Page 102 of Hopeful Hearts

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“Hurry back to me,” she pleaded, and he leaned down and landed a familiar kiss on her forehead. “You never have to worry about that.”

He forced himself to get dressed and leave her in bed while he skipped breakfast and jumped into his truck.

It was no more than two songs on the radio into his journey when the tears started to fall so hard that he had no choice but to pull over.

Of all the things he and Sophia had been through together, this was the hardest by far.

As much as he wanted to be that supportive guy who let his wife live their dream while he held things down at home and waited for her to get back, the reality was he didn’t know if he could do it. Although it was only for a few weeks, what if once she got a taste for working again; she wanted to throw herself into that? He wasn’t sure he could survive in a relationship where the woman he loved was constantly away on business. Selfish or not, he needed her by his side.

Brodie couldn’t pull himself together enough to do his first job of the day, so he texted ahead and apologised. He blamed a family emergency, which didn’t feel too far from the truth, and explained he’d be there by early afternoon.

Not knowing where to turn, he thought about going home, but instead headed over to the Randalls. His parents and brothers had been supportive throughout Sophia’s illness, but his in-laws had lived through it with them. If anyone could understand how he was feeling, it was them.

Emmet was sitting out on the front porch when he pulled up, staring out to sea as if he'd rather be anywhere else than his parents' front porch.

“Thank god you’re here,” he called out on sight of Brodie. His mum had been so full on this last week, he was thrilled at the opportunity to talk to someone who would treat him like a fairly normal person, not a toddler. It was all with the best of intentions, but Emmet had reached his limit and didn’t see how he could keep on living with his parents for much longer without going completely insane.

“Mum has been so full on this week. She literally treats me like a toddler at this point. If I don’t get out of that house soon, I’m going to go insane.” Emmet paused for breath to glance across at Brodie. “What’s going on with you?”

“It’s a fucking mess.” Brodie sat in the swing chair beside him and looked out at the same view. He might as well have been looking at a blank wall because he wasn’t taking anything in. “Your sister’s leaving the bay. She will probably tell you later. Or has she already said something?”

Emmet shook his head. “She’s not mentioned anything to me.”

“Well, she’s talked it all through with Doctor Gunner. Apparently, she’s been considering it for a while.”

“When you say leaving the bay, where exactly is she going?”

“She’s taken on a wedding in Italy, but I’m scared that will just be the start of it.

“And you told her you were okay with her going?”

“Of course, I did. What else am I supposed to say? You know how much she loves her work. It’s her dream.”

“You could have tried to stop her,” Emmet looked exasperated.

“And then what? Have a wife who’s trapped in a life she doesn’t really want? I want her to be happy. More than anything, that has to come first.”

“At the cost of your own happiness?”

“If that’s the way it has to be,” Brodie shrugged.

“I’ve got to say, I didn’t see this coming, but knowing Sophia, she won’t have made this decision lightly.”

“Yeah, I can see that. She was still doubting herself when she told me her plans last night. That’s why I didn’t fight it too much. She’s been under enough pressure to last a lifetime. She doesn’t need more from me.”

“You’re a good man, Brodie. Not that I’ve ever loved someone as much as you love my sister, but if I did, I’m not sure I could do what you’ve done.”

“Doesn’t make it hurt any less,” Brodie said sadly.

“She’ll soon be back. Look at this place,” he nodded toward the stunning view of rolling hills and a crystal blue horizon and Brodie sighed. He hoped Emmet was right, but nothing felt certain right now.

His brother-in-law rubbed a hand on his shoulder and they sat in silence for a few moments before Brodie responded. “I really hope you’re right.”

“And what about you? Do you want to talk business?”

“I don’t want to dump on you. You need to focus on getting better and working through your physical therapy.”

“Don’t remind me. That place is pure torture. I don’t see how it can make anyone feel better to put themselves through the same form of agony day after day.”

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