Page 17 of Hopeful Hearts

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Stifling a yawn, he replied with caution, needing time to process all this. A group that could be willing to help. A proposal do-over. Callie, with her boundless positivity, and talks about getting tested. It was all a lot to take in. Somehow, inviting her friends into town already felt like he’d opened the door and let a hurricane enter the living room. He could only imagine what having the rest of them there was going to feel like.

“It’s late. Why don’t you get some rest and I’ll talk you through it in the morning, if you still think it's something you want to go ahead with.”

“Okay. I’ll see you in the morning. All the girls should be here tomorrow at some point, except Kate, who’s still humming and harring, but she’ll come around. We always win her over in the end. Do you want me to stick around to welcome them all so you and Sophia can just go ahead as normal?”

“If you wouldn’t mind, yeah, that would be great. I have to work tomorrow and Sophia’s mum is going to sit with her for dialysis. If you could make up an excuse about needing to stick around here, then we could surprise her when she gets home with a barbecue or something. But it depends if she’s up to it. She’s usually exhausted when she gets home, so she might just want to rest.”

“Leave it to me. I’ll tell her I’m spending the day with Emmet.”

“Will she fall for that?”

“Sure, she will. Me and Emmet go way back.”

Brodie nodded and wished her goodnight, climbing the stairs feeling somehow better for having spent a night with Emmet, thinking about nothing other than catching fish. Maybe having Callie here was a change they both never knew they needed.


The morning felt much better for Sophia, knowing that Callie would be around this evening. Usually, she’d give her some major grief for choosing to spend the morning with Emmet instead of her, but when her day looked as it did, she couldn't really blame her.

“And do you swear you knew nothing about this?” she asked her mum for a third time.

She held her hands up with a smile. “I promise. Brodie must have planned this one on his own, but I have to say I’m glad about it. Your eyes are twinkling this morning, and it’s lovely to see.”

“It’s so good to spend some time with her. It’s been way too long, and save your breath because you have ‘I told you so’ written all over your face.”

Mel giggled, and the nurse waltzed in, wearing a look of apprehension.

“Sophia, you know we rarely allow more than one visitor, but I’ve cleared it with Doctor Gunner and if you’re alright with it, then I’ll let them in.”

“Visitors? Is it Brodie?”

“No. They made me promise not to tell you, so my lips are sealed. Are you up to me letting them in?”

“Sure,” Sophia replied, shuffling to a more upright position, and Mel squeezed her knee.

“Another Brodie thing?” she asked.

“I don’t know, honey.” Her reply was genuine.

Brodie never planned anything. It’s one reason Sophia fell in love with him; was spontaneous and based at least ninety percent of his decisions on his mood at the time.

“Surprise!” Paige leapt around the corner, closely followed by Jayda, Lennon, and Callie.

“Oh my gosh, what are you all doing here?”

“Surprising you.” Jayda beamed.

As Sophia tried to stand up, four of her best friends swarmed her and tried to find a safe space to squish her.

A thick lump swelled in her throat as tears threatened to pour.

“I can’t believe you’re all here. It’s been so long since we were all together. Callie, how did you keep this from me last night?”

“Contrary to popular belief, I can keep a secret, you know.”

“Yeah right,” Paige muttered.

They all chuckled. The sound filled the entire room and made Sophia’s heart swell until it might burst. How could she have been so wrong to think that her friends would see her as anything other than herself?

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