Page 1 of Hopeful Hearts

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The man of Sophia’s dreams looked down at her as though he had it all under control, even though they both knew he hadn’t. “It’s going to be fine. You worry too much. I told you, you didn’t need to come with me,” she said.

Brodie brought his continuous pacing of the hospital waiting room to an abrupt stop and scoffed. His expression shifted to one which let her know she was a dumbarse for even suggesting she should have gone to the appointment on her own.

Despite what she said, Sophia felt relieved he was with her. Although his worrying was infectious, it was a relief to know that whatever the test results said, he would be right beside her when the doctor delivered the news.

Times like this reminded Sophia exactly how much she’d come to need Brodie. Just because she was usually Miss-I-can-handle-myself, it didn't mean she couldn't have a good man like him at her side to lean on.

She’d been leaning on Brodie since their high school days, but never in this new way. The physical kind. His shoulders were strong and Sophia knew he never minded, but it didn’t stop her feeling bad about the fact that she could barely stand up straight anymore, because the pain had gotten so bad.

A wave of nausea washed over her as her mind focused on the burning pain in the left of her spine and she tried hard not to let it show on her face. Brodie was worried enough without her falling apart.

“You okay?” He asked as he studied her. The creases appearing on his forehead, mirroring the ones on hers.

“I told you, I’m fine. I’m sure it’s just another infection,” she replied. Even to her own ears she knew she sounded less than convincing.

“Miss Randalls?” Dr. Gunner appeared in the hall.

Sophia nodded and followed him through to the small room where her scan results were printed and waiting. Although his face gave nothing away, there was an uneasy feeling hanging in the air as they took a seat and the doctor rounded his desk to perch on the swivel chair opposite them.

Brodie reached over and took Sophia’s hand. The contact gave her instant comfort. Although they were only joined by intertwined fingers, it felt as though her heart was beating at the same time as his while they waited with bated breath for Dr. Gunner to say whatever he had to say.

“I’m sorry, Miss Randalls,” he began.

“Please, call me Sophia.” She insisted, unable to stand the formality of his firm expression and clipped tone.

“Sophia, I’m afraid it’s not good news.”

“What does that mean?” Brodie asked.

Sophia silently kicked herself for not getting the pain in her back checked out a few days earlier, when it was just a niggle instead of waiting until the pain had become excruciating.

“As you know, we’ve had the urine sample results back from the laboratory along with the blood tests and the scan results, which I’ll go through with you now.”

He pushed an ultrasound image towards them, across the table.

This is your remaining kidney and this area here is the scarring. As you can see, there’s significant damage.”

Sophia swallowed hard and tried to remember to breathe. She told herself that all she needed to do was breathe in and then out and as she continued to try to do so, the doctor's words faded into a swirl of information her body refused to take in. She could tell that Brodie, on the other hand, was devouring every painstaking syllable. It showed in his clenched jaw and the way his leg had begun bouncing uncontrollably, that his worst nightmares were being confirmed.

“It seems the last kidney infection we treated you for hadn’t cleared up as much as we’d hoped.”

“How bad are we talking?” she demanded to know.

He stroked a hand over his stubbled jaw and paused before delivering the blow they had both been dreading. “You’re going to need urgent treatment.”

“What kind of treatment?” Brodie asked.

“There are several options,” he replied.

“When I had the last kidney removed, they told me if this one fails it could be life threatening,” Sophia barely whispered.

“Which is why we’re keen to talk through the options with you as soon as you’re ready. The earlier we agree on a treatment plan, the better.”

Dr. Gunner lifted one document and scanned it. Frowning, he met her gaze. “Can I ask, how is your pain, Sophia?”

She shrugged her shoulders in response, unable to find the words needed to answer him.

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