive. It's not good Rose, he's a lot worse, they don't expect him to get any better," Sylvia told her.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Rose replied, wishing Johnnie had stayed. "I was gonna ask if we could come and see him?"
"You mean you and that Doctor Smith?" she was asked. "I'm sure he'd appreciate it Rose but he's not in a very good state, he's on a breathing machine so he's not coughing as much. Thank you for offering but it's not a good idea. I'll get Donna for you."
Rose was sad to hear her friend's dad wasn't getting any better. Donna tried to sound cheerful as Rose told her that she and Johnnie had got engaged.
"I'm really pleased for you Rose. Are we meeting this Saturday? I expect you'll be wanting to spend the weekends with him now?" Donna asked her.
"What? No, I don't want to stop our Saturday coffee morning Donna. I have something else to ask. How's that job of yours?"
"Which one? I left the travel agency, that manager was a bit much. Mum's friend's trying to get me into where she works, a PA job in a new copying business, not that it'll ever catch on, who'd use such a thing?"
"Then, you might be interested in a job I know's coming up?" Rose laughed.
"Stop messing around Rose, what job?" Donna wanted to know as her mother let James in.
"Just a personal assistant's job, interested?"
"You're leaving now you're engaged?" Donna let everyone know, including her cousin who had hoped Rose would change her mind.
"Not exactly. Johnnie's extending the number of patients, I'm gonna help with that so my job will be vacant. It's yours if ya want it?"
James was nudging her that they had to go.
"I have to go Rose, we'll meet on Saturday morning then?" Donna asked, taking a swipe at her cousin.
"Leave off dumbo," Donna mouthed at him as she put the phone down.
"Rose got engaged?" her mother asked, mainly because she thought she'd heard wrong.
Donna was about to answer when the phone rang again. Donna answered it cheerfully but her face turned as she listened. James took the phone from her to hear the hospital telling them her dad had just been transferred to the intensive care ward and they were needed urgently.
Rose went to find Johnnie after locking the office door and told him Donna would think about it.
"She's worried about her dad," Rose told him as he took the key. "She says it's not a good idea to go see him, they were on their way I think."
"Never mind love, at least you offered. Want to watch TV?" he asked, since the were in the lounge.
Thursday morning, Johnnie had gone off, Rose was trying to make sense of the plans he and Owen had come up with and had a load of phone calls to make and letters to send out, which wouldn't please the accountant she thought. She answered the phone just after Johnnie had brought her some coffee and a kiss, it was Donna.
"Hi Donna, wanna take that job?" Rose asked cheerfully, thinking that as why she'd called.
"Oh, that's not why I called Rose. My dad passed away last night," Donna told her, a hint of crying in her voice.
"Oh Donna, I'm so sorry. Were you all there?" Rose asked, hoping they were.
"Except granddad, he'd had a bit of a cold so he stayed at home. It was last night, they took him to intensive care the night before, we got the call after you rang. Mum's in a right state, she's not stopped making all the arrangements and calling everyone to tell them. I don't think it's hit her yet," Donna replied.
"If there's anything I can do Donna, just say. Let me know when the funeral is, we'll be there and don't worry about the job, he's not looking for anyone else. The thing is though, well ya might have to live in, it's a long way from Chiswick."
"Well I'll have to think about that now Rose, leaving mum and granddad might not be such a good idea. How soon would it be?" Donna asked, since she'd no job now.
"I'm not sure, things have to be decided yet, it might not be for a while. Anyway, you just worry about your mum, I'll call mine and tell her."
Rose waited for Johnnie coming back in and got up, flinging her arms around him and beginning to cry. She hadn't known Donna's dad that well, when she'd visited with her mother, he'd been pottering about in his garden shed.
"Hey, love what's wrong?" he asked as he tried to sit her down, not caring the door was still open.
"Donna's dad died last night," Rose sobbed as the phone rang.
Johnnie picked it up then put it down again - it could wait.
"Oh Rose, I am so sorry. Have you told your mother yet?" he asked, getting a tissue for her. Rose shook her head. "Then call her love and whenever the funeral is, we will all go, even if we have to get a taxi, your mother will never fit in my car. I was thinking of replacing it anyway, I mean if you want her to come and stay. Come on, leave all that for now, have the calls transferred to Valerie."
"No, I can work Johnnie, honestly," Rose insisted as she put the phone receiver back.
She called her mother, who was understandably upset and said she'd see her as usual on Saturday unless she wanted to come over on Sunday, to see how things went. That was Johnnie's main concern – Jackie Tyler having lunch with the staff, well those that were in and they'd have to take over the TV lounge.
So Sunday morning after taking their time before breakfast, Johnnie set off to collect his future mother-in-law and hoping Mickey had gone off with Martha so he wouldn't be hanging around. He rang the buzzer to be admitted to the block of flats, smiling at Rose trying to remember the code last week but thought he'd best not let himself in unless Jackie told him to next time.
"Who is it?" Jackie asked.
"It's Johnnie, I've come to take you to see Rose," he replied, thinking she must already know that.
"Well are ya coming up or waiting down there?" she asked, since she wasn't ready.
Johnnie didn't fancy waiting around, since that other clown from last week may suddenly creep up on him.
"I will come up, I know the way," he replied as the door buzzed.
Jackie was waiting for him. "Rose could've given ya the code," she huffed, reaching for her coat.
"I did not want to presume I was welcome to let myself in," Johnnie replied as he waited while she went to get her handbag.
"Crikey, where did Rose find you?" Jackie laughed, checking everything was switched off.
Johnnie wanted to reply that it was he who had been lucky to find Rose but decided not to bother.
Rose was pacing up and down in the TV lounge, which was where Johnnie had told her to wait, since there would be a while to wait for lunch. She jumped when Celia wandered in.
"Oh, hello Rose, waiting for your mum to arrive?" she asked, since Madge had told her there would be one extra for lunch.
Rose wondered when the poor cook got a day off.
"Yeah, Doctor Smith's gone to get her. I'm a bit nervous about it," Rose admitted.
"Don't worry dear, Laura's away, Sally's gone off, there won't be many of us," Celia replied.
"Yeah but I'm just worried my mum will offer to do the washing-up," Rose grinned.
"Well," Celia laughed, "I'm sure Mary won't object, since she gets her few hours off on Sundays."
Rose supposed the cook could take time off if she wanted.
Jackie had objected about Johnnie's small car, glad she'd put some slacks on and didn't want to imagine Rose getting in wearing her short skirts.
"Shame about Geoff," Jackie suddenly spoke.
"Oh, you mean Geoff Noble?" Johnnie asked. "Yes, Rose was rather upset, she's just waiting to hear about the funeral. Will you be wanting to go?"
"Yeah, don't expect I'll get there, you having such a small car. Would Rose even get in the back?" Jackie asked him, trying to turn around.
"Let me worry about how you get there, maybe I can hire a larger car for the occasion. I will ask Rose to check tomorrow when the funeral will be."
As Rose was waiting, Madge called her to the phone. It was Donna.
"Sorry I never called before, it's been mad here," Donna told her, wafting James out of the way because she'd said she should tell Rose.
"What do I keep telling ya spaceman?" Donna mouthed to him while Rose was asking if they had a date.
"It's okay Donna, I understand, it was the same when my granddad died."
"Yeah, it was a bit of a shock but we were warned. Anyway, it's Tuesday afternoon, Chiswick crematorium, mum said she doesn't want a big do about it so there's just the service there. Lucky with him being in insurance, he had it covered, just the basics though. You and Johnnie will be coming?" Donna asked, James pulling a face.
"Yeah, maybe my mum if you don't mind?" Rose told her.
"No, mum won't mind. See you there at two, the service is at two fifteen, James is taking us to save costs on the car."
Donna said goodbye and whacked her cousin again.
"I told ya James, she's engaged, forget it. What about that nice new gym teacher you were on about?" Donna asked him.
Johnnie arrived with Jackie, her meeting Madge and being shown where Rose was and they sat down for lunch, Jackie surprised there was no dining room but when she wanted to see Rose's room, Rose had to change the subject.
"How can I tell her we're sharing?" Rose whispered to Johnnie.
"She's your mother, I'm not brave enough to tell her."