Page 16 of Hopeful Hearts

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With one effortless movement, he scooped Sophia off the sofa and carried her up to bed. She didn’t even stir to snuggle into him; she was that tired. Luckily, she was already in pyjamas, so he tucked her in and headed back downstairs to make sure her friend was comfortable for the night.

“Did you two have a good night?” he asked as he found Callie still curled up on the sofa.

“The best. Were your ears burning?”

“Should they have been?” He had given little thought to what they would have been chatting about all night, but now he was faced with her friend, his mind drifting to all the things he hoped she'd said about him. Or whether she said he sucked at looking after her and was just about doing an okay job. How funny that for everything they had been dealing with, they never talked much about the illness or its impact. Things seemed to unravel so fast that they both rolled with the punches and took things one day at a time. Brodie’s mum was always telling him that all he could do was his best, but the feeling that his best wasn’t good enough often gnawed away at him.

“She told me all about the proposal, and I’m not trying to rock the boat, but a conversation? She’s fighting a terminal illness. Doesn’t she deserve something with a bit more oomph?”

Brodie’s jaw clenched in defence, but he didn’t correct her because she was right. He’d been so focused on getting Sophia to marry him and giving her the perfect wedding day that he’d missed out on all the important parts.

“Sophia said you’re never afraid to speak your mind.”

“Sorry, I guess I can be a bit forward, but that’s just me. You only get one life, so you might as well say what you mean and mean what you say, right?”

Brodie found Callie annoyingly endearing and could see exactly why Sophia would have made friends with her, but he also couldn't help wondering what he was letting himself in for, inviting all five of her best friends into town.

“You’re right. I totally screwed it up, didn’t I?”

“I wouldn’t say 'totally' because she agreed to marry you, which I think is kind of the main point.”

He passed her a sheepish grin and ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Do you have any ideas? I’m no good at all this girly stuff.”

“Sophia told me you created that stairway and most of the house based on her ideas. I’d say that makes you pretty good at the 'girly stuff', as you call it. You don’t need my ideas, just do what you did with the house. You know Sophia. She’s your wife to be. Just think about what she’d love and then try to incorporate that into the proposal do-over. It doesn’t need to be anything huge, just a moment that she can look back on.”

Callie’s face fell and a shadow cast over her bright blue eyes.

“What’s up?”

“Sorry. It’s just that I don’t know how you do all this.”

“Which part?”

“All of it. Planning special days for her to look back on when she might never get the chance to look back.”

“Don’t say that. Especially not to Sophia.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just a lot to take in. Please ignore me. Sometimes, I say dumb shit. You’re so strong. I’m honestly relieved that she has you around to keep her sane through all of this.”

“I’m not sure about sane anymore. But I appreciate you saying that and being here. Although you shouldn’t say Sophia’s illness is terminal because there’s plenty of us still holding onto the hope that we’ll find a donor match for her.”

“Now that is something I might be able to help with. Let me email around the camp group.”

“Saying what?”

“Oh, we get all kinds of stuff on there. Last year we helped someone's niece raise enough money to fly to India for lifesaving treatment and we funded someone's house rebuild after a flood wiped their hometown out.”

Brodie arched a curious brow as she continued.

“Yeah, we’re a pretty powerful group. I’ll send a request out and see if we can come up with anything. That is, if it’s alright with you? I know you said she doesn’t want anyone to know, but I think if it’s an option, we have to try.”

“That would be awesome.”

“You never know, maybe I could even be a match.”

“I didn’t bring you out here to fix the problem, so to speak, Callie. I just thought you could all bring some sunshine into Sophia’s days. Please don’t feel like you have to do anything other than make her smile.”

“I know. But, if we can do something to help, then we should. I can see how sick she is, Brodie. I’m not blind. She’s dying and if I can do anything to save her, then I’m going to try. So, where do I sign up to get tested?”