CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and NINETEEN
“Let me check him first,” John said, pulling a pair of latex gloves from his pocket and putting them on.
Jill held the toddler while John checked his lungs and heart.
“Thermometer?” John asked.
Jill gave him a forehead thermometer. John took off the cap and ran it over the toddler’s forehead. He looked at the number and gave it back to Jill. She wiped it off with a disinfectant cloth.
“He’s fever free,” John said.
Jill nodded. She carried him to the apartment’s small kitchen. She washed the toddler in the sink while John checked Paddie and Julie. She wrapped Connor in a diaper and some clean hand-me-downs from Valerie’s son. She grabbed some breast milk from the refrigerator and warmed it in a glass bottle I in the microwave. Connor gladly took the bottle from her. Jill carried him to the bed.
“Would you mind cleaning up Paddie?” John asked. “It looks like he’s been sick.”
Jill nodded. She put Connor into the crib they’d moved into the apartment before Julie and the children had arrived.
“Paddie still has a fever,” John said. “But it’s down from last night.”
“Come on, Paddie,” Jill said, picking up the little boy.
“Don’ tell Katy that I’m here,” Paddie said.
Jill grinned at the sincerity in his voice.
“I won’ get her sick,” Paddie said.
The little boy coughed and put his hand on the outside of his mask.
“I need a shower,” Paddie whispered. “I had an accident.”
“That’s okay,” Jill said. “We have a shower right here. I brought your favorite soap and a fluffy towel.”
Jill carried him into the little bathroom. She helped him out of his soiled clothing and stayed with him while he showered. Halfway through, he was bent over with a hacking cough. The child couldn’t seem to catch his breath. Jill rubbed her hands together and placed her right hand between his shoulders. It took a minute or so but his coughing eased. He stopped coughing.
She got the boy out of the shower and helped dry him. Even though Paddie was a child, he was tall. Jill put him into some of Nash’s old sweats and a T-shirt. He didn’t resist her putting a child mask over his face and nose. Surprised, she leaned back when the wooden sword appeared at his waist. He ran to his mother on the bed.
“Mommy look!” Paddie said.
Julie’s eyes flicked to her son.
“It says ‘Life is Good’,” Paddie said with a grin.
“Feeling better?” Julie croaked.
“Cuddles always work,” Paddie said with a nod.
“Connor?” Jill asked.
John nodded toward the crib. Connor was sound asleep. Jill took the empty bottle from the toddler.
“He’s so much better than he was,” John said. “You’ll have to tell me about those cuddles.”
“Love always wins,” Jill said vaguely. “How is Julie?”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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