‘Yes, and I think the solitude might be driving her crazy at the moment because of picking season. Both her husband and her parents are working longer hours than usual.
‘I’ve been monitoring Margaret in between her visits to the obstetrician, and as you’re helping with my list, that job will now fall to you, hence why it’s important you meet her.’
‘Have you raised your concerns with the obstetrician?’
‘Of course, and between the two of us we’re monitoring the situation closely. However, I would really value your opinion, too.’ She pointed. ‘Go left up here.’
He turned the car into a long, rambling driveway that was lined with trees. At the end of the driveway was a large, architecturally designed modern homestead, with all sorts of different angles here and there. ‘Interesting.’
‘It may look odd from out here but inside every room affords an exceptional view of the vineyard.’
‘This is Margaret’s house?’ He brought the car to a halt in the curved gravel drive and quickly went around to help CJ out.
‘Her family’s house. Margaret and her husband live in the west wing of the house and her parents in the east wing.’
‘Let’s see what we’re faced with,’ he muttered, after he’d grabbed the medical bag and they’d headed up the curved steps to the front door, CJ hanging onto the handrail to assist her ascent.
‘Dr Nicholls,’ Margaret said with forced joviality upon opening the door. ‘What an unpleasant surprise.’
CJ glanced briefly at Ethan and then back at their patient. Margaret leaned heavily on the door before letting go and staggering slightly away from them. This wasn’t good.
‘Come to check up on me, no doubt. See that I’m doing the right thing. You shouldn’t have worried. I have my husband, my parents, my in-laws all checking up on me.’ Margaret had gone into the living room and sat down on the leather lounge. There was half a glass of wine on the small table in front of her. CJ sighed and followed, opening the medical bag and taking out the blood-pressure monitor.
‘Let me take your blood pressure, Margaret.’
‘If it’ll make you happy,’ she slurred, and held out her arm. As CJ took her BP, Margaret glared at Ethan. ‘Brought a little friend with you.’
‘This is my colleague, Dr Ethan Janeway. He’ll be filling in for me while I’m on maternity leave.’
‘No doubt sticking his nose into everyone’s business, just like you. Giving advice where it’s not wanted. That’s all you doctors are good for.’
‘We’re also here to help you,’ CJ said.
‘You sound like my mother.’ Margaret cleared her throat and mimicked in a nagging voice, ‘Call the doctor if you have any pain. Just put your feet up. That’s our grandchild you need to look after. Don’t do anything.’ She growled the last. ‘Just lie there all day, be a vegetable and provide nourishment for the baby. Baby, baby, baby. I wish Doug had never talked me into having this baby.’
‘You don’t mean that, Margaret. It’s just the drink talking,’ CJ soothed as she reported Margaret’s BP to Ethan. Both of them shared a concerned look.
‘It is not. I didn’t want this child in the first place.’
‘How much have you had?’ It was the first time Ethan had spoken and Margaret glared at him.
‘Don’t you presume to come in here with your high and mighty ways. I don’t have to answer any of your questions.’
‘How much have you had?’ Ethan’s tone was firmer and more insistent than before.
‘How dare you question me?’ Margaret’s voice was becoming shrill.
Ethan glanced around the room and then stalked off through a doorway.
‘How dare you take such liberties? This isn’t your house.’ Margaret went to stand but it was too difficult. CJ put a hand on her shoulder but the other woman shrugged it off. Ethan stalked back in with two empty red wine bottles and one that had just been opened.
‘Call the ambulance. I want her admitted.’
CJ pulled out her cellphone and made the call.
‘Y-you can’t do this. You can’t just d-drag me off to hospital,’ Margaret stammered.
‘We can if we think either you or the baby is in danger,’ Ethan told her.
‘The baby. There it is again. Ruining my life.’
‘You’re doing an excellent job of ruining its life as well,’ he replied firmly. ‘CJ, pack her some clothes and call her husband.’ He offered CJ his hand to help her to her feet.
‘Leave Doug out of this. He has nothing to do with this.’ Margaret was defiant as CJ left the room.